50 to 40: The Biker

Throughout most of our 40 years of marriage, we have not had bicycles.  However, when we went to Japan in the late 1980s, much of our local travel was on bikes.  We lived along the Oita River and it had a wonderful bike trail. We would ride to go shopping, take the children on rides, etc.  We had lots of fun doing that.

Fast forward to the 2000s and we finally got a bike for Julianne. This became an instant passion for her.  I would drive her to local trails in Lexington, especially the Legacy Trail, drop her off on one end and pick her up at the other end.  She loved her bike rides.  I enjoyed taking her, but also longing to ride.  But, alas, I felt I was too big to find a bike that could handle me.

Legacy Trail entrance in Lexington, KY

Julianne loves her bike

Always on the bike

We soon determined to venture out and find other places to bike.  Julianne discovered the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in her research and all of a sudden a whole new world of adventure opened up for both of us.  Initially, I would drive her to a Rails-to-Trails bike path, drop her off and then pick her up 10-20 miles later.  In the meantime, I would go exploring.  We took biking trips together to numerous places in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.  Soon Julianne’s sister Laura was getting in on the trips. As a matter of fact, as I write this, Julianne and Laura are up in Ohio riding on the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway near Athens, Ohio.

Riding with her sister Laura at the North Bend trail in West Virginia

Riding the trails together with my biker wife

Though I enjoyed taking Julianne on these road trips and doing my own exploring, I so longed to join her on these biking adventures.  As a high schooler in Montana, I rode daily and loved it.  So, as my 60th birthday rolled around in 2016, unbeknownst to me, my children had contacted many of my high school friends who passed a plate around and got donations for a bike for me.  By 2016 the Specialized Bike company had developed the Roll Bike which has a rugged construction, a larger saddle (to handle big bottoms like mine!) and disc brakes.  The 26 speed bike became my birthday gift and I was soon able to join Julianne on many of her bike rides.

Picking up my new bike on October 14, 2016

Julianne riding with her sister Laura, niece Emma and daughter Marissa on the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, Virginia

So, quite often this is something that we now do together.  I have been blessed to join her on bike rides along the Little Miami River Scenic Trail in central Ohio, the amazingly beautiful Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus, Virginia and others.

Julianne and Marissa often ride the Legacy Trail in Lexington together

Julianne and Marissa riding with the kids on the Little Miami Trail near Xenia, Ohio

On some trips our daughter Marissa and her children join us.  These rails-to-trails bike paths are mostly flat with only slight hills, making the trips easy for young children as well.

Julianne, Marissa and Laura riding at a tunnel on the Montour Bike Trail near Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Julianne, Laura, Marissa and Emma getting ready for the 10 mile downhill ride on the Virginia Creeper

For Julianne, spring means bike time.  Warm enough to ride. We are already discussing future trips to more diverse bike paths.  One of the hoped for trips is the High Trestle Trail in Iowa, a 25 mile adventure that crosses over a half-mile bridge that spans 13 stories high over a gorge.  And recently, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has announced the Great American Rail Trail, which will traverse 12 states and cover over 3700 miles from Washington DC to Seattle, Washington.

The biking gang somewhere on the Virginia Creeper Trail. My first REAL bike ride.

Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania

Biking is in Julianne’s blood and I am thankful to have this unique activity to share with her, even though I may not always be to ride the distances she does.

I hope we will have many more biking adventures in the months to come.

51 to 40: The Giver

(Author’s NoteThis is the tenth post in a series of 60 about Julianne.  We will celebrate our 40th Anniversary in July and each day I will have a different post about this wonderful sweet person.  Please check the earlier posts of you missed any)

Julianne has always been one to give and share…her talents, her abilities, her time, her love.  So often she works diligently behind the scenes on service projects, volunteer efforts and other things. In fact, I think she makes an effort to avoid the cameras so that her work will be quietly done.  She gives to many in a humble and quiet way.

Over the years she has been a faithful church member and has served in many capacities. She loves anything to do with music and has always been a great choir director.  She always put in her all to prepare for lessons or church talks. When she did the church program, it was never done until perfect. Nobody probably noticed, but she did.  She always takes great pride in what she does, even if it is volunteering.
Julianne volunteering for a Serve the City project in 2009. (She will hate me for posting this photo…but there are so few photos of her serving…)
Julianne volunteering as a Site Coordinator for Bountiful Baskets, even though it was snowing.
Julianne created and made this sign. She was tireless in seeing the Co-Op succeed.

