Sunday, September 11, 2016

Because I Can Never Forget This Ethiopian Flower....

(I originally posted this on 9/11/2009. I have decided that I will re-post this every year on the anniversary, just to keep the memory of this one beautiful soul my heart, in your heart. In everyone's heart who reads this.)

Here is a photo of a young woman who is now going to haunt me for the rest of my days. Her name was Eskedar Melaku. She died September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. She was 31 years old.

She was born in Ethiopia and emigrated to the United States, settling in New York City to attend Queens College. At the time of her death she was assistant vice president of Marsh & McLennan
Cos. Inc., a global professional services and insurance brokerage company, ranked the 5th largest US company in the diversified financial industry. I also found in researching for this blog post that the company was located on the floors directly impacted by the first jet that crashed into the North Tower. It comforts me to know that she never knew what hit her. She was a successful young business woman, but that only touches the surface of who she really was. She was described in the many tributes I've read about her by people who knew her as intelligent, beautiful, radiant, authentic, full of life. Hard working. Kind. Thoughtful. Never a bad word came from her mouth. A beautiful soul whose quiet presence is missed very much. How much she was loved by those fortunate enough to know her. How I wish I'd been one of them.

Like everyone else on that day, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the attacks on the World Trade Center were taking place. I was standing at my bedside, folding towels before leaving for work, listening to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on the Today Show on the TV behind me, Katie making some kind of comment like, "What does this mean?" before anyone really had a clue what was going on. I happened to turn to look at the TV just as the second plane was approaching and watched in horror as it slammed into the tower. I remember the icy cold tendrils of shock radiating down my spine, just as I feel them now as I sit here writing this. I never realized how this incident, this horrendous tragedy, would change the 'safe' world we Americans had always taken for granted, how America would never be the same. I said more prayers than I can remember that day, for those who perished and the loved ones left behind. I have said many prayers for them since. None of whom I ever knew personally.

But, now I do know one of them personally. Eskedar Melaku. And I know she'll come to mind on every anniversary of 9/11. And at many other random moments, whenever I hear references to that day. I will see that beautiful smile, those warm eyes. I will remember.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Don't simply retire from something; have something to retire to. ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Retirement is a funny phenomenon.  I reached 62 at the end of last year and we decided I should go ahead and start receiving Social Security.  So, I signed up for it and began getting my checks a few months ago.  I cannot begin to tell you how surreal it was to look at our bank statement and to see my very first check deposited into our checking account.  How did that happen?!  How have I become so...old?  Believe me, it isn't much because my husband and I decided years ago that I'd be a stay-at-home mom for our kids and, it ended up, half the neighborhood.  We have never regretted that choice.  But outside of working seven years for the Portland Public Schools I would make a little extra money here and there cleaning houses, doing a little day care...little jobs with little income that had little influence on how much I'd get in my Golden Oldie Years.  Oh well.

I love quotes.  Bible quotes.  Famous people quotes.  Funny quotes.  Thought-provoking quotes.  I have a favorite website devoted to quotes and I glean most of those that I use from that site.  I was looking at it this morning under "Retirement" to see what I could use for my post title.  They're not very encouraging.  Mostly about living on less...much less...and the boredom that comes from suddenly transitioning from being so busy all the time to wondering what in the world you're going to do with the endless hours of inactivity stretching out in front of you.  This title caught my eye because outside of suggesting playing rounds and rounds of was the only one that encouraged me to do something with that time.  Volunteer.  Give away your time.  Go to your nearest elementary school and volunteer there...the staff will love you for it, and so will the kids.  I do that during the school year at my youngest grandson's school, and I'm known as Mrs. Cooper's Grandma to the little first graders I tutor to help them learn to read.  I volunteer at the Book Fair twice a year.  I'm going to sign up to volunteer at a hospice here in the city where I live.  You're giving of yourself...your talents...your strengths.  It keeps your mind active and healthy.  It keeps you in contact with people.  It gives you friendships.  It gives you a sense of purpose and a sense of usefulness.  A blessing is also there because you're doing unto others.

I don't want to wither away.  I don't want to sit here collecting dust.  I want to continue to be a productive part of society.  I want to contribute.

I want to matter.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~ George Eliot

We are preparing to bid our daughter goodbye.  She's an adult, granted...but no matter how old they become, they're still our children.  And since we've had her with us or near us for almost 40 years, saying goodbye is not easy.  Not easy at all.

She will be leaving by train Monday morning to move back to Oregon.  Out of all of our family's monumental adventure of moving to Michigan a little over 5 years ago, she's the only one who's missed the Pacific Northwest the most.  Being single and working a very physical job on an average of 9 1/2 hours per day, when she's been home on the weekends it's mainly been a matter of resting up for the coming week ahead.  Even tho she likes Michigan she hasn't been able to establish any real friendships because of lack of time and energy.  She went to Oregon on vacation early in the Spring this year and stayed a week with her best friend of many years.  She realized just how much she'd missed her friend and also the beach and other amenities of Oregon.  They'd talked about my daughter moving back out there before, but this time they cemented the deal and she'll be moving on Monday.  She's selling and donating just about everything and will ship only the basics.  My daughter-in-law and I are spending the next few days helping her get everything ready.  She'll stay the weekend with her brother's family to spend some time with her nephews...and then she'll be gone.


Sure, there's Skype and texting and all that.

It's not going to be the same, tho.  Not having her nearby.  With just her leaving, it diminishes our small core group of family by one and leaves us with only 6.  I already feel the loss.  My "mother's gut" is feeling sick and my heart is very heavy.  But I can't hold her back.  I can't be negative.  I want her to spread her wings and fly.

Sometimes we have to love them enough to let them go.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing. ~ Eva Young

Yup, what my post title says is the truth.  No arguing there.  I am finding that getting back into the groove of regular writing is like coming back from a Rip Van Winkle nap.  Brain cells that used to snap to attention and produce post haste now just kind of...dribble.  But at least they're still there.  I'm putting sentences together into some kind of cohesive order.  Aren't I?  I am not going back and rereading what I've written the past few days.  I am very guilty of over-critiquing myself and I'll talk myself out of writing anything at all if I start that up.

