Monday, December 27, 2010

The Gift of Friendship

I have had a very interesting phenomenon acting in my life over the past year and a half. Old friends, that I had completely lost contact with, have starting reappearing. It started a little over a year ago when I heard from a childhood friend from out of state. We had been good, little friends and then her family moved away. She came back to Oregon and we attended the same college but then, life happened, time passed and we stopped communicating. Still, when we got together again, it was as if no time had gone by. It has been a joy to spend time with her. Then, my cousin moved to the area and although we weren't really close as kids, we have taken the opportunity to get to know each other better and it has been a blessing. But wait, the ball kept rolling. While at my high school reunion, I learned that a friend from my teen years was living in Eugene ... another reconnect. Then there is Facebook. I have found and reconnected to an old college friend and a woman who was actually my maid of honor in my wedding. Again, I had lost contact with these women when they moved from the area and our lives got busy with raising children and all of the other happenstances of life. Still, when we start talking, the years melt away and they are essentially the same people I knew. It seems that nature does indeed abhor a vacuum because when my children were raised and left home I was lonely. The universe seems to have answered in the form of a windfall of old and dear friends. The added bonus to all of this is that through some of these women, I have met new friends as well. I think that I am very lucky to have the opportunity to reconnect with so many great women. I hope that I bring something to the table as well. I have learned two very valuable lessons from this experience: the first, never lose touch with your women friends because you will need them someday; and the second, when you're yearning for something and you open yourself to it, the universe will answer. I'm feeling extremely lucky to have these second chances in my life.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Okay, so we aren't really downsizing .... yet. But, I am downsizing Christmas a bit this year. Instead of two large Christmas trees and a small tree in several other rooms, I am putting up one large tree and perhaps a couple of decorative tabletop trees. I divided the kids' ornaments into boxes to pass on to them ... now that they are going to be married and in their own households. And, I am actually taking some of the more tired Christmas decorations to Goodwill (my new best friends). It has actually been kind of fun because the letting go of the same old same has allowed me some newfound creative energy. I even got a real tree again this year ... for the first time in years. It smells sooooo good that it was worth the ridiculous price. Between the tree and the eggnog scented candle, it smells wonderful in here. As soon as I get done decorating, it will be time to finish shopping and wrapping. Then, there are the obligatory sugar cookies. I might be drummed out of the family if these favorites failed to appear. Still, I make one batch close to Christmas as opposed to double batches that disappeared before Christmas Eve and then had to be replaced. In letting go of the mega-super-sized Christmas production, it certainly becomes less stressful and may, in fact, be more enjoyable. I'll probably always want to make my home look beautiful at Christmastime but, its becoming increasingly clear that less can be more at the end of the day. Adapting to change and going with the flow is so much easier than paddling against the tide.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Is It Really Almost Christmas?

Wow, it is definitely true that the older we get the more quickly time seems to pass. I cannot believe that it is time to put up Christmas decorations ... again. Didn't I just take them down? And, as I watch my soon-to-be-married daughter and my son's fiancee get excited about decorating their own homes for the holidays and discuss cooking, I have to smile. I'm happy to pass the torch. I have spent a lot of years creating holiday magic for my family and, don't get me wrong, I loved it. I love to decorate and plan but, frankly, it seems to come at me so quickly anymore that I'm getting tired. I want to get that boost of energy to try new decor ideas, bake new goodies and wrap things in elegantly coordinated paper and ribbon ... I really do. But folks, I get tired just thinking about it some days. Of course, I will do it. It will be a little different this year and dramatically different next year when all of our kids are married. But, I will do my best to honor most of our family traditions until I hand them off. And, of course, change doesn't come without a little sadness. Still, I'm looking forward to all of the new that will come with adding two more wonderful people to our family ... and maybe .... eventually, some more 'little' people will come along to put the real magic back into Christmas. Now, those are going to be some exciting days. In the meantime .... does anyone know of a "I need to get into the Christmas spirit tonic" for sale?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Goes Around

