THE WRITE PLACE…

to find Patti Singleton these days.


19 Comments

Alaska Travels: Revving Up and Winding Down

Sunset last night, from my parent's deck, Eagle River, Alaska.  Phall Photos 2014

Sunset last night, from my parent’s deck. Eagle River, Alaska.
Phall Photos 2014

A week from today I’ll be catching a ride home on another big metal bird. Yes, I’m 55 and still amazed that those things can carry us through the sky. Of course, the miracle of electricity still boggles my simple mind too. No, no, don’t try to explain them! I NEED every little miracle I can claim ūüôā

Up and Down

So, I’m revving up to wind this visit down. It has been one of my best trips home (I always say this, because the present one IS always the best one!). The lists that mom and I make just grow longer, as my days here grow shorter. Sure, we got a lot done the last 2 months, but man, there’s still so much to do!

And Up and Down Once More

One way or another, I’m heading home on the 29th and am very excited to see my Centralia family; 2 adult children, 5 little grands, cousins, aunt and uncle. There are some special friends I’ve been missing too. And then there is my beach gypsy cave and secret garden awaiting my return to Westport. From social to solitary again. At last. The solitude lures me more every day, no matter the love and joy I receive in the presence of family and friends…

A Traveling Clan

Dad will be flying “home” to Kentucky to see his ailing sisters and brother for a few weeks, on October 1st. Four days after he returns to Alaska, mom will leave to spend the winter in Arizona with my youngest sister and her family. We should own Alaska Airlines by now. The sister that I have had the longest (not allowed to say “oldest sister”) and her husband spend the coldest winter months at their condo in Costa Rica. Some how, some way, I have plans on making it over there this year. A girl can dream ūüôā

Swing over to http://phallphotos.wordpress.com/homer-alaska/ to see some slide shows from our trip to Homer, if you have a few minutes. No metal bird needed for this tour!

Traveling On,

Patti


28 Comments

Phall Photo Friday; A Few Map Inches and 3 Counties

6

Or…between The Cascades and The Olympics. ¬†Like the eyes on the portrait that follow your every move, these mountain ranges gaze down at you, no matter the direction you travel. You may not always even see them, but they are there… more Between Inlets and the Ocean photos on myPhall Photos blog here:¬†http://wp.me/p3J4Ab-fU

My regular dental clinic is only 40 minutes away, a beautiful drive through coastal forests and along Willipa Bay.  I spent my birthday yesterday traveling over 200 miles, to and from, a visit to the oral surgeon. From the Pacific Ocean, into Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, flow inlets, bays, canals, lakes and rivers. They flow over, through and around the luscious green forested lands of Western Washington. I did thoroughly enjoy the drive home across a few unknown map inches and three counties.

A Lesson: Let Go Of The Worry and Grab Onto The Good Stuff

My neighbor drove as I fretted and worried: Would the surgeon require I.V. sedation? How would I come up with the advance cash to pay for it? Could I convince him that I am just too afraid of general anesthesia (which I am)? Will luck be with me and the surgeon be a decent person? I was prepared to walk away if he was a stoic, judgmental creep, like some that have worked on my teeth.

How many dentists, dental students, assistants, and hygienists have had their fingers in my mouth over the years? Such an intimate thing, made clinical by necessity. Probe my ears, look up my nostrils, but please leave my other orifices to me.

I didn’t request one single photo stop on the way there; I was too busy worrying. What a waste of the beauty on the scenic route we traveled! After the two-and-a-half hour trip I was buzzing with negative energy. After pacing the waiting room floor for an hour…well, you may wonder if¬†the dental surgeon even survived our meeting.¬†

The black-clad assistant led me to the consultation room. I studied the detailed tooth poster on the wall. I nervously eyed the instruments on the counter. The assistant displayed the panoramic x-ray of my mouth and jaw on a small screen next to me. She took my blood pressure (high, for me) and walked out the door, making promises about how soon the doctor would be in. 

Every one of the employees wore black tops and bottoms. Weird, after all the cheerful? bunnies and rainbows and colorful uniforms on personnel at the many hospitals and clinics I have been in. I kind of liked it. Sure, black may have been a bad choice for a place where clients are mostly afraid and nervous, but I liked the uniformity (pun?) of them all wearing the same color.

