Friday, November 20, 2015

The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on. ~ Joseph Heller, Catch-22

If I mention the attack in Paris, a few years from now if I'm still alive and come back to read this will I even know what attack this was?  The world is so transient and with media omnipresent at the click of a remote or the swipe of a finger on a phone screen, each day disaster is chronicled at an amazing pace.  I know it's more than I can keep up with most of the time.  And with one disaster piled onto another disaster on top of another disaster, how can we focus on the horrific-ness of each one when our attention span has only a few hours or so to absorb it and then, wham!  Here comes another one.  My mind is on overload most of the time as it is with the everyday busyness of life...I seem to forget more than I remember.  But I do believe this terrorist attack is going to alter global life for all of us, and when we do think on it we'll picture it in much the way we did the terrorist attack on 9/11.  Life before, life after.

I try not to get too involved in politics.  That wind will blow whichever way it feels like on any given day.  But I do have two young grandsons and the decisions made in the White House and Congress the next 12 months will have profound affects on their futures.  Their world is very precarious.  But it gives me great comfort on any given day when I take care of them in the morning before school and their main concerns are playing a game they created about Poke`mon.  Or if they remembered to put everything they needed in their backpacks.  Or if today is Mentor day or Library day or Music day.  The world's turmoil hasn't touched them much yet.  Their innocence is still intact.  Sure, they know the 'safe' place in their classroom or school in case of a lockdown...but that's only in theory and, thank God, hasn't been put into practice and hopefully never will.

I have a friend who commented on a post I wrote on Facebook saying she wished she'd grown up in the 1950s.  I did, and in many ways it seemed like an idyllic time in our country's history.  But there was Senator McCarthy's witch hunt for communists.  There was the Korean War.  No time is perfect.  But if I can extend the peace in my grandsons' minds of not knowing the world is a pretty messed up, mixed up place for a little while longer...well, it's at the top of my To Do list.

Friday, September 11, 2015

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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want. ~ Oscar Wilde

Do ya think? As a Christian I usually see things on the bright side but some today...I can't get the voice out of my head that tells me everything is going to go wrong...everything I do is a failure...I'm not worthy.  It came on me like a flood last nite as I went to bed and it was there to climb right back onto my shoulder as soon as I awoke this morning.  I hate anxiety.  It's the most worthless waste of energy in the world and yet some days it seems to be unavoidable. Today's version is telling me some settled business is all a sham, even with the legality of it.  Hogwash, ha!  But for some reason that's what the voice is shouting in my ear.

I hate it, as I said, and the reason why is because it takes me right back to my adolescent years where I was consumed by anxiety.  I had a lot on my plate as a teen. Because my parents had a lot on their plates, too, I had nowhere to turn to, no one to talk to, so I shouldered all that for several years.  I contemplated suicide many times, sure no one would even miss me if I died.  I felt like my presence in my family was  that of an invisible bystander.  The silent minority.  I dealt with whatever was tossed my way, and I survived.  But when my mind drifts back to those years, even after all the many happy years I've had as an adult, that familiar knotting of the stomach hits.  I can feel the dry mouth happening.  I want to escape.  And thankfully, when I met Dear Hubby, I was delivered from it.

Dear Hubby and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary last month.  41!  And the man deserves a medal for helping me deal with a lot of excess baggage I've carried around at times.  I certainly don't deserve him but I'm so thankful for his presence in my life.  His support, his love, and most importantly his prayers, have been my lifeline.

99% of what we fret about never comes to pass.  You know that, don't you?  And the 1% that does?  Well, we face it, deal with it, and  move on.  So...adios, voice inside my head.  You're history.

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.