Kind of like when I joined Weight Watchers a bazillion years ago.  I so desperately wanted to lose weight and I did.  A lot of weight.  Something like 60 pounds in 8 months.  I was the star of my class, the lecturer's little darling.  I was put on a pedestal so high I was set up to crash, at least with the way my mind works.  And boy, did I crash, hard.  I became bulimic and an abuser of laxatives.  I purged like crazy.  I did anything to keep my weight at or below my goal for maybe a couple of years?  I don't remember for sure...this was back around 1980.  Then the pressure of it became too much and I fell off the band wagon with such a loud crash they probably heard it in Baltimore all the way from Portland, Oregon!  My greatest enemy in my lifetime has been my scale and it has had a demonic hold on me.   Or I should say it did until a few years ago.  I know I'm never going to look like Cindy Crawford at 50 in a bikini.  I wouldn't want to.  Can you imagine the pressure on her to stay skinny?  But I still refuse to look when my weight is taken at the doctor's office.  I tell the nurse to just write it down...I don't want to know.  Deep down I think I'm afraid I'll jump on the band wagon if I do and it will be back to the races again.  Instead, I'm at what I call a 'comfortable' weight.  Not skinny and not fat.  Just "grandmotherly" and since I'm a 62 year old grandma, that's sufficient for me.  What is so sad is the stupid things we do to our bodies in our youth come back to bite us on the behind as we get older and my dumb choices have wreaked havoc on my digestive system thru the years.  You wanna dance, ya gotta pay the piper.  End of story.'s been a good but emotional day.  My little buddy Christian was over at our house this morning for the last time before school.  We had a long, very sweet hug before we piled in the van to head to school.  I dropped him off and then had a lovely breakfast with a dear friend and I'm sure that helped make the morning a little less emotional.  Around 11:30 our family gathered together at our grandsons' elementary school to participate in a tradition that's been upheld for many years where family, school staff, and the other kids in the school gather in the hallways to 'clap out' the 4th graders as they leave the school for the very last time.  Very bittersweet and especially emotional today because our daughter will be leaving to live in Oregon in a month and she and our grandson had a very tearful moment at the end.  It's great to make fresh new plans for your life...but the reality of goodbye comes knocking at your door too and I don't think my daughter knew before today just how hard that's going to be.  When we moved to Michigan we came completely intact as a family but now she's heading back all on her own.  Quite a different scenario this time around.

So as my brain cells...dribble...I am not going to be disheartened that my blogging audience who once upon a time was very healthy has faded away to next-to-nothing.  I never started this blog 14 years ago for that reason, anyway.  I began it to chronicle the lives of my grandsons and it has morphed into so many other things as well.  When I first began writing this all those years ago someone left me a very rude comment that almost caused me to quit before I'd hardly begun.  He said, "Who wants to read about your boring and paltry life anyway?"  You know who?  ME!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~ George Eliot

I have a little boy at my house this week who is letting me know he's not very happy with me.  Not in words, but actions...and I can't be mad at him because, even at my age, I can remember how frustrating and heartbreaking life could be as a child when I had no control over things happening in my life.  Until you're 18, you're basically at the mercy of whoever is in charge of raising you.

This little guy is my buddy Christian.  I've been taking care of him in various capacities for the past two years...before school, after school, part of the time last summer.  We've become very attached in these two years.  Sadly, the time's come where I can no longer offer him day care...partly because of health limitations.  Because I have no kids in our neighborhood for him to play with, and no electronic game systems.  Last summer on the days I took care of him, sometimes I was so desperate for him to have someone to play with because he was so bored that I'd take him to McDonald's Play Place and let him loose for a couple of hours since there were always kids there. He's at an age now, almost 7, where he's not all that interested in toys anymore. I'm collecting Social Security now and the possibility of tax penalties if I'm not careful with any extra money I make is a big consideration, too.  But complete honesty...I'm just ready to say goodbye to taking care of other people's kids.  I've been doing it all my life and I no longer have the "want to" in me to keep up the pace needed to do a good job of it. And rather than becoming a cranky old lady doing something she no longer wants to do, I'm hanging up my hat.

That isn't to say it isn't going to be wrenching to say goodbye.  I love him almost as much as I love my grandsons.  But as he and I have been talking about it here and there since he learned about it, I think even in his young mind he knows I'm not up to the task anymore.  Not that it's going to be easy on him, either, as I know he loves me, too.

I'm going to give him a gift tomorrow, our last day together.  I collect angels and I took the most beautiful one I have, one with a lot of sentimental value to me, and wrapped it up in a box.  The bigger the sacrifice, the more precious the giving, right?  I wrote in his card that I was giving him this angel to keep in a safe spot, and every time he looks at it to remember that I'm praying for him always.  I told him he will always have a Heavenly Father who is only a whisper away.  And I told him I love him...but, more importantly, Jesus loves him.  REALLY loves him.  That is the most important gift of all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend. ~ Plautus

I've done a lot of pondering about friendship in the past few years.  Well, actually, I've done a lot of pondering about it most of my life, if truth be told.  Am I a good person to have as a friend?  A bad one?  Do I really truly understand friendship?  I don't know that I do.  How are we taught what friendship is?  By our parents to begin with?  I loved my parents but, honestly, neither one was very good at friendship.  My dad was overbearing and my mom emotionally cold so to say they set a good example as to how to attract and keep friends...well, I can't really say that.  In looking back over my life it seems like I had a lot of friends in the little town I grew up in.  I never lacked playmates, I was never left out of any of the games the kids in the neighborhood played.  We'd run outside to join forces early on summer mornings and rarely go back in unless we had to go to the bathroom or eat.  The only thing that would bring us in at nite was when our parents would begin calling out to us and telling us it was time to go to bed.  Those were good years.

Then, as I was turning 13, we moved to a small city.  Big change!  I went from having the same 25 kids with me that I'd had in class from 1st thru 6th grades to a junior high school with around 900.  Oh, how I didn't fit in.  I didn't have a clue how to fit in.  And I was bullied and made fun of.  And I shut down and began hating people.  I made one very good friend in 7th grade who is still my best friend almost 50 years later.  But people who I thought were friends betrayed me.  People who I tried to be friends with wanted nothing to do with me.  I was so, so lost and I lost trust in people big time.  REALLY big time.

Then came high school.  Pretty much the same story.  I kept to myself and I was told something that flabbergasted me right out of high school at my first job.  A girl who had been a cheerleader and graduated from the same class and high school as I did also began working at the hospital I worked at.  Miracle of miracles, we became good friends.  She told me that I had the reputation of being the most stuck-up girl in our class because I gave off the impression I was too good to talk to anyone.  She looked at me with such an expression of surprise on her face and said, "You're not like that at all!"  I told her no, I wasn't.  I was just painfully shy and unsure of myself. Hearing what she had to say didn't do wonders for my self esteem either.

My husband likes me.  My kids like me.  In amongst a lot of love.  But adult friendship still eluded me a lot.  That lasted thru my 20s to my 50s.  A friend here, a friend there.  But still huge trust issues where I couldn't open up.  I've always been a great listener but conversation...chit something almost beyond me.  Very very very few people have I felt comfortable and easy enough with to open up my deepest thoughts and feelings.  That's where my blog comes in.  Well, came in for several years and then too many distractions to keep up with it.  I'm a typing whiz and my fingers can keep up with my mind very well.  Words flow.  It's the way I can most easily express myself and my thoughts.  And I made a LOT of friends in the blogging world.  I've had right around 1 million views thru the years.  Give me a keyboard and I can rattle on forever.  Sit me down face-to-face with someone, especially someone new, and I freeze up.  On my best days I'm an extroverted introvert.  I am a total introvert, truly.  Dear Hubby just laughs and brushes that off every time I say it.  He says I could carry on a conversation with a rock if I had no one else to talk to.  Maybe so but I sure don't see it.

