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.



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. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Answering to a new name

This week I'm fifteen miles from home, spending the week with our two Texas Littles. Their other grandmother, "Grand Jan", who is with them five days a week while Daddy and Mama work, is away at the beach for a much needed vacation.

I'm trusting that she'll come back eventually, as she promised.

Seeing her vacation photos of those Florida sunsets that light the entire ocean to a blaze of orange - if she does indeed come back, it will be a testament to how much she loves her grandkids.

I prepared for this week by going to the Dollar Store and stocking up on sand buckets, bubble guns that whirl and light up, and sidewalk chalk. I also referred to my old standby, "Sanity in the Summer" by Linda Dillow and Claudia Arp. It was my go to for summer planning 30+ years ago, and I still pull it out every summer, as I get ready for what I hope will be intentional time with our eight Littles. Copies are still available on Amazon for under $2.00 plus S/H.  My first read of this book started a family tradition of what we called "kid day", one day each week when we took off the entire day and did what amounted to our kids 'summer bucket list', before anyone else had heard of such a thing. Our kids, who aren't kids anymore, still all talk about the fun memories we made all those summers ago.

So our plans include: trips to the library, including story hour, painting rocks and leaving them in the local parks,  bubble parties, building sand castles, picnics in the parks, fishing with Papa, baking cookies / brownies, face timing with their cousins 2000 miles away, and a snow cone or two thrown in for good measure.

The week will fly, and before I know it they'll be back with Grand Jan. Before I know it, they'll be grown up and this second take at loving on little people will have passed by as quickly as the first go round did. So I'm remembering to soak it in, see it as the privilege it is, and cherish the moments. No doubt when it's done I'll be ready for a much-needed rest, but right now I'm enjoying it, even if it means needing a bit more sleep at night, and taking a few more Aleve.

Speaking of growing up, Daniel (almost 6) and JaeBeth (7 1/2) announced to me today that they have renamed me. I've been 'Grammy' to all eight of them for almost sixteen years, and as of today these two have decided I'll be "G-G". Not sure how they came up with that, but as long as I have their hearts, I don't really care what I answer to. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Playing Hide and Seek with Nature

Yesterday we decided to take our daily walk with Miss Lily to a local park. Came across this beauty, barely poking its head out. 

Pretty cautious breakfast seeker. 

 I hope he / she caught something. 

Leaves of three, let it be. We stayed clear! 

The wildflowers are still hanging on. 

This area was put in by a women's group in our town. Thanks, Ladies!

You know there's a story there. 

Rain is predicted for much of our weekend here, but if it clears up we'll be back outside. Thinking of a day trip to a state park within minutes of us. We're looking for a fishing spot for our two Texas Littles. It's way too pretty this time of year to stay inside. Happy weekend everyone.