Saturday, April 30, 2016


Unexpected Homecoming

Surprise!  All the kids were back on home turf this weekend, unexpectedly for the parental units (as Jess refers to us). This was my view from across the street when I went out for my morning walk.  

We knew that Kailyn and Nick would be in town, but they had planned to stay at Nick's folks, as there was a birthday celebration planned for one of Nick's friends this weekend.  Thursday evening, while talking with Jess on the phone, she said she wanted to come home to see her sister and brother-in-law.  We said, "Sure!"

Jess arrived yesterday about 4:45 from Longview.  We chatted a bit, went to dinner and chatted some more. Brandon, her boyfriend, showed up at 7:00, traveling from a work site in Prineville, OR. Kailyn and Nick were enroute from Ellensburg, estimated arrival time about 9:00.  They were just going to stop for a brief visit, then go to Nick's folks to sleep in a real bed, as we now have a shortage of guest rooms.

As 9 pm came and went, David decided to head for bed, and I eventually followed.  By that time, Jess had received a text from Kailyn that they wouldn't be stopping, and they'd see us later.

At some point, after I'd fallen asleep, Jess came into our room to tell me that Kailyn's Prius warning lights, three of them, had come on.  They were waiting for a tow truck near Troutdale.  I attempted to go back to sleep.

When I groggily got up this morning to go meet my neighbor for our daily walk, I noticed the blow up queen size mattress was taking up most of the living room floor space.  In the early morning light, I could barely make out the shape of two bodies sprawled across it.

I headed for my neighbor's house. Looking back, I noticed the profusion of vehicles in front of our house, and snapped the photo above.

And now, the Toyota dealership has been called. We're waiting for AAA to show up and tow Kailyn's Prius out for repairs.  I've offered my Prius for them to use this weekend and drive back to Ellensburg.  We still have two other vehicles, so it isn't a big deal.

Eventually, the kids (young adults) were all up, and I made dairy free waffles for the crew. As I sit here, listening (and sometimes contributing) to the playful banter between our daughters and their men, I smile. Despite the rearranging of my schedule for the weekend, my mamma heart is happy. 

I have come to cherish these "homecoming" events, that seem to grow further between as the years go by.  David and I are quite content in our empty nest, most of the time.  We putter inside and out, sometimes together, sometimes on our own. We go to bed, leaving the bedroom door open, so Pepper (my rescue cat) has room to roam.  When the girls are home, Pepper is either shut inside, or outside our bedroom.  Either way, a closed door somehow irritates her, and she meows and/or scratches to be on the other side - not conducive to a restful night.

Too soon, we are back to just the two of us.  Kailyn and Nick have loaded their stuff into my car to follow the tow truck and get a work order started.  They will stop back tomorrow, on their way out of town.  Jess and Brandon have left in her car to wander around, perhaps hit a few garage sales, and over to REI to spend Brandon's Christmas gift card from us. :)  I'm fairly sure they will be back, as they left Brandon's work vehicle parked out front. 

Parenting grown children is bittersweet.  I love the grown up companionship and conversations about real issues affecting their lives, that in adulthood they willingly share.  We have become the nicest of friends with not just the girls, but their men as well. We are grateful and blessed beyond measure. 

Yet, sometimes I miss the old days, even the discontented days, when parenting was our full time profession.  I walk by pictures on my walls and shelves and remember those honey sweet days of sticky hands and faces, pulling at my clothes and covering me with kisses.  Rocking a nursing baby to sleep. The precious gifts of flowers with no stems, "pretty" rocks, and indiscernible drawings. The profusion of a toddler's "I love you, Mommy" repeated a hundred times a day. 

Jessica's sweaty arms clutching me for comfort when cursed with night terrors, night after night. Or standing in a steaming bathroom with a croupy baby. Kailyn's stubborn refusal to stay in bed, and me sitting in the hallway outside her bedroom growling, "Get back in bed!" for what seemed like hours, night after night. 

Well, some things I don't miss so much!

I have been fortunate in this life to be given more than one chance to raise a family.  The first one didn't work out so well.  There were a lot of reasons why, probably the biggest being a lack of maturity.  In that family, I was the only female, and was mother to my son Chris, and two step-sons. I hear from my step-sons once in awhile, and I'm close to Chris' family, but Chris died a little over ten years ago. 

When I met David, he hadn't been married before, and had no children.  No one was more surprised than I was when I managed to become the mother of two daughters within a couple years after our marriage.  I have been determined to be the best mom I can be, if only to make up for not doing a better job in my first family.