Then comes moving here to the Midwest, to Michigan in particular.  There is an openness and easiness with the people here that literally blows my mind.  And the Canadian Newfoundlanders who have settled in Kitchener, Ontario...same thing.  We have made lots of wonderful friends since moving here.  They love us.  They like being with us.  They invite us to dinners in their homes. They miss us if we miss church, both in Canada and the little church we attend in the Thumb now. They're easy to talk to.  Why? I mean, really...why?!  What's changed? It is such a mystery to me, it just baffles me every time I try to figure it out.  I don't think I'm any different than I've ever been.  I told Dear Hubby the only thing I can think of is I just didn't fit in with the NW lifestyle.  I never felt 'home' there.  Whereas here...oh my, almost from the moment we arrived it felt like home to me.  Maybe I'm more relaxed?  More trusting, for sure, because I haven't had anyone I can think of outside of a grumpy old man coming out of the library a couple years ago who didn't acknowledge my "Hello!" My word, you can say "Hi!" to someone in a store parking lot here and end up in a 20 minute conversation.  I told Dear Hubby I feel like the 'me' who's always been there on the inside, the one who wanted to come out but was too afraid of rejection to stick my head out of the shell I'd barricaded myself inside of most of my life. 

I dunno.

I don't know if I'll ever have it figured out.  My life's unsolved mystery.


Monday, June 13, 2016

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~ e e. cummings

Where oh where oh where did my muse disappear to?  Is that the right word...the ability to think, comment, and meditate?  I dunno.  Something profound happened when we moved 5 years ago to Michigan.  My blog writing almost entirely dried up.  Became a desert land in what had once been a fertile oasis!  When we lived in Portland, Oregon, I couldn't wait to get to my computer keyboard most days and just rattle on.  My high school Creative Writing teacher, Anne Hartley, who was a great believer in stream of consciousness writing, would have been proud of me.  Maybe it's because Dear Hubby and I were a little past our prime, into our late 50's when we made this -- to us -- monumental move. 2400 miles from all that had been familiar our entire lives.  Far from family and friends.  Far from the church we'd worshiped at for 35 years.  Dear Hubby left a job he'd had for 32 years, to take on a brand new one that was starting from scratch and a totally different line of work.  A new state, a new climate, people of a much different mindset from the very liberal West Coast. When we moved into our new house I had to use my GPS to even find a nearby grocery store!  We knew absolutely nothing about where we'd moved to.  One huge blessing was the fact our entire core family  --  Dear Hubby, myself, our son, his wife, our daughter, and our grandsons --  all moved here together.  But we were the only familiar faces we knew.

We bought a house in a very comfortable, friendly neighborhood.  Dear Hubby's work took him out of town a lot and I was allowed to ride along with him on the road trips so the first couple years here we covered a lot of territory.  We saw all kinds of sights we never dreamed we'd see when we lived out West.  Traveled thru many states.  Began attending a little branch church of our faith in Kitchener, Ontario, which is a 3 1/2 hour drive from where we live near Detroit.  Our two grandsons began attending a wonderful school here and made lots of friends and got involved in sports.  The business we all came here to help establish thrived and grew beyond the owner's expectations.  It's a good life.  I am the only one in our family who hasn't traveled back to Oregon.  I have felt since I moved here like I'd come home, and I still feel that way.  I have no desire to go visit.

I've got a good life established here for myself, too.  Between friends in Kitchener and those in the Thumb area of Michigan at another church we began attending because health issues don't allow me to travel so far any more, I have a satisfying social life.  At this stage in life my grandsons are now old enough where I'm not needed so much like I was when they were little guys.  So when my hip and back issues allow I like to volunteer at their school.  I've also taken care of a darling little boy before school for the past two years.

But you've got to be ready for the forks in the road that come along.

We recently found out our daughter is moving back to Oregon next month.  As a single, she's missed her life and friends there a lot since we moved here.  Work over the years has been so busy...and long hours and very physical.  She's worn out and burned out.  An opportunity to make the move has opened up and she's jumping at the chance to make it.  I can't blame her.  I can't hold her back.  But, I going to miss her.  And, because of trying to avoid Social Security tax penalties, after school gets out on Thursday I will no longer be taking care of the little boy who has grown to be like another grandson.

Those are my forks.

I don't know how I feel about them, either.

But I've never been resistant to change.  I wouldn't have moved to Michigan if I had been, would I? 

Neither goodbye is going to be without tears.  You might even hear my heart crack in two.

Life's book is so full of different chapters.  You come to a new one, you turn the page.  New lessons to learn.  It's a fact of Life.  But it doesn't make it any easier.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by. ~ J.M. Barrie

There is never...never...ever...enough time in a day.  I once heard a Bible teaching many years ago on a scripture about how time will speed up the closer we get to the end of time.  I've often meditated on that.  And as I'm getting 61...the more true it seems.  A day is a flicker of a firefly on a summer nite.  A week is a deep sigh.  A month is a deep breath.  A year...well, it's almost gone before it starts.  It used to be I'd hear only older folks say how fast time flies, but even young people comment on how life seems to be on a carousel that spins faster and faster all the time.  Is it the frenetic pace this world seems to function at now...the connectedness to anyone anywhere in the world at any time?  I dunno.  All I know is I can't keep up with it.  It exhausts me trying to.

I found this quote by J.M. Barrie and it touched something in my heart this morning. This is the first day I've visited my blog in many months and I have spent some of the most golden hours of my life here, chronicling the lives of my two grandsons as they came into the world and until we moved here to Michigan.  Then real life in a different realm came into being...the busyness of my life here doesn't seem to allow me to have any writing time any more.  Even to keep up with messages from friends on Facebook and email overwhelms me at times.  And, my heart yearns to be able to sit down at the end of the day and chat to myself.  Not for anyone's enjoyment except my own.  I don't care if anyone comes here to read what I write.  This is my space.  My breathing room. My shelter from the storms life can toss at me now and then.  And my sanctuary, where I come to renew myself.

When we moved here almost 4 1/2 years ago my grandsons were just turning 3 and 5.  They're now young boys, 7 and 9.  Moving here has been wonderful for them and it thrills my heart to see them thriving the way they are.  They're doing so well in school, surrounded by many friends, involved in sports.  When we launched out into the 'great unknown', moving almost 2400 miles from our native Oregon, we hadn't an inkling of what was in store for us.  It has been especially life-changing for my Dear Hubby and me, coming here when we were 57 years old.  It has been a good life-change.  It has given us an entirely different life that we never had on the West Coast.  It has opened up travel all around the region. I never dreamed I'd ever drive thru the Appalachian and Ozark Mountain Ranges.  I never dreamed I'd see the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers in person.  Or visited cities like Louisville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati. Or Niagara Falls.  Or been in Canada more times than I can count, with some of my dearest life friends living in Ontario.  Or travelled up into Michigan's Upper Peninsula at the height of leaf color in the Fall and feasting on the beauty there.  I never imagined this would happen in my lifetime.  I thought I'd be stuck in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest for the rest of my life.  But one never knows what change might be around the corner.  Does one.  And are you stunned into stupefaction and never adapt at our ages?  Or do you do what we did...embrace it!  Let it rejuvenate us!  Open our senses to it!

