Fall Love

Last week I took some moments to capture color on the trees… and take a coffee break with the husband… and build memories to hold till autumn comes back next year.

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools. – Henry Beston

coffee stop

 

love and coffee

 

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. – Henry David Thoreau

Your Ten-year-old Self

Three of my seven grandchildren share my birth month, which… I don’t know about you, but I think it’s kind of odd.  Anyway, this young one recently turned 10.

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This summer his bare legs and toes will race thru lawn sprinklers, peddle his birthday bike and chase his brother around the house.  He will go to church, shoot water pistols, play baseball, tease his sister, read books, go to the park and play army with his best bud.  And once in a while, when she’s not looking, he will experiment with a wad of modeling clay and his mother’s smart phone.

…at least I hope it’s modeling clay.580169_10201201300493053_1486121228_n

I love the age of 10-ish.  There is childhood innocence and the beginning of adult understanding all rolled into one awesome, action-packed being.  You can have silly conversations about modeling clay hanging out of your nose one minute and heartfelt words about a great book the next.

There is wonder and awe in things adults don’t give a second thought to.  And there’s belief in whatever great thing is dreamt of, is a thing that can be done…. a world of endless possibility.

I remember my 10-ish years… kind of.  We roller skated a lot… metal skates with straps around your ankle and a special key to tighten the griper thingy around the toe of your shoe.  But the favorite way to use these marvelous devices was to take a board, place it crosswise on one skate, hike to the top of a steep hill, then fly down on your belly or behind or knees or, if you were really brave, by balancing on the board standing up.  We were the “original” skateboarders, baby.

I had a lot of scraped elbows and knees in those days.  And I didn’t care.  I felt free and loved going fast… which my sons will never believe based on the way I drive my car.

But eventually you grow up.

You get “sensible”.  It’s best to follow the rules… stuff away the crazy ideas.  The more locked in to sensible you get, the more the outlandish, “what if?” thought process fades away.

Not all people do that, but I suspect a whole bunch do.

I hope my grandchildren won’t forget what they dreamt of at 10.  I hope as the future gets closer, they will keep an eye on that big idea from way back when… and bring it along with them.  And if they lose track of the big idea… at least bring along the enthusiasm.  Because I’m beginning to wonder if that thing that made us laugh and feel giddy… like we could conquer the world if we did it… is the very reason we exist.

...still playing with mom's smart phone..

…still playing with mom’s smart phone..

Two Eggs, Toast and Coffee Cliff

Doug and I don’t get much couple time anymore… unless you count TV after dinner… until one of us conks out… and that would be him.

Sometimes I arrange for a caregiver on Saturdays.  Typically we’ll spend that day working on the never-ending projects at our old house.  And that’s OK with me.  It’s a day together.  I appreciate that which I took for granted for so long.

We’ve also gotten into the habit of stopping for breakfast on those Saturdays… at Sharon’s Cafe.  Recently our server commented, “your order won’t take as long as last week”.  Which means she’s beginning to recognize us as regulars… and it feels kind of nice to be a regular… to be remembered.

Every time we pull up to Sharon’s though, I see us eating pancakes in Alaska, with my father-in-law.  The rest of the details are a little sketchy.

This time I mentioned it to Doug.

“Oh, yea… Pioneer Café near Teeland’s Corner… they had the same wainscoting on the wall.”

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And there it was…Teeland’s Corner, Wasilla, Alaska…  the Parks Highway… straight ahead to Fairbanks… left to Knik Road… right to Fishhook Road… the road we lived off… somewhere in the woods.  We always lived somewhere in the woods.

The little café is probably long gone… we’re talking ancient history here.

Cliff made several solo trips to Alaska during our early years there.  He briefly owned a piece of property near us… he joined Doug for a moose hunt… and he even worked at Prudhoe Bay for a while.  Wherever we lived was his temporary home base.  And on Saturday mornings we went to the Pioneer Café for breakfast.

He always ordered a short stack of pancakes, although he called them flapjacks, and coffee.  He enunciated “f-l-a-p-j-a-c-k-s” slowly, deliberately… I think he just loved the sound of the word.   When his flapjacks arrived, they were buttered, stacked and cut in straight, even rows… then crosswise in perfect little squares.  He carefully drizzled maple syrup on one small section at a time.  No soggy flapjacks for that man.

