Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Thirtieth: House Hunting

It wasn't easy saying goodbye to Roseburg. It was the first time I had experienced the warm embrace of a new place. Later, I came to believe it was due to a chunk of the local population, that moved more often than average, creating a rhythm of folks moving in and folks moving out. Whatever the reason, it was a lovely place to raise kids, for so many reasons--most of which had to do with enjoying the outdoors and the people.

But the State was closing the office that N worked at for sixish years and we were offered a choice of places to choose from. After a weekend visit, we decided La Grande wasn't for us, which left Salem. The big plus, was that we'd be a few hours closer to family.

The downside was, N had to start work before we had moved our household. He tried camping in the back of his truck canopy at Silver Creek Falls Campground, but the distance to town, the chill of late October nights and partiers, put a damper on that. Thankfully, we had friends whose mother lived in Salem with a spare room.

During our search for a home, we stayed at a local hotel. Looking back, it seemed we searched for an entire week, but most likely just a long weekend or two. Nothing was feeling right--the yards were small, the prices were high, we were all exhausted and feeling the weight of needing to make a decision of some kind soon. Our realtor, Merri Friday, may not have been experienced, but she didn't give up easily. She also offered our offspring an afternoon at her house with her kids--something I'm sure they appreciated.

And then . . . the next day, Merri pulled some more freshly printed pages of homes for sale out of the printer. It was our last day to look. Once we drove up this street, I felt the draw of the neighborhood--trees! A park! Trees! It was the same, when we stepped foot inside the house. It felt like home and once my eyes met N's, I knew he felt the same. The owner, Mark, began to give N a tour of what he considered to be the highlights. Merri told us that the price may be higher than what we could afford, but she insisted we make an offer.

After our offer was accepted, there were a few bumps and stumbles before we were handed the keys, but the house was ours. All ours. And it still is. Love you always, you old abode!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Twenty-Ninth: Dancing in the Kitchen

When N and I, were first seeing each other, there were a couple of songs that were often playing--either on the radio or in our heads. One of the songs, If I'd Known You Better", by Hall & Oates, was always welcome on the radio and eventually our turntable.

Lately, I've been trying to seek more variety for my kitchen dance parties--I've been stuck in a glorious Blood, Sweat and Tears and The Guess Who rut for years. But wait K . . . there's so much more you've been ignoring all these years later. It's time to branch out and rediscover!

And so, yesterday, there I was, dancing my little heart out to that old song, with all the shiny memories and my wet face. What a delightful moment--accented by that big ol' smile on N's face. And now I'm thinking . . . what's up for tonight?
. . . Rita Coolidge's most popular album

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Hair! The Hair! The Hair!

How long have I been growing out this mop? Since I retired, I think, but not completely sure--two years maybe? Two years in and still trying to figure things out.

I go through stages of wanting to prune it or enjoy it with an inspection and adoration of the new locks. There isn't much emotion that falls between, to be honest--love or hate. And the endless number of alluring products--mostly with similar ingredients and SO MUCH scent. Good golly, I'm not trying to hide a corpse!

My most recent discovery is a combination of oils that don't leave my hair greasy and separating into . . . something less appetizing. Jessicurl has a product  that has been working well for me. I combine it with her Confident Curls, and Garnier Fructis leave in conditioner. But that doesn't mean I won't find something completely different in a couple of months. Always searching, that's me. One of things I appreciate about Jessicurl is her sample sizes. Who wants to buy a big bottle of untried hair product, over and over? Which makes me wonder if we shouldn't start requesting those sample sizes from all the companies.

These new oil combos, are a far cry from what was on offer in the seventies. I could never get the hang of the Alberto VO5 conditioning treatment in a tube. Could you? Always reminds me of that pomade I got into as a youngster. But these leave-in conditioners are much easier to apply, though you do have to figure out the combination that works best over a period of time and trials.

And here I sit with damp hair, wondering how the newest product, Klorane, is going to work. Huh, is my hair a hobby? It certainly is right now, K, it certainly is.

"Dear Hair,

You're a wavy whorl
Flowing through the air
The blonde spirals of curl
Full of frizz.
Unlike my friends' straight locks
Whom lay softly is
Mostly straightened and faux
I've learned to embrace
Creatively control
Keep in place
My mane in whole.
Cherished above
You are a terrific thrill.
Love,
Jill"
JILLIANE99

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Twenty-Eighth: The Possibilities of a Day

My late apologies, this ended up more like a rerun, but that seems right for these extraordinary times, when everything seems mostly the same each day. {K shrugs}

This afternoon, a social media bud, posted about what small things they're missing. And then my wheels start to spin a bit. My first thought was a concern such pondering might depress someone staying close to home during this pandemic, but once I began to muse, I realized it's an exercise into cherishing and inspecting those small, unexpected pleasures.

What comes to mind first? The sweet wee exchanges at the check-out counters--whether it's another customer or the clerk or both, they can lift the mood, open a face and maybe even bring a chuckle.

Perhaps I'm alone on the next possible bringer of joy, but doubtful. Now that I've begun to mull this one over, I'm wondering when it happened last. When you have a list of places you need to go, pet shop, post office, grocery store, book store, etc, and you plan the route that pleases.

So many of the looked forward to, appreciated, hoped for, involve people and places. Marked as, "something to look forward to", whenever enough people start taking this seriously and start wearing a mask.

I can wait.
I may not be thrilled,
but there's nothing to stop me from planning for afterwards.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Twenty-Seventh: Freedom

There's a story that Mom would share about the two of us waiting in the doctor's waiting room. I was quite small, perhaps a toddler, and I was in pain, sitting on her lap, loudly wailing and sobbing, sobbing and wailing, my red wet eyes and my snotty nose. And then-- I stopped. And a smile erupted to transform that moment for all the witnesses. I can imagine my Mother's relief and then (perhaps) horror at the sight of what flowed out of my ear. Ah yes, the good old ear infection and the eventual freedom from pain.

When I was eleven or twelve, I was allowed to ride a Greyhound bus one hundred and six miles, all on my own--me and my little flowered suitcase. I'm unclear as to how it happened, but I do remember wanting to spend more time with my cousin Clarissa. Perhaps my cousin and I planned the entire trip--we didn't write those long long letters to one another about nothing. Or Mom had a brainstorm, but I usually had to push for any freedoms. It's still a surprise to me now, that I was allowed to go on that big adventure.

Huh, as I'm composing the next sentence in my head, I realize that it was peer pressure that nudged me to my first real job. Huh. My pal T, suddenly had more spending money of her own and was saving for her dream car. How? Where? When? Can I? Soon there were three of us buds working at Sizzler together. And soon I had a reason and money to get my own car. She was a lovely yellow, two door, Ford Pinto. The first thing I can remember doing after taking possession? I hopped in and started driving and then found myself at the beach. What an amazing feeling that was. Yeah, that was great.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Twenty-Sixth: Cha Cha Cha Changes

When I met N, it was during one of the "big eyewear moments"--as in size of lenses and frames. I enjoyed how his glasses accented his face, the bottom edge resting on his cheeks, rising up a tad, when he'd smile. Silly, I know, but I only knew a handful people who wore glasses back then. When they did, it was because of dire need. "I never saw birds or power lines, until I got my glasses", my childhood pal T informed me. And then, once we were wed, N began to notice my squinting. That's when I joined the spec club and began to appreciate clear vision.

I think that's one of the first "changes" I can remember. No, not the changes that we know are coming. I'm talking about our growing, maturing, learning and the eventual slippery slide towards death. The things we believe define us, the things we show or tell the people around us. Until we have an eye test . . . a realization, an epiphany, or we open our eyes wide enough to question those old tenets cluttering our brains.

One of the silliest changes? When we lived in Tillamook for 3 years, I began to associate the big black flies, the constant summer smell of manure slurry on the pastures, with the coast. Once we left, I didn't want to return. I can remember enjoying the surprise on people's faces, when I'd spout all of the reasons I rejected the beach. And now? Now it's one of my happy places, because we all know the benefits of a stroll on the beach or the lure of a sun sinking into the surf.

And there are others that amuse: my rejection of all red clothing for myself for years. Now I want all the red in my closet and drawers. Either I've changed my mind or those dyes are more pleasing? Who knows why. It's probably called being human isn't it? To evolve or soften or have a different opinion, show growth, reexamine old ideas. Yes, let's call it that--human.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Twenty-Fifth: Public Radio Nerd Alert

One of my favorite times of the morning, is when N and I loll and twine in bed for an hourish, listening to public radio. We snooze in and out of full listening mode, but when we listen to a story--it's with few distractions: those familiar soothing voices sharing news, music, nature, history, science and, yes, those less than soothing stories. We hadn't always immersed ourselves in their worlds, at least not in our first decade together.

There was a moment of introduction by my older brother in the late eighties--whether it was Prairie Home Companion or Car Talk or The New Yorker Radio Hour. Once we discovered there was entertainment to be had on the radio for road trips, we began to seek it out more often. And then, one day, it was only off once we turned on the television in the evenings.

That's when our offspring began to campaign during the pledge drives. I can still hear the scathing, snarky, tones--
"you know they're talking to you, right?"
"have you called yet?"
"it's called stealing."
"here, I wrote down the number for you."
"even Grandma M is a member!"
We resisted, we joked, and then finally joined the club. Or, perhaps I ought to phrase that differently--we caved? surrendered? cried uncle? And it felt good, to be honest.

And now, public radio has become intertwined with family memories: many long drives home, with various teens in the backseat, and we realize the quiet isn't due to sleeping-- no, they're engaged in a story. The sleepovers, where the offspring would show their friends how we spent our Saturday evenings--watching Keeping Up Appearances or The Vicar of Dibley or To the Manor Born. Apparently, that's when they thought we'd gone a step too far. {K shrugs and smiles and hopes the memories continue to bring them a smile.}

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Twenty-Fourth: Daily Delight

Well, then--where shall I begin? {At the beginning, K. Duh} 

The first possible delight of the day, is waking and discovering how many hours since I last checked the clock (something "working me", made an effort not to do). "An entire four hours!", I might remark to myself, while also inserting a mental high five.

