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Goodbye 2013 and Hello, My Lovely 2014

Now that was a fun little exercise in commitment. The (Almost) Every Damn Day December challenge was fun and a bit of a stress, but not bad. I missed 3 days, and I apologize, but I can’t help thinking that it’s really okay, because it was in 2013 and THAT YEAR IS OVER!!!!

You’ve only known me since March (except my family & friends who jumped on board with me), but you’ve probably caught on that I’m a bit unpredictable and spontaneous. Tomorrow morning (in a few hours) I’ll get on an airplane in Seattle, Washington. I’ll land in Juneau, Alaska for a brief layover/photo tour, and then on to Anchorage, Alaska that evening. I’m staying until mid-May.

Here’s the unpredictable, spontaneous part. I SHOULD have spent the last 2 days of the year writing my AEDDD posts and getting ready for my long stay in Alaska. Any semi-normal person would have. Not me. I put on my BRAVE cape, packed an overnight bag, opened Maggie’s door and stepped into a 2 day adventure. You’re gonna love this. Am I even sane? Well, yes I am, just a little…oh yes, spontaneous!

My first 2 stops were pure pleasure. I got warm hugs from my tall, handsome boy (okay, young man), Jon, and got to hold and snuggle my sleepy twin step-granddaughters. Their mom sat back smiling, as the girls opened Christmas presents from Grani…that’s another story.

Sara, Caleb and my impish little Cameron were next. I had a blast playing with Cameron. He’s hilarious in his antics, a ball of energy and brilliant to boot! (No Grani prejudice at all!) Sara helped me unsnarl my rat’s nest (tangled, knotted hair), then I took a long, glorious shower (Maggie only gives me a quick 3 minutes). Of course, my new best buddy, Cameron, had to get in on the action. He’s our water baby and he sat happily playing in the water at my feet, while I enjoyed the warm spray of water pelting me.

Once we were out and dry, Sara gave me a heavenly pedicure and topped it off with pretty toenail polish. It probably took 8 times longer than a salon, but they don’t have to stop and nurse and play with and fight off “help” from an almost 2-year-old, like Sara did.

The next day I tracked down my aunt and “Smitty” and got about 10 hugs. She helped me map out and contact her kids, my cousins. I simply had this strong urge to see them all before I left on my long journey to the north. Soon, 4 maps turned into one, as all 4 agreed to meet me at one cousin’s house that evening. I love it when a crazy spontaneous plan comes together!

I’m sorry that I never did track down my uncle, so he’ll have to be my first stop when I get back from Alaska. My next stop was not so great, but was an ending to a long, happy/sad story. I had to get the last of my belongings out of the home Paul and I had shared, then say a final goodbye to that place and that chapter. Our fun, loving and happy home was now just an empty house.

Another bittersweet part, was that my little granddaughters came with their dad, who was helping me. We were only there a short time, but the girls shared their memories of living there, and even “Papa” memories. Nola and Cora got a step stool and removed their drawings from the wall. They explored every nook and corner for memories and lost toys. We got a photo of the girls and me in front of the house, then we all left.

A map and a few phone calls later and I was greeted by my 3 beautiful cousin/sisters. We were not only raised together in Alaska, but I’ve spent most of the last 25 years encircled by their family here in Washington. They have been along, in one way or another, for almost all the good and bad times of this large chapter in my life.

We hugged, and hugged some more. We caught up a bit and I told a few stories. We reminisced about our young selves and laughed a lot, while trying to get a good photo of the four of us. The atmosphere was calm, soothing and filled with happy and sad shadows of the past.

Their brother couldn’t make it, so we made plans to try and meet the next morning. The 5th cousin just became a new dad in California, hopefully we will cross paths one of these days soon. I’m not that spontaneous (or wealthy). My last stop on this long and emotional day was to renew a lost friendship.

I’ve written about my 4 best friends here before. Leslee is one of them. It had been many years, but seeing each other again was a balm for both our souls. She’s been very ill and is tiny, but as beautiful as the last day I saw her. Six weeks of healing from a life-saving surgery and she was on her way back to good health.