The same can be said for community service. Julianne has been engaged in community service projects many times and she would always be one of the “stars” that showed the way. For a couple of years we volunteered for a food co-op called Bountiful Baskets.  She was awesome in her work as a Volunteer Site Coordinator and really built up the Co-Op while it was under her wing.

We had a lot of fun with Bountiful Baskets and made many new friends during that time.  It is sad that it went away in 2017.
Bountiful Baskets gang
Julianne with the number 1 Wildcat at a College of Pharmacy event.

A few years ago, as a UK employee, she was elected to the Staff Senate for the University. It’s a big deal!! But, Julianne took the ball, not for the glory, but to serve her university community. And, like with all she does, she has served in amazing ways, such that she was elected to be Secretary of this elite group. And no, you would never hear about it from her. She thrives on giving the service and not the title of the calling.

I am so honored to be not only be associated with such a fine woman, but also blessed to be her husband. She is the ultimate example of giving!
Julianne passing out donuts at a Staff Senate event, even though she didn’t eat them
She is great at food prep and in another Staff Senate event was busily engaged slicing and dicing.
Julianne with others at a Staff Senate Bowling Event

52 to 40: My Wife is a Superhero

As many of you know, I work in the Superhero business. I know superheros.  And Julianne has proven time and again that she is a superhero. In fact, sometimes she is Captain Marvel. Other times she is Wonder Woman. All times she is Supergirl.

Though I have a number of examples from our 40 years together, perhaps the greatest superhero story took place in the summer of 1987.
I had been working on my PhD at Arizona State University (which I never completed) and an amazing opportunity came before us. The Japanese Government began an “internationalization” program called the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program). They had two courses…one as an Assistant English Teacher (AET) and the other as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR). I applied for the CIR position and was accepted and sent down to Oita Prefecture to work under Governor Morihiko Hiramatsu.

Here I am working as an interpreter with Governor Hiramatsu on the right and then British Foreign Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe on the left

Though that in itself offers many stories, there is the backstory that I want to tell here.
In July 1987 I headed to Japan for Orientations and training, etc. I wasn’t coming back due to my aggressive schedule with the JET Program. That left Julianne alone with our four young children and the arduous task of packing and prepping to leave for a faraway and strange country with an open-ended return timeline. She would follow me to Japan in late August.

The family in Japan in 1987

As if all of the packing wasn’t superhuman enough, she still had to travel to Japan with four children, all aged seven and under, for a nearly 18 hour trip, through Seoul, Korea and then to Fukuoka, Japan.  Unfortunately, her flight got delayed and arrived late into Seoul.  Tired and most likely frazzled, she was shuttled to a hotel in downtown Seoul Korea where she had to spend the night and then get up very early to catch the next flight out to Japan.

Julianne is a Wonder Woman!

Those were the days before cell phones, online flight tracking, etc. And, she was also strapped with the language barriers.  It was a real challenge for her, but Wonder Woman that she was, she made it to Japan, learned the language, handled the kids school things (they went to regular old Japanese public school) and ultimately became very adapted to the Japanese lifestyle and food.
There are so many other Superhero stories to tell.  Perhaps in another post.

53 to 40: Ms. Determination

One of Julianne’s more impressive qualities is her quiet determination. I have watched her tackle all kinds of tasks and goals over the years and she has always had the chutzpah to accomplish them. Has she been perfect at accomplishing her objectives?  No, but who is?  But, she has always had the gumption to push through.

I probably can provide a billion examples of how she has tackled a project or a goal and then has worked her way through, solving the challenges, overcoming the obstacles and getting there.

One of Julianne’s earliest Photofabrique creations

One of the unique examples of this comes from her desire to create a process to make a type of fabric art, which she first called “Photo Fabrications” and then later coined “Photofabrique.” She had a concept in mind…make quilted fabric art out of photos and make them look realistic, like a photo.  To accomplish this she first came up with ideas on how to break the photo down.  This required her to learn how to use a software product called Photoshop.  Back when she first started doing this, Photoshop was still a fairly new software product.  So, she learned it and learned how to make five layers from a photo. After many many tries, she finally came up with the concept that worked.