And when Hope eats her food at the appointed time? It can feel like an unexpected gift of an hour, where I don't have to keep one eye on that dish, because Izzy does not need double meals.

Most days (particularly now, at this historical moment), I try to complete three crossword puzzles. How I love to come across a clue that my brain knows the answer to, yet I rarely know how. A delightful gobsmack?

SNAIL MAIL--both the receiving and the sending--and the joy is extended to crafting the replies; Having all of the ingredients for a recipe you chose at the last minute; Kitchen dance parties; Receiving a text from a bud; The pull of a good book; Writing; Taking a shower; Checking the plants in our yard; An earworm attached to a happy memory; Crawling into bed; Looking into N's eyes; Listening/visiting with our adult moppets; A job well done.

How about you? Where do you find your daily delights?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Twenty-Third: Rocks, Agates, Stones, Pebbles, BamBam

Everyone enjoys rocks . . . right? Doesn't everyone have a small or large collection, or a favorite stone or six they keep close? What? They don't? Holy Sedimentary Rocks! How is this possible?

My first rock memory, was in Mrs. Minerva Kane's first grade classroom. We littles would bring in interesting bits of road gravel to share and she'd take it, admire its attributes, tell the owner what type of rock it was and then add it to the growing collection on the expansive window sill. She's the reason I used my first book sale quarter on a small book of gemstones.

Oh and did I mention that my folks were rockhounds? I don't recall any rock collecting trips during my time at home, but there was plenty of evidence to be found around our property. When my Pops decided to find a way to enjoy and display their prize finds, he created a base for a yard light. I don't know how involved I was in the process, but I do remember helping select and decide stone placement, when it was time to set them into the surface of the wet concrete.

Whenever we'd pass a rock shop during a road trip, I knew there was a chance the parents would stop. And the treat of touching, admiring those smooth, glossy surfaces, enjoying the patterns, crystals, colors and shapes, never got old: Montana Moss, Obsidian, Jasper, Tiger Eye, thunder eggs.

Many years later, when I was doing the science lessons with the wee folk, bud K and I eventually created a year end review. During our last sessions, we'd pass out remembering stones (agates) in velveteen pouches and each student would have the opportunity to share which science demo they enjoyed most. One year, all of us agreed that the breezy day we took our parachutes outside and one was caught in a tall tree and another sailed higher and higher, was a high point. Yes, that was some day. I can still picture your excited faces. Thanks for the joy.

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Twenty-Second: Reading Aloud

{Oh no! She's writing about reading again?Yes!}

Reading aloud can be quite enjoyable, but only WITH an audience. Otherwise . . . people may come to believe you're losing your marbles and you may shrug and wonder the same. {nothing new here} Besides, art needs feedback, in my opinion. I probably read to our two littles for far too long, but we all three enjoyed it. We digested Lucy Maude Montgomery, Madeleine L'Engle, Lee Nesbit and others who have since escaped my grey cells. I can even recall a summer trip, when I read my current novel, at the time, to N as he drove us across the state. All because I sensed, after a chapter, my constant laughter wasn't a kind gift to the driver--especially with a book that produced guffaws rather than chuckles.

During the first several years of working with the wee folk, it was rare for me to be given opportunities to read to them, but when we began doing small group weekly science lessons, I eventually found ways to wrap a book into our 20-30 minutes. I ended up with a nice collection of both fiction and nonfiction books that complemented our teaching targets. Then, during a lean time, our school district decided to cut librarians. We still had instructional assistants running the libraries, but running a class while checking out books, is a big job for one person.

Eventually I began reading the books during our library class--which led to me buying my own personal collection of books. And what a collection of books! So many characters! So many rhymes! And doing the voices and building the tension and milking the fun and oh how I miss it now. {K sighs and smiles} So, to sum up--it was an honor and a delight to read to all of you, whether for fun or knowledge, and I'll treasure the memories, as I travel through the following life chapters. Cheers!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Twenty-First: When They See You

This is for those adults who seem to understand that young folk want to be informed, seen and heard. Like the pilot, when lucky wee me got to join G'ma Weeks for a plane ride to the mountains. When we were first gaining altitude, and those power lines appeared to reach arms and wires out to ensnare and electrify us four(?) to death, the pilot casually commented (most likely after seeing my facial expression) on their presence and how they weren't as close as it seemed. Instant unclenching of the stomach muscles and the ability to enjoy the trip soon followed.

I can recall several instances of moments like that, like when a brother-in-law came to my rescue when a clutch cable broke on my first car. Afterwards, I felt like I'd contributed to the repair, rather than treated like a useless child. And then there was Uncle Dave, who we only saw once a year, but knew he'd see us and enjoy our company: he flipped as many pancakes as we could gobble up, gathered us to help churn ice cream, as he shared his favorite stories or (even better) act out his stories around the campfire. What joy! And I loved to retell those stories to others. Perhaps as a way of hanging onto the lore and making it stick in the memory?

To be honest, it's something I hoped to emulate as an adult, but the opportunities are rare these days. I'll take heart that I offered a few of those moments on the playground or in the classroom. There will be moments in the future--and here's me taking this opportunity to remind myself that the current situation is temporary. Truly.
See you . . . always.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Twentieth: Egg Me, Please

If there's one food that stands out above the others in my life, it would be eggs. It's a love affair that began early and stuck--like that missed smear of yolk on your plate."by the way, are you going to eat that?" Not like the dreaded banana, that (apparently) I was born to loathe. Mother would share that story once in awhile. She couldn't believe it was banana that I refused to get past my lips. (gag) I can.

But back to eggs, lovely eggs . . .  Every weekday childhood breakfast, included a bowl of oatmeal and an over easy egg with toast. I didn't dally over the oatmeal, but I had a particular routine/method when it came to enjoying that egg and the most important part was the division of the single piece of toast: toast for dipping and toast for slipping what remained of the egg onto--then open mouth to slowly, methodically, savor each buttery, yolky, crunchy, bite. Sigh.

There was one morning, (I remember, thanks to offending the cook) when Mother wasn't cooking breakfast--instead it was oldest sissy S at the stove (13 years older than I). She preferred to cook her eggs on a higher heat . . . leading to the DREADED wires around the egg edges! Sadly, this little imp pointed it out and the story still lives on. (No, I did not roll my eyes just now, I swear.)

Though, my most favorite egg memory, was when I was home in bed with one bug or another, and Mother would deliver a perfectly cooked, 3 minute egg, cubed and peppered on a saucer, with toast, to my bed. I tried to duplicate that nostalgic wee meal several times, but finally decided it was the memory and moment, rather than the actual food. Thanks for that lovely egg memory, Mom. Love you always.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Nineteenth: Ms. Morrow

Although, the majority of school levies didn't win a majority in elections in my hometown, there was one year during the 70s when the kids won big. That's when our small district built an annex when I was in elementary school. The annex was both a new building and a bridge between the lower grades and the upper. One side was for sixth grade classrooms and the other side was for the superintendent's office, a science lab and home economics with Ms. Morrow.

In the beginning of high school, Ms. Morrow, was one of my favorite teachers--and not just because she was around six and a half feet tall, but that impressive height didn't hurt. She paid attention to us and didn't assume we'd be a carbon copy of the siblings that came before. (When you're the runt, everyone hopes you'll be a reproduction of their favorite member of your family. And I spent my early life proving them all wrong.) It's possible she was the first teacher to actually see me.

My favorite memory of her was when we were in the midst of our sewing unit--when Ms. Morrow, would compliment me on my posture at the sewing machine and my straight seams. And then when my bud T and I, teamed up to bake muffins with a jelly center. Ms. Morrow, taught us what the term "elbow grease" meant. And what SOS Pads were created for.

But then a new girl moved into town. She appeared confident, worldly, attractive and slightly dangerous. Teresa Parker, was a foster child who had been sent to a family, well known for questionable activities and wild foster children. One day, in Home Ec, Teresa turned to the students at her table and suggested walking out, skipping. And there it is . . . my corruption had begun? She was our Fagin? Or the time was ripe, during this time of history? Or all of the above?

Sadly, Ms. Morrow, decided to give me an ultimatum. Perhaps believing our relationship was strong enough. But, of course, she was wrong, and our relationship was never the same. But I'll never forget that first teacher who seemed to see me, while underestimating the world's push and pull on all of us during that time.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Eighteenth: Seek and Enjoy? Or destroy . . .

When I was a small child on the move, everyone in the house eventually learned their possessions weren't safe. Was it because I was the runt and they were "of an age" that found them with some earned change in their pockets to buy those extra items? <shrug> I have no idea what drove my destructive engine.

My first memory of, "getting into something", occurred when I was quite young, yet of walking and grabbing age. (so grabby was I) In our family of seven, the single bathroom offered a floor to ceiling, double doored cabinet that was beside the sink. The room may have been tiny, but there was a place to store the essentials. One of those "essentials" was my oldest brother's pomade.

If you have no reference for pomade, I can only share that my brother's was sold in stick form--similar to glue sticks or antiperspirant. Did I observe the sibling's application at another previous time or did I instinctively know how to use that stick? Hard to say, but I can imagine my mother's reaction, when she found me with a petroleum based wad of hair stuck to my wee cranium.

And maybe that's why the memory sticks (no pun intended)--the clean-up. Oh golly! I cannot imagine (my apologies, repeating myself) my mother's horror. She tried all of her tricks and apparently, all of her tricks were needed to remove that stubborn substance from my wee noggin.

You'd think, but you'd be wrong, that I learned my first lesson. No! There were other possessions to find, enjoy and then destroy. Did I feel remorse? I doubt it. I was on a mission to seek out and . . . find all the joy hidden within the house. Huh. And there it is--just a tyke seeking delight.

