Sunday, April 28, 2019

So Many Things

Where should I start?  Where should I go?

The President is an idiot and our city's Farmer's Market was selling bananas this weekend.  I ogled a Tesla in Denver this week, only to find out that a Tesla had been parked in our yard this week, as well.  (What?!  Parking a car in my green space?!!)

I did a Southwest road trip last week and the week before: Denver, Santa Fe, Breckenridge, Denver, and home again.  Jigger-jig. Such relaxing fun.  Just me, a car radio, and many memories. 

I drove to Santa Fe to pick up some of my Dad's sculptures from an art gallery which was closing (retiring owner).  The morning I arrived to fetch said sculptures was also very emotional to me: the morning two years ago when Dad passed.  I certainly had not planned this morning.  I spent quite some time packing sculptures and placing them in my station wagon.  All was said and done.  I said my farewells to the gallery owners, who are so kind, and who knew my parents for decades. I embraced the gallery manager, and I her that it was two years ago in the morning, that Dad had passed.  She broke into tears. 

How crystal clear things are, even when one does not want it that way.  Dad lapsed into a coma just around 5:30 pm on Wednesday, and twelve hours later, 5:30 am Thursday, he passed.  I was by his side, as was my sweet, sweet nephew Steve.  I could not have spent that night in the peace that I felt, without sweet and kind Steve looking out for me every hour of that night.   

And here I am, two years out of that sad tunnel.  Dad is gone, and Mom followed him soon after.  My Mother-in-law, in Australia, passed just weeks after my Dad.  My father-in-law, in Australia, followed his love of life too soon as well. 

Four parents.  They taught us so well.  It's one of the "Thanks be to God" prayers  But such a tough experience.   

As for the bananas?  Seriously?  Manhattan, Kansas will not even enjoy home-grown tomatoes until really late June - July.  Shame on the Farmer's Market for allowing bananas, early tomatoes, and other produce.  Seriously?!  Those "farmers" are going to Wal Mart and getting produce which has been grown in Mexico.  Pooh.

So many things. 

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Get a Grip and Brace Up!

This afternoon I pulled up the year 1966 on Wikipedia.  I was six that year, and I have memories of swimming lessons, Brittany Spaniel puppies in the back yard, the boat house on weekends, catching crawdads in the ditch, ...you know: kid things.

Whoa!  1966 was not a happy year.  There was Vietnam (our next door neighbor Gene was in Viet Nam, but his parents waved their patriotic Marine flag, and my parents shielded me from atrocities (as well they should have, in my opinion), and so I was not made aware of overseas confrontations and horrors. 

There were the race riots.  Again, I was living in a Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm life.  Most, if not all, folks living in Pryor Creek were either Caucasian (white) or Indian (Native American).  There were few instances for me or my family to rub elbows with anyone not "of their color". 

I was not privy, at age six, to race riots or war demonstrations. 

And then, 1966 was in the midst of hallucinogenic drugs, particularly LSD.  WHOA! 

So, there were race riots, war demonstrations, and LSD was soon to be made illegal. 

Today, this year, the past two years, have been sort of bleak, from my vantage point on the American horizon.  I don't like the horizon one bit.  I try to be upbeat, I try to see beyond what's bothering a lot of us.  Sometimes, though, I just throw my arms up in despair.

But I have to say, looking back at 1966, when I was just a silly kitten, things must have felt pretty bleak then, too.  I am glad my parents shielded me from the pain and negativity of the world at that moment.

And in my soul-searching this afternoon, I began thinking about America life in the 50s, the 40s. the 30s...and so on.  I think I need to re-visit all the decades of our American history.  I am thinking each decade, and certainly each generation, had its hardships and despairs.  Too, we need to learn from our mistakes. What a young country we are.

And so, I tell myself, "Buck up.  Brace up".   

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Soul-refreshing

Two years ago, family needs found several high school chums back in our hometown of Pryor Creek, Oklahoma.  We got together, had some laughs, and said, "We really need to get together sometime."

Last month, I realized it had been two years since that sentiment was shared.  And we had done nothing to act upon it. 

I secured the family home in the Colorado mountains, sent an email invitation to four high school chums (one of which abhors the word chum, but this is my blog, and I like it.)  Within twelve hours, all had RSVP'd with a hearty YES!  They would come.  Two were to fly in one, lives within the Colorado region, and one wanted to drive up from southern Texas.  I would arrive a few days before the weekend, to get the family home in comfy atmosphere - groceries, etc.