My son has said several times since we all moved here he has only one regret about it...that it was so late in my life and his dad's and he wished it could have happened years ago so we could enjoy it longer.  But I don't look at it that way...the 'could have beens'.  I look at it as a gift we were given.  And it's a gift that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. ~ Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

I wrote a post not long ago...well, not long ago according to how quickly my life seems to zip by, it's so full and busy all the time it seems.  But it was about stress brought on by a long-standing prayer that had gone unanswered.  A serious prayer.  And I couldn't understand why God just wouldn't answer it because, in my eyes, it didn't seem like it would be that hard to do.

Maybe it was a trial to refine me.  Maybe He just allowed it to go on to make me realize how much of the time I need Him in my life.  And that would be all  the time, every minute of every day.  He did answer it, or He's begun to.  It's still a work in progress but I can see His hand in it and how He's resolving it, how He's caused the dust to settle down, the turmoil to ease.  It was beyond human healing and at times seemed hopeless but I serve an amazing God who has never lost a battle.  He's right there at the front line and never surrenders.  How could I ever doubt Him?  But it wasn't so much a matter of doubting was a matter of trusting Him, standing back, and letting go.  He's had the solution all the time.  I think all He was waiting for was for me to realize that.

A few weeks later, I sit here and reread what I wrote.  I can hardly relate to it now.  I read it as if it was written by someone else.  It wasn't like it was POW! In my face instant relief!  It was coming back and reading this and realizing hey, it's gone, that mind-numbing all-consuming anxiety.  When did it melt away?!  And then such gratitude to my Savior who knows every hair on my head and cares for me.  In the moments of my busy day, between child care and errands and house work and volunteering and....the list is endless...He just quietly took care of the problem and sat back and waited for me to realize that prayer works.  In His time.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. ~ Garth Brooks

Have you ever had situations in Life where you feel like you're standing at the end of a diving board staring down into some black, murky water and wonder, "Should I jump?" or "Maybe I'll just go back and forget about this."  That's what's so hard about the 'murky moments' in life, isn't it?  Do you you you just stand there and ponder it for a while in the valley of indecision?  I am at that point.  I have had a prayer that's gone unanswered for a long time.  I have been a Christian for 38 years this month.  I've prayed thousands of prayers thru those years.  I've had some answered instantaneously, some within hours or days or even weeks.  But I don't think I've ever had this experience before, where I've prayed and prayed and prayed and absolutely nothing is resolved.  For months.  It is causing undue stress, to the point where my hair was falling out in handfuls for about a week's time.  To the point where I had a mini emotional breakdown one evening when I was home alone.  And yet I keep praying and it feels like there is a wall of brass between me and God.  Am I praying incorrectly?  Am I praying for a solution to the problem in a way that isn't pleasing to the Lord?  This has been a lesson in patience, in suffering, because it affects me in the most vulnerable way and I want an answer right now.  God is definitely showing me He answers prayer on His timetable, not mine.  My humanness wants to jump right in there and take control, to fix the problem the way I want it done.  It makes me want to wave a flag in front of God's face and say, "Now, listen here!  I've waited long enough and I need some relief now, not when You decide it's time!"  Oh my...that's getting onto dangerous ground, isn't it?  Me trying to tell the Creator of the universe who spoke the world into existence how to act?  So I guess it's time to step humbly back and say "Ok, Lord.  I know all things are beautiful in Your time.  I know that You're taking the heavy end of the load and all I need to do is let You have it.  I know I can do all things through You because You strengthen me."  But sometimes my weakness gets the best of me.  Sometimes I just want to tell the old enemy of my soul, "Ok, you win this one."  I am just so tired, so worn down, and so distraught at times, which isn't me at all.  I'm the strong one, the caregiver and the nurturer.  The one who tries to carry the heavy end of everyone's burden.  And what's especially hard is it's for me to bear alone.

I have an aching heart that needs the Balm of Gilead.  I need the Lord to hold me tight and give me rest for my weary soul.  I just need....peace.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. ~ Alan Alda

There are times in people's lives where facing big decisions could lead to some major relocations in their lives.  Oh, can I empathize!  I know exactly the exhilaration, the terror, the excitement, the fear of the great unknown.  I can sympathize as's pretty daunting, packing up all you own, selling your house, and moving a great distance from everyone and everything you've ever known.  You move into a new house in a new neighborhood in a new city in a new state in a new region.  And then what?  Well, you settle right in and start making a new life the very next day.  You don't dwell on what you've embrace what you've come to.  One of the positives of moving to somewhere new in the US is everyone still speaks your language.  And when you go shopping, the shelves are stocked with many of the brands of foods you've always seen at the grocery store.  Granted, the names of the stores may be different and there are some regional brands you've never seen before.  But trust's just food, no matter what the brand.  Moving from the Pacific Northwest to Michigan the accents of the people are very different and at first was very pronounced to me, but now after almost 4 years of living here I don't hardly notice it any more, tho I do hear it in the voice of my youngest grandchild...he's very much a Michigander.  You don't constantly compare the differences of 'here' and 'home'.  For one thing, I was told Oregon is so far away most people here know nothing about it.  At most I get asked, "Doesn't it rain there a lot?" And  "Isn't it by the ocean?"  That's about as far as their curiosity goes.  Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz...."Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore".  And that pretty much hits the nail on the head.

I was in my mid-50s when we moved here.  I know our younger population thinks nothing of moving anywhere at any time for the most part...they're a very mobile, world-traveling generation.  But I come from a childhood in a small town in the 1950s and early 1960s, where life was simple and the pace was slow and you knew just about everyone in town.  My adult years were spent in and around Portland.  We never moved more than 75 miles from the area, and that was only for a few months before moving back to Portland again when our son was born 36 years ago.  So to say we had a pretty routine-oriented life...where one day blended into another day...and another day...and another day...would describe us very well.  I had no desire, no plan, to move or live anywhere else.  I figured we'd finish up our lives here on earth right where we were.  But God had different plans for us...and here we are.  One should never say never.  You might get thrown a curve ball that will be a grand-slam homerun.

