Saturday, April 28, 2012


The lilacs from my tree are fragrant and appreciated this year.

Jess and David, Easter Sunday, 
in front of the "not yet blooming" lilac tree

View from the back yard . . .
 a different view, from the deck

Incentive . . . 

What moves you?  Or rather, what moves you to . . . well . . . move?

I need something to give me the incentive to move, whether it is getting out for a walk, cleaning my house, writing a post, or correcting papers.

Usually, the incentive is, real or imagined, urgency.  I can get an incredible amount of clutter picked up in ten minutes if someone calls and says "Hey, we're in the neighborhood, just checking to see if you're home!" After 20+ years of marriage, David automatically pitches in and grabs the vacuum for the relentless black dog hair that covers every surface, seemingly within moments of being vacuumed!

Lately my incentive to get myself out of the house for a walk has been my upcoming trip to Europe, and knowing I want to be able to walk long distances to enjoy all the sights.  I'm still fighting some pain, but I'm up to a consistent 1.15 miles, with slight up and downhill sections.  Next week, I push it out to 1.5, I'm hoping.  Nikki isn't the best walking partner, as she pulls me.  So, we walk with me holding a morsel of dog treat in my hand that is next to her, and I am saying constantly, "Stay close, Nik, stay close."  It works, most of the time.  We both need the exercise!

And, because the end of the year is nearing at breakneck speed, it's super hard to get enthusiastic about correcting papers and recording scores . . . I'm exhausted before I even get started! I ask myself almost daily, "Why oh why do I assign so much work?" I can count on a good 2-4 hours each weekend of catch up, not counting what I do nightly. I know teachers who "recycle" papers; I just can't.  I have to write all over them, in my attempt to guide and encourage and correct! Some students read and appreciate my efforts, and I do it for them!

I have a million post topics racing around in my brain, but finding the time to force myself to sit and write, and edit, and revise, and find photos, and mess with inserting them, and now, trying to figure out the new blogger . . . I find myself reading other blogs instead of writing my own! (But, today, I'm going to post, come you know what!)

Last weekend, my incentive to get out of the house was twofold, gorgeous sunshine and Kailyn being home for a visit. It wasn't too tough to push myself out the door!

First stop was "Real Deals" in Battle Ground.  I bought the blue birdbath above to put in my old cement one, as the cement no longer holds water.  It's been patched a dozen times, has been in the same spot for over 20 years, and grown rather mossy over time.  (I happen to love it to death.  My uncle had a cement works and made it about 40 years ago, and I inherited it, and cherish it, despite it's lack of water holding capacity!) It also leans, but it quite heavy and no one has taken the time to straighten it up.  I have been looking for a small birdbath for the poor birds that is esthetically more pleasing than my ratty Tupperware bowl I've been using for the past few years!  (I won't bother with a picture of that one!)

I was thrilled to find this sweet blue one, although I thought it would fill up the old birdbath more completely. Kailyn had to gather a few rocks in order to balance the sweet new birdbath.

We headed further north for Woodland, and opening day at Hulda Klager's Lilac Gardens.  We forgot to take pictures while we were there, but here is a photo of the lilac I was searching for to replace one Jess and I bought that died a couple years ago.  It's called "Sensation" and is a hybrid. 

This is what it is supposed to look like . . .

This is the one I purchased . . . hopefully, I'll catch it when it's fully bloomed. Right now, it's about four feet tall, the same height as the lilac tree in the back yard was, when I purchased it about 20 years ago.  We also bought a couple of "babies" in 4" pots.  Those I'll probably keep in pots for a few years, just in case we decide to move, so I can take them with me! (I actually kept the one in the backyard in a ten gallon pot for several years before planting it.  I knew where I wanted it, but needed to wait for the $$ to build our addition and the deck first!)

Tooling on down the road, we arrive at the Tulip Festival. 
Gorgeous tulips as far as the eye could see . . .

And, especially gorgeous close up, with Kailyn in the midst!

Kailyn took lots of photos, 
and we will be ordering many bulbs to plant this fall!

Oh, but back to incentive . . .