In walked Dr. Calm and I fell instantly, deeply in love. Not with the man, per se, but with the feeling he brought into the room with him. The atmosphere filled with calm, until there was no space available for my fear, anger, angst and worry. He spoke softly, he smiled, his movements were casual, he kept eye contact, and he laid aside every ounce of worry baggage that I had brought along with me. I gathered up that pile of worry and dropped it into the garbage can on my way out the door.

The drive home was spectacular.

Phall Photo Friday is a weekly feature here. Phall= P(atti) Hall.

Patti, the worry-less one (for now)


15 Comments

Phall Photo Friday; The Bay and The Bike

20140612_161656

Wild Bleeding Hearts, Phall Photo 2014

See The Blossoming Of The Garden Bike on my photo blog, Phall Photos http://wp.me/p3J4Ab-fH

and Morning Glory Evening On Willipa Bay at http://wp.me/p3J4Ab-fq

I’m setting this to publish on Friday morn, as I’m off to more adventures. I’m going to see Kevin in Packwood. Hopefully, we’ll have good weather and I can go check on all the wild plants that I’ve been following with photos. I look forward to seeing how Kevin’s veggie garden is going too. Oh, and the hummingbirds. I hope to see some new birds at the feeders with seeds.

Saturday morn, we’re taking off for the Portland area to see his mom, Mrs. M. We’ll stay over one night, then head back to Packwood Sunday afternoon. The latest school shooting took place just down the road from his mom’s place. I can only imagine the anger, fear and sadness of that community. I took a lot of photos there this fall and it was one of the places I was going to take Kevin, but we’ll probably do that next trip. Instead, I hope I can find one of the back roads to some vineyards and a great view of Mt. Hood.

If we’re not too tired, we’ll probably play a game of pool and listen to some music. I’ll head home Monday, with a stopover in Centralia to see my children, grands and maybe an uncle, aunt or cousin. If there’s things for me to do at my aunt’s, I’ll probably stay the night at Sara’s.

Then I’m home for the rest of June, except a trip to Bremerton to consult with an oral surgeon. Since I got some white picket fence from my aunt, the secret garden has been extended, so there is a lot of work to do on that. Greg does most of the structure work and I do the planning and planting. I hope to incorporate a sampling of the wild plants, berry bushes and shrubs from the strip of woods on his property. They will go along the length of my beach cave, where there is mostly shade.

I’ll post again on Newsday Tuesday.¬†Phall Photo Friday is a weekly feature here.¬†Phall= P(atti) Hall.

Take Care,

Patti, the gypsy cave woman ūüôā


Leave a comment

Phall Photo Friday; Art Along The Way

Horse farm sign

See Horse Manure and Art on my photo blog,

Phall Photos http://wp.me/p3J4Ab-aJ 

Dan Klennert's signDaniel Klennerts ‚ÄúSpirits of Iron‚ÄĚ Sculpture Park¬†is¬†located off State Route 706 on the way to the west entrance to Mount Rainier National Park in beautiful Washington State. NW Trek is up the road a piece too.¬†Klennert‚Äôs life-size (and bigger) wood and scrap metal sculptures,¬†Spirits of Iron, have been displayed all across North America. He has web page http://www.danielklennert.com/, which includes photos, a map, and the title of a movie that his art is featured in.¬†

Phall Photo Friday is a weekly feature here. Phall= P(atti) Hall.

Patti


25 Comments

One Year on Word Press. Thanks!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Yes, it has been a year since I began blogging. Even though it was very lonely the first few months, you eventually found me and have kept me going with your support and encouragement ever since. The secret to bringing folks to your blog is so simple: Get out and visit, comment and “like” other blogs. That’s it. Go forth and make friends :>)

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Here’s how the first 6 months went for me. I didn’t know one blogger and had no idea how to blog. After a couple months of loneliness, I started searching for info about memoir and children’s writing and publishing. During my quest for info I started visiting other blogs, I made some friends. Adding photos to my posts seemed to bring more people to this little community. Popping in on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, really brought some new faces to The Write Place.

I hope to add some highlights of the second half of my first year in the next few days, but for now, here is what I was up to my first six months…

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Six entries in March 2013, including things like:

I posted a quote that seemed to fit my state of mind as I began this new endeavor of public blogging, writing and (hopefully) publishing. “Do not hurry, do not rest,” by Goethe. As fast as I wanted to get started, I knew that I also wanted to take my time and not make a bunch of (public) mistakes.