The Seventeenth: Stars in My Eyes?

You know--that moment when you meet someone and they have that "certain something" (we've heard referenced over the years) and instead of relaxing and chilling and just being yourself, you're more of a gaga super fan with stars in your eyes, trying to keep your tongue from lolling out of your mouth. Right? You've experienced this? (fingers crossed)

The last time (there's no way this has only happened once in my life), I assume I successfully placed that "K" in awkward, once again. Right from the start, one glance into those tractor beam eyes, the words in my head began to get stuck and then shift and stutter and all I could offer was a too wide smile. And maybe I tossed in an incoherent sentence or two. Or is that stretching the definition of sentence too far?

As many times as I have wished to be more attractive, at this time in my life, it seems like it might be more of a pain in the backside than a lifelong joy. One time, during a staff TGIF meet-up, my gorgeous-name-twin-off-by-one-letter and I were waiting in line to order at the bar. Within the span of 5 minutes, I watched as three men (one after the other--not all at once, mind you) approached her with overused words they must've believed would turn her head. I asked, "how do you do it? is it always like this?", and she shrugged and laughed it off. So there's that burden.

I'm glad I was there to witness that moment, even if I could've used that insight earlier in life. Looking back, this memory brings an embarrassed smile, but why? We're all imperfect humans trying to figure life out, doing our best and ofttimes struggling, wishing and coveting for what we believe someone else has. Huh. Sometimes I think I'm in charge of the current topic on this page, but today veered.
Cheers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Sixteenth: Thought Trains

Last night, as I slowly settled into the preferred sleep posture, melding muscle and bone to mattress, rather than a surface topper, my thoughts grew legs and began to stroll through past delights.

And then a bell dinged and dinged again--THIS is a delight: The gentle meandering through past and recent memories, spying something interesting, turning it over to inspect the other side--yes, this is where to find instant joy and also a way of recalling which tales have been written about before.

N and crew, are always there, whether spectating with me or a participant in the memory. Other family members drift hither and thither, as well as pets and places, and children--so many children.

And so, I must give thanks to the slumber gods for providing a . . . stage (?) for these delightful thought trains, that gently trundle down the tracks. Sweet dreams, ya'all!

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Fifteenth: Infants

No worries, this isn't another birth story--don't we save the peddling of those tortuous tales for the baby showers? No? Whew!

After our first was born, and the three of us began to go out into the world of grocery and hardware stores, we began to notice something. Strangers, mostly men, would come up to us with their faces full of love (?), amazement (?), and softly, quietly, share their personal sweet moment, when they too held an infant of their own. It lasted such a short period of time, we were left with only each other's memory as proof.

Those brief golden moments felt like we'd been welcomed into a secret society, whose members fly in as swiftly as they leave, while those who stop to share their moment, hold a special place within that society. Perhaps they're the guardians. (Stop, K. You're musing away from the moment)

Though, after reflecting on that time, I realize we either missed the moment the second time around or we simply recognized it for what it was--amazement over having been a part of this new wee life.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Fourteenth: Love of Books

My own small collection of children's books, were kept on the built-in shelves in the hallway. I'm sure some were hand-me-downs, but there were a few books that Mom had bought for me. I remember Mike Mulligan, Church Mouse stories, and I Can't Said the Ant, plus a handful of Golden Books and a lovely set of encyclopedias. I don't have a single memory of someone reading a book to me, but I know it happened. Mainly, because I can still clearly recall the feeling when I was told it was my turn to read stories to the nieces and nephews. But I was clinging tightly to what was left of my childhood.

SRA Reading Lab : nostalgiaKindergarten was a blur of children who seemed to already know each other, naps, coloring and folk dancing, but then came Mrs. Minerva Kane and her first grade classroom. I can still recall the moment, when I first tackled a compound word with her help. The delight! It was like cracking a code that had eluded me. And when we finished our seatwork, we were invited to do "extra credit". More delight! The SRA reading comprehension kit was situated on the long windowsill, under the bank of windows that looked out over the asphalt covered playground. Good golly, I loved the challenge of starting and completing each level! Yes, Mrs. Kane, still expressing appreciation for you.

Mrs. Broadbent, was the librarian at our elementary school, for a short period of time. I think she came and went, depending on whether the current levy had passed or not. When allowed, I would spend as much of recess as possible in the library, shelving books or reading and getting recommendations from Mrs. Broadbent. Once, she directed me to a set of biographies, which I began to eagerly plow through. Thank you, Mrs. Broadbent, for introducing me to nonfiction. You opened my eyes to different genres, which helped me spend that quarter, Mom might give me for the book fair.

And now? Now it seems impossible to live even one day without picking up a book and reading a chapter or two. I have several favorite authors I've read for decades, but I also have a soft spot for "first novels"--if the jacket tempts. My favorite local book shop, offers new and used, which allows me to continue with my habit without filling the house. Does that make me a habitual reader? Finally! A habit I can be proud of!

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Thirteenth: Trees

Are all children naturally drawn to trees? Have we been particularly designed to seek out the well suited acme, crest, crown or summit to be climbed and conquered? My hunch is that it's deeply embedded into our survival instincts: watching for threats, looking for sustenance or enjoying that territorial view. And like many things embedded into our instincts, we (as children) begin to seek ways to practice and play to explore and ready ourselves for our adult lives.

The trees, at my childhood home, that were the most climbable, were a willow tree and an oak tree. The willow tree was my favorite. It had (at least) a couple of good roosting branches, one of which was where the latest swing was hung. I spent a number of hours communing and escaping with that willow tree--both up in its branches and spinning on the swing. Whenever someone was visiting and happened to admire that tree, at the end of the visit you'd find them accepting the branchlet Dad offered, with a rubber-banded plastic bag holding a wet paper towel against the freshly cut end.

The oak tree, offered a spectacular view of the neighborhood, but that involved scaling (10? 12?) two by fours cut into foot(ish) lengths nailed onto the oak's torso. And since the nailing was done by oldest brother, each step held the possibility of a quick, but treacherous descent. The oak tree offered a more daring adventure, that was usually short-lived: climb, admire view, climb back down. Something you might save for a visiting friend, until your mum sees the two of you through a window and ends that adventure.

And now, the memory of N's and my small crew, checking out each tree, at the new house, to see what entertainment it offered, comes seeping in. The lovely, climbable, plum tree--until the ripe, fallen, plums began to attract the bees, the cherry tree, with a branch to sit, eat and spit pits, and the largest tree, that we never learned the name of, that would hum with bees in the early spring, hold the swing and shade us as we played King's Corner after snapping pounds and pounds of green beans. Thank you, trees. Thanks for all that you've added to our lives--especially that lovely air.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Twelfth: Grandma Weeks

Grandma's visits, once or twice a year, meant a trip to the Portland train station--a city we bumpkins rarely traveled to. And once we brought her to our home, the reliable gift of Necco wafers would emerge from her suitcase to be doled out. Which would lead to my older brother and I, heading to the living room to share and compare or to see if he could trick me into trying that 'ugh' flavor once again. Did Grandma understand that her small gift would give her a quiet moment with her middle daughter? I bet she did.

My bedroom was best suited to provide a place for Grandma to sleep, as the other two bedrooms were already sleeping two to a room. She took the twin bed, of course, and I slept on the floor beside the bed. There's one particular night, I can still vaguely recall, when I happened to wake up when Grandma was preparing for bed. I opened my eyes to see a syringe in her hand, injecting insulin into her thigh. My eyes must've popped wide a bit, because she noticed and then quietly and calmly explained in age appropriate words, how this shot helped her.

Did I ever complain about sharing my room? I'm sure I did, I was a child after all. Once we achieve a certain age, we guard whatever we believe to be ours. But once she arrived, that fell to the side. I'd like to think I felt special to have Grandma in my room. In my room, with the playful kitten curtains, that Grandma sent the money for and Mom chose the material and sewed it into a gift. Though she didn't live long enough to meet our daughters, she did get to meet N. However brief, it mattered--to me.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Growing Up Rural

My Father, when the moment was right, might tell a story or two about traveling solo to Washington from Idaho for work. He'd heard the railroad was hiring, but had watched friends and relatives go through the work and layoff cycle the railroad implemented to keep costs down and profits up. So, Dad chose mill work. I can remember mentions of walking log rafts, sorting boards on the hazardous line, and something about working and boarding in Vancouver (around the time of the horrendous VanPort flood).

And then Mother would tell the story about 'solo Dad' buying a house during his time working in Washington. (This would be the first of two houses, that Dad would buy without Mom.) Once he bought the house, he sent for Mom and first tots to join him. For my folks, choosing a property in a rural area, was more about affordability, possibility and proximity to work, than any other factors.

My folks, had a nice neighborly relationship with an older couple, whom my sibs and I grew up calling G'ma and G'pa Curly. They owned what some refer to today as a mini farm. Mom and Dad, bought milk from them, but I can't remember if there were eggs as well. * Thanks to the Curlys, I learned how to make butter, watched eggs incubating in the kitchen, saw my first rain barrel, and found out what a root cellar was like. And those chickens! One year they raised Banty hens, that loved to roost on the peak of our roof in the warm sun.

Today, when I hear people talk about ruralites and their concerns, I'm struck by how different the reasons are now than they were then. I think that present day folks, who are drawn to the rural life, seek independence and self reliance, without considering the cost of essential services when folks are spread out, rather than condensed within or near a city boundary.

I can still remember, whenever there was a school levy to vote on, the phone trees would start up-- telling everyone to vote no, that the schools didn't need that money. Which would lead my folks to push back, whenever the topic popped up, about local citizens unwilling to chip in. "How can you have community without folks chipping in their share?"