Today, my incentive is not too exciting.  I have misplaced my hearing aid remote, and I can't seem to manage to figure out how to change the volume, only the program, with the buttons on the aids.  It's been very frustrating at work, to the point where I didn't wear them all week.  The kids are too loud when I have them on!!  I could just call the place I got them, but I'm pretty stubborn, and I know that remote has to be SOMEWHERE in this house!  (I've already searched the car, which is where I found it last time I lost it!)

My other motivation is to find my camera bag, with my extra battery pack.  It too has disappeared.  My current battery is on the charger, and I can't take any photos until either it's charged, or I find the  bag!  Sheesh!  I put my camera in my purse without the bag last weekend (less bulk) and I don't remember where I put the darn bag!! It should be in the car, but it isn't as I already searched it for the remote and didn't come across the bag.  Sigh.

The problem I'm finding as I age (not so gracefully) is that I will do something so random, (not to mention illogical) and not remember what I did, or where I was when I did it.  I don't fret (yet) that I am fully involved in dementia, as I still know my name, the year and who is president (the test they gave my mom when her alzheimer's was discovered).  I think I am just enmeshed in a case of sensory and data overload.  There is simply too much stuff in my brain rolodex and it takes forever to run through it! (And, I forget what I'm looking for enroute!)

(I really am still on the topic of incentive, in case you're wondering, dear readers!)

The sun is shining right now, and it takes every ounce of my being to force myself to stay inside and find my lost objects.  The house needs a good cleaning as well, since I didn't do a lick last weekend when Kailyn was home.  There is laundry to finish, dishes to put away, and dratted dog hair to vacuum.  

I'm not certain how long my incentive to move will last, but it's time to take advantage of the flickering of "want to" and publish for now.

BTW ~ my upper GI came out well, no news about the biopsies, which is a good sign.  My doctor said things looked good, and that next time I get the two for one special, and upper GI and a colonoscopy!  Wow!  I can hardly wait for that day to come!

We brought two bouquets of tulips home with us last Saturday . . . they don't look like this anymore, but my lilacs are still lovely, and there is more to be had.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Good Day Sunshine

That old Beatle's song is fluttering around in my head today.  The sun is shining and it's the perfect sort of Sunday, sunny, no particular agenda, lazy and relaxed.

I did go in to work earlier today, to finalize my sub plans.  I am having my every three year upper GI tomorrow morning and taking the day off.  (I have GERD and pre-cancerous cells in my esophagus, so it's something I have been doing for the last 12 years or so.) I got home barely in time to leave for church, and was sort of frazzled enroute, but once I was there I was glad I made the effort.  I love being in church, singing, listening to the pastor, and reflecting on my week ahead.  Ironically, there are many Sunday mornings that I am intent on making up any excuse possible, not to drag myself out the door.  Yet, I've never been disappointed.  Never have I arrived, sat through the hour, and said, "Boy I wish I'd stayed home instead!"  It just doesn't happen.

Anyway, on the drive home I told my husband I was going to head down to the Saturday Market.  I asked if he wanted to come along, and he didn't, so I was going alone.  I had a mission.  I wanted to replace a dead lilac tree that I had planted a couple years ago.  I was hoping I'd find one for a reasonable price.

I loved the drive, with the sun beating through the windshield, and my driver's window down for fresh air.  I found a perfect parking place fairly close (expecting the pot with the lilac to be heavy) and after maneuvering back and forth for what seemed like 10 minutes (I'm the world's worse parallel parker!) I was excited to see a gal carrying a lilac heading my direction! Hurrah!

The market was crowded in a nice way, with every sort of person imaginable, and lots of dogs to keep things interesting.  The playground was full of kids laughing and shouting, swings squeaking and parent voices. I saw numerous booths with fresh flowers. I didn't need any, as I have quite a bit blooming at home, but nice to keep in mind for later.

My neighbor took this photo of my daffodils out front and sent it to me!

Lots of folks were buying veggies, fresh and plants, but husband had already warned me not to buy plants, as it's too early for most veggies to be in the ground.