I was unsure of what/how to begin, but decided to use my long dormant maiden name for my writing. I posted a poem inspired by my mother, who instilled the love of reading and humor in me. Another poem that I posted that first month reflected the pain of the sudden and unexpected loss of one of my sisters the year before.

Sunrise at Westhaven Beach 3

Sunrise at Westhaven Beach, WA w/Coast Guard Tower. Phall Photo 2013  

The post, Keeper Book Synopsis,¬†http://wp.me/p3i5jo-x¬†tells the genesis story of the handcrafted “Keepers” that my friend (Leslee) and I created years ago. My hopes are to publish the stories that I wrote for each one. I also finished typing a 2500 word story that I wrote for my children in 1996.

The last entry of March 2013 says, in part, “I woke up this morning, well, it was really almost 11. Anyway, I was looking around and my eye caught on some star wands that I need to give my granddaughters, from a mutual friend. Soon I had a story rumbling in my head and I was off.¬†I have been writing and editing all damn day long, and half the night! I made some coffee, finally ate a snack, packed some things for my move [home relocation] tomorrow and wrote like crazy. I completed a children’s story 10 words shy of 4000 words. Crazy. It just came out. Does it happen like that for you? And, hey, I have no illusions that this would not get whittled in half by a real editor, but I’m good with that.¬†It is the process that is so…gripping, so addictive.”

April-¬†12 entries. This was my third month going to the local writer group that I joined, and I posted, ¬†“Have been checking out and “following” several other writer blogs. Have been “invited” to join a writer site that allows us to give and receive feed-back. I am learning about the current trends in writing and publishing…” Another entry, Good Grief, A Widow Writes A Memoir,¬†http://wp.me/p3i5jo-V¬†explains some of the things I was learning about memoir writing and how painful it can be to write about Paul’s illness and death. Still is.

Breakfast for fawn. Across from my driveway. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Breakfast for fawn. Across from my driveway.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

I posted about a writer retreat and a writer conference in Homer, Alaska, which is also home to one of my sisters and her husband. I began taking a writing class taught by a local writer, and I met several other writers there. I posted a poem that I wrote for Paul’s 60th birthday in 2007. I made an ambitious attempt at a blogging schedule. Hilarious, if you really know me; the “s” word and me are not close.

I signed onto several more social media venues and shared some sites with helpful information for writers. I touched on some newsy information in one post, about the way technology is taking away our privacy. I wrote a poem about the deaths and injuries in the Boston marathon bombing and the explosion in Texas. I posted a short story about a child molester/monster.

Kites down on beach. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Kites down on beach.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

I moved Maggie (my trailer/cave/home) from the bay outside of Westport, into Westport proper and closer to the beach. The worst shock and heartache of my life happened on the 26th, when my grandson died. Still dealing with the other recent losses in my life, I stopped blogging for awhile.

May- 13 entries. I lost my mind a bit, but returned to blogging late in the month, with 2 poems on grief and loss. Lady In The Cave http://wp.me/p3i5jo-1N and Treasured Souls http://wp.me/p3i5jo-1P  were followed by a post complaining about the new parameters for the medical definition of grief. I wrote a few other poems/essays and shared some of the writing/publishing information that I was learning. Still very few visitors or followers on my blog, but I kept on. This was my first poetry/photo combo post: Beach Bird Bliss http://wp.me/p3i5jo-2c and it made me realize how much readers enjoy photos along with the words.

Fresh seed pod on tree. PHALL PHOTO 2013 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS19

Fresh seed pod on tree.
PHALL PHOTO 2013
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS19

June- 22 entries. This was a very busy writing month and I had some fun with the essay, Things That Go Rrrrr, Crash, and Drip In The Night http://wp.me/p3i5jo-4w. I also got better at working with photos and started posting photos for Word Press Daily Prompts and Weekly Photo Challenges. I posted quite a bit under Writing Journal as I learned about and organized for successful memoir writing. The post, New! Dedicated Memoir Page and Sneak Peek of Prologue http://wp.me/p3i5jo-3m tells the story of how I got from the house that Paul and I shared, to living at the beach. What I Would Tell You Now http://wp.me/p3i5jo-3v is a letter to my late husband, written long after he was gone. I also started writing and submitting book reviews this month.

Butterfly on Flower in my friend's garden. Phall Photo 2013

Butterfly on Flower in my friend’s garden.
Phall Photo 2013

These are busy days, but I will try to post the summary of July-December 2013, in the next few days… Still not smoking and happy about it, over 2 months later!!!!!!!! Was thrilled to know that one of my sisters quit smoking 4 days ago too. So cool.