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning. ~ Ivy Baker Priest

After a few hot and humid days we woke up to the sound of rain and cooler temperatures this morning.  Dear Hubby and I went around the house opening up doors and windows and the smell of the fresh air blowing thru the house is absolutely delicious!  I don't know how people here in the Midwest or anywhere else that experiences high humidity thru the Summer survive without central air conditioning.  Hot days in the Pacific Northwest were no picnic either because the Summer weather there goes to such extremes.  It could be 68 and raining one day, then 95 the next with a hot east wind blasting out of the Columbia River Gorge but at least the humidity never seemed to go above 50% so it wasn't sticky icky.  We never had any air conditioning when we lived there but when I learned this house had central air as I was house hunting a few years ago, it was a definite plus on our decision to purchase it.  I remember the first time I clicked the thermostat over to "Cool" and heard the AC kick on, felt the cool air start to blow thru the air vents.  What a concept!  The first year we lived here we had it adjusted pretty low because we'd only been here a couple of months before Summer blazed forth and we weren't quite acclimatized yet.  Now, tho, we have it set at 78 during the day, a degree or so lower at nite.  It's funny how those temperatures can feel so 'cool' and how 63 in the Winter can feel so warm!  When the snow is blowing, the wind is howling, and the wind chill factor is -45, a house that's 63 degrees feels like the tropics in comparison to what's going on outside.

I haven't written anything about my grandboys yet so I thought you who've read my blog for a long time might like a bit of an update.  At this stage of the game I am no longer needed for full days that stretched out to an average of 11 1/2 hours like they did in the past.  Dylan is 8 and Cooper is now 6.  Both boys are in school for full days.  I'm off during the Summer while their other grandma is visiting from Texas but I still see them fairly regularly.  Cooper will be going in to 1st grade and Dylan will be a 3rd grader.  They're both on baseball teams so our Summer evenings are busy with watching games.  Their Summer days are filled with play dates, sleepovers, playing outside with neighbor kids, swimming in their neighbor's pool.  It is so gratifying to see how they've adjusted to living in the Midwest...well, in all honesty they don't even have any clear memories of the Northwest at all since Cooper was just turning 3 and Dylan 5 when we moved here.  Cooper can't remember anything but every now and then Dylan will ask me, "Gram, was your house in Portland blue?" and he surprised me one day by asking if we'd had to run home one day in a rain storm while we'd been out for one of our marathon walks all over SE Portland.  Yes, we had...and we were drenched to the skin.  I wish they could remember how much fun we had on those walks, how we were regular visitors at the neighborhood fire station, how we'd stood on the sidewalks and watched work crews repair sewer lines and roads.  How we'd get on TriMet and ride the bus to the end of the line, just for the fun of it.  I wish they could remember our Portland neighbors, how much they were loved by them, and the trash/recycling/yard debris collectors who knew the boys by name and let them get on the trucks and push buttons to grind everything up.  I wish they could remember the Mason Bee houses on the back porch and how they'd stand out there in the short lifespan of the bees and hundreds of them would be swarming around their heads but never stung them.  But my blog will be there for them.  It may not bring up many memories they can truly remember, but they'll read about all the adventures we had together, how much fun we had, and just maybe they'll remember that their Gram was a pretty cool lady.

We've been busy making new memories here, tho.  Days out on the lake fishing, trips to the archery range so they can shoot their bows and walk thru the woods with Pa.  Picnics.  Family get togethers. Sleepovers at our house. Lunch at McDonald's Play Place.  Us cheering them on at their ball games.  And thru the school year how I'm there with them every day before school and picking them up afterwards or taking them home if they get sick, staying with them full days when they are ill.  Playing games with them, drawing pictures, and listening.  Always listening.

Perspectives may change. Landscape and regions may change. You may move 2/3 of the way across the country.  But one thing remains true, and that is that life does go on. It is the one constant, no matter where it's lived.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~ Charles Peguy