I found a pink lilac, and considered purchasing it, until I remembered the lilac gardens in Woodland, just a twenty minute hop north on the freeway. I walked the length of the market, just for good measure, bought homemade dark chocolates filled with coconut for David (and a small bag of kettle corn for me!) and headed out toward the freeway.

Arriving at Hulda Klager's Lilac farm I was disappointed to find an empty parking lot, and a sign telling me that I was one week too early!  They don't open until next Saturday.  Rats! I kept driving out to the tulip fields but it was so crowded that I couldn't find a parking space so I didn't linger.  Instead I checked out a couple of antique shops on the other side of the freeway that I'm always passing by as my family never wants to stop!  I didn't find much, just this cute little plant stand for on the deck, but it was fun to take my time and browse.

This will be sweet with a planter I've ordered from a former student, soon to arrive!

Last night I read this book about Mont Saint-Michel that Kailyn had given me for Christmas.  I found it fascinating and fell asleep dreaming about visiting this delightful old abbey in June.  My dreams turned into nightmares however, when I was unable to climb the stairs, and in pain going down the stairs!  Now I have my carrot to dangle in front of my nose and get me out of the house!   I reminded my husband that he had promised he would walk with me daily so we would be in better shape for our vacation.  So, after my afternoon of driving and antiquing, we took Nikki and walked around the neighborhood.
Nikki is bored with picture taking and ignoring me.  She wants to walk!

I spent most of yesterday on the computer, trying to figure out the rail travel between some of the cities and places we hope to visit.  I think I've determined that we will be wise to purchase Britrail passes for everyone while we are in England.  It appears to be the way to go when we are traveling from Manchester to Chester, and also to Liverpool.  I think we can use it when we get to London to travel to Cambridge, a dream for Jessica and I. If anyone out there knows that buying the rail pass is a bad idea, please let me know asap!!

I also researched the possibility of visiting the Isle of Jersey, and after figuring out the ferry schedule, and the limited time we have in that part of France, I resigned myself to putting that wish off for another time.  I checked out airfare from Portland to the Isle of Jersey and it isn't cheap, but . . . who knows what the future will bring??

It's been a good day, full of sunshine, laughter, and travels, both real and virtual.  I'm getting more excited about our plans, but also more nervous.  This trip is a BIG DEAL to me, and I am realizing that I can attempt to plan all I want, but the bottom line is I don't really know what to expect. I just need to trust that whatever happens will be what is supposed to happen, and it will be worth it!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Driving a Bargain with Deb

It had been planned for weeks, a mid spring break day to get away from it all with my good friend, Deb.  We met at my house at 8:00, played with her ipad a few minutes, then headed toward McMinnville, Oregon, which used to be a great place for antiquing.  Along the way we got caught up as only face time truly allows, laughing and trading classroom stories of kids and drama and typical 5th grade teacher talk.

Traffic was light and we arrived at our first destination, called "Real Deals" where I found these birds about a month ago for Deb.
Aren't they just too cute??  I put them on the trunk, 
so I wouldn't forget to give them to Deb. 
They looked good with a jar of daffodils from my yard. 

I knew she was going to love this place!  They weren't open yet, so we found a coffee shop, then hurried back to get started on our shopping adventure.  But, wait, it was after 10:00 and there wasn't a single car in the parking lot!  As we drove close enough to read the sign we discovered it was only open on Thursday and Saturday.  Disappointed, and a little miffed, we meandered to the next place on our list, following the pulsing blue ball that represented my car on her ipad.  It was closed!  What????  Reading the sign, we discovered it would open at 11:00 and were just about to walk away when an older gentleman (older than us!) opened the door and let us in early. The shop wasn't much bigger than my living room (and my living room isn't very big!) but it was well stocked with great stuff.  Deb found a darling little shelf for a good deal and we happily wandered the room.  The owners were a friendly father and son team, easy to chat with.

Our next stop was supposedly an antique "mall" but it was mostly vintage thrift shop fare and we browsed quickly, laughing at our whispered comments on the quality and content. As I recall, we never did find the last shop that was supposed to be in that town, so we headed for Lafayette, where Rick's, one of our favorite antique furniture shops, is located.