Well.  As I arrived in Denver, chum Sarah called me: "Have you seen the news?!!" 

"No, what's up?"

"There are avalanches closing I-70 between Frisco (our exit) and Vail!"

Uh-oh.  I did a quick re-think of the weekend.  I opted for unplanned Plan B: Take a VRBO in Denver - specifically, the VRBO we had used two years ago for daughter Gillian's wedding weekend.  I knew the house, I knew the neighborhood.  Boom!  Done deal.

What transpired was the most amazing, fun, and laughter-filled weekend.  How did we friends let forty years slip by?  True, we were all separated by geography.  And Senior '78 came way before PCs, email, and smart phones.  (Ouch; I did get a blistering this weekend because I am still carrying a flip phone and do not text.)  But the sweet thing was, that we picked up exactly where we had left off, some of us in high school, and some of us kept up through college.  Lisa & I backpacked through Europe our last year of college - I from Oklahoma State, and she from Georgetown.  Melissa and I kept up through OSU years, and sent a few notes back & forth through my first year at motherhood.  Denise is beautiful, and she organizes two beauty pageants in Oklahoma each year.  She was diagnosed with Parkinson's this year.  What?!  But, true to her teen years, her wit and spice only made us laugh when the Parkinson's reared its head that weekend.  Sarah and I have kept in touch, year in and year out, for fifty-nine years.  Amazing.  Sometimes we are each other's ballast for what life has dealt to us.

Each and every one of these chums (sorry, Sarah), are funny, and smart, and worldly.  Even though Melissa's family lived across the street from us early on, and we were playmates since forever, I did not know that she was adopted until I was an adult.  We caught up sometime after our college years, and I mentioned that to her - that I had no idea she was adopted.  "Trish, how could you not have known?  I'm Native American.  My parents and brother (nine years older) all look Irish!"  I countered that I was #5 child in our family, a towhead among dark brunettes.  Genetics, apparently, never was a thought process in my head.     

What a fun weekend.  That's all I can say.  We are forty years older.  But we still love each other, and celebrate each other.  How sweet is that?
 

 

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Something New

That Spouse o' Mine and I went out and bought a house this week. 

Ha!  Not for us - we already have a ca 1887 farmhouse we call home.  AND this is our third home, living in three different college towns.  (And more accurately, we live outside the city limits of said college town.) 

When we were the parents of three concurrent college kids, there was little chance that we would be able to afford to both pay college tuitions (in triplicate) and purchase a student rental home, as so many parents do, in order for their kids to have a place to live beyond a college dorm.  I am not really sure how we financially got those kids through college, but somehow it happened.  It's a blur...

Now, fast-forward about a decade, and we two have some time, and some money.  Not a whopping amount of either, mind you, but enough that we decided to look at student rental investment this past month.

We (that Spouse o' Mine, actually) came upon a cute house not far from the university which looked like it had some potential, if someone (me, apparently?) had enough time and energy to envision its potential. 

So we bought it.  And now, the angst and anxiety.  And now, the excitement and fun.  And now, the Omigoodnesses.  In both directions.

This house was built way after our own 1887 farmhouse.  A contemporary, built in 1920.  Pocket doors.  Brass hardware throughout, which has also been painted over throughout.  (Too many landlords before us have sought the easy way.  Who knows?  Maybe we will, too.)  Leaded glass windows.  Beveled glass front door.  Of course, hardwood floors.

Yes, there are issues - what house has no issues? 

Today I changed the locks, hung a curtain in the front room (it's Fake Patty's Day today; read: lots of drinking and drunk college kids walking down our sidewalk while I worked on switchplates and such), measured all the windows, made notes for new bathroom vanities and more. 

It's a starting point, this weekend.  So many of our friends are landlords in this college town and others, so this is probably a yawn for them.  But for us two, it's a new venture.   

Stay tuned.



Sunday, February 17, 2019

I Do Love Me a Winter

The forecast put folks in their winter panic: Snow!  Snowmageddon!  Ice!  IceTurion!

We're in Kansas.  This weekend's forecast would not have caused a missed heartbeat in Michigan.  Or New England.  Or dear, sweet Madison, Wisconsin, where daughter & SIL Claire & Rich reside.  Last week, they took the -27ยบ with bravado!  That's not wind chill, no sirree: that's actual cold winter.