It’s interesting how we associate place with people and life events.  Maybe that’s how our memory keeps it all tucked in and held together.  For example, I’ve flown into Sacramento Airport more times than I can count.  And until recently, the same two people stood at the bottom of the escalator, right next to baggage claim, waiting for me… my Mom and Dad.  They don’t drive anymore.  And the next time I fly into Sacramento I know they won’t be at the bottom of the escalator… but I’ll still see them standing there.

Last week I stopped at the post office.  A clerk I’d never seen before looked at a piece of my mail and said, “I know that name!… Cliff?”

I nodded yes.

“You mean ‘two-eggs, toast and coffee Cliff?”

Another yes.

It turns out, aside from the fact he had changed his breakfast preference, she used to wait on him at the small café he frequented here.

“He was funny… thanks for the memory jog” she laughed… “I just loved that man”.

Yep.

Me too.

BYOB’s New Meaning

Plastic bags are outlawed in the town where I shop.

You either bring your own bag, or buy a paper one for 5 cents.

Five cents is no big deal.  It’s just irritating.

So I’ve been accumulating an assortment of my own… some for free, some cost a buck or two.  And I’m doing pretty good remembering to bring them along.  Sometimes I put them in the car, but forget to bring them into the store… which is even more irritating.

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Apparently other folks have the same problem.  I’ve seen a package of pork chops stuffed into a jacket pocket… and a loaf of bread snuggled into a baby carrier… with the baby.  You got to do what you got to do.

This morning I remembered to put my bags into the car… AND… bring them into the store.  It was a good day.

A young man walked in, just as I headed out with my cornucopia of loaded bags.  He looked much like any one of my four sons…

2 Andrew construction2a ian King Salmon 2 2b david daniel

…strong, hardworking, manly.

Dressed in work books, blue jeans and a Carhart-style jacket… a lovely, lavender floral print shopping bag swung from his right hand.

I stared at him.

I could not help it. 

And when he saw me he did the predictable guy thing… crumpled the bag into a ball and stuffed it under his arm.

I felt kind of bad for him.  But it got me thinking… maybe there’s a market for man shopping bags!  Brown or black canvas… perhaps a nice stripe or a muted plaid.  OK, that might be too much.  But I could be on to something.

Manly Man Shopping Bags

Seriously, can you see any of the four above carrying a lavender, floral print?

Maybe I should break out the sewing machine.

Because BYOB will eventually be in your town.  And our menfolk deserve better.

Renewal

Mostly I’m a point A to point B person…. as in, we have a long way to go so let’s go.  Now.

I’m not your best choice as a shopping partner.  I can fake that I like shopping for a while… a short while.  Typically I have a list and that’s the reason I’m at the store.  I want to get it over and done.  Now.

My husband is not a point A to point B person… we’ve been together almost 44 years and he’s lost somewhere in the middle of the alphabet.

If you’ve got the time he’s fun to travel with.  But be prepared, you’ll see most everything you wanted to see plus a lot that you didn’t.

If you’ve got the time, he’s fun to shop with.  Bring lots of money… and an appetite.  There will be many coffee stops and lunch involved.  Maybe breakfast.  Or dinner.  Possibly all three.

I’ve secretly wished I could be a little more like him.  (only a little!) We’ve come a lot closer to meeting in the middle over the years, but his life seems more interesting than mine.

The problem is when I want to go to a place, or investigate something, or do a new thing, I reason myself out of it.  Because, you know… there’s not enough time, it’s inconvenient to stop, someone’s waiting for me, someone is with me and they would be uncomfortable (I imagine), or I’m fearful.

Unfortunately, the last reason is probably the most true.  Fear of spontaneously doing a thing and risk looking like an idiot… stops me.  And it’s really quite silly.

Several times a week I drive the two-lane highway in this rural community.  And every time I turn off toward the road we live on, I think how beautiful the field is.  I wish I’d taken pictures of it change through the seasons.  But, you know… there wasn’t time, it was inconvenient, someone was waiting on me, didn’t have my camera, or… I just felt silly pulling off the side of the road taking pictures.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The other day I realized new grass was coming up.  Isn’t that a springtime event? This is the end of November in the cold, windy Pacific Northwest.  Yet there it was… tender, green grass.

I pulled over and took pictures.  Not great pictures.  I’m still  learning.  Just pictures of something I want to remember.

A few minutes standing in the wind with camera in hand, rain sputtering in, refreshed me.  In a moment’s time I felt renewed.

