Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

christmas-story

Having just returned home from a Christmas overnight with three of my seven beautiful grandchildren who are growing up all too fast, as did their parents….my thoughts wandered back over the many years of special holiday moments to another Christmas morning when these three were several years younger and a warm, lovely memory surfaced.

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Knowing what they really wanted was to charge out to the front room and pounce upon those presents under the tree, I was rather honored to be a temporary safe haven for Elizabeth and Emily when they knocked upon Ian’s door and asked if I was awake and could they ‘come in.’ If not already awake, a knock on the door did the trick! Fortunately, I was between slumber and semi-consciousness…. so their knock was not too shockingly disturbing.

Ian’s door because that’s where Nana was sleeping the night before Christmas when all thru the house not a creature was stirring ….. except for those two darling excited granddaughters of mine who awoke pre-dawn and just ‘couldn’t get back to sleep.’

Ian was tucked safely into bed with his parents and blissfully unaware of the early …. early morning hour.

So… how to fill the hour or two until the tree’s lights blink on, illuminating the gift wrap below and the stove’s crackling fire has warmed the cold morning and permission is given to “enter”?

All nestled under the covers with Nana when Emily pipes up, “Could we watch a movie, Nana?” She’d spotted the iPad lying near the foot of the bed and, of course, the question was already answered.

“Sure, Emily. What a good idea! I fell asleep watching a dog movie last night. I think you might like it!”

“If it’s a dog of a movie, Nana…. why would we want to see it?” asked Elizabeth.

“No, Elizabeth. It’s a movie about a dog not a dog of a movie,” Nana smiled with delight.

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Based on the 1987 Japanese film Hachiko Monogatari, as well as on a true story. . . Hachi: A Dog’s Tale stars Richard Gere as a college professor who finds an abandoned dog and takes the poor lost animal in. The film follows the two as the man and animal soon form a strong and unexplainable bond.

The movie begins in a classroom where the assignment is to make a presentation about someone you admire as a hero.

Teacher: Thank you Heather. Uh, Ronnie? Tell us about your hero.

Ronnie – 11 years: [writes HACHIKO on the blackboard] Hachiko was my grandfather Wilson’s dog. Everyone called Hachi a mystery dog because they never really knew where he came from. Maybe Hachi escaped from a dog pound. Or maybe he jumped out of somebody’s car some place far away, like Florida or New Jersey. But no matter how, Hachi was lost. I never met my grandfather, he died when I was just a little baby. But when I hear about him and Hachi, I feel like I know him. They taught me the meaning of loyalty. That you should never forget anyone that you loved. And that’s why Hachi will forever be my hero.

[class applauds]

While we hadn’t made it far into the movie when the aroma of hot chocolate told the girls that Christmas morning was about to begin, I didn’t tell them how truly special this movie is….. but hoped that they would “see” for themselves when other distractions didn’t interfere.

DISCLAIMER: Okay… so I haven’t just returned from my Christmas time with family, as it is now Valentine’s Day…. sometimes life just unfolds and interrupts the best of intentions. This draft has been waiting to be finished for some weeks now. I’m cleaning out my “drawers” as there are several drafts awaiting my attention.

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kids in rugby

When my now ‘forty something’ year old daughter was given a twelve pack of coca cola this past Christmas, she hugged it close and was heard to murmur, “I’m going to sleep with you tonight!”

Ah! I know the feeling well. I’m slowly sipping one now as I sit here typing away. Addiction is a terrible thing!!

“Enjoy Coca-Cola’s crisp, delicious taste.” …..”Serve ice cold for maximum refreshment.” …. “Bring home the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola.”… “Life Tastes Good”… “The Coke Side of Life.”

I digress! That’s not what this post is all about.

But it was that Christmas gift that made me ‘smile’ and remember the 80’s and those coca cola rugby shirts that were the fashion craze of the decade.

With bold primary wide stripes and that famous cursive logo, Coke rugby shirts were … So cheerful! So colorful! So sporty!

Designed by Tommy Hilfiger, the loose shape of the shirts and the feel-good American vibe that came with wearing the soft drink’s logo was embraced and loved by many. After all, Coke’s motto in ’86 was “Red, White, and You.” The Coca-Cola product line was playfully, exuberantly patriotic.

Now wouldn’t that be a ‘refreshing’ addition to today’s political ‘climate!’

Maybe we need to revive this fashion trend!!

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Sunrise! Sunset!

Swiftly flow the years. One season following another laden with happiness and tears. ~ Fiddler on the Roof with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick


 

 
 

So… my first attempt at an etheree poem:

Created about twenty years ago by an Arkansas poet named Etheree Taylor Armstrong, this titled form, the Etheree, consists of ten lines of unmetered and unrhymed verse, the first line having one syllable, each succeeding line adding a syllable, with the total syllable count being fifty-five.

I’ve been away from my blog for far too long. Rusty at best but aiming to get back in the saddle again.