 

Julianne portrait in fabric

With the success in doing this, and while working as a quilt specialist at Quilter’s Square, others wanted to learn the process.  Though she wouldn’t teach the pattern making, she began making the patterns and teaching classes.  For a few years she taught classes in numerous states, as far away as Montana, and many in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee.  It became a venture for her and then introduced more challenges.  She had to devise quicker methods.  Her determination to do so helped her to learn techniques in Photoshop that would ultimately turn her pattern-making into a “scan and run an applet” type of thing. Her process evolved over a number of years.  It was amazing to see her scale this mountain.

Julianne teaching her technique in a class in Tennessee

Her use of a National Geographic photographer (Steven McCurry) piece that she turned into a photofabrique piece.

Showing off a Marilyn Monroe

When her sister Maren visited on year, Julianne began to learn yoga.  Once again, it was a challenge, but she was soon taking yoga classes and still, on occasion, does them today.  It was hard for her, but she took on the challenge and learned.

Julianne Learning Yoga

Another big challenge for Julianne was learning Japanese.  We lived in Japan as a family from 1987-1991.  During that time, Julianne focused on learning to speak the language.  By the time we left, she was able to converse freely and, nearly 28 years later she can still speak quite a bit.  She never quit and it has stuck with her.

With the family in Oita, Japan in 1988

Learning the language and the culture of Japan in 1988

There will be more posts in the next couple of weeks covering other areas where Julianne has shown gumption, determination and guts in accomplishing her objectives. She most certainly knows how to look at the mountain from below and scale it!

54 to 40: The Gal With the Lovely Smile

One of the most endearing things about my wife of forty years is her endearing smile.  Like anyone, that smile is not always on her face, but oh, when it is, it is endearing. Because of her smile, she makes the world more beautiful.  So, in the effort to make the world more beautiful, here are some of my favorite smiley photos of Julianne from over the years.

I hope these smiley pictures will brighten your day as they brighten mine.  The world is certainly a better place because of Julianne, and her smile adds to the warmth of the sunshine.

This is one of my favorites.

Smiling in Japan

Smiling with Rockwell

A Christmas Smile

A recent shot with her sisters Laura and Kathy

A bright smile

One of my all-time favorites…smiling in San Diego

Great shot with daughter Marissa

Smiling with Joselyn

Yes, a wedding photo from nearly 40 years ago

Dressing up with a Smile

She always smiles when she is riding her bike

On our honeymoon at the Grand Canyon. Yes, I got a smile

Finish off with a smile

 

55 to 40: The Violinist

Julianne has an assortment of talents, many which I’ll cover in later posts. Perhaps one of her most recognized talents is her finesse at the violin.

I remember with fondness hearing her play “Meditation “ by Thais every time we would visit her home in Mesa.  It was her Dad’s favorite and has become one of mine as well.  Indeed, in my mind, it is Julianne’s Theme Song.

Julianne grew up in a family that emphasized music and began the violin in the fourth grade. By high school she was a very talented violinist and,.  She was in the Mesa Symphony.  She went on to Northern Arizona University on a music scholarship.  Later, she played in the Mormon Youth Symphony and the Utah Valley Symphony in Provo, Utah.  It was during her time in these two that I met and eventually married this talented musician.

Julianne playing violin for daughters Amaree and Marissa in the 1980s. Featured in a newspaper in Mesa, AZ

Julianne has played violin for many family, church and social functions

We eventually moved to Flagstaff, where I attended college.and Julianne was able to play in the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. Ironically, at that time, a violinist named Daniel Mason was the concertmaster. In the 1990s, after moving to Kentucky, it turns out that Daniel Mason had become an Associate Professor of Violin at UK and Julianne took lessons from him.  Such a unique small world it is!

Julianne performing with her daughters, including Chelsea on the violin.  Christmas 1999

Due to Julianne’s love of music and the arts, her talents have carried on to two generations as her children have taken on musical talents and then passed them down to their children as well. Our oldest daughter Amaree graduated from UK with a music degree and is now conducting choirs and teaching piano in Washington. Marissa was an All-State Singer. Chelsea played the violin in high school and has since taught herself guitar and piano. Seth performed in choir in high school and was in the men’s choir at UK. He too has taught himself guitar. Solomon also has a fine singing voice, though his real talent was art (as was Marissa’s).