Several bloggers commented on a post a blogging friend of mine had written on Facebook today, complaining about Blogger.  Some had posts disappear in the middle of writing them.  Some couldn't get the posting page to load.  That kind of freaked me out because the vast majority of my blog has always, at the heart of it, been a living legacy I've been writing for my two grandsons.  I have chronicled their lives from the moments I heard about their existence in the womb.  I have poems I've written for them, countless photos.  I've kicked around the idea many times in the past of culling thru all my posts and making books for each boy with all the blog entries about them individually and together.  And then I've gotten busy with the busyness of every day life and I've put it on the back burner and figured I'll get to it 'another day'.  Well, when is that day going to be? It's kind of like reading a Bible on a daily basis, which I do. You'll never find the time to do it, you have to make the time.  For me, it's as soon as I get up in the morning.  I share my breakfast time with the Lord.  So I know I need to make time to sit down and go thru all my archives and get these books put together before Blogger goes down the tube or disappears somewhere into the vast void of cyberspace.  It's becoming a real fear for me now.  I guess tomorrow I ought to go to Office Max and buy a dozen or so ink cartridges and several reams of paper.

I'm in the process of writing a novel.  Sort of.  My intentions are good, and I've got about half of it written, but I can't seem to sit down and focus in on finishing it.  I once heard that the best stories written are the ones where the writer writes about his or her own true life experiences, tho they can be so glossed over and camouflaged that no one realizes the person's story is there within the pages.  Mine is like that.  I know which character is me...sort as I write about 'her' I relive a lot of past history I'd much rather forget, even tho it's written in a way I don't think anyone who even knows me well would figure out.  So it's very personal in a weird sort of way, and whenever I sit down and work on it I feel like I've been thru an emotional wringer by the end of the day.  My brain aches.  I'm not sure if I'm writing it as a kind of catharsis, as a way of discarding some more emotional baggage along the way.  That's one of the reasons I've come back to my get those creative juices going again so I can get this monkey off my back and get 'er done.

Tho I've never gotten a book written I've done some writing in the past, mostly articles for publications the church I go to prints up and sends around the world.  I've written my 'testimony', about how I'd spent years in the occult as a completely atheistic girl and then found the Lord at the age of 22.  I wrote a song and a play for a Christmas program.  And then for four years during the 1980s two other women and I were involved in a very intense project, writing Sunday School stories to illustrate Bible characters and  how Bible principles are incorporated into every day life.  The age group we were targeting was 7-10 years.  They were published and are still being used by our faith's Sunday Schools all around the world.  It was pretty exciting stuff, seeing the words my co-writers and I had written printed up and illustrated into what we called "Primary Pals".  That was 30 years ago...even longer...and once my own children were past the stage of using them in their own Sunday School classes it wasn't that I'd forgotten that I'd written them.  It was more a case of "Out of sight, out of mind".  I never really thought of what kind of impact our stories really might have made on any children's lives.  Then the other evening Dear Hubby and I were watching a church broadcast on the web and a woman in her 30s was speaking about how she'd grown up in a home where there was no religion outside of a Christian grandmother.  And when the young woman and her sister were little, their grandmother used to get "Primary Pals" for her granddaughters and send them to the girls in the mail.  The woman said that, oh! How thrilled she and her sister were when these packets would arrive in the mail and they'd read every word and do the puzzles and color the pictures.  And Dear Hubby spoke up and said, "Can you imagine how many kids' lives your stories have touched thru the years?"  It was like someone smacked me between the, I hadn't imagined....couldn't imagine.  It was very overwhelming.

Well, I can't imagine my novel is going to knock anyone's socks off.  I don't even have the slightest clue what to do with it, where to send it, or how to present it when it's finished.  Do I try to e-publish it or do I go the way I want to go, the traditional way of having it printed on paper.  I'm a traditionalist at heart, and I still don't think there's a greater thrill that cracking open a new book for the first time and seeing those printed words on an actual page, not a virtual one.  Whether it's read by one or one million, it will never give me the thrill I got when I heard that young woman's story, of how what I wrote basically changed her life and fed her young and hungry soul.  But those words I believe were inspired by God and were written to His glory.  What is my 'boring and paltry' life -- as one reader once said about my blog in the early days -- compared to that?