Happy Almost Spring!

Patti

Thistles PHALL PHOTO 2013

Thistles
PHALL PHOTO 2013

 


30 Comments

March Mountains; Alaska to Washington, It’s Time

PHALL PHOTO 2014

Chugiak, Alaska PHALL PHOTO 2014

My one year bloggiversary is coming up on the 17th, and I will write a summary of my first blogging year on that day, but today’s post is about a completely different summary and adventure.

As most of you know, I’ve been living near the beach in Washington State for over four years, and I’ve been a widow almost five years. They have been some hard years, with too many losses of family, friends and pets. Among those losses (after my late husband’s death), I lost my sister, my little grandson, and my aunt. Just as I picked myself up off the floor from one loss, another death flattened me.

Yet I’ve also had some real joys these last few years; I reunited with a dear girlfriend and several family members. I have a new grandson. Both my nephews, and several other family members, have had babies. I’ve reveled in the healing atmosphere of my wild west coast beach, while I gained energy, balance and perspective in my solitary world (with the help of family and friends).

One thing I haven’t done, is make room (in my heart and head) for the possibility of becoming part of a couple again. Since you’ve been trailing along on my blog journey, you know that I’ve finally done that recently. Kevin and I were reunited on New Year’s Eve, about 38 years after our first and only date. He is my sister’s brother-in-law and the son of Mrs. M, who I broke out of the nursing home in Oregon this past November.

You may also recall that Kevin tried to catch me at the airport, before I left Alaska, all those years ago. He missed by 15 minutes. Now I’m ready to leave Alaska again (after caring for my folks for a couple of months) and Kevin will be waiting at the airport for me in Washington. He has been faithfully courting me long distance, with a romantic Youtube song every morning, and an hours-long phone call every evening. Do you really think there is any chance that we’ll miss our connection this time? Me neither.

PHALL PHOTO 2014

 Eagle River, Alaska PHALL PHOTO 2014

Every time I come to Alaska, I fall in love with the mountains. You’ve seen the photos. Of course, you’ve also seen my camera-love of the beach too. I can’t give up either, but tomorrow I will be moving from my parent’s home below the surrounding mountain ranges of Eagle River, Alaska, to Kevin’s home, nestled¬†between Mount Rainier National Park to the north and Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument¬†to the south,¬†with the Gifford Pinchot National Forest¬†in all directions.

Eagle River, Alaska PHALL PHOTO 2014

Eagle River, Alaska PHALL PHOTO 2014

My next post will be on my one year bloggiversary. I’ll also give you an update on the new views of mountains and maybe a few other things…

Happy March!

Patti

Eagle River, Alaska  PHALL PHOTO 2014

Eagle River, Alaska
PHALL PHOTO 2014

 

 


30 Comments

Transitions

The greenhouse and garden, Eagle River, AK PHALL PHOTO 2014

The greenhouse and garden, Eagle River, AK
PHALL PHOTO 2014

Almost SIX weeks, and you know what I’m talking about. But I don’t want to make a big deal about it. Well, okay, I do want to make a big deal about it. Just give me a paragraph or three and then I’ll shut up about it. At least for today. More than anything, I feel that giving up cigarettes (and the caffeine addiction) has given me more freedom. The biggest freedom, is the freedom to go after a healthier life style.

No matter how many times that I have attempted to quit in the past, I always remained a slave to cigarettes. Even if I went as long as eight months without one single drag off one single cigarette, I was still chained to the addiction. I thought about the lack of them, more than I thought about anything else. Secretly (and probably outwardly) the drama was intense. It went on almost every waking moment that I didn’t smoke. “Should I? Could I? I can’t. I won’t! Damn, I’m weak. Man, I’m strong. I can’t go one more minute. If I can make it one more hour, I can go to sleep.”¬†The internal drama was intense, as I’m sure the external was. Poor family.

This time no one suffered; not me and not my parents. That’s how I knew that the addiction was broken. For awhile, I waited for the other shoe to drop. As hours, days and then weeks passed (6 of them!), I kept waiting for that slam/slap on the shoulder and a rousting voice saying, “Fooled ya! You are about to have the worst withdrawals in the history of cigarette/caffeine withdrawals!” It never came. One of my reasons for diet and exercise, was to head off any shoe-dropping slam/slap on the shoulder. If it came, I’d be ready with a healthy routine and a new excitement for living without the chains of addiction. So far, so good.

