Thursday, September 21, 2017

Summer Slipped into Fall

Summer is officially over.  It was the most wonderful season, possibly because we didn't really do a thing.  Rather, I started each morning on our covered patio, sipping coffee and reading a devotional, journaling a bit, and before I knew it the day was over and we were out there sipping a glass of wine as the sun went down.

I didn't get wet a single time this summer, other than showers and baths. No swimming in lakes, only a few ice cream cones, one sort of camping trip that derailed because of technical problems. I didn't blog, didn't write, didn't sew, didn't do anything crafty.

I guess we were more human beings than human doings, which was quite lovely. We spent a lot of time with family, read books, watched movies on Netflix, ate super simple meals that were planned at the last minute.

Possibly the most exciting thing we did all summer was join Costco.

And seriously, the membership fee is totally worth it for the guacamole, the $8.00 bottles of premixed margaritas and the big bags of tortilla chips. In my humble opinion they don't really need to carry much of anything else, although they do. You can go in for guacamole and come out subscribing to Direct TV, or having purchased a refrigerator or new sofa or cashmere sweater. And of course you can go in starving and come out not needing to cook dinner. I'm thinking brilliance would be to take your husband along, late in the afternoon, and come home to skip dinner.

So fall has arrived in the inland northwest. Yellow buses drive by our house every morning, and there are very few kids wandering the neighborhood during the day. The trees are dropping little reddish yellow leaves. I pick up a few every morning on my walk with Lily, stuff them in the pocket of my red, rainproof jacket, to take home and press, then mail to our grandkids 2000 miles south.

It's finally, finally, finally started raining, those rains that fall soft, and so gentle that you have to poke your head out the door to be sure wet stuff is actually coming down. That's the best kind - it soaks into the water-starved ground, and sets a fog of clouds in front of the mountains at the end of our street.

We've lately had chili, potato soup, minestrone, lasagna and pumpkin bread. That after a summer of tacos, cobb salad, slices of watermelon, shish kabobs and burgers on the grill. Somehow when the temperature drops everything in me wants to throw something in the crockpot. Cub Sweetheart is, as always, just happy to be fed. I love that about him.

I've pulled out a half knit sock to finish, and a quilt top I pieced ten years ago. Finally took it to the quilt store and asked the woman at the counter to please choose a backing for me that has a lot of forgiveness for a pitiful hand quilter. Done is always better than perfect, so done it'll be over the next few months of football season.

We drove to Yellowstone a week ago, saw the most gorgeous animals - a herd of elk, an eagle soaring overhead, the tiniest little deer mouse, a beautiful dark brown moose munching on a tree, and buffalo as big as our jeep. When one walked right up to our window I shot a photo, then rolled up the window, a bit afraid he'd decide to ram us. Driving home we came over a pass in Montana and it started snowing like crazy, big beautiful globs of white falling down all around us.

Back in Texas, where we have other family, they are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey; I have a first cousin, who happens to be a police officer, whose home has four feet of water in it. If you haven't given to any causes for the Hurricane Harvey relief, find one. My cousin's (the police officer's) GoFundMe is HERE. All those small donations will add up and make a difference in someone's life, even if it's just a sense of encouragement. Hurricane season doesn't end until at least October. It's certainly looking like this could be a rough season.

Times like this, I don't know about anyone else, but I take comfort in knowing things are not out of control, as they may appear. Rather, there is a big God running the show, and He's not surprised at all of this. He has a plan that is way bigger than my little brain can comprehend. I'm going to trust, and try to make a difference for someone else who is being directly affected by the storms swirling all around them.

I thought, more than once over the summer, that I'd come here and post but something inside me knew I needed downtime. My mother's been gone now almost eight months - hard to believe it's been that long already. She left each of us four kids a little bit of money, and I took some of it and bought myself something that I think would please her very much. More about that later.

Oh, we also sold our townhouse a few weeks ago, and bought another little house with a mountain view. More about that later too. Obviously I need to some catching up! Happy Fall everybody. Bake something with pumpkin in it, and give half of it away to a neighbor. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer - month one


Exactly a month has gone by since I was here. I've written umpteen posts in my mind, but they all seemed to flit away. Which is maybe fitting for summer.