So, hubby and I had the thought that it would be a good idea to buy an investment rental in Corvallis some years ago when the kids started college. We didn't do it. Then, life for daughter took an unexpected turn ... as life tends to do. She and her fiancee ended up back in Corvallis in graduate school. Guess what? There was not a rental (apartment or otherwise) to be found. That's right folks, Corvallis rentals were at 100 percent. What? So, we decided to go for the investment rental again. This, mind you, was a total pain in today's economic climate. Come on lenders ... snap out of it. You goofed up but, life goes on. But, I digress. The purchase was made and the work began. Somewhere in the madness, I realized that this little house was as close to my first little house (lo those many years ago) as is possible. Cookie cutter houses you know. So, the past couple of weeks have been all about painting, cleaning, and teaching these young ones how to improve and maintain a home. They are quick learners and hard workers but, I have got to say ... I really feel like it is deja vu .... all over again.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In Over My Head

Okay, I thought (actually still think) that blogging is a really neat thing. I have found some blogs to be of interest because I actually know the blogger(s). Other blogs are fun and interesting because of the themes. So I like to write. I always have. I find it a nice way to preserve my thoughts. Occasionally it is cathartic. But, I admit it ... I am in over my head. I am so technologically illiterate that it is mind boggling. I view many blogs that I have to believe must take hours to create ... and yet, these people are spending their time creating beautiful homes, beautiful things, and beautiful families. Still, they have figured out how to take and post fun and helpful pictures to their blog sites, not to mention explaining in detail how to achieve said project. Now I don't have a very wonderful computer, which may be part of my poblem but, really, why can I not figure out how to do this stuff? I hate asking my kids because its so humiliating ... the way they look at me as if to say "Really Mother?" Gads, I hope I didn't do that to them when they were little and trying to learn something. Anyway, I keep thinking I should take a computer class ... or three. But then again, I guess I don't really care that much. I mean, I'm not blogging about cute home projects, etc. I'm just relating my life as a 50 (cough, cough) something-year-old woman getting on with life. If I live long enough perhaps technology itself will figure out a way to deal with people like me. In the meantime, I'll just 'write on' and satisfy my 'cute blogs' fix by looking at those of the 'younger set.'

Monday, October 4, 2010

Favorite Things

I have always liked the changing of the seasons. I look forward to spring because I can get back out into my yard and get my hands dirty putting out the plants I've been studying in garden magazines. So, it goes without saying that fall brings the same sense of change. I love to put out the fall decorations. This year I had a helper in my daughter and it was much appreciated. I love that trip to the nursery to buy chrysanthemums and pumpkins. I love the bright colors of the changing foliage. I love the crispness in the air and the occasional smell of smoke that drifts through the air. Its time to get out the warm sweaters and change up some of the home decor to reflect the change in the season. Now, I don't even like to cook much but, I will actually get in the mood to make comfort foods at this time of year. There is nothing like the aroma of a pot of chili or a pumpkin loaf baking in the kitchen. Of coarse, I also love all of the wonderful scented candles that appear in stores in the fall. Who could resist some of the names, let alone the scents. A candle that smells like apples and cinnamon that is called 'Home Traditions'? Oh yes! Another favorite .... the twinkling smile of a jack-o-lantern. Its fun to see what people do with their fall and Halloween decorations. So, not only is fall a favorite time of year, full of changes, it is the lead in to the holiday season and so many favorite family traditions. Its time to settle in, nest and slow down. Its time to really appreciate this wonderful life in Oregon and the wonderful changes that come with the seasons.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Schizophrenic Season

Well, its that time of year again in Oregon ... you know ... when it is fall one day and decidedly summer the next. I'm leaning toward liking the summery days at present. I know that all too soon it will be chilly, gray and either rainy or foggy and decidely overcast and, I'm not ready yet. Summer was way too short this year and flew by way too quickly. Don't get me wrong, I do like fall with all of the beautiful colors, the briskness in the air and holidays having to do with pumpkins. But, this year is going by so quickly and it is a year that is the end of an era. At this time next year both of my babies will be married ... Amanda in January and Blair in July. I'm happy for them and very happy with the two wonderful people that they have chosen to spend their lives with but, the mom in me realizes that although I already let them go ... on those wedding days I will be really letting go. And, I'm not sure I'm ready. I'm thrilled and excited yet nostalgic and wistful. I remember those little babies from day one and all through the happy and occasionally unhappy moments of childhood. It went too fast. I bet there is not a mother alive who would not want one more day with her babies. So, its a mixed bag ... these changing seasons of our lives. I'd like to stop time ... just for a minute but, then again, we are going to have some fun in 2011 and eventually I think I might even get some babies to hold again. I love you both kids and no mother could have been any more blessed with a dream come true as I have with you two.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Most Excellent Adventure