Amaree conducting a combined choir in 2019 honoring Armed Services Day — the LDS Stake Choir from her stake, the Unitarian Universalist Choir and the men of the West Sound Chorus

Our oldest grandchild played the Saxophone in the Fayette County Middle School Honors Band and will be in the bands in High School beginning in 2019

And, as mentioned above, many of our grandchildren carry on traditions as singers, a violinist, a cellist, a percussionist and a saxophone player. Two of the grandchildren also perform with the Lexington ballet.

Our oldest grandchild Autumn has taken up the saxophone (and Grampz is happy about that since he too was a sax player).  She has thrived.
Amaree’s three oldest are all becoming talented musicians as they each perform well on their respective instruments.
I credit this love of music and the arts to my sweetheart who has sought to engage her children at every opportunity.
Indeed, I am honored, blessed and grateful to be married to such a talented musician who has dedicated much of her life in nurturing a love of music to her children and grandchildren.  This was an unforeseen blessing in my life.

Amaree’s three oldest – Kade on percussion, Livvy on violin and Charles on Cello.

Marissa’s daughter Joselyn has thrived in ballet and has performed with the professional Lexington Ballet Troupe for nearly five years.

Marissas youngest, Lyla, is also now beginning ballet and performed in the Lexington Ballet Nutcracker in 2018

 

56 to 40: The Cool Caring Grandmother

OK.  Julianne has DEAGED over the last few years.  Seems like each year she gets a year younger.  Many would be surprised that she is the grandmother of ten lovely grandchildren.  She cares about these sweet children so much.  She always wants to kiss their sweet cheeks!  She is such a COOL grandmother!

When were married in 1979, little did we know what would lay ahead on our journey.  We had hoped for a few children (we were blessed with five).  We even dreamed of having grandchildren, though a specific  number was never in our mind.  I would always just say “Children are like arrows, happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

With the Matthews grandchildren (L-R: Benson, Livvy, Kade and Charles)

Julianne got to experience her first grandchild while she was in her forties.  She now   has TEN, and they are probably one of the biggest joys in her life.  She has a HUGE place in her heart for them and loves each one dearly.  She has an endless amount of kisses and hugs and smiles for them.

For this particular post, I am just going to let the photos below tell the story about this woman of love and care.  Obviously, words can’t describe the feelings like the photos do.  She is truly the Coolest grandmother around.

Fun with the Noe grandchildren…Lyla, Jos and Landen

Having a ball with Rockwell Kravetz

Always kissing those sweet cheeks – with Landen Noe

Snuggling with Sam Kravetz

Always there for her oldest grandchild Autumn Crabtree

Love….

Caring is being there….

Who needs an amusement ride? Lyla loving her swinging time

Kissing sweet cheeks again…this time with Benson Matthews

Sam and RockE like cuddling with Grandma

Sometimes the grandkids kiss Grandma’s Sweet Cheeks!

Nothing look a good snuggle with Livvy Matthews

Fun on the South Carolina coast

One of her favorite photos…Julianne with young Autumn

 

57 to 40: The Can Do Girl

Over 40 years and Julianne never ceases to amaze me with her Can Do Spirit. She will take on almost any challenge.  In fact, it is best not to say “I don’t think you can do that” to her, as she will strive to prove you wrong.

There are many examples I can provide herein, but she proved it big time just recently with the accomplishment of an amazingly monumental task — the complete redoing of a bathroom in our house, right down to the replacement of a brand new toilet.

It has been nearly 20 years since we moved into our house here in Lexington and a number of remodelish kind of things have been done.  But the upstairs bathroom always remained, until April 2019, that is.  I had no doubts about her doing most of the work in there, including the new flooring, the replacement of wallpaper, redoing the curtains.  But, the toilet?  That, to me, is tricky business.  I said we should get a plumber.  She said no.her efforts

Getting a new toilet. Wondering what we were getting ourselves into.

So, off I went to Lowe’s to get a new one.  It required a couple of neighbors and me to get that thing up the stairs. It was very heavy and bulky.

Before she could do the wallpaper and floor, we had to remove the old toilet.  This was quite a job in and of itself.  But Julianne tackled it almost with the finesse of a plumber.  Its a yucky job and she dug right in (literally…if you have had to remove a toilet wax ring, you will know what I mean!).  After that, off came the mouldling and trim.