It may very well be an illusion, or even a delusion, but I honestly think that I’m out of the woods, and that the damn shoe could never be thrown THIS far out! (Knock on wood, or whatever superstition will keep that big bad shoe away.)

On the home front. Mom goes to her first Physical Therapy session today. She has been moving less and I’m hoping that they will pick up the slack and get her into a good routine to further her recovery from the hip replacement. Dad is still fighting a painful-sounding cough. Hopefully, this last batch of meds will help him.

The best thing about the Olympics these past few weeks, has been watching mom and dad enjoy them together. Whether, mom was laying with her feet in dad’s lap, or sitting up and holding hands with him, I had the best seat in the house. They cheered and gasped in awe together at the inspiring wins, losses and injuries, while I just smiled at the two of them.

The low carb diet is going well. Really. Today will be day 5 of my crazy idea of joining a gym…wait, that was mom’s crazy idea. I’m a little sore, but it has been fun. I kind of earned another free pass by story-telling. Yep, the membership woman loved the story of Kevin and I, so much, that she promised more free passes for my future visits. Cool.

I just stepped out and took some shots of the light pastel pink and blue sunrise. It is a balmy 14 degrees this morn. I’ll share a few photos from yesterday, then I have to get ready for my next yoga class. Yikes.

P1020537 (1024x768)

Funny, I started writing this about the transition I will soon be dealing with; from living alone in Maggie (my cave at the beach) to living with my folks for the past 2 months in Alaska, to making a new life with Kevin in the foothills of the mountains. Somehow, I never got to that…maybe next time.

Peace,

Patti

PHALL PHOTO 2014

PHALL PHOTO 2014


38 Comments

Shifting Directions and Quitting A Few Addictions

141

You are all going to think that the cold has gotten to me.

Since I first started packing to go to Alaska, in the middle of flippin’ winter, and leave my stormy beach life in Washington State, many things have…shifted within me. I came here to take care of my mom (and dad, somewhat) while she recovers from hip replacement. I may stay longer to help my younger brother if the docs decide to repair his back. This is where I need to be for now, but it feels different somehow.

As most of you know, I’ve been carrying on some kind of long distance…something? with my brother-in-law’s brother, who I knew when I was 15, and have spent exactly 1 day with since then. We’ve been making plans for a few summer activities when I get back from Alaska. The main thing is that we’re having fun getting to know each other and we smile and laugh a lot. So that’s a big shift for this solitary gypsy/cave woman who has been in the depths of grieving for almost 5 years. Okay, a gigantic shift.

Reuniting with my long lost girlfriend, Leslee, caused a profound shift in my thinking. Her recent brush with death was tough to hear, but her renewed energy for life had a seriously positive impact on me. You know how sometimes 7 people can say the same thing, or give the same advice, but you don’t really take it in until you hear it from the 8th person? I think that’s what happened with Leslee. I think that she offered similar grief advice that I’ve heard or read from others, but she was just the right person, who said just the right words, at just the right time and they clicked into place in my pea-brain.

Other shifts: Day 14 in Alaska, Day 8 since mom came home from hospital, Day 5 since I QUIT SMOKING AFTER 35 YEARS, Day 4 since I QUIT COFFEE AFTER 24 YEARS, Day 3 since I stopped eating evil things to make up for smokes and coffee:>)

So, there’s some pretty big shifts (I deleted all the perfect cuss words that fit so well into this sentence). Mom and Kevin are the only ones that I told. They have been my mini, but mighty, cheer¬†leading squad (great visual). Mom told dad tonight, but he was pretty quiet about it.

I’m as shocked as you are. I don’t know, I just wanted to keep it close for a few days. It wasn’t something I planned at all; no big X for quit day on the calendar. No pills or patches or magic potions. I was just about to open my last pack, when I decided I’d quit. I smoked that pack over a couple days, then I quit. The next day I quit coffee. I’ve had no headaches or…any other withdrawal symptoms

Yes, my dad’s frequent lectures, mom’s heartfelt pleading and having to sit out in the freaking cold to smoke may have all contributed to my decision. However, my visit with Leslee, my cousins and my grandchildren also contributed. As did my word (and plans) for 2014: HOPE.