The idea of taking a road trip by myself had been percolating for awhile so, on June 6th I set out on my summer adventure. My destination ... Redlands, CA to visit my dear friend, Sue. Well, that is a roughly fifteen hour trip and I did not think that I would feel comfortable doing it in one day. On day one I drove as far as Sacramento. The trip through southern Oregon, over the Siskiyou range and into northern California was simply beautiful. Temperatures varied with it being the hottest (104 degrees) in Red Bluff. My car sailed right along over hill and dale with no problems and I spent a restful night. I departed from Sacramento in the early morning and arrived in Redlands in the afternoon of June 7th. I really enjoyed the drive. The weather was perfect in Redlands for the first few days and then it heated up ... reaching 103 a few days. Whew, not for me most of the time but, the saving grace is that Sue has an exceptionally beautiful swimming pool which I frequented. Every vacation has its bad moment and mine was the morning I woke up to find that the windows in my car had been broken out with a bat. Now mind you, this is a great neighborhood and nothing was stolen so it was obviously a case of stupid kids joy riding. Way to ruin a day punks! But, between the police officer, my insurance company and a very nice glass replacement expert who came right to my friend's home, all was well. So, a good time was had ... I met some fun people, enjoyed my friend and her wonderful hospitality, and after a week and a half I headed home. Sue rode with me to Yuba City where her daughter and grandbabies live. I spent the night there with her and came on home the next day. It was a long drive but thoroughly enjoyable. There is nothing like driving through this great Pacific Northwest and points south on a beautiful summer day. There is time to think, listen to favorite tunes, stop if the spirit moves you and just generally break out of a rut. It is good to get away in order to appreciate home. The caveat to that being that the weeds keep growing and the dust keeps settling while you are away. Ah well, it was well worth it. I'm already wondering what my next adventure might be.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Still Learning ....

I can remember a time in my life when I did not know the meaning of the word 'patience' let alone have any. As these things go, life has a way of teaching us the the things we need. I had a couple of kids .... and, that will teach you patience. The kids grow up and the lessons are many and varied. After the kids are grown and gone, parents can decide to settle into some sort of routine ... or, perhaps they decide to bust out and live the life that has been on hold for awhile. That can be exciting and even scary. But, hold up. We are currently enmeshed in a time in our history where the economy dictates much of what can happen in any family. Sometimes kids come back home. Which brings me to my point .... a person can get older and perhaps even be smug enough to feel they have learned all they have to learn. Not so. Just when you think you've got things down, the universe is going to set you up for another lesson ... perhaps its more patience ... or adaptation to new situations ... but, whatever it is there has to be a reason we keep getting these memos. It must be because we still need a lesson or two. So, what is there to do but get on board with whatever new agenda comes up? I'm an individual who does not like uncertainty but, if I decide to refuse a new circumstance then an opportunity to learn is forfeited. And, a lesson hard learned is a lesson worth learning.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vacation in Paradise

Every Oregonian knows that spring can be a real tease. One day we are having absolutely balmy weather and the next day it is back to full on winter. This spring has been particulary dicey. People are getting antsy and on the stormiest of days, cabin fever sets in. It isn't often practical to pick up and go to a tropical island. So, I've found my little piece of paradise in the hothouses of local nurseries. In amongst the plants it is almost possible to forget how unpleasant it is outside. The earthy smell of growing things, the fragrance of many of the plants and the warm, humid air is pure sensory pleasure. Imagining late spring and summer gardens chases away the blues and gives a respite from reality. When I go to a nursery in the off season, there is no pressure to buy (which creates work). It is okay just to wander ... taking in the visual displays, reading the plant tags and daydreaming. I know that soon enough I am going to hit the nursery with a vengeance and start working in the garden in earnest. But right now, I just enjoy the brief escape from winter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mommy Memories