Change is good.  You don't move and then wait for the whole world to come and find you in your little corner of it.  You get out there, get talking, be friendly.  And don't use "But I'm so shy!" as your excuse.  So am I!  My basic nature is very introverted.  But no one here knows that about me unless I tell them.  Life here is a whole brand new clean slate and you can start afresh.  And it's amazing how liberating that is!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Moment in Mayberry

There are two things you don't find many of any more.  One is drive-in movie theaters and the other is traditional barber shops.  I haven't been to a drive-in since back in my dating and early-married years around 40 years ago.  Technology and the availability of having all kinds of gadgets and access to a multitude of medias within our homes has made drive-ins a thing of the past.  I say that with a lot of sadness.  There were many warm summer nites when I was a little girl where my parents would dress my brothers and me in our pajamas, pack up the back seat of the car with blankets and pillows, and head off for the drive-in.  It was cheap family entertainment and a lot of fun.  They'd splurge on a couple of big buckets of buttery popcorn and we'd settle in and enjoy ourselves.  There were a couple of cartoons before the main feature, and quite often double features where two movies were shown back-to-back.  Since moving here to the Midwest and being out on our road trips a lot I have spotted a few drive-in movies still in operation and I would love to go to one sometime.  Unfortunately, most have been in other states and too far too drive.  There was one I noticed recently in eastern Ohio that especially intrigued me.  It was set back a ways from a two-lane highway, surrounded by close to a thousand acres of corn fields out in the middle of virtually nowhere.  My imagination really took off on that one.  I could see us parked there with the windows wide open --  yeah, right, with a million mosquitoes eating us alive --  serenaded by cricket choirs, fireflies flashing all around us, a million stars overhead.  Temptation, temptation.  Maybe we ought to make a weekend trip of it sometime, find a little old motel somewhere nearby, and actually go.  Simple as it sounds, it's on my bucket list.

There's a true-blue barber shop about a mile from our house.  Dear Hubby, our son, and grandsons all go to it.  Saturday was a busy day and my daughter-in-law called and asked if I could help out by taking the boys for some much-needed hair cuts.  When we went in the door the boys were greeted by name and I sat down and savored the atmosphere while I waited.  Barber shops are so totally a male environment.  There were old...and I do mean old...barber chairs.  I'm not sure how old the building was or how many years the barber shop has been there but the floor was old black-and-white square linoleum tiles...the sinks had to be at least half a century old.  There were antique mirrors on the walls.  And lots of interesting customers sitting back in the chairs waiting for their hair cuts.  Good people-watching variety.  Along the deep front windowsill were bottles of old-fashioned hair tonic, trophies, model cars, photos of cars.  All kinds of posters and cut-out photos plastering just about every inch of wall space.  All that was missing was Floyd the Barber.  One man mentioned he comes all the way from Detroit to have his hair cut there because it's an honest-to-goodness barber shop.  He said the shop he'd gone to for years had been converted a while back to a unisex salon and he just didn't feel comfortable getting his hair cut there any more.  Plants all over, music had lost its atmosphere.  I chatted with all the men while the boys were being attended to. I told them with growing up with brothers I used to tag along and sit watching while they'd get hair cut and I always felt at home in barber shops, too.  Truth be told, I've always felt more comfortable around males than I do females any day.  Growing up with the practicality of males I never did learn the art of feminine chit-chat and I'm much more at ease with the less-is-more conversation of speak if you have something to say, and you keep it short and simple without all the frills of feminine speech.  But I digress.  The boys got Number Two razor cuts, Dylan over his entire head, Cooper the same except for a little fringe about 1/2" long along his forehead he wanted the barber to spike.  So the barber took a tube of barber wax...I want to say butch wax??  Isn't that what it used to be called when crew cuts were the fashion of the day when my brothers were little boys?  He spiked Cooper's little fringe...the boys were dusted down with barber brushes, and we were on our way.  It just felt like traditional America for the half hour we were we'd stepped right back into the 1950s.  Moments like that make me long for things that are pretty much lost to our daily lives now.  Our world is obsessed with "Change is better".  And that's not always true.  I'm glad my grandsons have this connection with years gone by, this chance to experience something still so traditionally male.  I don't understand a world where everything sexual is becoming so blurred and fuzzy, and I'm not talking about sexual relationships, I'm talking about females and males.  I don't understand gender blending.  I know...I'm old-fashioned and I'm not being politically correct here but I belong to an age where men were men and women were women.  And you didn't have to look two times, or even three, to figure it out.  But that, too, is a thing of the past.  And I'm so glad I'm not a child in the world today trying to understand it all.  It's too confusing even for me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Don’t refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase — that’s what wild geese are for. ~ Author Unknown

I just took a quiz on Facebook to check out and see how long I might live.  Here are the results:


You tend to stand out in life -- but in a really good and impressive way. Sometimes, you surprise even yourself with what you're capable of. So it's not just others who are wowed by you. It's also yourself. There's no wonder you'll live a long life full of adventure and fun!

What made me chuckle was one of the questions.  It asked me if I liked to take risks.  I almost clicked on "No" and then I laughed.  I mean, packing up and moving 2400 miles from all that was familiar at the age of 57?  I guess I 'wowed' myself on that one, haha!  So I clicked the "Yes," and rightly so.

Monday, October 28, 2013

You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

A puffy little fur-ball came into my life back in 2004.  He was a new Lhasa Apso puppy and his name was, quite fittingly, Max.  He was my grandpuppy before my grandsons came along and I used to do daily care for him as well while my son and daughter-in-law worked.  I house-broke him, walked him, and loved him with everything in me.  He had the biggest heart of any dog I've ever known, and his instinctive empathy was amazing.  When I was quite ill at one point, he used to jump up on the bed and stretch out his body alongside mine, giving me warmth and comfort.  He was so happy-go-lucky, something that served him well once the grandboys came along.  His one downfall was he never did learn to obey the word "Come!"  If he accidentally slipped out of the door, he was gone! But he always managed to find his way back.

This past week Max began showing signs he wasn't feeling well, around Wednesday.  He wouldn't eat or drink, he had no energy.  He lost his luster and his shine and his eyes became dull.  My son was out of town for a week's vacation with Dear Hubby so getting Max to the vet and trying to get him some help fell on my daughter-in-law and me.  By Friday he was very ill.  She took him in earlier in the day, then I took him back Friday evening so they could give him an IV to try to sustain him until the next morning when the Veterinary Hospital opened.  By Saturday morning, he was in pretty desperate shape.  We took him in, and to make a very sad story short, we had to have him put down.  He was barely hanging on to life when he arrived at the hospital.