We laughed, cried, hugged and kissed, then did it all again, until late into the night. She fed me love, warm soup, a potpourri of cookies and candies and wise sisterly counsel. In the morning I had another long, glorious shower, but not before jumping in my truck to find a place to buy my addictive morning cup of coffee.

Of course, I told her the story of the two fifteen-year-old kids on a first date. I mentioned a possible 40-year-later meeting. That very day. Possibly. She wanted in on the story. Badly. The morning felt just like the old days when Leslee was singing in a band, and I was her best friend/sister/groupie/hair, costume and make-up assistant. She primped and slathered me with blusher, despite my protests. I kept refusing the pink coral nail polish, but once she noticed my painted toes, she wouldn’t stop until I finally handed over my finger nails for her loving application.

I know that you’re dying to know if I ever caught up with my other cousin. You may even want to read whether or not my BRAVE cape and Leslee propelled me and my pretty painted nails all the way to a rendezvous with Mrs. M’s son. The thing is, this post is already over 1300 words, it’s after 1 a.m. and I have to catch a flight in the morning. And tomorrow is a long drive to the airport, a photo tour and two airplanes. The next day is mom’s hip replacement surgery…so I will try to get back and finish the tale of my last day of 2013 as soon as I can.

Peace Out, Really!

Patti

Here is my New Year’s welcome:

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson

That is my word for the new year: Hope.

My arms are wide open for the good, wondrous and unknown things that await me in this new year.

I hope that all my friends and family (and yours) stay safe, healthy and full of LOVE in 2014.

I hope that I am calm, brave and loving when the previous hope falls short; after all, we’re only human.

I hope I choose the best path for me, when I stand before the crossroads that are offered up this coming year.

I hope I am successful in living in the present moment; not one foot in the past and one in the future.

I hope I use hindsight and foresight to make wise decisions, for even these have a useful purpose.

I hope to learn more (about you and me and the world), see more (of the magic in you, me and the world), share more (of myself and the magic and what I learn about you, me and the world) and be more (of myself; to stretch and reach and pull in all of the good stuff).

HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2014!!!!!!


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AEDDD 28: Still Bare Foot and Rocking

c. 1961 Look at those feet go!

c. 1961 Look at those feet go!

My rocker broke yesterday. I’m a rocking chair addict (see photo) from way back. Mom says I used to rock my crib against the bedroom door, which made it challenging for anyone to open it. I’ve been known to go through a rocker a year. I even have a couple back-ups, but none with a foot rest to raise my feet during long computer sessions. So, I turned the chair over, adjusted the wood frame with a mallet, got out my electric drill and screwed the thing back together. Back in the rocking business. A happy, still bare foot, cave dweller:>)

THREE more days of (Almost) Every Damn Day December posts, then I’ll give you folks a break. Just 5 days until I take off on my Alaska adventure. I think I found a friendly person to take me on a photo tour during my short layover in Juneau. I can’t wait to see that glacier! I get into Anchorage late’ish, but look forward to family hugs and the stubby tail-wagging excitement of mom and dad’s dog.

Peace,

Patti

(Almost) Every Damn Day? Who’s idea was this anyway? The culprit can be found here: Every Damn Day December at http://treatmentofvisions.com/2013/11/26/evdadadec/


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AEDDD 27: Alaska Memories

alcan-highway

I left Alaska in April 1977, driving down the ALCAN (Alaska-Canadian Hwy) with my new husband and a family friend. I was almost 18 and filled with high hopes and big dreams; just like you probably were at that age. The world was our oyster and we went seeking the pearls. (I also made the trip, down and back, with my folks and siblings in the late 1960’s.)

Instead of pearls, all I found was Fool’s Gold, but that certainly didn’t stop me. Here I am, still watching for and gathering pearls for my basket.