I hadn't considered it before now, but perhaps this is another example of grace, written about here Grace.  I have always referred to David as my "knight in shining armor" (or levi's which would be more accurate), as it was with his stalwart support that I put aside the drinking and eventually the smoking that had taken over my life previously.  I now think that it was undeserved grace that has given me the life I have today.  And I'm utterly grateful for that.  While I may not be the weight I wish, (a constant lament it seems!) most of the rest of my world is pretty darn good. 
Indulging me with smiles while out to breakfast a few weeks ago with our "kids". 

Friday, April 29, 2016


Daughter Jess made this for Mother's Day 2009.
Merriam-Webster definition of grace:
a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification 
b: a virtue coming from God 
c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

I'm with Anne Lamott - I do not understand the mystery of grace, but I do recognize the change it made in my life.

I don't do a lot of God posts. I truly believe to each his own when it comes to belief systems, and faith, and pretty much most things.  I try really hard not to sit in judgment regarding the life choices that other folks make for themselves.  

But, I am pretty amazed by this whole concept of grace - and what is implied in the context.  I think of the fluid grace of a dancer, or a gifted ice skater.  Grace was the rule before meals in childhood, a hurried through rote prayer that meant little to me, just something we did before picking up a fork. Once upon a time I even had a student named Grace.

Recently, in the course of a series of events I've experienced, I've been drawn back to reading a portion of the Bible each morning; meditatively reflecting on what I get out of it, and where I am in the space of my world that day.  Grace came up a couple days ago.  

There are times, even at the ripe ol age of 65, when I feel like I still haven't "grown up".  I have all these feelings of being "less than" or "insufficient", or "incomplete" when I think about what I haven't done with my life yet, or what I should be doing with my life now.  (Often these can be as mundane as "Sheesh, don't you think it's about time to mop the kitchen floor?" or "You're retired!  Get out there and volunteer!") The meditation I read discussed the idea of recognizing incompleteness as a kind of open space - allowing grace to flow in.  I hadn't ever thought of it in quite that way before.

One of the hard things I've been dealing with has been food, as in, eating too much of it.  I haven't always been overweight - I was a skinny kid and young adult.  I drank more than my fair share when I discovered alcohol, and smoked more than my fair share when I discovered cigarettes, but I stopped both of those bad habits 29 years ago.  Yep, that's when the weight began to creep up.  And, somewhere along the way, food became my reason for living - quite literally - as I was either cooking, eating or dieting.  Many of the early years after smoking cessation I was chasing toddlers, which kept my weight mostly manageable, but the girls didn't stay little long enough, I guess.

March 15, 1996 - on the 9th anniversary of my last glass of wine, my step-mom of 35 years, died of complications of Alzheimer's.  I didn't know it then, but I was plunged into what would become a many years long depression, that was managed with food.  I gained 80 pounds in less than a year.  I didn't know I was depressed, I didn't recognize that my step-mom's death triggered emotions related to my own mom's death when I was nine.  I just ate. I was a miserable lost soul.

Twenty years later - my life still revolves around food - big surprise!  I've been on nearly every diet known to man, lost and gained back small mountains of weight, and I'm still obese.  I've attempted exercise while dieting, and sometimes while not dieting, with little success. I walk every morning with a neighbor, and take longer walks with retired colleagues, and stay the same, or gain and lose the same 10 pounds. In my heart of hearts I know, with a sinking, sick feeling in my gut, that I have a problem that can't be fixed without intervention.  My theory - and I'm sticking to it, despite not wanting to - is that I have a sugar addiction that was fed by alcohol while I drank, and is impossible to quench sober. I crack the window, admitting weakness and Grace gallops in to the rescue.

"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are, and does not leave us where it found us." Anne Lamott

I've been on this path before, striking sugar from my world and pretty much hating every minute of it. Because . . . I love sugar!

Something is different this time.  I wonder if it could be this mysterious thing called "Grace"?

Monday, April 18, 2016


This morning I woke with a burning desire to write - don't ask where that idea came from! I've been writing, pretty much daily, for quite some time, but not blogging.  I guess I needed a break from being "out there" - that has been going on for ages it seems.

The things I've been journaling about aren't exactly things I want to put out for public consumption, so I really had to think about just what I was being propelled to write about.  So, this blog may meander a bit . . . fair warning!

New Adventures in Retirement

Retirement is the cat's pajamas - the best.  There are still never enough hours in a day, I am still not reading as much as I wanted, and the house is still just as jumbled and chaotic as always.  This doesn't seem to matter one bit to me.  My retirement motto is a simple one:

I'm taking it to heart.  At least one thing . . . every day. Sometimes more; sometimes a lot more!