Instead of blogging I've:

traveled back to Coeur d'alene, Idaho - possibly the most perfect place on earth to spend summer

furnished our covered patio with chairs, a firepit, rug, and a funky little cart I found at a junk store

planted three lilac bushes next to the patio so that, in years to come, they will not only shade our patio, but bless us with beautiful flowers and lovely smells

planted a pot of herbs to snip at when I'm cooking supper

gained two pounds instead of losing five, but we won't dwell there

read several books, including Black Like Me and Rise - I recommend both. About to start another from the stack next to my bed - decisions, decisions

rejoined our rec center and used it once in two weeks

started to sew pillow shams for the bed three times, making pretty much no progress whatsoever

hosted my baby brother for a visit, which explains at least one of the two pounds put on

sluiced for star garnets with same brother, and found two. Teensy tiny but amazing to look at under a microthingamajig

had multiple popsicle dates with our grandkids on our newly furnished patio. Red is my favorite popsicle color. Little is my favorite kind of people to visit me.

hosted our daughter and son-in-love for a 'hear all about it' get together - which might have been the cause of another of those pounds put on

taken on mentoring a young couple with their finances, one of the most rewarding ways I ever get to serve

gone back to serving in children's ministry on Sunday mornings, a favorite for me.

went to see The Sandlot with our oldest grandchild, fun summer movie!

finished the second sock of the pair I started back in March. Moving on to dishcloth knitting because it doesn't take brain power, is great lap work for those road trips, and makes the perfect housewarming or hostess gift when you throw in a bottle of Mrs. Myers anything

Donated the purse I bought from Target because my purse is so heavy it busted the strap off, and I can't live without a single thing that's in there, and went back to a Vera Bradley bag. They're indestructible and washable - a combination hard to beat.

So - now an entire month of summer has slipped by, and we're loving being here, but perhaps a little less celebrating with food, a little more time at the rec center, but also lots of curling up with books, spending time with family and friends, and a few more days of routine tossed in to keep things balanced.

All things in moderation. Which means I'll be back in a month or less. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Flying north with dogs and big feet


Disclaimer: these are not actually my feet; my toes are much more crookedy than these!

It seems like only a little while ago we were moving into our Little House on the Prairie. Alas, it's just about time to go - north that is. We moved in here the last day of March, now we're heading back to northern Idaho, and will head south before Thanksgiving.

The last few times we made this trek we drove, all 2100 miles, which usually ended up being more like 3,500 by the time we went down rabbit trails to visit family and friends along the way. Ends up it's twice as expensive to drive, and much easier on our backs and backsides to fly. Cub Sweetheart flies on points, I am his 'companion' and Miss Lily is the only one we have to put out cash for. So flying it is.

Lily becomes my 'carry-on', at a fee of $95, and has to spend the entire flight in a little doggie suitcase with windows, which she despises, so she wears the world's smallest bark collar. I not only have to pay for her to sit where my size eleven feet are supposed to go, but they don't allow me another carry-on. Seems to me if I'm paying for what would otherwise have been a free carry-on I should get another one. But I don't. So I move all my stuff, plus my real purse, into the world's largest purse, and off we go. We resemble Mary Poppins and her carpetbag I suspect.

We fly into Spokane, and alas, there are no direct flights between there and DFW, which makes for fun walking Lily through the airport. She always gets lot of snuggles and smiles, because she is quite possibly the cutest dog on the planet. We usually find ice cream somewhere, which we hope she thinks makes up for having to spend hours in her dog suitcase.

Once we're settled into our CDA home, we'll jump immediately into celebrating the 4th of July. My mother was born on the 4th, and always said she loved that the entire nation celebrated her birthday every year. This will be our first year with her not here to celebrate, but maybe there are fireworks in heaven? Although she always loved the BBQ, watermelon and homemade ice cream much more.