So...Maxie will never be slipping out of the door again and frisking off into the distance.  He'll never come and sit beside me early in the morning on the days I take care of my grandsons, laying his head on my lap while we wait for the boys to awaken.  He doesn't need to worry about obeying the word "Come!" anymore.  I'm sure in his little corner of doggy heaven he's free to run and enjoy himself as much as he wants to.  I'm sure he's there to give some little angel boy or girl all the love he bestowed on us here on earth.  And I'm sure, on the day each of us gets to heaven, he'll be there waiting at the gate to welcome us home.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. ~ Henry David Thoreau

I look at this photograph I took of a sunrise on Lake Superior last October and it reflects what solitude is like to me...peaceful...serene.  Nothing on the horizon but the sun coming up over the lip of the lake.  I remember that morning.  It was cold and the trees were ablaze with color around me.  A bit of a breeze barely rippled the water.  Dear Hubby was somewhere around me but at this particular moment I was gazing out and feeling how away-from-it-all we were, on this bit of empty lake shore without another soul around.  The Upper Peninsula is still a place where the hurrying and scurrying of city life is as foreign to it as sunshine and 80 degrees in the middle of January.  It's non-existent.  When you stand on the lake shore at sunrise you can't help but be still and contemplate God's beautiful creation.  I was awestruck.  The entire trip I was awestruck.  Every corner we turned, every path we trod, we'd go from one stunning view to another.  There was no end to it, and when you'd think you couldn't possibly see anything more beautiful...something more beautiful would appear.  Dear Hubby had been ill and hospitalized for a few days before we left to go on this trip and even tho our kids voiced their reservations about us traveling 450 miles away to the furthest point before turning south and heading home, we felt we had to take this trip.  Even tho he denies it, we think a lot of his health issues were stress-related and that trip ended up being the best medicine in the world for him, getting away from the cell phone, texts, noise, traffic...whatever.  He needed peace and what he found in the Upper Peninsula was an abundance of it.  The first nite we stayed in a little burg called Paradise.  And that was just what it was, in an old resort-style motel on the shores of Lake Superior.  When the sun went down it was dark. And it was silent.  And we slept like the dead.

I happen to love solitude.  In this life that I have here in Michigan, I spend a lot of time alone.  I interact with neighbors and carry on conversations with people I meet by chance during the day when I'm out and about but for the most part I'm alone from the time Dear Hubby leaves for work early in the morning until he comes home towards late afternoon.  I don't know why people are afraid of being alone.  Do they think of  'aloneness' as loneliness?  I am never lonely, never homesick.  I enjoy my own company and have always found crowds hard to take.  It's like being on sensory overload when I'm in a big group of people.  I come away mentally exhausted and I need time alone to refresh myself and gather my wits about me again.  I think those who don't know me too well but are "Friends" on Facebook probably think I'm very social because I post a lot and I have a lot to say there.  But I'm not. That's the "surface" me, the one I let the world see in face-to-face encounters.  But the real sir.  That part of me isn't revealed to much of anyone, not really.  That part is for me alone. Sometimes I almost feel like I live a double life.  But both parts are real.  The one who can carry on a conversation with anyone can shine forth when need be.  But I am much more comfortable with the one who can sit in the quiet  and watch the birds at the feeder, the wind in the huge maples across the street.  The one who likes to be alone and is never lonely.

I think we Americans in our rush-rush-always-have-to-be-connected society have lost the ability of knowing how to be alone, of knowing how nourishing that time is to our souls and our emotional and mental well-being. Why does every minute, every hour, of not only our lives but our children's lives have to be scheduled and structured and planned and organized?  Don't any of us remember what it was like to be carefree children with nothing but hours ahead of us on a summer day to  To play or not to play?  To lie in the grass and gaze at the clouds and just empty our minds and dream?  To ride a bike down a country road with the wind in our hair and no destination in mind?  I find a lot of freedom in solitude.  It's a great place to daydream. It's a place we all ought to visit on a regular basis.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing, Ever a child can do! ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I love this photo and that's the only reason why I'm posting it.  Just because I love it.  It doesn't tie in to anything I'm going to write about.  At least, I don't think so. Not so far.  I hardly ever have anything in mind when I sit down here at the keyboard.  I just start writing.  But this photo deals with friendship and friendship isn't on my mind.  So there you go.

You know, it's shocking to me how hard it is to get back into the groove of writing on a daily...well, almost!...basis again.  I've gotten a little rusty and it's kind of like working a cranky old hinge that doesn't want to bend.  I think my brain cells have atrophied in the past year or so.  But I began writing a novel about a year ago and started on a roll with it, writing 22,000 words.  Then I was needed to take care of my grandsons and I put the book on the back burner while I was busy with that.  It simmered in the back of my mind for a while but I'm afraid the flame fizzled out.  Pfffffttttt!  Just like that.  So one of the reasons I'm determined to come here again is to stretch out those reluctant cells and get my mind-juices flowing again.  I'm hoping it will be like riding a bike...once you learn, even if you don't ride one for years, you hop back on board and away you go.

This past week my son and his wife took our grandsons to a state park to camp for the weekend.  State parks here, at least some of them, have all kinds of events and nature lectures thru the year, things that are educational but also fun.  That particular weekend was their annual Halloween celebration. We spent almost all day Saturday with them and had a wonderful time.  I took the boys on the hayride and on the way back to the campsite we stopped at a little play ground that no one was using.   The boys got on the swings and I pushed them for a while.  When they got off and ran over to the slide I decided to sit down and swing myself!  The boys thought that was hysterical but I told them there are some things in life you never grow too old to do, and one of them in my book is swinging!  Oh, it felt so good!  I think the last time I'd swung was when my kids were little and we were at Westmoreland Park in Portland.  A long time ago.

Dear Hubby took our oldest grandson out squirrel hunting for the first time on Saturday so he and his younger brother spent Friday nite with us.  After he and Pa had taken off the next morning, Cooper and I were sitting on the couch watching cartoons.  He absently reached up and started twining his fingers thru my hair, something he used to do all the time as a baby while he drank his bottle.  I brought it to his attention and told him I bet he couldn't remember ever doing that...which, of course, he couldn't.  But as he sifted his fingers thru my hair he said, "Gram, I don't see hardly anyone with white hair."  I told him no, most people color their hair when they start getting older...they don't like it when grey and white hairs start showing up because they're afraid of growing older.  I told him I'd decided to let mine go natural, that getting old holds no fear for me.  I don't know what went thru his mind as I said that, but he leaned over close into my side and hugged my arm and said, "I love you with all my heart, Grams." Life just doesn't get any better than that.