“The memories that I conjure here are old pearls, made new,

and I’ll carefully nestle them back into their basket,

after I share them with you.”

Somewhere in the following 10 years there were one or two brief visits to Alaska. I think it was that first visit that sister Laura painted her guest room lavender for my few days with her. True sister love. I had a fun and silly birthday with party hats and noise makers at sister Sharon’s log cabin. I watched moose roam between her yard and our parent’s log cabin, within eyesight from Sharon and Tim’s window.

I’ve always known they loved me, but that year we had to put my schedule on calendars, to show who’s house I would be at and for how long. One year I used dad’s tools and garage to build and engrave wooden magazine racks for each family for Christmas.

In 1989 I returned to Alaska, with my infant and toddler in tow. That was the year of the Family Photo Shoot: two parents and 7 adult children with their partners, and 9? children. We had the photo shoot at sister Laura’s exercise studio. I don’t know who the photographer was, but I’m sure they found another line of work after that epic night.

That evening, I heard and loved the Christmas tune, “Jingle-Bell Rock,” for the first time and little Sina and Sara danced like crazy, making us all laugh. I remember everyone rushing around, and sister Ginny fluffed and sprayed our little daughter’s hairdos in the bathroom. I’m pretty sure sister Sharon funded the whole thing, and I know we all agreed that it was the best Christmas gift ever.

Another 18 years went by; my 2 children were off having children of their own and I was living with my late husband. 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2 times in 2012. My Alaska visits are beginning to look like a trend. Smile. I’ve spent time with my parents, my siblings and their children and grandchildren. Sister Michaela’s loss in 2012 has added a glaze of sadness over everything, but we have surely learned the value of family.

My basket of pearls overflows with my Alaska memories, but the Fool’s Gold stays tucked in the bottom as a gentle reminder of the caution needed in choosing paths wisely.

Probably my biggest wish is to be able to share Alaska, and our family there, with my children and their 4 children here. Sara and Jon have not been there since that one time, when they were too young to remember. My little grands have never been there. I would so love to see my little family here in Washington meet and share some special time with my big family in Alaska. I can just imagine the photo shoot THAT would be!

 

Thanks for hanging in there with me and this challenge of posting (Almost) Every Damn Day December.

Peace out,

Patti

 

***Internet/computer problems have severely hampered me getting this post written. It has already taken hours, just to get this far. I hope things are working better tomorrow, so I can share some more photos with you.

(Almost) Every Damn Day? Who’s idea was this anyway? The culprit can be found here: Every Damn Day December at http://treatmentofvisions.com/2013/11/26/evdadadec/

Not Writing, but What The H Have I Been Doing?

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085

Oh, this and that. Crafting and reading to my little grands, taking over daughter Sara’s kitchen to make Chinese Chicken Salad, visiting gr’son in Tacoma, having a quiet week with my fishing & gardening son in Westport, building secret garden with pond, and taking a lot of photos. Will post more on phallphotos.com later this week….including a variety of bees on a variety of flowers and a tattooed seal!

Saturday (later today) I play leader of our writing group and Jon is going to be my assistant! Trying to convince him to read a poem he wrote. We are taking both laptops to show everyone some of the cool writing sites and our group’s new blog site that we set up.  Also, get to announce date for our first mini writer’s conference this winter. Should be fun…especially if I don’t get any sleep:>)

I’m reading a little bit and will have some reviews up soon.

Grieving is an interesting journey. At times, I can hold grief in my arms and rock until it drifts off. Sometimes grief walks beside me like a shadow. Sometimes I have to carry its heavy weight on my back everywhere I go. Other times it slams me to the mat like a wrestler does his opponent.