Our weekend has been cold, and snowy, and I have loved it.  Every time I have ventured out on my XC skis, it's been a joy to my day.  I have come in each time to exclaim that I would love it if I could XC ski every day of our winter.  And note - my skiing has been in a brome pasture, not groomed at all.  The balance and drift of the snow (and brome) has really played a part in balance and lack thereof, sore muscles, lower back complaints, and such.  But, oh!  What fun!!

And you know what?  I have embraced the silence of the snow.  The cardinals, the titmouses, the blue jays, bluebirds, and the sweet sparrows are all out there trying to feed and get moisture. That barred owl and I locked eyes for many a long minute.  I think we were playing Chicken on who would move first.  (He did, but I think it was caused by my sitting down in a snow drift to watch him.  I lost, in retrospect.)

What a wonderful weekend for me.

How about you?





Sunday, February 10, 2019


When I was a little kid, it was permissible, and maybe even expected amongst neighborhood mothers, that we young children should walk to the public library on each Saturday morning and collect a pile of books for the coming week.  I vaguely remember my mother taking us to the library before this "coming of age" allowance, where she would dutifully find books of interest for each and every one of her kids.

I LOVED THE LIBRARY!


The "coming of age" walking allowance no doubt involved an older sibling (of which I had four), to shepherd us walking to the library, which I think was about one mile from our house, through the library, and back home from the library, arms full of books.  At some point, my mother would also dole out my 25¢ financial allowance.  That meant I was given time, money, and freedom to go from Point A (library) to Point B (dimestore) to pick out some candy.     

I LOVED THE LIBRARY!  I LOVED SATURDAYS!

Tonight, on PBS' The Great American Read FB page, the question was posed:

"What was the first book you read that made you fall in love with reading?"

I thought of two from my young days.  They were both read to me, no doubt a non-reader at that point.  (So listen here, you all: read to those pipsqueaks.)  One, my mother often checked out of the library for me.  For some reason, it always appealed to me - no doubt my frog-egg, crawdad, turtle, tadpole, frog, fish, kitten, puppy days played a part in my love for this book:
Why I Built the Boogle House by Helen Palmer.  (Turns out, she was Theodore Suess' wife!)


The other beloved book I recall from my early childhood (Wait!  That's not right; I have TONS of early book memories.  So...hang on...)  As I was saying, another beloved memory was of my Aunt Edna and Aunt Rachel reading me their copy of a sweet, sweet story about a pup growing up with a family.  I don't know what resonated about this story, but I think it had to do with sitting in Rachel or Edna's lap, just sitting, just listening to their voices:



Those two books were fundamental in acquainting me with the written word. 

And you know what?  I have acquired both these books now, 50+ years later.  They meant a lot to me.   

Than, happily, came Hop on Pop!  Green Eggs and Ham!  One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish! The Cat in the Hat!  (I have to interject here, that the Cat in the Hat was an awesome read, and they should have left it in written form.)

Think back to your first experiences with awesome stories.  I love my recollection of my mother reading Hurlbut's Story of the Bible to us five kids, whenever there was a Sunday snow day or if some of us were too sick to go to Sunday School.  Mom made sure she read to us. Her voice was as rich to us as hearing Paul Harvey's Bible stories at noon each Sunday.

That was fifty years ago.  Half a century.  Lots happen in half a century.  Think about that...

But, you know what?  I really think having a sweet child in my lap, with just an old book, any old book, reading to that sweet child, is pretty fine.  

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Winter, Winter, Mud

This week has been winter, winter, winter.  I have been loving it.  The snow, the XC skiing, the cozy soup nights...

And then, this morning, something happened.  Uh-oh: cabin fever.  I couldn't get off the sofa.  I read.  FOR HOURS.  I did menial tasks and then would return to the sofa for another hour.  I am reading a book, (about Napoleon), but I also read the Washington Post, Architectural Digest, The New Yorker, many online sites, and the list goes on.  And on.  Too many hours.  What's up with that?

Well, it might have had to do with the somewhat warmer temperature today.  All week it has been well below freezing.  Lots to do outdoors, if one is so inclined: XC ski, fill and refill bird feeders and suet feeders ad infinitum, play with two dogs that DO NOT WANT to be indoor dogs.  (So...dogs need human interaction or they quickly become naughty dogs.  Either they come in for socialization, or we humans go out for socialization.  The dogs opted for outdoors, and since we humans can't abide by the canine stank they bring in, we are happy to acquiesce on this note.)  Then there's the cheerful chiminea, and the willow tree which split in half in last week's ice storm, and the snow that's needing shoveling...