Since retirement, I have found myself becoming a bonafide wheeler dealer in antiques, vintage, shabby chic, and anything else I find that I think someone else might like.  I started with a small "window" shelf unit in a nearby antique shop, added a small space at another antique shop, then moved up to a larger space and dropped the "window" as I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

As I have been a collector forever, having the possible good fortune (or not) of being born into a family of savers, packrats and collectors of just about anything that might be interesting, this whole endeavor is extremely satisfying.  It's like being given a green light to hit every estate, garage and moving sale with a vengeance - I am continually on the lookout for "good stuff".

I've found quite a lot.  The garage is full. And, sometimes I find stuff I don't really want to sell - big surprise.
A mixture of "finders keepers" and items already owned.
It's been keeping me busy, although I have arrived at a place where I don't scan Craig's list every day, nor do I go to sales every weekend.  There's only so much room in the garage!


Recently my husband and I took a mini trip up to Victoria, BC via the Clipper from Seattle.  We went with my aunt and uncle (who are close to my age) and had a fabulous time being tourists.  We started with a fun bus ride out to the Butchart Gardens, where the blooms were spring spectacular, and I bought way too many flower seeds.  (However, they are all planted with hopes for a smidgen of lucky blooms in the not too distant future.) 
My aunt and I talked our husbands into tea at the Empress Hotel, which was the first time for all of us, and truly a delightful treat! David was such a good sport, and posed while drinking his cup of tea! 
One daughter tells me this is her new favorite photo of her dad. :)
I think it's the raised pinky!
We spent one morning exploring the superb BC Museum of History!  We all could have spent many more hours, as it was huge and Smithsonian-like, and absolutely one of the best I've ever visited. Each display was amazingly life-like and very detailed. Very impressed!

One of the last things we did was to watch a movie about our wonderful National Parks in 3-D at the IMAX theater.  As we are in the midst of planning our first major road trip in retirement to Utah, this was a good way to generate even more enthusiasm - and I was already pretty darn enthusiastic about this trip!  We'll be visiting seven of our National Parks, and I am giddy with excitement to hit the road.


So much of life is making me happy these days - opportunities to travel, seeking vintage and antique stuff, spending time with family, and my sweet rescue kitty, Pepper.
She's a bit disgruntled as I woke her from a nap to take a picture!
Pepper is my grief slayer - A couple months after my Dad died, in January 2015, I came home from work and told my husband, "I need a cat!"  My husband doesn't like cats, so he wasn't too thrilled with my demand.  Fortunately, our daughter was home and she agreed with me, so he grudgingly gave in.  Jess and I began to search in earnest, but there were a few criteria that needed to be met. First, this cat would have to be grey, or black and white, as it's name was going to be "Pepper", my dad's nickname. Second, it would have to be sociable, get along with other cats (for when our youngest daughter and her cat Cleo were visiting) be holdable and of course, purr.  

One day I was reading the "available cats" section in the paper and there she was!  I fell in love with the photo and called to make an appointment to meet her.  Somehow our wires got crossed, and when we went to the shelter where this cat was being kept, she wasn't there.  The worker attempted to interest us in some other cats in residence, and actually tried to discourage us by saying "my" cat wasn't very sociable and didn't like other cats.  I was undeterred, and discovered that she was "off site" but would be part of an adoption fair at Petco later in the afternoon.  We waited, then drove over to meet her.

She came right over to us; she let us hold her; she purred - she was perfect!  We learned that she had been found abandoned, locked in a shed a few days before Christmas, 2014.  It was then March - it had taken several weeks to nurse her back to health.  There was no doubt in my mind that this was my Pepper.

After spending a good amount of money on a carrying case, food, toys, litter, scratching post, and collar, we drove home.  She explored all the highest places first.
I don't know how she does it - she doesn't use the counter to get up on the fridge!
She is a short, furry labrador! Pepper greets everyone who comes to the house, with her tail wagging. (He tail wags constantly!) She "talks" to us, and always "talks back" with some sort of kitty retort when told to get off the table, or the counter.  She wakes me with a soft paw caressing my cheek if I sleep later than she thinks I should - about 5:15 am! She loves to cuddle on me while I'm reading in bed (this can be kind of a nuisance!) or will come "tell" me it's time to go to bed if she is ready and I'm not!  

Pepper has saved me, given me a reason to smile, made me laugh daily and filled my world with a kind of love I haven't known since I was a little girl.  (Way different than people love - I'm loved by a few of those critters, too!)

So, I'm happy today.  Happy to be alive, to be retired, to have written a blog post.  This morning I put up and cleaned off my clothesline, so I'm ready to hang clothes outside tomorrow.  And now, I'm going to get back to sewing on a log cabin quilt I'm making for my daughter and her husband for their first anniversary in July.  

It's good to be happy!