Paying taxes has such a negative connotation, especially when many of those with the most evade paying their share. Even going so far as to pay people large amounts of money to keep from sharing with the greater community. How mean and stingy is that?! Americans aren't stingy, money grubbing folk. We're salt of the earth people, who would pull over on a country road to help you change a tire or erect that wall of your new barn. True country folk know that. They've weathered a storm or two, thanks to the blessings called neighbors. I guess you could say, neighbors are another way of chipping in and sharing the load--BUT not the only way.

*[There's a story of my oldest sis, carrying the gallon sized glass jar, downhill from the Curlys' driveway. She slipped on the gravel, that accumulated along the outer shoulder of the road, knees down on the shattered jar. She can still feel the remaining bits of glass, encased in the scar tissue on her knee.]


Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Eleventh: There's No Place Like Melrose

After failing to find a way to meet other folks in Tillamook (except for the one or two I met, thanks to N's volunteer gig), I was thrilled (yes, truely) to find my people in Roseburg. There's nothing like those years when your kids are old enough for school, to help you find friends.

Melrose school, was a shortish distance from our house, up on a small rise, with a newer building built beside the original school house. Once we became a part of the school, we were embraced and treated like family. Oh--and expected to do our share. Yes, I'm thinking of you, old school bell tower and Family Fun Fair.

Vicki, the office manager, was one of those amazing people who knew what you needed before anyone else--including yourself. And what a sense of humor and love of fun! She made the office a place everyone liked to be. She'd lift your spirits and ease your load in the span of 10 minutes, all while looking you in the eye and delivering a warm yet efficient pat on your arm.

And Gary, the principal, who also enjoyed all that Vicki brought to the office atmosphere. He was always encouraging people to chase and implement those good ideas and lending a hand when needed. I'll never forget how he stopped by our house, after we'd moved north, to say hello and wish us well again.

Yes, that was a sweet chapter.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Tenth: At the Top of My Lungs

Have I always enjoyed singing? I think so. I can remember riding around with Mom and listening to her sing. She had a sweet, sweet voice until this little twerp did that ornery, "please stop", thing and that was the end of that. Yet--many of those songs still play in my head and spill out of my mouth, over 55 years later. That's some sticking power! Thanks, Mom!

I'm not sure who introduced me to musicals, perhaps my sissy K. I can remember loudly belting out, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" and others, as I curried my horse, Sally, or while out walking down the road. I still enjoy a good musical and love rewatching the favorites when they pop up on the television--by the way, have you watched, "That Day We Sang"? More lovely songs that stick.

My small town high school had slim pickings for extra classes--it was a choice between choir and band. My parents believed what they did for their first child would be the same as what they did for their last. They had never purchased or rented an instrument for the others, so . . . none for me either. So choir it was.

Lucky for the choir, a new director had recently been hired, Mr. Puvogel (?). He was tough, gifted and believed in us. So much joy to be a member of that choir! We competed at State and scored Superiors. It was a glorious moment. We felt like we had truly accomplished something--as well as singing in Latin, and couldn't wait for the following competitions and concerts.

When the next school year began, we learned that our new director had been lured away to a bigger town, willing to pay a better wage. The teacher who had planned on retiring, was brought back. There were no auditions, no pushing to do better than we believed. I couldn't stay. The thrill was gone, but that golden memory lives on, and yes, I'm still singing at the top of my lungs. Just ask N.

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Ninth: Have You Ever . . .

Last night, as I lay waiting for sleep to lift me up into dreamland, an old delightful memory filled my brain. How could I forget Uncle P and Aunt B's farm?

I can see the small kitchen and the table where I'd join my cousins for lunch (first time seeing someone gnaw on a raw potato)-- if I was lucky enough to visit. And that barn! That's what I remember the most: the hay dust floating in sunlit air, Dutch the old horse and all of those good barn smells.

There was a summer day (maybe more than once, who knows for sure), when the three of us, G, T & thee, climbed up the worn, built-in vertical ladder to the hayloft. And then my two cousins suggested something unthought of . . . to me. "Let's jump down into the haypile!"

Was that the first time I ever "girded my loins" for a boost of courage? Perhaps, though I'm sure jumping into a river ranks in that category when you're younger than 9. Maybe that was the first time I needed to use the, "1, 2, 3, jump", method of self encouragement, because I can remember standing at the edge, looking at the haypile below and needing all my loins could offer.

The jump? The landing? Yes! It was all I hoped it would be! And then we immediately scrambled up that ladder for more.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Eighth: Raisin

My brother-in-law, K, brought a Siamese cat named Herman along, when he blended his life with my older sister's. A cat that was allowed in a house and had an interesting personality! I have to guess that that's when my obsession with Siamese cats began.

I'd grown up with the family cat, Mama Kitty, who was probably tolerated for her rodent skills, because she was never taken to a vet (that I know of) nor allowed in the house, except to be wormed. She gave birth to a litter 2-3 times a year, but it was a rare moment when one of them was allowed to mature to an adult.

So, when I was old enough to drive and earn a small paycheck, I began to check the want ads for my own Siamese cat. The first was infested with fleas to such a degree, that the cure was more fatal than the cursed infestation. I resolved to make sure the kittens weren't neglected next time. And then I found Raisin. She was a cross of a red & tabby point and she was beautiful.

Raisin was my buddy, my pal. I can remember getting up in the morning, putting her on my shoulder. She'd stay right there, as I made my breakfast, loudly commenting on my eggs. Or, how she'd go loco over her first taste of crab! Can't be my cat! Yet I failed her. I didn't heed the vet's vaccination schedule.

I told the vet that Raisin was a housecat and would never be exposed to the old distemper embedded in the earth. But one summer day, when I came home from work, when my parents had left on a trip and my friend T had come to stay, there was Raisin outside in the grass.

Though I only had her for a short period of time, I learned a long lasting lesson--VACCINATE, or feel incredibly foolish and stupid.

The Seventh: My Ethel

I remember her soft, wool, jacket against my face
 and the smells I began to associate with comfort--
tobacco, Dentyne and coffee.
 
When I was carrying age and Ethel was around, 
you'd see me in her arms.
 
She'd often slip me a stick of Dentyne of my own, 
which I'd pop into my mouth, paper wrapper and all. 

Don't knock it till you try it. ;>)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Sixth: Jaws at the Drive-In

It was the summer of 1975--a year before my cousin C and I would graduate from high school. Cousin D, was a year or two older, so it's possible she had a job that summer. I'm guessing, because there had to be a reason she didn't join us, we were usually a trio. Did C and I, cajole our older cousin R to drive us to the drive-in theater or was it his idea? Knowing what I do of him, I'm sure he was happy to oblige, however it came to happen.

My drive-in experiences were few if any, and any possible memory I may have had would've paled compared to the party atmosphere at this Boise business. People were walking around visiting, sitting on roofs and hoods of cars, some were dressed up--yes, there was a lot to watch for this small town runt. A later in life comparison, would be to an outdoor kegger.

My cousin C and I, had played at smoking during our teen years, but we were surprised when cousin R pulled out a cigar. One puff was all it took to send C into a major coughing fit and (to be honest) it was all it took to keep me from sharing. Then it was time to settle in for the movie. Or . . . if you're lucky enough to sit by someone with very long fingernails, it was time to leave a lasting impression, because that's what happened once the great white shark began to terrorize the town. No, not to me, that joy was felt by cousin R.

Some memories are so colorful they stick for a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Fifth: Delight in the Tall Grass

I'm not sure why that particular summer was different. The cow was in the upper field with the horse(s), probably wishing they could strain against that electrified wire, to reach those taunting seed heads swaying in the breeze. Dad usually moved the animals from one field to another, to let one pasture rest. But not this year-- and that grass was tall. 

I have a vague recollection of the parental units getting the pasture ready for a big family reunion, but . . . I cannot be sure. What I do remember, is playing in that field with my older brother. We worked at flattening the grass to make "rooms" and trails between the rooms. Such joy! Working together on a common task! So rare, so wonderful! And there were baby bunnies! More joy! 

The bottom pasture was nearly half an acre and that tall grass was ripening--I'm guessing it was mid to late July. Perhaps Dad's joy came much later, when the job was finished and the 2 youngest of his brood had gotten over their disappointment over the transformation of a new playground into a volleyball court. But good golly, those baby bunnies were adorable!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Brief Musing: Power of Suggestion

I woke to see light seeping in around the bedroom window's venetian blinds. Wow, I thought, sleep came quick and lasted long! I pushed back the covers, got up and spied 12:26am on the bathroom clock. What the what?!

And now I see that June's full moon is ripening for the sixth day. But why did I wake and feel so rested? Is the power of suggestion (light seeping in) that strong?


Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Fourth: Some Make You Cry

My Mom (sigh), if she was at your house, she was watching and waiting for unintrusive ways to assist--those small nagging things that you may ignore when you have company and want to give as much focus to their presence as possible. Or things you had never considered: if N ever mowed the lawn during a visit (because weekends), Mom would slip outside unnoticed, and begin to do "cord management", as N maneuvered the electric mower on his prefered grid. The first time, I was worried that they'd get in each other's way (something I rarely fail to do--fret), but then I noticed that she had been watching his routine before she began to help. Seamlessly.

When our second was born, a state away from family, I was both surprised and oh so pleased to have Mom come to lend a hand in our tiny rental. What a gift! What a joy! It had been a long time since I had her (mostly) to myself. And yet, probably due to the whole childbirth thing, I have few vivid memories of that time: quiet conversations between N and Mom, how she only made recipes from my collection (to keep things running nearly the same). Have to say, I was a little disappointed when Dad arrived to take her back home. No offense, Dad.

Tis good to pull out a good memory and savor it.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Third: The Rec Room

The best part of my childhood summers? Was when we packed up the truck and camper and drove to see the relatives. Those summers offered many delights: being pulled through the irrigated yard on whatever had been used as a sled, sleeping under that big star filled sky in the lush green grass, and having playmates.