Our house was in very nice condition when we moved into it but it had been owned by the same family for over 50 years and outside of a kitchen remodel probably in the late 70s or early 80s, not much has been modernized.  Elmer and Janie were the parents' names.  He was a "Ford man", working in the car industry all his adult life.  Janie was a homemaker and they raised three sons in this house.  Sometimes as I go about doing my housework, Janie comes to mind.   I think of her as I'm standing at the sink doing dishes, wondering what she thought about as she stood there and watched the seasons pass outside the window as I do. Did she watch her boys toss around a football in the back yard?  Did she spot cardinals in the maple tree?  How crowded the table must have been at nite when everyone sat down to dinner, those big boisterous teenage boys with hearty appetites!  Obviously she and Elmer loved this house because they both lived here until the boys were all grown and gone, until they both died.  Dear Hubby and I love it just as much, I'm sure, tho our tenancy here will be of much shorter duration, considering he's 60 and I'm creeping up to the same age very fast.  As we signed the papers on the day we closed, one of the sons who has become a famous record producer in Hollywood circles told us, "That house is filled with a lot of happy memories for me.  I hope it's filled with them for you, too."  Wasn't that just the nicest thing to say?  I know the moment I walked in here for the first time I felt like I'd come "home".  There was such a peaceful, serene, happy vibe to it.  And when Dear Hubby and I go some place, whether we're only gone for the day or for a week or so, when we think of home, this is it.  This is where he hangs his hats.  This is where I've made my nest.  Home....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity. ~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Dear Hubby meeting his New Best Friend
Dear Hubby and I took a vacation in early August to southern Missouri to attend a church camp of our faith for 5 days.  This is an annual Camp Meeting that is held every year for those who live in the Midwest and East.  People came from as far away as Portland, too, which is where our faith's headquarters are and where Dear Hubby and I attended church for 35 years.  Portland has an international Camp Meeting at the end of June that lasts for two weeks and people from all over the world attend that one.  In all the years we'd lived in Portland we had never been able to afford or take the time to make the trip to southern Missouri so this was our first time ever and it was a wonderful experience.

But...before we headed down to the Ozarks and the church camp we took a little side trip to a tiny town about halfway between St. Louis and Jefferson City.  It's the town my husband's father lived in before their family moved to Portland in the early 1940s, where he and his siblings spent a good portion of their childhood.  It is a town that's been devastated by the economy and also a major flood of the Missouri River in the 1990s that destroyed many homes and businesses.  As Dear Hubby and I drove in on the main highway thru town we didn't know what to expect but we surely didn't expect to find a literal ghost town.  About the only businesses we saw that were open were a little convenience store/gas station and a mechanic's garage.  We drove around and were so disappointed to begin with, there were so few signs of life.  Coming to this little town was a dream come true for Dear Hubby, who'd always wished he could visit someday...and it looked like it was going to be a bust.  That is, until we turned a corner and approached a church.  There was an elderly lady sweeping the sidewalk there and I said to Dear Hubby, "Why don't you stop and ask her if she might have known your family?  She looks about the right age."  So Dear Hubby pulled up next to the curb and called out to her.  He got out of the car and as he walked towards her he asked her how long she'd lived in the town.  "Why, I've lived here all my life!" she told him.  "Well, then...I'm wondering if maybe you might have known my Dad's family," he said.  She asked what the family name was and when he told her she exclaimed, "You mean Norma and Ray and Russell?  Well, yes, I knew them!  Norma was my sister's best friend.  We used to all go to school and play together!"  Oh my word!  This was over 70 years ago!  To make a long story short, she and Dear Hubby were new best friends from that moment onward.  When he told her how thrilled he was to meet her, she told him, "Why, this is such a thrill for me, too!  I get to share all these memories of my childhood and have such a nice visit!  I never dreamed when I got up this morning that this would happen to me today!"  She took us on a tour of the town and showed him the house his dad had lived in as a boy.  We went to the old school up on School Hill, to the Pavilion and Park along the Missouri River where they played and went to dances.  She remembered everything and at 85 her mind was as sharp as a tack.  She invited us into her home and we had a lovely visit there.  By the time we left we felt like we'd known one another forever.  We couldn't thank her enough for her kindness and hospitality.  She told us with a twinkle in her eye as she walked us out to our car when we were leaving, "Why, I wish I'd known you were coming!  I would've baked you a cake!"  I don't know who had a better time, her or Dear Hubby.  It was a very emotional trip for him and it was such a privilege to be a part of his special day, to see how much it meant to him and touched his heart.  His grandparents have been gone a long time and his dad, his aunts, his uncles, are all gone now, too, the last of them passing on just a short time before we moved to Michigan.  His New Best Friend brought the past alive to him in a way he'd never dreamed possible.  I knew his dad and aunts and uncles and it brought them all to life again for me, too.  I could just picture them walking the country road to school...swimming in the old water hole...playing in the grassy yard around the old school on the hill.  A person hearing this story could say, "What a nice coincidence!"  I say, what an incredibly sweet gift from the good Lord.  Before we'd gone to the little town, we'd stopped in another one, a kind of touristy-trap place a few miles up the highway.  We talked about taking a walk and stopping in some of the antique shops but I had this urge to move on so we hopped in the car and drove on to the little town.  If we'd stopped and browsed, we most likely would've missed our opportunity to meet our new friend...she was just finishing up with her sweeping and was getting ready to go home when we pulled up next to her.  We could have turned the corner by the church 5 minutes, half an hour later, and missed her completely.  It was just meant to be.  In my heart there ain't no doubt about it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I go to the beat of my own drummer and I make no excuses. ~ Miss Kris