The new bathroom – a Julianne triumph

Soon, she was all about replacing the wall paper, replacing the flooring, painting the walls and then adding the molding and trim.  She cut the lengths for the chair rails (she added two of them) herself and added that to the wall.  All the while, I did what I could do to assist, mostly being the gofer and the “look it up on YouTube” guy.

Everything was done but the toilet.  We ripped open the box and together we got it ready.  Steady hands always, Julianne added the new wax ring and we flipped the guy over.  She assembled everything.  And voila!!  After some bolt tightening adjustments to stop any leaking, we had a working toilet and basically, a brand new, great looking bathroom.

Julianne can scale mountains. The Can Do Girl!

Julianne has accomplished many other seemingly insurmountable tasks over the years.  To Julianne, obstacles are like mountains; they’re not going to move themselves. She has always had the strength, gumption and ability to take action to overcome them. She has scaled the mountains in so many ways.  I could go on with stories, but I’ll leave it to the one above as a prime example of Julianne’s Can Do Spirit!  I am proud to know this amazing woman.

58 to 40: She is fun-loving

Julianne is fun-loving.  In fact, I might even say she can be goofy at times, but NOT in the Post Title (of course).  Our daughter Amaree even has nick-named her “Nuttiness.”  And sometimes it fits.

Julianne is not obnoxious.  She is also not very outspoken or gregarious (like her husband).  But, she has a goofy side.   I think that our children picked up their “goofy” sides from her.   I am just not as goofy…or am I?

Typical fun with Julianne photobombing

Dracula Teeth

One of my first memories of her goofiness was when she was having a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and then put the brown wrapper over her teeth. Or the “Orange Peel Smile.”  One time our daughter caught her using spaghetti to make Dracula teeth…

She has done funny teeth things with pistachio shells too.  You never know what she may come up with.

I got the biggest kick out of her a couple of years ago when she had to create a poster for a graphic arts class at the University of Kentucky.  This poster is a prime example of her “creative goofiness.”  I had to include it here.  She did ALL of the art work…including the characterization of herself from actual photos….

Julianne is notorious for her photo-bombs and funny faces in photos.  Here are a couple of them from the past.

Photobomb 2 (upper right) — yes, the kids get it from her!

Selfie with Seth

Photobomb 3

A couple of Christmas seasons ago, we went around Lexington to take Christmasy pictures together.  She insisted on hiding her face in each one..just for fun.

Where is Julianne?

Where is Julianne?

Where is Julianne?

Always a master of disguise, she is happy to hide herself in plain site.

Aha!!!

Hidden in plain site….

It is absolutely fun being with these sweet, fun-loving, sometimes downright goofy gal!!  Love her to death (and life)!!  Life with her is Happyville!

59 to 40: She is Kind

This series is all about my dear wife Julianne. She has stuck with me for 40 years. Through Thick and Thin. For this and the following 58 days until our actual wedding anniversary date of July 15, I plan to do and “attribute tribute” a day about why I love and adore this person so much. She has been the light (and perhaps even the guiding light) of my life all of these years.

Does this mean that things have always been good?  Of course not, with any relationship there are ups and downs.  Situations sometimes dictate and the  high hills of joy can sometimes turn into low valleys of despair.  But the key is always the longevity factor.  Can we make it through the rough seas and back into the mainstream?  I think the answer is yes.

Today I want to speak of kindness.  I first met Julianne at a lonely bus stop in Provo, Utah in the fall of 1978.  We had both missed the bus.  I was enamored by her good looks.  But I was taken, both literally and figuratively, by her kindness.  We had both missed the bus.  I never rode the bus, but my car had problems.  I got there too late.  She too arrived a couple of minutes late.  I asked her about it.  She said her roommate was coming to get her and she kindly offered me a ride.  You see, it turned out that we both worked in J.C. Penney Department Store at the Orem Mall.  She in the Cafe and me in the shoe department.

Julianne has always shown kindness

Julianne didn’t know me.  She didn’t know if I was a good guy or a bad guy.  But she was kind, she offered me a ride.  (See…taken literally)  And I was impressed by her thoughtful non-judgmental kindness. Perhaps kindness is one of her greatest attributes.  She has a kind heart.  She speaks kind words.  She thinks kind thoughts.  I am grateful for her kindness.