We spent most of our time at my Mother's only brother's house--the one with the amazing air conditioner in the bathroom. Who wouldn't want to stay in that room overly long? One summer, we arrived to find the spacious garage had been converted into a rec room--complete with a bar and chairs that appeared to be crafted from barrels . . . and CHILDREN were not allowed.

A year or so passed and suddenly--we were the only ones using the rec room for that week or so in the summer. I think it was cousin D, who could play some tunes on the piano, one of which was Chicago's "Color My World". We played and sang the hell out of that song, in the adult abandoned room. And there was a hide-a-bed that I shared with C. She woke me up, in a panic, in the wee hours, to share her discovery: there were mice in the rec room(!). Trembling, we watched them skitter from the hide-a-bed, to check out shoes, and nooks and crannies.

In the morning, we couldn't wait to share the news. But . . . none of the adults would believe it. We, with our bad news, were teased out of the room. Huh, maybe that's how we ended up sleeping under the stars in the backyard.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Second: Joy Under the Table

In my parents' world, friendship trumped all--or at least that's how it seemed, as the runt of the family, who was always seeking a lap to cozy into. I have no other reference than a faulty memory, but most of their get togethers were most likely on the weekends, around whichever dining room table was hosting.

A good share of those get togethers were all about playing cards: Hearts? Pinocole? Cribbage? When it happened at our house, the dining room was full of laughter and cigarette smoke. I can remember spending as much time as I could under that table--I'm guessing I was around 4-6 years of age.

Sitting under the table allowed me to be close, but not in the way. I enjoyed the adult banter and teasing, as they played their games. During their breaks, there was more entertainment to be had. That's when Ray would do tricks with his false teeth, I'd get to recheck who was missing which digits from working in the mills and Lloyd would give me a lesson on how to whistle using two fingers. And Mel, how could I forget Mel? He was broad shouldered, tall, and his laughter could shake the dust off the curtains. Which always made me wish that every card game could be around our table.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

First of a Possible Series . . .

{I haven't decided if this will be a consecutive series, or one that I'll return to off and on. I suppose, a person could say it's an exercise or experiment. Let's see what happens...}

Thanks to one of Carolyn Hax's chats (yes, I do talk about her work a lot), I became aware of a book of essays by Ross Gay, The Book of Delights. Yesterday, it arrived in the mail, and once I cracked it open and read the preface, I began to think about doing something similar here. A blurry week or so ago, family member offered a link to receive journal prompts each day, but that brought out my inner middle schooler, who crossed her arms, scowled and informed me (again) that she despises being told what to write. (sigh) So much for leaving my youth behind!

The first memory that popped into my head last night, as I wandered into dreamland, was rolling down the slope of the childhood home lawn with my eldest siblings children. The smell of the chlorophyll, the tickle of the grassy leaves, the hilarity of trying to roll straight and the joy of playing together. One month later, you'd find us out there again, running through the sprinkler and dodging the busy bees.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Resonating Rules

About a week ago, I read something on Carolyn Hax's Friday chat, that resonated with me. It's credited to a Washington Post sports columnist:

"WaPo Sports columnist Thomas Boswell has a rule to live by "How stupid would I feel." How stupid would you feel if you . . ."

His most current use, possibly the same week as the chat, was describing how that particular rule of his has been helpful to him during our current situation. Which has me applying it to every move we make--whether it's driving to the store or using sharp tools at home. Because, how stupid would I feel if I was responsible for exposing someone else to more risk, all because I wanted to continue doing whatever I want when I want to?

Though . . . is it possible to tip those scales too far?


Monday, May 18, 2020

Good Golly Ms. Mollie

What an interesting day.
Not exactly what I mean when I say "interesting"--usually I'm being snarky with that word.
But not today.
Today, I experienced more of that "loose ends" feeling. Not an unraveling, but more of an unease that begins in the belly and then alerts other body parts.

I was looking forward to the drive to the main Post Office--changing our perspective is within reach! But then we spot a big old pick-up driving up and down the busiest section of Mission, flying what I always assume is a stolen flag. And then we see another business sporting a for sale sign and another long time business that has sold itself off to gawd-knows-who.

Interesting times we're in and to be honest--I'm looking forward to the art it inspires, but until then . . . I hope the art we have, whether it be nature or human, is enough.


Saturday, May 16, 2020

It's a Rainy Day

I still love that old Sesame Street song, It's a Rainy Day. Whenever it's raining outside, there it is, playing in my head, until I can longer keep from singing it out loud. When I still worked at school, there were many moments of holding backpacks over heads, avoiding puddles and singing with the wee folk, as we made our way out to the bus lines.

"It's a rainy day;
It's a rainy day.
It's raining outside,
And I can't go out and play.
Why do we need the rain anyway?"

As you can probably guess, I've been singing that song quite a bit recently. Thanks, rain. Cheers!


Friday, May 15, 2020

So Much Counting

First let me say this--doesn't everyone do this to some extent?

Every single day, I'm counting. Whether it's while I'm brushing my teeth, washing my face, drying myself off after a shower, or even vacuuming, you can be sure I'm counting. I don't see it as a compulsion or a syndrome. I see it as a habit and a way of keeping track. 

Though, I do have some concerns. I can still remember when the girls were small and enjoyed watching Nickelodeon. There was a show with an emcee named Mark Summers, who we later learned suffered from OCD. You know, one of those moments when you learn about something, due to what concerns people you consider to be within your circle.

And that's the moment I became aware of counting. I'll stay aware, as long as you promise to let me know I've fallen and need to seek help before I get back up, but for now I'll justify my counting as a way of staying on top of my health. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Randomness

Yesterday and today, have both felt even more random than usual. Perhaps this is the next 'phase'? {shrugs} Or maybe it's the several days of rain? Difficult to predict, K (sigh), so difficult. Though, random doesn't necessarily mean bad--on the contrary, perhaps we need to mix up our days.

I've always loved a good schedule--yes, even for whoopie. There are times in our lives, when it can be difficult to know what to do next or even to appreciate that lovely evening horizon. And there are other times when you're deep in a situation and you don't see what or who is right in front of you. A schedule can help you to notice and be aware. At least that's my experience.

This week, N and I have added Nintendo to our 'schedule'--somewhere between dog walk and dinner. My idea of playing computer type games, has always been Scrabble or Solitaire. I never enjoyed the competitive action games. Who knows why, maybe it was always feeling inept at the controls. Now that the two of us are learning at the same time--maybe that's helping with those old ugly feelings. Or maybe it's the meditative quality of Mario Tennis. {shrugs} Who knows, but it seems to help.




Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Entertainment is Everywhere

What's been keeping you entertained on the tv in the evenings? We spend a good share of our time on OPB TV, depending on the day of the week. Our current streaming series, is Bosch on AmazonPrime. And we save another series on Netflix, Shaun the Sheep, for when we need something silly and fun, to cleanse the collective palates after too many murder mysteries. Oh, and I need to add Madmen (I stream that on the treadmill.), a show so lush, it's easy to rewatch.

But . . . it's nearly time to go seek out the next series or movie. I prefer a series, only because it lasts for awhile--making the selection seem more worthwhile. Have to say, though, I agree with a bud, it can feel overwhelming to wade through so many choices--unless you're more of a 'kid in a candy store', when it comes to choices. I veer between being overwhelmed and overjoyed, because sometimes the selection process is just another form of entertainment. And I'm there for it--just like I was when N alerted me to the neighbors cutting down a big tree earlier this week. Aren't you?

Monday, May 11, 2020

An After Dinner Outing . . .

Our N, has had an exceptionally buzzy bee in his bonnet this past week--he wanted to weigh the trailer. He's had extra time to dig into the travel trailer over the past several months, thanks to the current situation. Which has led to to the realization that the GrandDesign was made to pull into campgrounds with hook-ups--not like one of our favorite places, Diamond Lake. Why else would they sub a smaller gauge of electrical wire throughout? Not to mention the inferior axle, that isn't built to tote a full water tank. Now we know. Though, Our N, successfully replaced the wiring, the axle is another story.

He's been on the trailer forum, when he hasn't been under the trailer frame or inside its storage area. N's not getting good answers from the company, but plenty from the other owners. One of the tasks, weighing it, was what he wanted to complete to learn more about what's expected of the axles. He found a scale at a truck stop south of us. We didn't even have to get out of the truck during our truck stop visit--it was all completed via an app, as we sat on the scale.

Yay for technology!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Sunshine on My Shoulder is . . .

. . . not the reminder of normalcy I need or desire right now. But . . . I won't refuse to soak it up.

And along with the sunshine and warmer temps, there's so much justification for lax behavior to be had, but deep down (in our adult brain) we're all aware of the consequences to those we love, ourselves and those we've never met. We know how germs spread and this one is more determined to take more of us down.

But the sunshine. (sigh) It's that lovely time of year, when you know the evening will bring the cool, the slant of the rays provide more daytime shade, and there's no guarantee it will last for more than a day or two--which makes it feel treasured and special and grand.

To be honest, it's probably why when we venture out on one of the early beautiful days, we encounter so many smiles and happy greetings--until we experience too many bright days in a row. Then those moods turn. What's that you say? It's just me? {shrug} Perhaps, but I bet not.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Not My Story, but . . .

I never saw myself getting overly happy about N getting back on the old bicycle, but here I am.

Both of us are fairly good at communicating with each other--until we're not. He held his cards close to his chest, until he couldn't.

The good news is, he learned the concern he has does not mean he needs to give up riding. Yippee!

I bet he won't balk at my new bike suggestion any longer.

Ha! And right now I'm feeling that "knowledge is power" vibe. Go, N!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Sunshine on the Deck (cruise shipless and virus free)

Today, that sunshine is in full tease mode. As soon as it lights up the backyard, I begin to think about taking my current book and a cup of tea out to the deck. A few minutes pass and the sunlight dims, as a rain heavy cloud passes between us and lingers. Of course, it is 10ish degrees cooler than yesterday--so those clouds are just saving me the disappointment of not being able to stick outside for long.

