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A-Z April Challenge; V is For Vertical

glass wall

Glass wall in new secret garden.
PHALL PHOTO 2014

I could have waited for tomorrow and placed this glass wall photo in “W” for Wall, but I can be a bit impatient at times…that last part would fit in “U” for understatement! The camera continues to be an issue. I’m learning to use the camera on my phone, until I can find a teeny tiny screwdriver to repair my camera—no, the ones made for eyeglass repairs are too big. My neighbor even made me one, but it only lasted for 4 screws.

My secret garden is coming along. Neighbor/friend, Greg, brought more beach stones in today. I finished lining the bicycle basket with moss, then filled it with potting soil, an azalea, pansies and alyssum. I wired a basket to the front and planted seeds in it, and there is the mossy clay pot on the seat, filled with flowers. When I decide the bike’s permanent spot, I’ll plant ivy below each tire.

The glass block wall climbs up along the fence. Soon the annuals will spill green leaves and multi-colored flowers over the sides and down the front of the glass blocks.

This garden is growing into more than a memorial to people I have lost. It’s also a celebration of wishes fulfilled; I have hauled those blocks along with me (with a lot of help from family and friends) for three home moves over 15 years. I have collected special pots and garden trinkets all of my adult life. The glass wall incorporates two wishes into one: to use the blocks in a garden, and to fill all of my special pots with flowers.

Many of the plants and paraphernalia came from gardens past, and friend/family gardens. This garden will be filled to overflowing with memories of people, places, hopes and dreams.

If you see a plant you would like a piece of, just let me know, as they are pretty easy to mail. If you see a spot in my garden, for something you are growing in your garden, I would be happy to add more friends to the secret garden. Mom is sending me some starts from her garden, as soon as the snow melts!

1writeplacewordpress at gmail dot com or you can private message me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/patti.hall.3950

Happy Gardening,

Patti

garden bike

Garden Bicycle
PHALL PHOTO 2014

 

Hey, I hope you find time to check out some of the other A-Z April Challenge blogs here:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2014.html


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A-Z April Challenge; D is for Dance With Me!

Here’s David Bowie’s, “Let’s Dance,” to get you in the mood for my post today.

Dance Memories

* I don’t know if I danced when I was a toddler, but I do know that I was always in motion. Oh, man, the family stories I’ve heard about me rocking my crib against the door, and later, wearing out a rocking chair every year!

* Somewhere, I have a photo of my 17-year-old self dancing at my wedding with my dad. I was a little tipsy on champagne, wearing a floppy wide-rimmed hat, a long white dress and tennis shoes. Always stylish.

*  A few years later, I was living alone in Oklahoma City and I was a disco queen! (Stop laughing!) My dance partners wore those icky shiny shirts, unbuttoned half-way down, with thick gold chains around their necks. Think John Travolta. I wore flimsy little dresses that swirled when I moved and I usually kicked off my shoes by the third dance. I won dance contest money, dinners, drinks and various other awards for my fancy footwork. What a claim to fame, huh?

* I also danced in the western clubs in Ok City, Dallas and Ft Worth, Texas.  I have an old photo of my 21-year-old self decked out in a white cowboy hat, a white silk shirt, western-cut polyester pants and knee-hi cowboy boots with heart-shaped cut-outs at the top. Yee Haw! I had sun bleached hair and a deep tan from spending my days at my apartment pool. I wore my pants so tight, my girlfriend finally taught me a girl secret: how to lay down and use the hook of coat hanger to zip them up.

* Aside from my disco and western dance days, when male partners were assured, I’ve probably spent more time on the dance floor with girlfriends then men. Men often let their egos get in the way of having a good time dancing, while we women seem to shuck our egos and shake our bodies, no matter how silly we may look. Quit laughing!

* Fast forward, past years of infrequent dance opportunities. One of my favorite dance memories is from a normal domestic night at home, when my late husband unexpectedly grabbed me and slow danced me through the kitchen. It plays like a movie in my mind when I think of it.

* I pity the adult who hasn’t had the pure joy of seeing a toddler shaking their booty? You laugh and clap your hands to the music, and it is almost impossible not to get up and dance around with them. The best age is just after they learn to walk, and while their little egos are still sound asleep. After that age, you have to hold your breath and pretend to not look at them, or they will stop right in their tracks. I hold special memories, of my own children and my little grands happily dancing around, very close to my heart.

* My mom has a radio in her greenhouse and she often dances around while gardening. What a wonderful sight.

* My family has settled on a beautiful memory of the last day of my sister’s life. Mom dropped Michaela off at her condo, when a song they loved came on the radio, mom cranked it up and rolled down her window and Michaela danced all the way to her door. A family friend gave us a metal cut-out of a dancing girl for mom’s garden: everyone knew how much Michaela loved music and dancing. I painted the bouquet of flowers that the dancing girl held. I polished her finger and toe nails, gave her bright red lips and made some jewelry bling for her, then I wrote my sister’s name and a sentence about dancing on the dancing girl’s dress. This art therapy an element of my grieving.

* When mom and I went to Hawaii two years ago, we had an especially fun time dancing while on Maui. We were strolling through a little tourist town one night and heard music blaring from a second story, open air bar. The bar and the town were very festive, with little white lights strung everywhere. We climbed the stairs, ordered a drink and listened to the band play for awhile. Looking over the rail, I saw a little empty park below the balcony. Yep, we left the bar and danced in the park to the music playing in the bar. I’m so lucky to have such a fun mom.