Later in the month my baby brother is flying up to spend a few days with us. He's never been to that part of the country, so we're excited to show him around. He loves, loves the outdoors and is a rock hound, so I expect he's going to love being there. We're planning to suck one or both of our son-in-loves into taking him fishing on one of the lakes there. Hopefully he'll catch something big enough that he doesn't have to lie about it.

We've got spots reserved for camping with friends the middle of August, in Thor, our pop-up. September we'll be driving to Yellowstone with family for a handful of days, then in October we've booked a ten day California coastline bus trip.

So obviously, I'm / we're planning to be on vacation for the next few months. The past four months have been full to overflowing with emotion, loss, moving, and more hard work than we're really up to these days, so we're going to counter balance that with an extra helping of goofing off for the next few.

To bring that about I've come up with three weeks of summer menus. All the meals are easy peasy lemon squeezy; there are repeats of things like tacos, pizza, stir fry, grilling because who wants to go three weeks without all of those? I'm keeping desk work, housecleaning, errands, and anything of that nature as minimal as possible. No projects, no big plans, and not a single solitary thing that needs to be written in ink on a calendar on a weekly basis.

This little blog is one of almost a handful I've had, but all in all I've been coming here to write for over ten years now, so it's obviously something that feeds my soul. It's not on my work/obligation list. I won't be writing 'post' on my calendar, but will be popping in now and then to show and tell what we're up to.

Those days of shimmering heat, brilliant blue skies with not a cloud in sight, ice cream cones melting faster than you can lick them up, watching Littles jump off docks into ice cold water, nights where campfires and fire flies are the only light, curling up in a hammock or patio chair, lazy mornings of staying in pjs til well after what is respectable, and meandering conversations that spring up over patio tables or fences - they're all too precious and fleeting to do anything so serious as bill paying, or bathroom cleaning any more than is absolutely necessary.  Surely that's why God made winter, right?

We'll talk soon, on the other side. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Memory Lane - Trampolines

I'm thinking it was about 1990, and Leslie would have been about 9 years old. An age where she got maybe $5.00 a week in allowance, and that was if we had enough left in the budget to actually pay out what we'd promised.

Some friend of hers got a trampoline, which I'm sure made them infinitely cooler than every single other kid in the class. All the kids wanted to flock to that kid's house, play in their yard, be their BFF forever. So Leslie decided she needed one too. What nine year old doesn't want their house to be the 'go to' place?

I knew her father would say no. No way kind of no. So I had the talk with her about timing was everything, and she'd have to think out her reasons for wanting one, and convince him. And good luck with that. He's always been very safety minded, considering the risk, which would also include anyone who jumped on that trampoline in our yard, and might consider a law suit at the end of the day if things went south.

That same father had installed an enormous piece of board on the wall of our basement play room. What is now called a white board was then called a piece of board you'd use to put up walls instantly in a trailer, so we bought one that was about four feet by eight feet, and he'd hung it up for the kids to draw on.

Leslie had her mind set, so she called a family meeting. Attendance was mandatory, all family members must be present. She planned the meeting, with handouts for everyone, points of importance written out on the marker board, and snacks prepared and served. That skinny kid stood in front of the board, going through her rationale step by step, as to why this was a good idea. And of course buying a trampoline is never a good idea.

At the end of her presentation, she opened the floor for questions, which were asked, and answered. Then each of us was given a small piece of white notepaper and asked to give her feedback.

Yesterday, cleaning out a box of old photos, I came across the notes, and even though nobody wrote their name on theirs - all were 'anonymous' - of course I knew whose was whose.



Mama's

Dad's

Leslie's (the proposer)

Sarah, the 'could care less' older sister

Danny, the younger brother who would benefit but not have to pay!
At the end of the day, her father agreed with the impossible stipulation that she would have to raise the money all by herself. (You'll note the mother said 'the whole family would have to pay.') That skinny nine year old put a koolaid stand on wheels and went door to door. She sold stone soup. She bathed dogs, walked dogs, did chores for people, and put on plays in our backyard. Within less than two months she'd earned the impossible amount of $250 and her father took her to the store, and against his better judgment, let her buy the trampoline. He took it home, set it up, and shuddered every time he saw them playing on it in our side yard. Where all the kids flocked, Leslie's cool factor tripled overnight, and even the dog joined in the fun.