Our youth-obsessed world seems to be terrified of growing older, doesn't it?  A few weeks ago Cher was on David Letterman, I believe it was.  I watch very little television, but when I saw a preview of the show with her on it I decided to tape it on the DVR so I could get a look at her.  I haven't paid much attention to her in years, but I've heard how she obsessively tries to keep age away by nipping and tucking, and blowing some body parts up and chiseling other parts down.  So as I fast-forwarded to her guest spot, I had no idea what to expect.  Of course, with her being a legendary diva they couldn't have her just walk out onto the stage...they brought her down from the catwalks above, sitting on a swing.  I must say, overall she still looks like the mummified version of herself that's been walking around for years but I didn't get a chance to see the backs of her hands...they're always a good indicator of age.  And she had no turkey-neck at all...that truly impressed me because so many other Hollywood ladies have been tightened up to the point of ripping if they smile, but still have all the wrinkles and prominent neck-chords down below chin-level. They try to camouflage it by having their hair cut and brushed strategically to try and hide it but we know it's there.  I don't think I've ever seen anyone other than Cher who's been able to have that part of their body "youth-ified".  My goodness...why bother?  Why go to all that expense?  I know, I know...people will say "Mind your own business!" and tell me to go jump in a lake.  But I'm one of those who's decided to age with grace, to let Nature take its natural course.  The lines in my chin area are becoming more and more pronounced, my hair is silvery-white, I have the beginning of faint spots on the backs of my hands, my skin is beginning to lose some of its elasticity.  So what?  I think I'd more afraid of looking like Cher in my late 60s or having a lip-job backfire like it did on Lisa Rinni and Meg Ryan than I am to face the mirror each morning.  I don't want to look spooky to the point of not needing a mask on  Halloween.  I want to look natural and let God's handiwork be my beauty routine.  All natural, no frills.  Just me, the way He intended me to be.  What is so wrong with that?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ok.  This is my third attempt at trying to write something here this evening.  I love to write with music playing and on my first attempt I tried my Pandora station of Bluegrass Gospel...mmmm, no.  Then it was Contemporary Christian...that didn't do anything for me either.  So now I've got it on my Piano Instrumentals and I guess I'm like Goldilocks because this music is 'just right'!  Third time seems to be the charm.  Maybe I'll get somewhere now.
I have very few photographs of myself when I was a little girl.  We didn't have much money and film was a luxury back in the 1950s.  I have always loved this photo.  I'm sitting on the porch with my brother who is 2 1/2 years older than me and with my paternal grandmother.  My brother and I are bundled up but Grammy is sitting there in one of her old house dresses, short-sleeved, no jacket on.  This was taken in Washington State along the coast and I notice the sun is shining.  I can't tell you what a rarity that is there thru the winter and spring months.  I'm having a hard time gauging when this must have been taken because my grandmother died on Easter Sunday when I was 3.  That was in 1957, and I don't think I look much beyond 2 or 3 here.  My birthday is at the tail end of December, so I'm thinking this must've been just around the time she died. With all that said...I can't remember my grandmother, not consciously.  But see that funny-looking thing I'm clutching in my arms?  It was a cardboard lady.  The back of it, which is pointing out at the camera, is blank, but on the other side, the caricature was of a very refined lady with a striped parasol.  She had on a beautiful dress and high heels.  It sat on top of the dresser in my grandmother's bedroom and I simply loved that cardboard doll.  It was a special privilege for me to be allowed to hold it when I came to visit and it's the first thing I ran to claim whenever I arrived there. 
Why would I remember a cardboard doll but not my grandmother?  I can remember the smell of the house she lived in because my grandfather was a heavy smoker and the cigarette smoke was almost overwhelming as you walked in.  I can remember the outside of the house, what her dresser looked like in her bedroom, her old dog Muffet.  But when I try to bring up an image of her, my mind is empty.  What I do have when I think of her is more of an emotional memory.  I can feel a deep sense of love and warmth and comfort.  But try as I might I can't 'see' her.
The mind is a strange storehouse.  I can remember things from 55 years ago like it was yesterday, and yet I can't remember where I put my glasses.  I can relate a memory to my oldest brother that's crystal clear in my mind and he'll tell me, "No, it happened this way, not that way!"  My daughter can remember even the most minute detail of her childhood...and my son can't remember anything.  Why does my brain  let me remember riding home in the car, looking over the backseat at my newborn baby brother cradled in my mother's arms, when I was 6...but I can't remember my mother's voice 24 years after she passed away?
Time is a funny thing.  I heard it explained in an interesting way today:  We are allowed the time allotted for our lives from the moment we're born to the moment we die.  Our time didn't exist before that, and our time ended then, in the physical sense.  And as to memories...well, we're only still 'alive' when there's still someone left here on Earth to remember us.  Once that last family member or acquaintance we knew passes away themselves...well, we die again right along with them, really.  It kind of gives time a different perspective thought about that way, doesn't it?
I don't know about you, but I'm glad there are a lot of things we don't remember.  There have been many things in my life I've striven to forget.  And yet I'm sure there are a lot of things I wish I could remember, like the hugs and voice and smile of my grandmother, the voice of my own mother.  With Grammy,  all that is lost forever but thankfully, with my mom, there are still old VCR tapes I can pull out and play where I can see and hear her again.  With the sound and the image, she comes alive again for those few moments and my memory is refreshed.  Because I'm still here and I remember her, she's still alive for me, even if she is just a memory.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Isn't this a cool photo?  I took this of Dear Hubby when we were out on a lake not long ago at sunrise.  Fishing is something I've loved to do from the time I was a very little girl.  A lake on the edges of my hometown used to have a fishing derby every year on opening day of trout season, and I loved to go.  Since moving to Michigan we've bought a boat and we've been out several times on this particular lake.  So far we've caught a couple of big mouth bass, a couple of catfish, and about a bazillion blue gill!  It's so peaceful and relaxing.  And yes, I do bait my own hooks!  And I catch and release them, too.  Slimy stuff has never bothered me.  It's the tomboy coming out in me.

Oh my poor little ignored blog.  How many times I've come to it and just sat here staring at the blank 'page'.  I don't know where I lost my groove but I'm determined to find it again.  I think Facebook has been my main distractor but I'm finding I feel like too much of a motor mouth and I'm not fulfilled with putting bits and pieces out there.  I'm finding I miss just rambling on like I used to on here.  This was my first love before I ever even heard of Facebook, and even tho I no longer take care of my little grandboys on a daily basis, I can still chronicle the events in our lives.  It's just...different than it used to be.  And that doesn't mean it's any less.  It's just been another life adjustment, another phase of life to ease in to.

I have to admit that since we've moved to Michigan I'm astounded at how little people from here know about Oregon.  I had another one of those "Where in the world is Oregon?" moments with someone today, a lady I met up with when I was out and about. When I said I was originally from Portland she said, "Oh, I bet you're glad you're here now! It snows a lot more in Portland, doesn't it?" I said, "Well, nooooooooo. It snows a lot in the mountains, tho. It RAINS a lot in Portland." I could tell she was thinking hard! She asked, "Isn't it near Salt Lake City?" I said, "Noooooo....Oregon is on the West Coast along the Pacific Ocean." "Ohhhhhhh!" she says. "I hear the pollution is terrible there!"  She was just a tad bit clueless, don't you think?  It gave me my first good chuckle of the day.

Halloween is coming upon us quickly...Midwesterners really get into the festiveness of it, the harvest aspect.  All up and down our street, people have pumpkins and Autumn flowers and jack o' lantern lights and corn stalks adorning their front porches.  Oh, and the trees!!  They contribute the glorious colors above!  One thing we love is many of the state parks here have "Halloween Weekends" for families who camp at the end of the season.  Our son and daughter-in-law have taken our two grandsons every Halloween we've lived here to a park about 50 miles from where we live.  They urge the campers to decorate their campsites.  There are hay rides for $1, all kinds of activities for children, and trick or treating thruout the whole campground late in the afternoon on Saturday.  They're going again this weekend and Dear Hubby and I are going there for the day.  Our daughter-in-law is going to have a big pot of homemade chili for dinner around the camp fire.  I can't think of a more "Halloween-y" way to spend it, and it's supposed to be a gorgeous Fall day as well.  One thing I do love about Michigan is when the weather forecaster says it'll be nice on the weekend, 99% of the time he's right!

Well, I took a quick break from getting my flowerbeds cleaned out and settled for the Winter.  I even dug up a huge -- well, huge for me, anyway -- stump out of the front flowerbed.  I had planted a Russian Sage there when we moved in 2 1/2 years ago and it's ended up being something Dear Hubby is very allergic to.  I'd cut back the zillions of blossoms a month or two ago with the intentions of digging it up...and now that time has come.  I can't believe how much it had grown from the original plant I put in there!  But I got it out of there!  I feel like Helen Reddy singing "I am Woman!  Hear me roar!"