Time will tell whether the best of intentions…. and you know the rest!

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colchuck-collage-ye-who

And no…. I’ve never explored The Enchantments. There are outdoorsy people and then there are people who like to drink Arnold Palmers on outdoor patios. These are not one in the same. Thank goodness for the next of my family generation who love the great outdoors! Not that I don’t love the great outdoors. I do! Just not in a rugged, camping, put up with no showers or commodes sort of way.

As my children and their families have been sharing spectacular photos such as these, I’ve been re-thinking my aversion to outdoor ruggedness and perhaps regretting that we were not such a family when my children were growing up. While beautiful, pictures are not quite the same as actually being there. Alas! That decision has come and gone and the consequences of which I must pay the price, as it’s not too likely that Nana is going on a rugged hike anytime soon. And the likelihood lessens with the passing of each new year.

So, in looking at the pictures above, I have more than a few tearful regrets!!

Since it’s a fool’s errand to dwell upon what might have been…. I got caught up in the beauty and lore of the Larch tree. Did a bit of looking into it and became fascinated with this unique tree of distinction. Of course, my first insights lured me straight to poetry.

Longfellow’s Hiawatha used Larch/Tamarack roots to lash his canoe.

Hiawatha pleads with the Larch…

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In Longfellow’s epic poem, he personifies the Larch as it shivers, sighs, touches Hiawatha’s forehead with its needles (tassels) and speaks to him, offering up all its roots for the making of his canoe.

What an awesome beginning to getting to know the stately Larch tree! Makes you want to reach out and touch ‘his majesty’ while thanking it for befriending and sharing its very foundation with Hiawatha.

As a matter of fact, in Europe, the Larch is cherished as a decorative tree as well as one that is incredibly functional. The city of Venice, Italy, is built almost exclusively of Larch wood.

So… ‘why an oddball?’ you may ask.

The annual larch needle drop.

Doesn’t it know that conifers are supposed to be evergreen?

What makes the Larch an oddball is that it is one of the rare coniferous trees that drops its needles each fall right along with the maples and oaks. In fact, before Larch needles fall off, they turn bright yellow, adding to the spectacle of fall colors here in the mountainous Pacific Northwest. And then every Larch becomes as bare as any beech or birch.

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Here in my small corner of the world, as I sit at this desk and write…. with the window over my left shoulder widely open, the sun shines brightly and warmly. Perhaps not quite as warmly as in the picture above… where, at this very moment, these beautiful grandchildren of mine are enjoying another day together in the Magic Kingdom. A picture just sent to me by my daughter. Through the wonders of modern technology, I can see…. almost to the moment…. what fun they are having.

This has become close to an annual trek for the two families. Sometimes together and sometimes just one family at a time. Only every so often does a year go by without a visit. Does anyone ever tire of going to Disneyland? Come to think of it, I do know one who has said enough is enough and she refuses to cross the threshold ever again. The magic went pouf so to speak. That comes from living within ‘spitting distance’ of the great and mighty theme park where every visitor to your door expects a guided tour for at least one day at the park.

Hence…no more Disneyland for my dear cousin Dinah.

Mostly though… my first thoughts when the picture arrived on my doorstep went back to a long ago wish that I had for my two daughters when they were so so young and my “babies.” Amy and Allison won’t remember this but we used to have get togethers with several of their mother’s friends from her years of teaching at Jane Addams. Nearly all of us being first year teachers, we were full of energy, enthusiasm and creativity. How lucky was that school to have us burst upon the scene.

Good things come to an end, however, and most of us ended up leaving the profession, at least temporarily, when the joy of a first born became a shared experience for us. We were all blessed and fortunate enough to be stay-at-home mothers for the first years of our children’s young lives.

(If I do say so myself) Jane Addams’ loss was mighty when we all ‘retired.’ So, it was great fun to keep up with our friendships under the guise of playdates for our children. ‘Two birds with one stone’…. or lunch together. Chicken Divan Casseroles, Caesar Salads eagerly awaited at one table…. PB&J’s with milk and cookies at the other.

The memory comes from one of those luncheons when my friend Jan invited her sister, Diane, to join us for that get together. Those two sisters had four young children between them… all very close in age and…. oh how they seemed to be best friends with children who felt the same. As I witnessed the laughter and fun and love clearly expressed between them, I distinctly remember thinking and wishing for that kind of friendship to be shared between my daughters in the future. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they kept close and if their children were the happy recipients of their mothers’ love and friendship for one another?… I thought to myself.

And there they all be
at the magic kingdom today…
where wishes really do come true.

Have great fun and make more memories to share and last forever.

Thank You, Amy! Love the picture and it took me to another place and time this afternoon. One just never knows what might fall upon ones’ doorstep each and every day.

Love,
Mom

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ivy_framed

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tea-party-decoration

Dear Miss Ivy,

Thank you for inviting me to your birthday tea and for making your special day so special for me! Without a doubt, it was the most delicious and beautiful tea party that I’ve ever attended.