Ten years and two houses later, when the trampoline was set up in the back yard and teenage boys were jumping off our deck onto the trampoline at a frightening speed, it was decided, by Leslie herself, that the trampoline was too dangerous to have. The demographic of users had changed. She took it apart and dragged it all to the curb, then watched the trash men haul it away.

Sweet memories of times gone by. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Bit of Rambling...


Almost two weeks have slipped by, and since June is the loveliest of all months, I don't want it to go so quickly! I keep thinking I'll come here and post but nothing of real consequence has happened.

Since June 1....

I had a birthday, #62, for which I will start getting a nice allowance check in a month or so. No tattoo or toe ring or shoes or hairstyle will made 62 young, so it's especially nice that, to make up for that not-so-youngness, you start getting paid for being a senior citizen.

The first 2/3 of my birthday was spent in pajamas, unbrushed teeth, talking to people who love me, having a visit from our sweet next door neighbor, after which I snuck away all by myself to Chipotle where I sat and read a book while I ate alone. Such a treat! (Said no extrovert ever, but I loved it.) Then we met our kids for an impromptu dinner, where they showed up with flowers and cupcakes and we ate onion blossoms and steak and sweet potatoes til we were stuffed.

The best birthday present was that I saw the cornea specialist who told me to come back IN A YEAR! So I went to the optometrist and spent another gazillion dollars and had an eye exam and ordered bi-focals. Has anyone ever been so excited to get new bi-focals? It's been three years since I lost mine and then injured my eye, so this has been my goal - to get prescription glasses where I can read the aisle markers at Walmart and Target, but also look down and read my list, or see the GPS and also the speedometer with a glance, rather than reaching across the seats to switch glasses all the time. Hoorah for me! I also didn't spend a fortune on designer frames, since I think the words 'bi-focal- and 'cool' cannot be used in the same sentence anyway. I wasn't willing to spend the extra $200 to not have a line in my glasses because #1 I like knowing where the line is in life, and #2 even without a line I'm pretty sure nobody is going to mistake me for a twenty or forty year old.

When the eyeglass fitting woman showed me frames with purple swirly temple pieces I stood there for just a minute and considered telling her if I'm wearing white underwear I have to also wear a white bra. That purple temple pieces would completely throw me when I choose to wear a red or pink or green top, so I went with boring tortoise shell. Which matches white underwear nicely. And I chose to not overshare.

We've started watching America's Got Talent, which maybe nobody watches but it's our favorite summer show, and we're loving it. When you're feeling down at all, watching Simon Cowell be nice to people is sure to lift spirits. I don't know why he's nice on this show but he is, and it somehow always slightly restores my faith in people to see it. And of course there are contestants that just blow you away, not with their talent, but with their fortitude in facing life. Always gives me an attitude adjustment, which I need on a regular basis. We've also just begun watching The Man in the High Castle, so we're a bit lost, but it's an interesting series.

Books have been grabbing me. I just finished Beartown by Fredrik Backman, which I absolutely did not love. The writing was good, the character development good, but I didn't love anyone, and the language and material was rough enough that I was disappointed. It's sure to be a bookclub hit, but I didn't love it.

I have come to realize we have our very own Man Called Ove here in our neighborhood, so that's fun to watch unfolding. If you don't know what I mean, read that book by Backman. It's wonderful!

I've started reading a new author, Sarah Addison Allen. Her first book, Garden Spells is interesting and a fun summer read. I've got the sequel sitting on my nightstand, which is always fun. I'm also reading a book called Citizen Christians (study of Christianity and Culture and Politics), and Loving Your Daughter-in-law, by Cheryl Oliver Pollock. I've been a mother-in-law for almost twenty years now, and have had a DIL for over 13 years, but the book would apply to son-in-laws too, and man alive, has this book shown me so many mistakes I've made! Some ignorance, some pride, some mother's fingers that don't want to let go, so it's been a really great read for me. Lots of things I need to do differently. Thank you to my sweet DIL who has loved me through this learning curve.