Well, I bit the bullet and decided to sort out two very large drawers full of my children's memorabilia. I had been tossing into those drawers for years all of their school artwork and papers, birthday cards, and miscellaneous school pictures and souvenirs. I decided to buy some storage boxes and so I set out to sort and separate each child's things. There was nothing efficient about the process. I became bogged down on memory lane. The kids went to a little country school that required them to journal from the time they were able to put pencil to paper. They didn't always like it but, those journals are golden. They are the time capsules that capture the moments of our lives. Blair describes, with typical efficiency, his weekends around the farm. "I helped my dad. I watched 'Home Improvement' and then I went to bed." Amanda, being the wordier child, goes into great detail about spending the night with her best friend, Michelle. There are the little projects about themselves "All About Me" that describe favorite foods and friends. My favorite finds were the little notes that Amanda used to leave around the house ... 'Dear Mom, Can you make me a side pony in the morning. I am not showing off, I just want something different." Leave it to my girl to overthink a ponytail. And, don't even get me started about the letters to Santa that I found. So sweet, so hopeful, so trusting. Yesterday was a day of smiles and a few little sniffles and tears over the fact that the time was so fleeting. I can hardly believe that those days are gone so quickly and that they are now setting up households of their own. I want them to have these things so that they know how special those times were for me and so that they can one day show their own children that they too were little once. But mostly, I want them to have the record of a life lived happily.

Spring Fever

Okay, we here in western Oregon have had the tease ... a few consistently gorgeous, springlike days smack in the middle of winter. It was great, not only for our being able to get outdoors and do some early gardening but for just soaking up some Vitamin D and easing our winter doldrums. This is not an unusual phenomenon in this part of the country but, at the same time that we are enjoying the break in the weather, we are dreading the resumption of winter. The lawn was mown and the daffodils are blooming but will inevitably be rain and wind whipped as a matter of course. Its one of these wierd little ironies that we will get a beautiful spell in February and yet it will storm relentlessly for school spring breaks in March. We are lucky if we get a bit of sun on Easter weekend for the egg hunts. So, while I am the first to love and take advantage of sunny weather breaks, I am also totally depressed when they are over. Spring fever has hit and although I logically know that we won't have consistently sunny weather for quite some time, I still keep hoping for it. We live in a part of the country that is as gorgeous as it is because of our prolific rainfall. I know this and I appreciate rain as a native Oregonian should but still, I really, really liked that sunbreak. Come on spring!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bad Moods and Attitudes

I am in a BAD mood today. It started with last night's insomnia, progressed through an early morning, fasting blood draw and really took flight after dealing with a surly yet inept barista. And no, I don't want to be cheered up, reminded that things could be worse or told that I have a lot to be grateful for. I get it and I'm still in a very bad mood. In fact, I'm pissed off and I'm tired. I'm tired of being sleep deprived half the time. I'm tired of dealing with nasty, rude people ... especially the type who have a chip on their shoulder and who attempt to alleviate their own emotional misery through mind numbingly heinous acts toward others. I am tired of being shocked and appalled by the behavior of some of the citizens of this country and how we treat one another. So, I'm going to fully embrace this bad mood, this attitude of disgust with humanity and I'm going to wallow in it ... until 5 p.m. today. I hope people will steer clear during my self-imposed gloom fest. Then, I am going to straighten up my attitude, put on my big girl panties and deal with it. I'm going to go find a glass of wine and maybe some really good chocolate and I am going to proceed to rediscover all of the things that are good in this world. In the meantime, I'm in a really, really BAD mood.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Here's To Technological Ineptitude

I really, really don't like fooling with technology. Oh, don't get me wrong ... I like the efficiency of communicating via email and I enjoy the voyeuristic qualities of Facebook. But, I find it infinitely frustrating to try and figure out the intracacies of the computer. It is fascinating that you can click here and click there and share pictures, links to other internet sites and transport thoughts and ideas through the ether. I am not good at it. The dragging and clicking seldom works out well for me and when I do stumble into making something work, I won't remember how I did it the next time I want to accomplish the same. I can spend far too much time trying for it to be satisfying or worth it. I got spoiled when my unintimidated, computer savvy kids lived at home. I would beg for their help and they would fix the problem; however, I now realize that they didn't teach me, they just did it. And, it was easier that way. Then, they up and left home ... the ingrates. But, in all seriousness, I have got to figure this stuff out because in the not-too-distant future, I'm probably going to want to keep track of kids who have moved farther away and grandbabies. But, chalking one up for my side, I figured out how to post my picture on my blog. One small step for the computer illiterate but one huge step for me. Its just a little bit rewarding, if I do say so myself. And, the one thing I do know for sure is that unless I figure it out for myself, I will simply never get it. In the words of One Republic in one of their songs ..."We're marching on ...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Raising a Man