You can't wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug. ~ Author Unknown

After being absent for 8 1/2 months and coming back here to write, it's a little like coming home after a long absence.  Things are familiar and yet I'm having to search my brain to remember how to change a few things in my account that needed some updating and also how to let comments be seen without having to await my approval.  I'm lazy...that means I can access them when I come to my blog just like anyone else can. If my memory serves me right, I think I activated the comment moderation because I was having trouble with spammers but after all this time maybe personal blogs have dropped so low on their priority list they could care less about driving me to distraction.  I am not one to suffer fools gladly.

Coming back here is like driving up to a childhood home and finding the front porch light on for you.  It's like being wrapped in a warm hug and being led inside for a fine feast and the finest kind of company.  I don't know how to explain why I've neglected writing for so long if this is how good it feels to me again.  I've missed it.  I've missed it a lot.  But I think I made a major mistake when we moved to Michigan to give access of my blog to a lot of people from my personal life...and then it morphed into friends of friends of friends getting access to it.  And then in the back of my mind I felt like the whole world was peeking in over my shoulder, ready to pounce.  It wasn't fun anymore.  It wasn't my quiet little corner where I could come and feel free to say whatever I felt like saying without worrying there were people who were reading and judging.  I felt invaded.  I guess you could say this was no longer my shelter from the storm.  On my last entry a couple of faithful readers from the past, CW and LC, managed to find me once again and that is a total mystery to me how they did.  But reading their comments was like hearing from a couple of old friends after a long separation.  I am hoping other faithfuls will find me too, and come back into my little circle.  I'm realizing I'd missed them.

Social media had invaded my computer in a big way, too.  But I'm getting tired of the surface chatter.  I need something of more substance to satisfy the itch to write that has always lived right under the surface of my skin.  And Facebook doesn't come close to satisfying that need to scratch.  It is amazing how quickly we get sucked in, isn't it?  Probably as bad as cell phone calls and texting.  We're like Pavlov's dog...we hear our ring tone and we just have to answer right now!  When did we ever become so dependent upon needing to know everything right now, where what is on our electronic gadgets has become more important to us than the person we're with in the here and now?  We've become so self-absorbed in the abstract we're losing touch with what's real in the moment.

I think for the time being I'm not going to add photos to go along with my posts.  I don't know if they've changed the way of doing it but I tried to add one to this post and my computer froze and my post disappeared.  Yikes!  So you'll just have to use your imaginations for the time being. 

I feel like I'm a little wobbly on my writing legs at the I'm trying to find balance and settle back into the groove.  Writing is a funny thing.  If you snooze, you lose.  And I have snoozed.  And I have lost.  But at least I haven't come back after 100 years like Rip Van Winkle.  Think of all the ground he lost.  And think how disoriented he must have felt because 8 1/2 months away have got me treading water but determined to reach safety again.  Here, in my little corner.  In my shelter from the storm.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. ~ Henri Bergson

I don't know why, but we humans balk at change.  We get so comfortable in our zones and routines, so caught up in the busyness of every day life, we don't want anything to come along and rock the boat.  But without change, or the willingness to change, we have no idea how many missed opportunities pass us by.  I think I can well attest to that. It was almost 3 1/2 years ago my entire 'core' family...husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and two toddler grandsons, packed up our households and moved to Michigan from Portland, Oregon.  We were all native Northwesterners.  None of us had travelled very far from our little corner of the country for the most part.  Dear Hubby and I were both 56 years old, had gone to the same church for over 35 years, lived in the same house for almost 28 years.  He'd worked for a company for almost 32 years.  Were we immersed in our comfort zone?  You betcha we were.  Then along came this most amazing opportunity to move to Michigan.  Jobs were guaranteed for all the family, I would continue on providing day care for my two grandsons.  Taking deep breaths and praying lots of prayers, we launched out into the deep.  Into the Great Unknown.  Do I have any regrets?  No.  Do I ever look back?  No.