Summer always seems like the perfect time to curl up with a book, and I try to have a fiction and non-fiction going at the same time. Rest the brain - stretch the brain. Repeat.

We've got our first neighborhood get-together tomorrow night, with about 25 families now moved in. The pool is officially open, I'm using the treadmill, and enjoying living here so far. I'll be okay when the roads and sidewalks are all in, and Miss Lily's paws aren't orange from the clay all around us, but it's feeling more like home every day.

Except that we're already up into the mid-90's so it's just about time to head back north. We'll be leaving for Idaho the beginning of July, and staying there til after Halloween, when Texas should be back into the 70's. These are the times when I wish I could just 'beam me up Scotty' and go from one place to another within minutes. Wherever I am, I'm missing the ones we're not with, but this is when I remind myself women used to watch young daughters and sons pull away in wagon trains and head west, not to be seen for years or ever.

One of my grandsons has taken it upon himself to be my pen pal by email. So cute. It's very fun to see what interests a twelve year old, and have him describe his latest Lego creation or explain what a spinner is. Very sweet. ( and in spite of my advancing age, I did feel cool that I already knew what a spinner was!) I'm so thankful we live in a time where we can email, text, and best of all - Facetime. Our grandkids are growing up in an age where they don't think it's weird at all to talk to me through a computer screen, and I'm just happy to see their sweet faces.

So that's what we're up to - nothing riveting. Which may be the definition of a perfect start to summer. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Summer start-up

We're on a little break from watching Littles, but here are a few photos from the past few days. 

We swam in our new neighborhood pool, only to find out two days later it's not actually open yet. No wonder we had it all to ourselves.....

Papa took the Littles fishing, which involved baiting hooks with wiggly worms. There happened to be several kids in the park who just wanted to hold the worms. So he obliged. I took photos. 
One Little managed to catch eight bluegill. One couldn't get a single one to the bank. But she looked awfully cute trying.



Finally, we spent the day doing some cleaning out and culling, which resulted in the deep need for a rootbeer float at Sonic. Someone small and furry might have gotten her own bowlful. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Kicking Off Summer


I know the first day of summer is June 20, but for me it all starts on Memorial Day. That makes for a full three months with no school, now that most states start in late August.

When I was growing up we always, always, always started school the Tuesday after Labor Day, but now kids have to go back when the very last bit of summer is hanging on. How sad must it be, to be a kid, and try to go to sleep at night while you can still hear the crickets chirping, and there's still some last bits of daylight left outside?! Just because you have to get up in the morning and head off to school?

Tomorrow is our granddaughter, Jae Beth's last day of first grade. I believe our Idaho Littles go another week or so, which seems wrong too, now that it's FINALLY warm and sunny up there. Let the kids out for pete's sake! (and the teachers too, for that matter.) Summer is too long said nobody under the age of 18 ever.

I get the privilege of picking Jae Beth up from school, with an early dismissal, and she chose Dairy Queen as our place for immediate celebrating. Then we're off to find a field to fly a kite, feed the fish and turtles in the local pond, and leave some of our painted rocks in nooks and crannies for other kids to discover. That'll be our out-of-the-gate kick off of summer 2017.

Saturday I'll be back at my house for the weekend, and I've already given Cub Sweetheart a heads up that I'll quite possibly be ready for a date. I've heard the newest Pirates of the Caribbean is just out, and I have loved every single one of them before, so that's a possibility. I also discovered our town has free outdoor concerts every Saturday night throughout the summer, and all we need is our lawn chairs. We'll watch the forecast and decide - either one would be fun.

However, come Monday we'll be celebrating Memorial Day with burgers and dogs on the grill, potato salad, deviled eggs and watermelon. Because at our house that's the beginning of summer, and that's worth celebrating, wherever you live, even if you have to go back to school on Tuesday.