In other news, last night I finally grabbed those good scissors, stood in front of the bathroom mirror and removed an inch or so. And this is why I can't trust evening K. She's always coming up with crazy ideas in the dark hours. I know, I know, I'm fortunate to have forgiving hair. But even with forgiving hair, there are concerns to watch out for--I mean, removing an inch seemed right and reasonable, until those curls decide to spring a bit tighter now that they're shorter. {shrugs} It'll grow, K, you and your hair will be fine.

Oh, and today's mail offered a sweet surprise. <3
Yay!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

All BlurWeeks Are Not Created Equal

Not sure what it was about this past week, but it's left me feeling all of the ennui. Maybe our ups and downs aren't as recognizable as usual? And I'm wondering if N is dealing with the same, because my moods are often tethered to his and vice versa.

I haven't been as consistent getting on the treadmill in the past week and I know that always has an impact--whether it's due to a sleep disruption or bedtime self loathing. (I think those two things may be similar, K)

I'm going to do my best to shake and shimmy this mood off--what else is a Sunday for, but some music and movement.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In Search of a Good Read

Oh how I enjoy a visit to Reader's Guide! I know exactly where to prowl the shelves, looking for whatever will jump out at me--whether it's the cover, the first page or which author is making recommendations. And sometimes, it's just a hunch--and that's all I need to tuck it under my arm, and continue browsing.

During my last visit, a friend joined me. I don't know if it was the distraction of showing someone else a favorite bookstore, but apparently I wasn't giving the same attention to selection as usual.

After finishing a book by a well loved author, I selected the next in line--a New York Times best seller. There was something about the stodgy rhythm of the sentences and my brain failing to retain anything, that caused me to put it aside.

The next book was highly acclaimed . . . until it came under fire regarding cultural approbation. I decided to stick by my decision to purchase, but I couldn't shake the reality of reading a novel about a Latino family written by a European author. And yet . . . I have zero qualms about reading a book written by a woman writing in the voice of a man. Because, isn't that the same?

The next novel, brought me in quick with the clever prose of her writing . . . until she seemed to be getting a bit too clever for me. Maybe it's just me, but I like to be able to make sense of that prose.

And then I picked up the first book of a series. It wasn't love at first page, but more of a slow warmth that has enveloped me and brought me into the story. The main character wasn't immediately likeable, but she's getting there. And I'm leaning toward continuing the series after the first.

I have to say--what a relief! I was concerned that this was another symptom of the virus--or "sheltering at home". And, to be honest, maybe it still has something to do with our current situation. Maybe the book has to be better than usual? Or perhaps I ought to admit that my seeking skills fell off the shelf. (Shrugs) Whatever it is, I'm glad I persevered.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Clueless in the Aisles

Lucky me was able to enjoy some of friend B's company today. She took me hither and thither, amongst the blooming yards, streets and trails of her old neighborhood. My feet trying to match her long legged stride, as she followed a memorized route from her years of living in that 'hood.

After the walk, we both headed (separately) to WinCo. Since our current situation has made it necessary to focus on grocery shopping, we each went on our own through the store. I'm trying my best to check my list repeatedly, to prevent having to backtrack through the store, but it's not easy.

I was able to wait two weeks between grocery shopping trips, for the first time. Now to see if it was a fluke or if it'll work out again--fingers crossed. One thing that seemed to make a difference, was buying some canned green beans. The fresh vegetables I buy regularly don't last quite long enough, so this nostalgic helper has joined the line-up--with bacon and salsa, of course.

Today's trip found me less stressed than usual, maybe due to the walk and chat beforehand. I grabbed my bags, mask and alcohol spray, before heading into the store. Mostly folks are aware of each other and patient when it's necessary to wait for a crowded area to empty out, but today there was an older woman at the check-out who was completely clueless.

No social distancing for her--she stood beside me and talked and talked, about only needing a few things and how she boycotts the self-checkout, etc. And finally, I realized she was going to be next to me for the entire transaction--so I urged her to go ahead of me. Her behavior continued with the cashier. I can't wrap my head around people living in a pandemic, but refusing to accept there is one. Will we end up naming that condition of not accepting reality? Will the name reflect the moment?


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Old Wives' Tales

Old Wives' Tales--they've been rolling around in my head, ever since someone shared a questionable audio file with me via FB messenger. It wasn't necessarily a dangerous piece of misinformation, but it wasn't what it claimed to be. Doctors/epidemiologists, wouldn't be suggesting gargling with a vinegar solution as a way to remove the virus from someone's throat.

But once I listened to it, I began to think of my Mother. Yes, you Mom--the person I never gave enough credit to. You may not have graduated high school, (she married Dad at 16), but you were a voracious reader, with a scientific kind of mind.

I may not have appreciated all of your advice at the time, but I see you now. I see you doing all you could for your family. Even though I wasn't a fan of what I decided were 'old fashioned' remedies, I see now how they made sense and probably helped.

I have a hunch you'd be amused when you read that post from someone talking about their mother safety pinning a damp towel around their neck, when they were suffering from an upper respiratory bug. Yes, you did that, too, and yes, I might be more appreciative now. But I have to share with you, Mom, gargling in the shower is the way to go. Not that I ever listened to your advice . . .


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Recharging

I'm currently sitting outside on the deck in the warm sun. Soaking up the vitamin D, the new growth on the plants, the sounds in the neighborhood.

It's moments like these when things seem normal. Maybe that's why the suggestion to go outside is such a good one.

Without changing your perspective it's difficult to change a mood or find the ability to do anything. These might be things I have to remind myself of daily.
How you doing?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

That Time I Did That Thing

Years back (is it years already?), I began to ponder the lack of something here in town. When I started poking around on the internet, I found I wasn't alone. It didn't take long to become a part of that something. Thanks to many wonderful, gracious, folks, it became a community effort.

But lives and priorities shift and change over time. The wonderful folks moved along with their lives. It made sense to change things up a bit, so I could take more of a caretaker role--saving it until the originator might return.

I learned much, met interesting people and was distracted during a difficult time. It was a gift. And I'll never forget that sweet chapter. Many thanks to all who participated, it was a blast. Now to find that next chapter. I hope it's as worthy and wonderful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Focusing on Dental Health

I might have been making a joke when I mentioned focusing on my 'dental' health a few weeks back, but I have been working on improving the daily care I give my teeth. The main reason, has to do with the consequences of what I once proudly described as "streamlining" my time in the bathroom. Streamlining is just a fancy word for "cutting corners", but that's my opinion.

Since experiencing some health issues, a couple of years back, that caused 50+ pounds to vanish from my body, I decided to become a better caretaker of these biological systems I was born with. Once in awhile, usually in the shower, I imagine that I'm like a farmer tending the crops and rows or a super whose job is to tend an entire building. Because--isn't that we're doing when we groom ourselves?

We all have our own unique microbiome. Microbiomes that have been enhanced by every environment we've ever lived in, as well as all of the folks we've shared our lives with. In my smallish brain, I see our roles as essential to protecting our 'crops'. And so, I began to make sure I use a pick of some type at least once a day, rinse with Plax before brushing, brush my tongue and massage my gums.

How does your "garden" grow?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Habits

As a child, I had my share of bad habits: chewed my fingernails, sucked my thumb, always picking at things (like removing all the chenille from my beloved Bambi bedspread), picky eater (does this even qualify, K?), and I'm sure there's more, but that's filed under 'being a lousy witness'. I'm sure adult K, has her own list of bad habits that she won't even identify or admit, but that's not why we're here today.

Thanks to my mother, I used to have some good housekeeping habits: sweep bare floors daily, dust and vacuum once a week, etc. There were bumps here and there, through the years, but the biggest change happened during F's life interruption. My cleaning schedule rarely worked with F's ability to maintain her mental health.

And now, with this virus in our lives, I've stopped carrying my keys and wallet in my pant's pockets. And yeah, I might be slightly concerned that this will stick overly long. Maybe the good will outweigh the bad in the end--because being comfortable with yourself is HUGE. Give yourself a high five up high, if that's you. AND speaking of high--happy 4-20 to you!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Examining Parts of the Past

My parents' family, the one I was born into, was comprised of five children, born over the course of fourteen years. Which, seemingly, created two separate generations--at least that's how it feels to me now. Similar to how it felt when I was a child.

I was the lonely runt. Lonely after (according to photos), what appeared to be an idyllic toddlerhood. My two sisters were the oldest of the brood and they and their friends doted on me. And a family friend, Ethel, also used to dote on me and tote me around. Once the newness wore off and my sisters departed (marriage/college), there I was.

My closest sibling, J, had a group of neighborhood friends that played together. I'm sure you've read those cute sibling tales where the older brother protected his little sister. But that wasn't the type of upbringing or relationship we shared. One time, I finagled my way into one of their outings, but quickly realized that I was there only to provide a victim for their teasing and tormenting.

Divorce sent two of my good childhood friends to other towns. After that I tried to find a place within the hierarchy of rural neighborhood girls. Who knows if it was my tomboyishness and desire to have my own way that kept me apart, because we're lousy witnesses of our own lives.

And now I'm wondering if that's another possible reason why my parents decided to put me into kindergarten at the age of four--friends. I wasn't a shining star. That's why I'm convinced there was another reason. My mother wasn't aching to start working outside of the house (nor would father approve), so that wasn't it either.

There is something I keep returning to though--if I had been placed in the class with my age group, I would've been a long time classmate of a cousin. A cousin whom I cannot remember ever visiting or playing with. Her mother, one of my many aunts, remains a stern, judgmental woman in my memories. And so I can't help but wonder if there was some kind of 'feud' between the families.

I can still remember meeting this cousin, years later in a restaurant bathroom. I was married and very pregnant, attending a work holiday dinner. She made an observation about my appearance--and I stood there trying to take it in, to make sense as to whether she was trying to be helpful or like her mother.