On the way we passed a huge "barn sale" sign, and I followed the parking arrows to a well kept gravel area.  The sign said "Open", but after sloshing through a wide and wet lawn, we couldn't get the door to budge.  Just as we were heading back to the car we saw a rather scary looking guy, with a much scarier looking doberman pincher.  The guy could barely hold the dog, who was straining to get much closer to us than we cared for.  We looked at each other, and quickly jumped in the car.  I rolled the window down and the guy said something about being open, someone was in the house . . . whatever!  We weren't hanging around to let that dog take a bite out of our hide so I just called out, "Thank you!" and drove out of there! We laughed and decided that was too close for comfort.

We pulled into the parking lot at Rick's and it looked deserted!  About now we're thinking that maybe my husband has put a hex on us and we aren't going to find any good deals (Deb had found the shelf, but I was sadly bereft of treasures!) Fortunately, Lafayette School House Mall shared the same parking lot and it was open.  Sadly, the prices are still outrageous, (as they've always been . . . we were hoping for some recession deals) and even though it's huge, neither of us found a trinket we couldn't live without.  By then our stomachs were growling and it was time to look for nourishment!

As we had scoped out a couple of possibilites when we drove through Newberg earlier that day, we knew there were still delights to be found.  We pulled over to check out what the ipad could offer in the way of restaurants.  The first one sounded and looked great, but didn't open until 5 . . . not much help!  Then Deb found a coffee shop/cafe and we were off.  Having to drive around the block a couple times for a parking spot was a good sign, and soon we were attempting to narrow down our choice from an enticing board full of yummy sounding food.  The place was crowded, with one table left, just for us!  We had a satisfying lunch and chatted about more serious concerns, losing ourselves in that comfortable friendship space, where sad stories are spoken, eyes glisten with unshed tears,  and we're conscious of our shared history.  It would have been easy to spend the rest of the day in that mode, but we were out of tea and had places to go, so we did.

I had always found treasures at one place in Newberg, so that's where we headed.  I wasn't disappointed!

I found a darling little vintage table cloth, 
a treadle sewing machine drawer for putting stuff in, 
and some cute little kid cookie cutters. 

I have a slight obsession with toys from the 50's.  Over the years I've collected several toy kitchen items (most of them found with Deb).  I can get a little carried away with vintage toys.  These little gems would fit right in on my "waiting for grandchildren" toy shelves.

There's more . . . lots more!

We stumbled upon a cute little shop with a mix of vintage and new stuff and both found several items we liked, but only bought a couple.  I picked up a fun spelling book from the 40's that had rather dated stories in it. We got such a kick out of reading, I decided to buy it.  Deb discovered a fun dish towel for a mutual friend, though we had a good laugh over my thinking she meant someone else. (At one time there were two people at our school with the same first name.)

That silly girl.  As she handed this to me before we hugged good-bye, 
she said, "So you don't forget".

I had a great day with Deb, as always.  We laughed a lot, and talked seriously about our lives and how hard it is to accept that since we've crossed that threshold into the 60's, we're having to rethink a few things.  We talked little about the past, a lot about the present, and our wishes for the future.  We're travelers and we travel well together.  It is fun to entertain the possibility of traveling without our dear (but sometimes grumpy) husbands once we're truly retired. Our next antiquing trip will likely not take place until we're both back in the states after vacation, but we know it will need to be an overnighter!

While I've written before about how much I treasure our friendship, I can't help but repeat myself.  I think of all those years I took Deb for granted; it's easy to do when only a wall separated us 182 days a year. When suddenly she was gone, moved on when an opportunity availed itself, I mourned the loss of our daily chats, comforting hugs,  and laughter.  I mourned the loss of my soul sister, comrade in arms, sharer of secrets.

The years pass, but the friendship doesn't fade. Our parallel lives, interwoven with mutual grief, seasoned with shared struggles, and mingled tears, are braided together with strong bonds that will last for eternity.  I rest in the assurance that Deb is my forever friend, and I am hers.

Repeat photo! We forgot to take a new one this time!