It seems like a very short time has passed since I was changing his diaper and now my son is shopping for his first home. I want to ask how this happened and yet I know that we really did live all of those days of his infancy, childhood, teen years and his progression into adult life. We must have done something right, although he was my first child ... my practice child in a way. He's turned out better than a parent has a right to hope for ... my son. There is an odd phenomenon that occurs with a parent and a child of the opposite sex. Same sex children we know ... it is familiar territory. Opposite sex children present uncharted waters and a sense of awe that we created this 'alien' creature. I will never understand how a toddler boy instinctively knows how to make that 'vroom' noise while pushing his little car along the floor. And, what is it about peeing outdoors that is so darned magical? But, life with a small boy is a great adventure if one doesn't weaken. They have more energy than is seemingly possible but, oh how they can love their mommies. You haven't lived unless you have hugged a little guy who is damp with sweat from playing so hard and smells somewhat like a wet puppy. I won't forget the smell or the feel of those hugs and I will cherish them forever. It passes all too quickly. One day, they don't want you to hug them or kiss them anymore ... especially in front of anyone else. Then, there are the phases where mom is too stupid for words. But, those things pass away. My job of raising my son is finished but not my job of being his mother. I love that he occasionally still wants to talk. I love that he wants my input into his decision making from time to time. But mostly, I just love being around him because he is a great person who is fun and makes me laugh, think and appreciate different perspectives in life. It is an honor to be asked to help in the house hunting project. It is going to be gratifying to see him take this next step as well as future steps in his adult life. But, no matter how old and independent he gets, I'm still going to look at him and see that little blonde boy with the huge grin on his face and remember those wet puppy hugs. I hope he knows that he has been one of my greatest joys in my life.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dates, Times and Other Meaningless Stuff

Most of us live our lives according to arbitrary timelines. If it is Monday, it is back to work or school and then at the end of the week we all exclaim TGIF (thank god its Friday). Of course, in the general scheme of things, the way we carve up our time ... days, months, years ... is necessary to keep people on the same page concerning commerce, education, etc. The importance of all of these measures of time start to drift away as we grow older. We hear someone bemoaning that Monday morning is looming and suddenly realize that if we don't have a job or a child in school it doesn't really matter what day of the week it is ... barring doctor appointments and other necessary business. A friend recently exclaimed rather joyfully that it was Friday. She still works so this was meaningful for her. My unspoken thought was "so?" Don't get me wrong ... there are some notable differences regarding weekdays versus weekends. My family works and their availability to me is definitely more plausible on weekends but, having said that, I may or may not see the kids and my husband works weekends too. So, I go through life on my own timeline. If I want to stay up late and sleep in, I do. It doesn't matter whether it is Monday or Friday to me. Most activities that I want to do can be done any day and are more easily accomplished while the bulk of the populous is at work or in school. But, this lack of accountability has its pros and cons. It is easy to be seduced into being a serial procrastinator. I have had to begin to manufacture my own deadlines or I probably wouldn't ever finish a project. No one is expecting me to finish cleaning out a closet by Friday. Its of no particular concern to anyone whether I get my flower beds weeded on Saturday. So, while it is definitely pleasant not to be held hostage by a weekly schedule, it can be a little disorienting to have no set of expectations put upon me ... except by myself. I've come to the conclusion that people were meant to have some sort of routine and that society had to come up with ways of marking a work week, etc. because the chaos created by individuals all trying to function on own time would be impossible. As for me, I'm trying to reconcile a lifetime of discipline with the fact that I can now do whatever I please ... whenever I please. And trust me, it is both a gift and a curse. I'm hoping I will figure out the perfect balance of freedom and obligation so as to make the remainder of my days productive and enjoyable. Wish me luck.