It may have been one of very few times we ever interacted, despite having both grown up in the same small town. I later learned that she was attending school to become a nurse. That's when I realized that she was trying to be helpful. What a shame we were never allowed to see if we might have been friends. What a shame and yet, perhaps that would've set me on an entirely different course and I would've never met N or had my dear children.

Friday, April 17, 2020

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

     This afternoon, it was time to head out to Winco for the week. The parking lot looked more empty than last week, but maybe it was due to peak blue sky time. No line to go inside and everything I needed was on the shelf--not that we need much, but still a relief. When it was time to pull out of the parking lot, I was surprised to see Commercial St bumper to bumper. The traffic dispersed quickly and once I got home and looked at social media, I saw that the so called 'rally' was gathering at the capitol.     

     N's outside, adding to the landscape rocks we have bordering our backyard--rocks that are essential to keeping the mud (a tad more) at bay. I went out to see how wimpy me might assist in a way that doesn't find N having to later tend me and my muscles. I climbed into the bed of the pick-up, to see if I could shove the remaining rocks towards the tailgate. {Cue laughter--so much laughter}
So . . . my contribution will be dinner. Does that work for you, dearest N? I thought so.

     Oh, and one of the wee dudes & his papa, came over to collect our redwood and cedar ends from the pergola. They know someone with a firepit and we like to share. So much winning.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Question from Frugal Times

How many uses did your family find for these helpful cylinders? I can think of around three, but it's been awhile. And, no, I'm not counting the "binoculars" that can be created.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Day After . . .

     So . . . the day after a couple of active ones, is similar to a day after your birthday or a similar celebration. A regrouping, perhaps? Which reminds me of my father telling me, that this is the world's way of showing you that there will be lulls. Which is a way of saying--without the lulls, you could never appreciate the highs.

Monday, April 13, 2020

A Mask, Perchance?

     Today, we carefully ventured out to help N collect some band folders for the group he belongs to and to do our bi-weekly Costco shopping. Who knew that attaching a mask to one's face could lower anxiety? Not I, but now I do.

     N was unsure at first. As we pulled into the parking lot--there weren't many masks on display outside. But once we walked inside and observed other covered faces for a few minutes, he was on board. After we hooked those loops over our ears, I could feel my anxiety level off. Maybe it's a false sense of security, but . . . it's time to acknowledge our current situation.

   

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Dog Grooming Day = Winning

     One day, after musing about grooming the dogs, we realized that the trimming mostly follows a seasonal rhythm. Which makes sense, because we probably mentally pause during the change of seasons, regarding what needs to be done around the house, etc.

     Both dogs were fairly well behaved during their individual sessions today. They each have their 'areas' they tend to protect--whether it's due to a past bad grooming experience or it's one of their tender spots. We acknowledge, troubleshoot and do our best to make it work. Now that they're both getting older/elderly, I've noticed when I'm holding them during trimming, once in awhile I swear they're dozing.

     But yeah--an activity that can take half a day during the Stay at Home? Bring it on! (Do I have any fur on my face?)


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Grateful for a Backyard

     Now that the warmer, sunnier days are popping up more often, I can feel a little of the anxiety lift. I can't explain it. Maybe it's the possibility of a different activity--whether it's sitting with a book and a cup of tea on the deck, strolling around to see the new growth or just a slight shift in perspective, apparently that's enough to lift our attitude.

     Changing your perspective--it's a personal and important method for shaping how we see things through our mental lens. A broader view of a large problem can feel overwhelming, but if we can break it down and change the terms we frame it with--the difference can be huge.

     Now to find a way to pique my own interest on making and sticking to a to-do list. Pretty sure that will require more than a shift of attitude . . . perhaps I need to find a spare kick in the pants.

   

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Amazon Lends Hand to USPS (headlines I'd like to read)

Come on, Jeff.
You've used them--and yes, I assign this usage of "used", as if you (Amazon), are the privileged suitor of someone of less societal value.

No, you're correct Jeff, I don't know you. And I don't know what values you hold dear, but I can see what you stand for--simply by standing along the proverbial street to see what you offer and who you cooperate with.

You're in a situation, that 99% of Americans can only imagine. This is your time. Either you're with America or you're, like Drumpf, against it and all of the historical values we believe in.

We're waiting, Jeff. This could be your Bill Gates moment. Embrace it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Grocery Shopping in a Pandemic

     I've been keeping our grocery shopping to once a week. If I'm missing an ingredient for a recipe, I make do with what I have or omit it. I feel like all the lean years of frugality paid off for these types of situations. It may not be what you wanted, it may not be perfect, but if it tastes good and is nutritious--we're going to be happy, healthy and fed.

     At first, I was heading to Winco each week, but decided to give our small Roth's a try. I thought that might be where I'd be shopping during this historic Stay Home time, but there were just enough gaps in what I could purchase. I ventured back to Winco today.

     And now? Now I'm enjoying a glass of wine, because the venturing out, the shopping, and the disinfecting afterwards and during--it's a bit stressful.

From our hideout to yours --be well, stay aware and find some joy.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Monday Monday

     Okay, I'll admit it--more partly cloudy days are uplifting. Gives me hope that the mud is getting less muddy, though the weeds are gripping more grippily--as the ground firms up a wee bit. I can feel Spring trying to shift my focus: "look! new growth! look! swollen buds ready to burst open!" Thanks, Spring. I appreciate your optimism and your insistence.

     Moments of note from this day:

Oregon Sorry, Washington and Idaho schools will be closed for the remainder of the current school year
UK PM Boris has been admitted into ICU
Randy Rainbow created a video ode to Andrew Cuomo
Ten thousand citizens of the United States of America have died due to the Trump Virus . . . so far

Sunday, April 5, 2020

A Bath, Perchance?

     About every 5 years or so, I decide to try taking a bath instead of a shower. And every time I make that leap to sit, rather than stand--I find I lack the fortitude to enjoy a soak. Why? It sounds so tempting and luxurious. Why does it make me muse to myself why I thought it was a good idea?

     And, you may have already guessed, I tried again today. I can't guarantee that it's been 5 years, but I reckon it's close. I made sure the soaps and shampoo were within reach, remembered the gifted soaking salts, dipped in all the toes and other necessary body parts, and . . . aaahhh. I think I actually relaxed and enjoyed it. Even if it was only 20ish minutes.

     But once this silly old brain began to ponder how I could put the trapped water to a second or third use, I knew it was time to get out.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Satur-blurs-day

     I just turned on the television (it's past that magic 5pm hour), and there's a cartoon playing. No judging N, but why didn't you turn that on while I was still on the couch last night? ;-)

     Today, it's been drizzling off and on. Making me wish that the drizzle had sound--like wee chimes. 

     Didn't do much today, other than crosswords and meals. No reason, just chilling and idling. Though, dinner smells good. (fingers crossed) 

     Take care and let me know how you're doing.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Another Day in the Bunker--no not Archie, Edith or Gloria

     What another day in "the bunker" showed me? All the things to be thankful for:
I'm thankful for . . .
  • the choice we made in 1978, is still holding firm & true <3
  • roof over our heads
  • food in our bellies and pantry
  • entertainment up wazoo
  • technology to visit with others
  • BOOKS and puzzles
  • kitchen dance parties
  • feeling well
  • friends and family
  • yes, the treadmill

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Hoo Boy!

     If ever there was a time in history to pick your team and stick with it--this is not it. You don't need a fucking team. You/we need fucking facts. No. Stop. Look at ME. Do not look at that insane idiot, who some short sighted folks thought would be hilarious to hire. He doesn't care about you, me, them--he only cares about himself. His children aren't even that important to him. He sees everything as TAINTED. He trusts NO ONE. He only wants to gain the notoriety and advantage over anyone he sees as a threat.

     In 'his' time of "roole", we've watched the alt right grab a firmer toe hold in rural areas. Yeah, don't be confused by the sheriffs who are embracing the "constitution". They've probably never studied more than what their so called gurus would send out to their "followers".

     Yeah. "Followers". They want you to drink their Koolaid and sing their praises. How gullible are you?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Blursday?

     Today, I'm thankful once again for Carolyn Hax. Last week, she began doing a Wednesday chat--in addition to Fridays. The Wednesday chat is for all of us during Stay at Home. It's a frigging public service! And also helps to make a person aware that everyone is dealing with this in some way--some folks with huge burdens and less than good situations.

Also . . .   
Have you seen this yet?

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Oof

     As much as I believe in the importance of being informed, this morning's radio news lays heavier upon my head this am. Time to seek some light diversions on and off today.

     More dance party, less reading of news.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Despite the Years of Training

     Something I've begun to notice (and be amused by), is how condensed a day in the house can feel. About every other night, when I start my evening ablutions, I stop and peer at myself in the mirror and ask, "Didn't we just do this?". I'm not alone, am I?

     Not sure why that's the moment my brain chooses to question my actions. Is it the mirror? That moment of looking oneself in the eye at the end of the day?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The First Change . . .

     I don't remember the defining moment or the specific news story, but I do remember laying in bed on March 8th, realizing that I could no longer go to my kindergarten volunteer gig. Those blankets offered small comfort as I struggled to justify all of the joy I'd be losing without working with the littles. When I sent the text to teacher Jodi. She understood and wondered on text whether she ought to encourage her other volunteers to stop coming in. Just now, when I went to my text app to see when I made that decision, I was surprised it was in March. This all feels like it's been months instead of weeks! (Get a grip, K)

     And then my other anchor disappeared. Dependable Kim--when she's not traveling. Her partner is a long time FUXNews devotee, though she is not . . . completely. Her partner decided there would no longer be grocery shopping or walks with friends. Don't worry, I'm doing my best to stay in daily touch. I don't want to lose any of my anchors--they keep me moored. I'm keeping my focus on the fact that her partner finally saw the light--even if it's a tainted light.