By leaping out on faith I have been blessed with a comfortable little house in which Dear Hubby and I plan on living out our lives in.  We live in a beautiful little community on the outskirts of Detroit.  We have experienced Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter as four individual seasons.  We have survived the hottest July ever in Detroit history, and the most harsh Winter ever.  We have seen it snow...and snow...and snow some more.  We've experienced thunder storms like none others we'd ever seen in our lifetime, and even survived being on the fringes of the Dexter tornado a few years ago as we were coming home from Chicago.  We have seen all five Great Lakes.  We have taken many day trips and wandered all over this beautiful state.  We've crossed the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula and experienced a Fall there as we travelled across along the shores of Lake Superior that was eye candy at every turn.  We have wonderful neighbors and everyone we meet is so friendly.  We have seen our grandsons settle in and thrive and become true Michiganders with many friends in their school and church.  We've taken many road trips around the region and I've been to several different states.  I know where Fort Knox is.  I've been to the birthplace of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and President Rutherford B. Hayes.  And Neil Armstrong. And the Everly Brothers. And Bill Monroe. And Muhammed Ali.  I have seen the St. Louis Arch.  I've crossed the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers.  I've been to the Ozarks, the Allegheny Mountains and the Appalachians.  I've seen a coal mining facility.  I've seen Amish people driving down the side of the road in their buggies.  I've been to the town of Williamsport where the World Little League Championship games are played.  I've been to Canada more times than I can count, and seen Toronto across Lake Ontario as I've travelled to Niagara Falls.  I've seen Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby takes place.  I have heard so many different regional accents, met so many interesting and kind people.  You will probably think this is silly, but the most mind-boggling moment was as we drove across Pennsylvania and I saw a road sign that said "New York City 450 Miles".  New York City!  And Chicago is about 250 miles to the west of us.  I haven't been to New York yet...but tomorrow is another day.  I have been to Chicago and I must say I wasn't impressed, but that's just my personal opinion.  Give me a picnic near Tawas City, Michigan, along the shore of Lake Huron on a beautiful Summer day over Chicago any day.

What if I'd stayed in my comfortable little niche in Oregon?  What if I'd never had the guts to venture out from the rut I was so deeply entrenched in?  Did I realize then how humdrum and tedious my every day life was there?  It wasn't a bad life by any means, but it sure was a boring one.  The move here to Michigan has been life-altering in so many ways...the vast majority have been positive but there have been a few bumps in the road as well, coming to a place so different and not knowing a soul when we arrived.  But if one keeps an open mind, if one opens up and embraces what is set before them, it's like an endless feast of daily delights.  Change is not for the faint of heart.  Change is what you make of it.

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?

The Rose Bowl is the only bowl I've ever seen that I didn't have to clean. ~ Erma Bombeck

I'm thinking it's about time to clean my house, don't you think?  Ha, not really...this isn't my house, but I did decide to do something wild this morning.  I decided to let my self-cleaning oven clean itself.  We've lived in this house for over 2 1/2 years now and I've cleaned it by hand a few times. I guess I'm old-fashioned at heart...I really don't believe new-fangled gadgets like the self-cleaner gadget will work?  And I don't mind expending some elbow grease?  Yet I took a look in the oven the other day as I pulled a messy casserole out, one where the juices and the cheese kind of overflowed, and I thought, "You know, I really don't feel like scrubbing all that gunk off the bottom of the oven."  So, this morning I read the instructions that are printed on the outside of our built-in oven, flicked the dials, hit the Start button, and left it in technology's hands.  Two hours into it and the house hasn't burned down yet -- I can't believe how hot the oven gets! -- but I'm thinking if I open the door and the inside is pristine maybe I'll become a true believer in technology after all.  It's so nice not to have to breathe in the noxious fumes of Easy-Off!  I think I mentioned before that I also have a dishwasher I never use?  I'm one of those crazy women who actually enjoys washing dishes by hand.  I ran a load of dishes in it when we first moved here just to make sure it works...and it does...but Dear Hubby and I just don't generate all that many dirty dishes.  Since I'd have to rinse them all off first anyway, I have never understood how dishwashers are supposed to be economical or even make the task simpler.  So I happily splash around in the hot bubbly water, watch the seasons change outside my kitchen window, and feel content.  I love feeling content.  I'm lucky to say that most of the time I do.

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.