If this is going to be a year filled with hope, then I could have hope for health and happiness and maybe even hope for a partner to share it all with. I did write that. Am I sure? Hell no, just minutes ago I thought I was going to be alone the rest of my life. Really. And that was okay then—a minute ago. Maybe not now. Oh, well, stranger things have happened:>)

Peace Out,

Patti, who has no more secrets (damn!)

P.S. My writing is not on hold, but has also shifted in another direction. As I watch several of my writer-friends publishing, or getting very close to publishing, I can only look on and cheer and wonder if I’ll ever get back on track. I will. I know I will…


25 Comments

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’…‚ÄĚ
‚Äē¬†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!!!!!!


10 Comments

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/


13 Comments

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/


33 Comments

EDDD 21: Travels To Alaska Home, Tangled In Ribbons

‚ÄúTravel brings power and love back into your life.‚Ä̬†‚Äē¬†Rumi

It’s funny, but I think that you like the truth better than any tale I could weave, and I can weave some fanciful ones. But, surely it is the real heart and real emotion that we need the most…

Whether it’s, “Oh, my gosh, I never knew!”

or, “That’s just how I feel too!”

The best and worse of me, resounds in you. P.H. 2013

I just wrote that for you:>)

Traveling home is very different, on many levels, to each of us. It also changes with the reasons that we go home. Since 2007, there has been a different reason each time that I traveled home. My late husband, Paul, came up with the money for a ticket, and then insisted that I go that first time. The visit was initially to see my dad, who had a health scare, but then, also to make up with a family that I had distanced myself from for too many years. That was good. And hard. And it lightened my heart to have my reading, gardening, rolling- with- laughter mom back in my life.

Another visit to the north was a casual one, almost a vacation. Fishing in Homer with #1, a sister who took me everywhere when I was little, says I was HER baby! A long-time friend of hers verified the news. I made up with a sister that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in at least eight years, and made headway with another. I helped dad with his yard sales and listened raptly to tales from his childhood in Kentucky. I loved the way his faded southern accent peeked in and out of his reminiscing. Of course, mom and I reveled in working the garden together, and I, in watching her dance in front of the green house in her jammies, to the loud music coming from within. Joy.

In 2012, my visit was filled with pain and heart-ripping sorrow. My direct sorrow was laced with regret. The sister I had reunited with just eight months earlier, the sister who had been sending care packages of craft ideas and love ever since, the sister I’d been sharing texts and long-missed phone calls with, was gone. The gratefulness that we DID connect, didn’t come until much later. My secondary sorrow was the torture of witnessing how the loss hit my parents; the death of one of their seven, a crushing blow.

Then, too, the twin to my lost sister, their birthday is tomorrow, lost her literal other half. There are just no words for the pain I felt she must be suffering. Still suffers. Another sister was a close business and personal buddy with our lost one. Another sister was out of the country. The brothers stood by, strong shoulders for our tears. My heart tore in painful strips of crumpled, tear-stained ribbon. I tried to capture and identify my pain and soothe it, but the ribbons flew in all directions; my parents, our twin, each sibling, even dear friends who fed and flowered us so well. A tattered ribbon of pain from my husband’s death flew in, and tangled with the rest.

Our (now) single twin flew home, soon after the beautiful memorial, into the loving and healing arms of her husband and son in Arizona. When I flew back to my beach a few weeks later, the ribbons of pain flew behind the jet and tangled between my feet as I disembarked. They knotted in my hair as I walked the beach, searching for my lost loved ones. A little over a month later, a phone call; my mother is in the hospital, and so, I packed my ribbons of pain for another flight to Alaska.

The ribbons of pain were no longer filling every space in my parents home. But as I cared for mom, cooked, cleaned and organized, the ribbons fell from every drawer, cupboard and closet; still there, but moved aside to make room for daily living. The ribbons filled pillows that we rested our heads on each night. We used them to wipe away the tears that flowed, unbidden, from our eyes. I was there for over 4 months, which allowed special time with the four siblings who live near.

Eight months after the return to my Washington beach, I lost my 3 year-old grandson and the fresh ribbons of pain, added to the others, almost smothered me. My mother’s sister died October 1st, adding still another tangle of ribbons. I feel them right now. Those ribbons of pain make it hard to open Maggie’s door; my little RV cave is packed with them. I am safe, as long as I keep them away from my nose and mouth. I’ve accidentally swallowed a few and they almost choked me.