Grief has this thing about mixing things up too.  I cry over anything/everything, yet I get immense joy at the smallest things. I’m exhausted, yet I can’t sleep., or I sleep for 12 hours. I want to be close to my peeps, yet I have to have my solitude; I pull you close, then push you away. I can’t think straight, misplace everything, forget everything, yet I can upload photos and (hopefully) lead a writing group. I crave food, yet I’m too unmotivated to make or eat it, and when I do, it doesn’t taste right anyway.  I have a very difficult time making any decision and am allergic to commitment.  I mean even tiny ones; “Mom, you want to come out to the docks while I fish?” “I’m not sure, I’ll let you know when we get there.” If I can force myself to get out of my truck, I go, if not, I sit and read or head back home. You just never know with me. And I never know with me. That’s grief for ya.

Don’t fret though, I AM pulling myself off the mat and watching for a brighter day.

Take it easy and thank you for hanging in there while I regroup.

Patti

This gallery contains 21 photos


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Writer’s Journal; Memoir, Beach and Pieces of Me

Kites down on beach.

Kites down on beach.

Please see the new collage of photos in column on far right.

Beach Tour…

It was sad to see the beach so littered from the celebration of our country’s freedom. Yep,  tons of firework and party mess on the beach. I told my friend that I wish every person who celebrated and left trash would come out in the daylight the next day and clean up. Did you?

I still found many wonderful things to bring back for you (not the garbage). It was another tide pool day. I won’t bore you with too many more tide pool treasures though. It was also a tourist day and it was very cool to see so many families out enjoying the beach…kites, cook outs, sand castles, dogs, surf fishing and one family had two people completely buried laying down, so that only their heads stuck out—that is pure trust. It was quite a scene for a cave dweller to experience, but I reveled in it and smiled and waved and found so many pictures to bring you.

Memoir/Writing News…

The memoir is going good. I got invited to share my mind map poster and journal page with the local writer’s group next Saturday. Our writing group is  putting together a writer’s mini conference this winter; hopefully, the first annual one.  I returned my friend’s book to her and we had a great talk about her book, the changes she’s making, and the next steps to publish it.  We also discussed my memoir series and the writing camp. She is a veteran of NaNoWriMo and was happy that I joined. I felt jazzed talking about writing and books in person, rather than the virtual world. Don’t get me wrong, I love my peeps here too, but you know.

Personal Pieces…

I became a great aunt on the 6th. She is the fourth great grandchild for my parents, and my sister’s 2nd grandchild. It all happened in Alaska, so I probably won’t get to hold this baby until next year, whaaa. Thank the fairies for the internet and digital cameras, because I’ve already got to see her. Oh yes, she’s a beauty.

I will be staying the night with my 3 grandchildren and my daughter tonight.  My two grand daughters have birthdays this month, so it will be a fun time to visit. I get to be with my son for part of Tuesday, and we finally get to have a visit with his 4 year-old son.  It’s going to be hard to be away from my cave and my beach, but I’m so excited to see them all and play mom and grani for a day or so.

Be back in a couple days,

Patti


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Speaking of Community; What About The Children?

I won’t spout off the statistics, of which my family is included in, but is there a child at risk in your neighborhood?

We can all do something to help better our community by watching over the children within our community.

This website: Child Welfare Information Gateway at https://childwelfare.gov  has some low risk, high impact suggestions for making the world we live in better, especially for the children.

  • Get to know your neighbors. Problems seem less overwhelming when support is nearby.
  • Help a family under stress. Offer to babysit, help with chores and errands, or suggest resources in the community that can help.
  • Reach out to children in your community. A smile or a word of encouragement can mean a lot, whether it comes from a parent or a passing stranger.
  • Be an active community member. Lend a hand at local schools, community or faith-based organizations, children’s hospitals, social service agencies, or other places where families and children are supported.
  • Keep your neighborhood safe. Start a Neighborhood Watch or plan a local “National Night Out” community event. You will get to know your neighbors while helping to keep your neighborhood and children safe.

Everyone is cautious in these days of high crime, drug and alcohol abuse and economic crisis. Use common sense, but please don’t ignore your neighbors. Please don’t go home and shut the door on  your community.

Do you wave and smile at your neighbors?

Rant over, I will now return you to your life…

Thanks for reading,

Patti