I had such a wonderful time! Everything was perfect! The decorations, the tables, the favors, and the food and tea! Simply delightful!

Could there possibly be more
When you are four?

I’ll wait and see!

Love from your Nana

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gather-leaves
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bursts with unfamiliar meaning as one explores the jewels to be found in all the nooks and crannies lining autumn’s coat of many colors. Tumbling out of her pockets come maple, alder and oak shaped nuggets of amber, garnet, citrine and smoky topaz… gems weaving the tapestry of autumn’s beauty.

I feel more present in autumn. Like watching my grandson’s soccer game, for me autumn is a spectator sport of sorts… the surrounding beauty is my play field and it’s a wonderful time to cheer and applaud till one is hoarse from the excitement of nature’s winning streak.

That autumn is rounding the bend needs no calendar to convey better than one’s own ‘sense’ of the incomparable radiance of nature. As the chill seems to arrive earlier every day, just step outside your door on one of the new season’s first crisp mornings and you’ll see, smell, hear and even taste the fall flourishes that have drifted in to dazzle us with their golden presence and presents of gold.

With nose in the air, you’ll smell that slight hint of smoke somewhere in the neighborhood. Perhaps that hint has arrived because autumn has set foliage ablaze with colors straight from my box of crayons…. burnt sienna to burnt umber to burnt orange to deep merlot and bittersweet.

In the early morning light, dawn’s heavy dew reveals the glistening of dozens of spider webs as they drape and decorate my favorite hanoki cypress…. like tinsel on a Christmas tree . Walk more briskly, add more layers, wear those new boots for the first time and listen to the Cap’n crunch of colorful, dry leaves beneath your feet. Pick up a favorite coffee drink along the way and I just bet that savoring the first sip of that hot, creamy, mellow ‘deliciousness’ never tasted quite so comforting as it does on an autumn morning.

autumn-canopy

Remember when …. with a wave of her wand Cinderella’s fairy godmother transformed her from tattered and torn to belle of the ball? On my walk to work each and every day there is a canopy of trees surrounding the fountain and four corners of the square…. While never taken exactly for granted, I must admit that in shades and shadows of green they sometimes fail to capture my notice, until nature waves her wand in the autumn of the year and adorns them with new attire. Suddenly, the transformation is stunning as these trees wear their regalia with Cinderella’s blushing enthusiasm.

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rose border

And then there’s my garden! Despite the air of dishelvement that just naturally occurs as the new season approaches, the beauty that autumn brings is worth a bit of untidiness.

Endless nuances and complexities gathered together in layer upon layer of nature’s slow shedding away of summer’s full bloom. Quick… before Jack Frost tiptoes in and snatches away the purple blooms of my plumbago, let me savor the remnants of what is being plucked away by the changing of the seasonal guard or by the pruning shears of the angel who tends the garden with me. Japanese bloodgrass plumes. . . mop heads of hydrangea blossoms…twigs fallen from the sumac…moss covered piece of driftwood near the oriental fisherman…..and, from the bittersweet family, bright red fruits on my strawberry tree open to reveal orange seeds blown to earth by a gentle breeze. And, of course….. that bird is having a ‘field day’ as he nibbles away at what remains to feast upon.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumn.” ~ George Eliot

Speaking of delicious! Eliot got it right… autumn’s ambience is dappled with numerous elements of deliciousness. Not the least of which occurs in my kitchen at this time of year…. it’s not called comfort food for no good reason. The elements that proclaim this seasonal change are cozy and comforting and food is high on the elemental list. At last…. autumn chowder, meatloaf and baked potatoes, homemade stews and dumplings are back on the menu. Simply prepared, savory, aromatic, mouth-watering and full of nostalgia…..comfort food is aptly named, bringing with it a sense of well being. Let’s see… here we are at the beginning of the month of October… so many choices await. What shall it be tonight?

comfort-foodsOut comes a favorite cookbook of the same name. A day off for me today with time to cook something scrumptious. A delicious dilemma! Why does everything seem to taste better at this time of year? Do I stay with the tried and true or try something new? Think I’ll keep the soup pot simmering with the first Minnestrone of the season. Pure self-indulgence!

rose border

And… Bittersweet you wonder! A re-occurring theme in my short essay and an adjective expressing contrasting emotions of pain and pleasure…. with the bitter comes the sweet. So, while the passing of the seasons is bittersweet, as are the passing of years and memories, autumn brings with it a certain optimism inspired by nature’s bounty of beauty.

One of the first telltale signs of autumn’s arrival is the lowering position of the sun in our sky. The lighting of our world has changed. A beautiful autumn day begins with luminous light casting a warm glow on nature’s generosity. As the day progresses and the sun moves, the color of the season seems even more flamingly intense and, with luck in my small corner of the world, a sunset on this autumn day ends in the embers of what appears to be a fire on the beach. So goes the bittersweet tapestry of life.

autumn-leaves

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