A blogging friend of mine recently wrote her word for this Christmas season is “awake”.  Awake to the beauty and meaning of the season, not getting bogged down in the rush and hype.  I like her choice of words.

My word is renewal.  It doesn’t need to be spring for new growth.  It’s happening right here, right now… in this soggy, windy, rainy place I live.  It’s happening all around me… inside me.

Renewal.

I suppose all this sounds silly… that’s ok.  But I plan to keep my camera handy for future impromptu stops.  There’s nothing to be afraid of and it only takes a moment to snap the shutter.

Maxwell the Turkey

I just couldn’t post this before Thanksgiving.  I’m sure you’ll understand why.  And besides, Maxwell is a Christmas story.  And there’s still time to forget this by then.

Long ago and far away in Alaska, my husband decided we would raise our own turkey for the holidays.  It would be a good lesson, he said, to our young sons… cycle of life, raising your own food, yada, yada.

So he brought this little thing home and we put him in a pen along with our son’s duck, Donald, who turned out to be a girl… and a few assorted geese… which disappeared when they realized they could fly.

So every day I checked the feeder and water.  It didn’t bother me… at first.  The turkey seemed content.  But it felt wrong that he didn’t have a name.  I mean, Donald the duck had a name, even tho he was really a girl.

So I named our turkey Maxwell.

The days got shorter and colder.  We turned a tool shed into a turkey-duck-house, lining it with fresh straw.  We even brought an extension cord and light out for those really cold days.  Remember… it was Alaska.

And I became more conflicted as each day passed.

Every afternoon… I was the one to check on Donald and Maxwell.  And, you know, they liked me.  They really liked me. They looked forward to my visits.  Because I brought the food…

And as Maxwell got bigger and plumper I kept thinking, “you poor fool… you’ll be on our Christmas table in a few weeks… you should run away… why don’t you run away??  Please!  Run away!!!!”

But Maxwell just looked at me with his big turkey eyes full of love.

Finally his last day came… and I made sure to be gone.  When I got home, Maxwell was hanging upside down in our car port in the most undignified way.

I knew we would rue the day.  Yes, we surely would.

Now it was almost Christmas.  My very civilized parents arrived from California.  I was unsure what they would think about a dead turkey hanging upside down in the car port.

… so, with snow on the ground and Christmas excitement in the air, I pretended it was like the butcher shop scene in Dicken’s Christmas Carol.  Don’t think they picked up on that vibe.

By then it was too late anyway.  It all went down hill fast….

It was Maxwell.  And it was time to pay.

The day my parents arrived the temp dropped to 30 below zero, highly unusual for our area.

The heater blew out on my car.

The water pipes froze.

Mom and Dad got the flu… the stomach flu.  With no running water in the house.

I, being great with my third child and due the end of December, got sick too.  I don’t remember much about those few days.  I don’t remember Christmas dinner.  I only saw Maxwell’s turkey eyes.

And this child who was supposed to be born the end of December… didn’t show up until January 19th.  I know what it means to be a… stuffed turkey.

So I’ve got to tell you… naming an animal you intend to eat is stupid.

Turkey eyes…. yea, they will haunt you, people.

P.S. – this is absolutely a true story.

Going, going, gone….

I’m leaving my sunny deck for a few days…

Visiting a son I’ve been missing for far too long…

Seeing a state I’ve never been to before…

There will be pictures to take, people to meet and good food to eat.  And…

“I will let love be my guide”…Ephesians 5:2

Am I bright enough for a smart phone??

Probably not…

… it was a possibility voiced the day the chimney cleaner/fixer guy came to the house and she waved her arm in my direction saying “she’s not too bright”.

But since she’s lost those filters that prevent most of us from saying rude things about a person, especially when they’re standing right in front of you… I can cut her some slack.  So did the chimney guy.

However, the seed was planted.  And I’m wondering….

Last weekend the husband and I bought new smart phones and I don’t know why.

I was just looking because he was.  Doug likes the new toys – I like simple.

But somehow that salesman razzle-dazzled me.  When the Facebook feature appeared, I was hooked.  Before I knew it I’d signed on the dotted line and handed over my sweet little (old) phone so they could transfer my contacts list.

The phone I abandoned –  The battery charge lasted forever.  It never let me down.  And I knew how to make it work.