But today was warmer, and glimmer into what's to come later this week: Mud Season: Episode 1.  Already, Lucy Dog, a 95-lb long-haired German Shepherd is sporting the muddy underside, tail, and whole legs of black mud.  She looks like some other dog than our own.  She is happy as a clam.

In Mud Week: Episode 1, I have a mental barrier about going outdoors.  To do anything.  Hence, my day's restraint on doing anything out in the yard.  Pooh.

Here's a happy note:
Snow-lovin' Lucy



Snow lovin' Julia, hiking in my XC ski tracks


        



Friday, January 25, 2019

Marvelous Friends!

Today I had one of those lunches with a friend - one of those most marvelous friends.  We laughed.  We laughed out loud.  I laughed out loud with tears streaming down my face.

Twice.

The two of us shared fun and not-so-fun.  Pensive, life needs, and worries.  Pensive, and life hopes, and dreams.

I can't acknowledge the author of this quote, but it is apropos:

"Friendship is all about trusting each other,
helping each other,
loving each other,
and being crazy together."

~ T.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Twelfth Day, Then Epiphany

Today marks the end of Christmas.  It's the Epiphany - the day that marks the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ.

Today we took down the outdoor Christmas lights.  We removed the fenceline wreaths - ten of them - and hosed them down before their return to our basement.  I began removing ornaments from our Christmas Tree after brunch. 

This year's tree was tall and wide, one I'd found at the tree farm down the road.  I had decorated it with years and years of special memories, and today was a sweet review of those decades.  A tiny pair of skies - a leftover from Mrs Green's tree back in my childhood.  Mrs. Green was the perfect neighbor who had impeccable manners, saw humor, put up with us five kids next door, and was an elegant hostess.  She was the one who suggested an outing to Willard Stone's house, who was a sculptor who lived a few towns away.  His sculpture has made it all the way to the White House Rose Garden.  See how just one ornament has me tripping, merrily, down memory lane?

There's the handmade cardinal from son Graham's 6th grade teacher; Graham is now 27.  Two ornaments made by two sisters, both of which hold their grade school photos.  They're in their 30s now.  I have origami and high school geometry lessons hanging on the tree.  Oh - two of my favorites: Christmas Cow, from someone's nursery school, and Christmas Tree, also nursery school art.  They are both pretty ugly to anyone but me.  Uglier still are the two pop cans, made into a reindeer and Santa.  Santa lost his beard years ago.  The reindeer could do with some new antlers.  I may have to cull this herd next year.  Or send them to the artists' homes for their own Christmas trees.

I see the three leather camels, purchased in our newlywed year in Egypt.  And the teeny, tiny needlepoint ornament I made of our second wedding anniversary: MSU:1985, when that Spouse o' Mine began his PhD program.  I intended to make an ornament for each year, but, as so often it does, life swiftly got in the way.           

There are the three delicate baby ornaments, to celebrate three delicate lives: our babies.  I have my felt stocking ornament from Mrs.Slinkard, my 2nd grade teacher.  It still has my name glittered on it.  There is the beautiful crocheted stocking from our son's girlfriend Austen.  How sweet to have an age-old stocking ornament from someone I loved fifty years ago, and to have a beautiful (and perfect) stocking from someone we love who just entered our lives this decade.

And so it goes, my love for my wildly decorated Christmas trees.  I had an acquaintance years ago who decorated her tree with gorgeous Lenox "collection" ornaments.  It was beautiful and elegant, year after year.  I loved looking at her tree.

But, when it comes to my home and Christmas, I am so happy to re-visit all the years that my three ornament boxes hold.

Oh - and the ornament boxes?  They, too, are a sweet, sweet memory.  Years ago when my siblings and I all had young children, it was decided and decreed upon that we would draw names for gifts for "Big Family Christmas".  My sweet sister Barb had drawn our name, and she had sent us three graduating "hat boxes" full of Christmas joy.  And those three boxes, from there on, became our ornament boxes.  Every year when I pull these out of the attic, they put a smile on my face.  I think of her.  I reflect on our family.  I silently laugh at all the merriment.

 





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