Mom is having hip surgery January 3rd, and a brother is having a potpourri of surgeries in the next few months. I fly out on the 2nd and spend the day in Juneau, the capital city that I have never been to. I look forward to walking up to the huge Mendenhall Glacier, that presents its blueish glory, just a few miles from the airport. There are other wonders close by that I hope to explore. Are you excited to see the photos? I am too! If you have a friend in Juneau who can give me a quick tour between 2 and 6 that day, please let me know.

I’ll be back to my beach in mid-May and I’ve promised to visit Mrs. M soon after. She’s doing well, by the way, and is doing outpatient PT now. I also have a long list of family and friends to visit on my return. Those ribbons that I’ve been writing about? They have been keeping me inside the sorrow of those lost loved ones, and not allowing me room to be with the loved ones who are alive. I know that. I’ve decided to drop them out the airplane on my way back from Alaska:>)

‚ÄúEvery traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē¬†Charles Dickens

Here’s a beach sunset from a few days ago. Enjoy, please:>)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Peace Out,

Patti

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/


15 Comments

4 Days of a Caregiver, Writer on Hold

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Friday & Saturday

Friday was busy and full of smiles and hugs from Sara & Jon and the little grands. I am so glad that it worked out that I could watch the my gr’daughters get their awards before I headed to Oregon.

It was a beautiful fall drive from Washington to Oregon, and my truck remembered how to get back to the nursing home just fine. I spent some time with Mrs. M at the nursing home, and then I followed her gr’daughter over to Mrs. M’s duplex. It is a 2 bedroom in a little community near Gresham. After the gr’daughter left, I unpacked and did a little freshening up around the place, then went to explore the area in my truck.

Yes, I did get lost once, but it was worth it. I now have a better idea of where I am and where most of the places that we may need to go are. Mrs. M doesn’t drive, and I know that it’s hard for me to get to know a place if I am a passenger. I bought a map:>)

I made it back over to the nursing home the next morning with no wrong turns. Mrs. M was ready to go,¬†after fond farewells with her roommate and the staff. It was obvious that she was well-liked there.¬†I packed her up, and when her gr’daughter got there, we left.¬†By Saturday afternoon, Mrs. M and I were as settled in as two strangers could be. She seems to take well to changes and is amiable about the big and little things. Ahhh, that makes things easy for both of us.

White Picket Red Berry Gate Wood Village, OR PHALL PHOTO 2013

White Picket Red Berry Gate
Wood Village, OR
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Sunday & Monday

Mrs. M and I had an exciting day and evening yesterday. The nursing home sent a nurse to look over the meds and check her vitals. We should also have visits from physical therapists in the next few days. We were sitting here filling out some papers after the nurse left, and we heard a loud boom; the electricity went out. With Mrs. M’s directions, I found the flash lights and batteries, but didn’t have the right batteries for the radio. We still don’t know what happened, but we were in the dark for only an hour or so.

Once the power came back on, I turned the thermostat up to get us warm. I smelled something burning and got up and looked around. It was coming from the wall heater, so I turned it back off. Then 3 smoke alarms started screaming out. I turned those off and Mrs. M called the landlord; he got here pretty quickly. It turns out that dust build-up inside the heater caught fire. As he was testing the heater in my bedroom, it started smoking too and set the alarms off again.

Please vacuum out your heaters for winter use. Might as well check your flash lights and emergency radio for batteries while you are at it.

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

That was our crazy Sunday. Yesterday I took a long walk around the neighborhood. I had my camera and found some of the season’s last flowers and some other great colors and textures to take photos of. We had a big plan to go get groceries, but at the last minute, Mrs. M’s back pain flared. She called the gr’daughter to come over while I ran our errands. Yep, got the batteries. It was nice to be back in Oregon, where an attendant pumps your gas. Everything else feels pretty much the same as Washington.

My little grandson, Tiven has been gone almost 6 months, and November 3rd would have been his 4th birthday. I have been fighting tears for several days, but yesterday I was able to get away and let them come as they wanted to. I miss my little guy every single day. That’s all for now.

Autumn Rose for Tiven. 3 Nov 2009-26 Apr 2013 PHALL PHOTO 2013

Autumn Rose for Tiven.
3 Nov 2009-26 Apr 2013
PHALL PHOTO 2013

 

Let me know how things are going with you. Still getting our routine down here, so I haven’t got back to editing the memoir postcards. Not online much either.

Peace,

Patti