The new phone – That Facebook feature?  I have yet to figure out how to get there from here.  When I log into Facebook on my computer, my status says I have mobile connection.  But I just got an email telling me a mobile device has been deleted from my Facebook.  So how did that happen?

Yesterday I disconnected everyone who tried to call me.  Today I’ve managed to answer every one a few.

Manueuvering the touch pad to send a text just about makes me crazy… I need to put my fingers on a diet.

But at least I can make a basic phone call.  And I can take a picture as evidenced here….

… except it was a mistake.  I pulled into the driveway and thought I was taking a picture of a swarm of ugly bugs on the wood shed.  Apparently I touched an icon that switched the camera around (mysteriously) so I actually took a picture of me.  Huh?

And once I figured out that little camera trick I thought I’d cheese it up a little and take one more.

To be perfectly honest I still miss my late 90’s brick phone.  It was substantial.  The buttons were big and easy to push.  It could potentially be used as a weapon when in dire straits.  And one never knows when one might be in dire straits.

Next weekend I get to see a few of my kids.  Maybe they can help me.

Do you read every page of every book you start?

Honestly, I don’t.  And I feel guilty about that.

So I’m thinking our upcoming move will be a good opportunity to purge my book collection.  I need to get rid of some guilt.

I’m also thinking it might not be a bad thing to not complete a book.  Perhaps I learned what I needed to learn from the pages perused and the rest doesn’t matter?  I don’t know, but I’m working on a convincing argument for that.

So I’ve already packed and moved a pile of books …almost a dozen boxes worth.  They are books about Alaska, American Civil War, basically anything military plus an assortment of children’s books (which I personally still love to read), Charlotte’s Web, Swiss Family Robinson, to name a couple.

Here is another stack of book boxes almost ready to go – – – these are about handicrafts, how to fix just about anything, interior design.  Also, a large collection of cookbooks, which is odd because I don’t like to cook.  I would like to like to cook – maybe that’s why I collected them.

There are two LARGE plastic totes in another room full of biographies, inspirational books, Bibles and such that need to be sorted.  And we haven’t even gotten to Doug’s books yet.

This sorting and purging is hard work.  I love books almost as much as children …. although I wouldn’t fling myself into oncoming traffic to save one.  (a book, that is)

Recently I read an article on finishing what you start.  These folks are actually remodeling an airplane hangar into a home!  Now that’s a project.  If they can do that I can sort and pack.  Then maybe when I get settled again I can finish some of those 2/3rds to 3/4ths read books

At this point there is only one box of books destined for the yard sale.  I’m not doing much to alleviate my guilt.

Mom, Where am I?

So after you’ve announced you’re leaving your job…what next??

First you work really hard to get to that last day.  You anticipate and plan for the new, different, good and strange things looming in your future.  But at the moment, I find life a little odd.

I’ve discovered that when you step out of the predictable status quo…some folks get “disturbed”.  Feathers ruffle.  Feelings go wonky.  To borrow a great word from a friend – they start “awful-izing”.

When my feelings are wonky it’s usually because I don’t see the whole picture.  So I’m hoping the feather ruffling and feeling wonkiness will dissipate.  Clarity is out there to be found.

But last night as I pondered how a simple plan of action can get so convoluted….it reminded me of a son and a new driver’s license.

He worked part-time after school just five minutes down the road from my office.  And so, I was very surprised to get a phone call one afternoon and hear him say, “Mom, where am I”.

I thought he was joking.  I thought he was five minutes down the road.

But since he had a driver’s license, his employer had him deliver parts to another business location….in the big city!

He had never driven alone outside our small town.  And now he had driven up the interstate???  In traffic??  No-o-o-o-o-o!

Somehow on the way back he got confused, took an off ramp and ended up at a gas station.  I knew how to help him once back on the freeway, but I wasn’t sure how to get him there.

A quick chat with the station manager and a call back to me, got him headed home.  I was a wreck.  But he made it and ultimately, it was a good learning experience.  (probably more for me!)

It was one of those things where I thought I knew where he was… but he wasn’t really where I thought.  And he could see where he was… but didn’t truly know where he was.  Thinking you know, but not really.  Thinking you see, but not clearly.

Anyway, here’s hoping ruffled feather friends will soon see and know.  In the meantime, I go forth…

…because I must.  I had a truck full of empty boxes this morning.  Now I have a porch full of empty boxes to be filled with stuff.  My living room is full of boxes already full of stuff.

And visions of yard sales dance in my head…. for next weekend.