    So, I'm hoping you all are doing okay, with your routines and buds and exercise and eating. Yeah, everything. Take care and remember, it's temporary. The world will come through this. Gaia just has to weigh her resources and problems from time to time and seek some balance. We're just weights on her scale. Maybe we ought to try harder to be benefit.


   

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

I Don't Know About You, But . . .

     N's long been mystified over my ability to set an alarm and hop out of bed when it goes off. Now? Those days are long gone--even before the Trump Virus. Because after retirement, I began to slowly assimilate to N's habit. It's a way to listen to the news, with little interruption. And if we happen to drop back to sleep? No worries! The news repeats on public radio!

     Once I'm up, it's time to feed the pups, carefully prepping their 3 tablespoons of wet food and then smushing it together with the added water. (Thankfully, with 3 feedings a day, the wet food no longer activates my gag reflex.) Then it's time for our morning oatmeal. When did I start adding a handful of granola to our oatmeal? I'm not sure, but I enjoy the contrasting texture. Then it's time to empty the dishwasher and start a pot of tea before digging into breakfast.

     That's when I sit down to work on my first of three crossword puzzles of the day and write letters. After that, I hit the shower. Not sure how or why others are showering less--I do some of my best musing under the showerhead. At least that's my opinion. Besides there's lovely moist solitude in that stall!

     In the afternoons, we usually walk the dogs, work on the latest crossword puzzle, do chores, read, dance in the kitchen, and begin to contemplate dinner. Then into the evening we drift, eating dinner, watching the NewsHour, deciding what to watch on TV next.

     As a long time introvert, I feel like I've been training for "Stay Home" my entire life. Though, to be honest, I doubt it'll take us long to spread out our tendrils and enjoy people, stores, parks and life as we knew it. See ya all on the other side.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Rotisserie Chicken: And How Many Days it Can Feed Two

     Oh boy, do I enjoy Costco's rotisserie chicken. So moist, so tasty, and a bit on the buff side. It's sustained us for many quick dinners and chicken salad lunches. There are other businesses doing the same, but their chickens tend to look scrawny next to the "pumped up" Costco version.

     The first dinner, is usually (depending on time of day of purchase) rotisserie chicken with veg and baked potatoes. Since there's just the two of us, after dinner, I remove all of the leftover chicken from the carcass. It tastes better removed, than if I left it on the carcass. Perhaps this is a personal preference. {shrug}

     I have some favorite uses of those moist, tender, leftovers--not counting how I like to dip a small piece in mayo to nosh on. One of my favorite, is (what I affectionately refer to as an accidental dinner) a combination of onion, garlic, chicken, rice, tomato, black beans, chicken broth-- seasoned with oregano, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes. I try to make just enough to be sure there will be lunch leftovers to stuff into flour tortillas.

     Then there's chicken and cauliflower over rice: I trim and prep the cauliflower into bite size or slightly smaller pieces, place on sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with coriander and ginger and salt. Massage together. And roast in 425 degree oven for approximately 12-17 minutes. Then I saute onion and red pepper, add rice, diced chicken, chicken broth. Season with cumin, coriander and chili powder to taste. Add cauliflower when roasted.

     Chicken Alfredo with broccoli (so many recipes for different tastes available out there, but here's one...) https://www.thekitchn.com/make-these-chicken-alfredo-shells-tonight-244597

     Tomato, Spinach, Chicken Spaghetti, is another recipe with plenty of options. I sub pesto for the basil: https://juliasalbum.com/tomato-spinach-chicken-spaghetti/

     But, barbecue chicken sandwiches, might be my favorite. It's a situation when the barbecue sauce, and bread matter . . . a lot. Bacon can add a little something extra, as well as some nice thick tomato slices on top of the spinach leaves, and don't forget that sour dough and a bit of horseradish sauce. Sometimes I'll add a slice of Monterey Jack cheese on top--telling myself that it's all about keeping the chicken from falling off the bread.

     What's your favorite use of rotisserie chicken? Because I'm always looking for another good recipe.

   

Sunday, March 15, 2020

I Grew Up in a Small Town

     First off, let me admit that the group of small town classmates I grew up with were a bunch of anarchists (yes, I include myself). What else would you call an entire class of third graders who conspired against a substitute teacher, by carefully placing thumbtacks on the seat of her broad wooden chair?

    That wasn't our last effort. We continued until the very end and if I'm completely honest--Timothy Paulsen was our ringleader. Well, that's what we told our parents. And they were eager to embrace him as the villian, but (as many of us know) parents are happy to defend their own and vilify the rest.

     Looking back over some of the most memorable moments of our reign, I have to believe that we were an anomaly, that was all about that particular time of history. Whenever I'd broach the fringes of the topic with my older sister, she'd always reduce it to the era of the Vietnam war. Perhaps she was correct--history has much to do with human behavior.

     In the end, we battled with the small town school board to create the graduation we desired. They were happy to give us one of the lesser demands--the music we walked into the gym to and the song we sang together. And still we weren't happy. It's all about the struggle, isn't it? The struggle for independence. The struggle for identity. Yet, we were privileged young white people. We had zero idea of what a real struggle was.

   

Monday, March 9, 2020

Lungs, Lovely, Lungs

     I was one of those children who (it seemed) always had a sore throat or a cough. So many home remedies: my least favorite was the (very) damp cloth diaper-pinned around my neck during sleep. The most effective was that shot of brandy, my exhausted mother gave me in the wee hours of the night. Something she hated to admit. And I completely understand.

     Several weeks back, I realized why I probably suffered more than some--it may have had an impact on my upper respiratory system that, nearly every week, our dining room (and the dining rooms of my parents' friends) were filled with cigarette smoke, during their card games. And, possibly, due to living when many homes were heated with a wood furnace or stove. {Cough, hack, spit}

     I don't miss that cough or bark--I know my coworkers didn't. And I'm still thankful to the doctor who prescribed an "as needed" inhaler and suggested I get my pneumonia shot early. That doesn't help the teeth I ruined by sucking on cough drops at night, for months at a time, but it's kept my lungs feeling normal. Hooray for science!

    Today, I decided--as much as I love (LOVE) volunteering at school, I need to quit for now. If I brought that bug home to N, I'd never forgive myself. I tried to bargain with myself in the wee hours, but loving that activity isn't a good reason to continue during this time. My personal pity party may drag on a bit longer, but imo it's the right thing to do.

Monday, March 2, 2020

November 2009

     About once a year, I recall the month that H1N1 stole from me and how long it took to get back on my feet. I was glad to (re)discover today that I wrote posts during that time, because details can matter when it comes to the next virus.

     One detail that rises above the others, is the pain I experienced under my right shoulder blade when I didn't have any other noticeable symptoms. Though, without running a temperature, perhaps the doctor wouldn't have ordered an x-ray. Impossible to know.

     Going back and reading also gave me an opportunity to re-experience gratitude for all of the help I received from family and friends. Yet another reason to feel good about having taken the time to write it down.

   

Friday, February 28, 2020

Daffy Down Dilly

Good golly! I had no idea this was a long poem! I had assumed it was a single stanza created for the art project we did each spring.

Daffy Down Dilly

Daffy-down-dilly
Is new come to town,
With a petticoat green,
And a bright yellow gown,
And her little white blossoms
Are peeping around.

Now don't you call this
A most exquisite thing?
Don't it give you a thrill
With the thought of the spring,
Such as once, in your childhood,
You felt, when you found
The first yellow buttercups
Spangling the ground?

When the lilac was fresh
With its glory of leaves,
And the swallows came fluttering
Under the eaves?
When the bluebird flashed by
like a magical thing,
And you looked for a fairy
Astride of his wing?

When the clear, running water,
Like tinkling of bells,
Bore along the bare roadside
A song of the dells,—
And the mornings were fresh
With unfailing delight,
While the sweet summer hush
Always came with the night?

O daffy-down-dilly,
With robings of gold!
As our hearts every year
To your coming unfold,
And sweet memories stir
Through the hardening mould,
We feel how earth's blossomings
Surely are given
To keep the soul fresh
For the spring-time of heaven!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Life in Oregon

     There we were, driving to Tillamook. I can still remember when the two of us traveled to N's interview. He'd been working as an assistant manager for Willamette Tree Systems, a tree planting company, whose owner was ready to retire to Eastern Oregon. This new job offering seemed suited to his experience and education. And oh did that sun shine on the coastline that day! Glistening white foamy waves, highlighted by the gorgeous blue sky. Perhaps that's what teased us into submission.

     Once that avenue had played itself out, we hitched up our britches and headed to Roseburg, to a new job, a new employer. Roseburg was good to us. We made some good friends, as we dove head first into volunteering at the girls' elementary school. And I found my 'vocation'--working with the wee folk. Good friends, good neighbors, and we loved the area--it wasn't easy, but we pulled up our happy, established roots and moved to Salem.

     In Salem, I realized it was time to say goodbye to many of my rural habits and beliefs. As well as learning how to drive and navigate on busier city streets. The transitions were slow, as I resisted, shaking off all that we had loved about Roseburg. Growing up with few education choices in the HS of my youth, I was hopeful that the girls would receive a better education than I had: the lure of better schools, more opportunities and more friends to choose from. All in all, it was a good place to end up.

     Even though my folks were sure that living in a city with a prison or two, would end with us all being murdered in our beds, we've come to love Salem. She's not perfect--a plus in my opinion--but she's lovely, vibrant, eager to please, and oh so green. People come here (I assume), to escape the big city, yet live with many of the benefits of one. A small city can make you feel like you do make a difference, that you are needed, and you won't have to worry as much about sharp elbows pushing you out of the way. It's not for everyone, but it is for me.

Ps. And guess what I forgot? All of the gratitude for the family help we received during every move (including the moves from rentals), except for the last. That's when the benefits of staying with the same employer came into play. Finally.