* I used to hang out at my friend’s Deli and Pub in my little fishing/tourist town, especially on band nights. As a rule, fishermen don’t dance, so I spent many nights dancing with other women or couples. Most music nights, I would just go out by the fire pit and sway to the music. I love to dance!

* One night in Alaska last month, I went dancing with two of Michaela’s best friends. The sister closest to my age was there too. They all sang karaoke, but all I wanted to do was dance! And I did.

I hope my dance memories made you smile, and maybe even reminded you of some of your own dance memories. I’ll leave you with this bittersweet song that I love, by Luther Vandross, “Dance With My Father.”

Peace,

Patti

 

Hey, I hope you find time to check out some of the other A-Z April Challenge blogs here:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2014.html


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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/


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Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch

Wynochee 173 Wynochee 175

It looked like a miracle. The contrast of bright green new growth, caught in winter’s first shock of frozen air, thrilled the nature lover and the photographer in me. The plants were only a few feet apart, but the frost dealt with them very differently. I so wanted to touch the velvety layer of frost on the first plant, as well as the plant with all its leaves meticulously outlined in crystal spikes. Of course, I didn’t.  I took these photos 2 days ago near the Wynoochee River in the Olympic National Forest in Western Washington.

The prompt, “Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?Photographers, artists, poets: show us TEXTURE.” http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/daily-prompt-textures/

When I first read this prompt, funny bittersweet memories about touch and texture came to mind. My late husband had the most wonderful sense of play. It was quite a surprise for us to learn that we both loved to touch things while shopping…you know; soft blankets on the store shelves, throw pillows with soft fuzzy covers, and smooth satin or furry slippers.

At first, a person with this inclination does their feeling on the sly; what will people think if they see you rubbing the corner of a comforter on your cheek? It wasn’t long before we discovered our mutual secret, and made almost a game out of it. Who can find the softest material on an otherwise boring shopping errand? Even if we were just running in to get some paint or something for the office, one of us (usually me) would make a bee-line to a display of a potentially soft item.

We were quite discerning too, not just any soft thing would do, and we booed when something looked really soft, but just didn’t meet our standards. If it was good we’d pass it to the other one, “Oh, feel this one, it’s softer than that red one…” That usually started us on a roll of comparing softness, from one department to another. What did we come in for?

I admit, my addiction was worse than his, but we both loved all the new textures coming out. We’d still try to do our feeling on the sly, and sometimes pretend shock when we saw the other one sinking their fingers into a plush throw pillow. “Weirdo,” he or I would whisper. That would cause a round of laughter between us. Shopping was always fun with Paul, because we made it fun. Together, we had a knack for that.

After losing Paul to leukemia 4 years ago, it’s nice to be able to share some stories of our strange fun with others. And I see you rolling your eyes, but I bet you have some strange couple-only habits. Right? Go ahead, we’d love to hear them (the PG ones!).

Peace Out,

Patti

For more photos from my Wynoochee trip, visit my photo blog here http://wp.me/p3J4Ab-7o


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Naked Without Them

124

Naked Without Them; Gold & Silver Memories

My wedding ring set has such a bad track record.  You’d think that I would want to drop it down the sink or bury it in a drawer. Never. Like most of us, that set of rings has had its ups and downs, through no fault of its own.

Before their life with me, the rings had a life on the finger of a young bride, full of high hopes for a happy future, with the man of her dreams. That dream died quickly and lives were shattered. The rings sat in a box, in the very back of a drawer, forever. Who knows how long it really was, as rings have no sense of time.

My friends, the preacher and his wife, gained possession of the rings through their family ties. They finally found a way to aim the rings on a path towards a happier future; much happier than living in a drawer full of undies and unopened packages of socks.

Admittedly, the groom (whose bride would wear the rings) was being treated for leukemia, but surely he would live to rejoice in his recovery with his new bride? The rings could have a new life too. The betrothed were living in the hospital and did not have the freedom to go shopping for wedding rings. So when the preacher and his wife drove across the mountains to perform and witness the hospital wedding, they brought the set of rings to offer as a gift to the couple. The rings would be redeemed and the newlyweds would live happily ever after. The gift was gratefully accepted.

The groom’s wedding band was chosen from the offerings of the preacher couple and the bride’s aunt. He simply chose the one that fit the best. The wedding is another story altogether, and you are welcome to read one version of it here. Most of you know that the story didn’t end so well. The groom left this world and his bride less than 2 months after the ceremony. Once more, the rings were marked by tragedy.

That was 4 years ago and I wear Paul’s wedding band on my thumb now. I just recently moved my wedding set to the ring finger of my right hand. I read somewhere that this was the custom for widows in…? I can’t remember what country that was. My wedding ring finger is still much thinner where the rings once sat, and I’m sure that time will be successful in healing the finger, if not my heart. Either way, the rings and I are happy for the company along the way.

The other piece of jewelry that I cherish is the heart locket that you see in the picture. It was already special to me, but now I only take it off to shower (so I actually am naked without it). Sealed inside is some resin mixed with my forever-3-year-old grandson’s ashes. We lost him in April and I can still hear his voice and see those bright blue eyes,

I had more to say, but I lost my steam somewhere up there in that last paragraph. I can say how grateful I am that I have these special things, and I truly would feel naked without my gold and silver memories. Some people don’t want such constant contact with objects that hold sad memories. That’s odd to me. When I adjust the rings or the clasp on the locket chain, I may shed a tear (or a bucket of them), but then I usually end the tearful session with a smile for all the happy memories.

Do you have something special that you feel naked without? Maybe something romantic or funny or magic to cheer us up? Well, then please share it with your friends here :>)

Peace Out,

Patti