Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spring Walk 2017

Went walking again last night. Of late hubby has been going with me, but he was at a ballgame, so off I went on my own. This time I thought I might look a bit closer at the ordinary things I see on my Plum Tree Drive walk. Take is slow – ya know?

The Mush – Oh, how I wish I could call it a swamp. You know with a “thing” that lives in there and eerie music playing. But no, this bit of brackish water and spindly trees is more like a plot of mush. But I went in closer than I usually do – right up to the edge. The water is consistently about six inches deep and I suspect a lot of music comes from the tree frogs hanging around the place at dusk. Not eerie, though.

The critters – Oh, my. Saw my first bunny. Silly things. It hopped a few times when it spied me then sat very still. Like if it didn’t move I wouldn’t see it. Seriously? I did speak though. Passed the time of day and asked about the family. Very glad no people were around to hear me. Guess I’m a bit silly, too. Shortly after the bunny I saw the woodchuck. At first I thought it was another bunny, but the low body and quick scurry under the neighbor’s shed told me different.

The birds – Wowsa. They were all over the place. Clustering in the grass that hasn’t seen the mower yet. Swooping from the sky. That would be the barn swallows. And then – and then – I saw a bluebird! At the halfway mark in my walk there’s a Cape Cod where two bluebird houses are nailed to some trees at the edge of the property. I saw the houses and the brilliant blue flash of the bird at the same time. Stopped dead in my tracks to stare at it. Thank you Cape Cod people for putting up bluebird housing. What a treat.

The sky – It was awesome! Blue and more blue with dashing clouds that looked like ocean waves. I stopped to stare at them, too. I turned in all directions to behold the glory. Then I had to stop because I didn’t want to fall down from dizziness right there in the road. It would have embarrassed my children horribly to have me found that way.

Satisfied, I tromped on, passed the big white house on the corner, and headed for home. Later, all snug in my chair, I told hubby I missed him on this walk and then he said . . .

“I was talking with Jeff (who has a small well drilling business just down from us) this afternoon and he told me something. You know that big white house on the corner?”

I nodded. “Don’t know who lives there.”

“Well, they had a bear rip apart their bird feeder the other night.”

Yikes! Swamp thing (who was in hiding, I’m sure), black bears and scurrying woodchucks. That rabbit better watch it’s backside. And me, too!

Image: Free Digital Photos

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Reunion - Fun Times Comin'

This is a repeat – and for a reason. Come this July the mister and I will be heading to Rumbling Bald Resort in Lake Lure, North Carolina for another family reunion. One of the highlights will be getting to know better some of our Swedish relatives. Back in 2013 we met the Wennmans, David, Ulla, Frederika and Amanda. This year we’ll meet cousin Folke Bagger and his friend Carolina. Folke is Ulla's brother. Six Swedes all together. Can’t wait! Maybe we’ll all get another Swedish lesson like the one I tell of here.


Learning how and when to say Bra! was part of our lesson. Of course, as Americans, we all got a big kick out of repeating the word because it brings something else to mind. But our Swedish cousin and lovely new friend, Ulla (pronounced Oola) was giving it her all. Bra in Swedish means “good.” Ulla stood with the Karaoke mike in one hand and her flash cards in the other all full of enthusiasm and eager to share words and phrases with us. Please don’t ask this old lady to remember them all although kör som fan, “run like hell,” stuck in my mind as I imagined a bear rearing up in the blueberry patch. Okay, I confess, I had to Google translate this one partly because we don’t have those two little dots over any letters in our alphabet.

Perfect weather, canoeing, hiking, golf, howlers (the little ones) and growlers (a brown jug of beer for the big ones), cavernous houses, and crummy hair (me) were the order of the day. I was in charge of the cooking and my menus were well received though not perfectly executed. The kitchen was awesome however lacking in equipment. And my assigned sous chefs were at the ready for each meal and after all the food was on the table and devoured, I walked away. Cooking and not having to clean up has always been a dream of mine. Am I a simpleton or what?

After supper one evening several of us sat on the plush chairs and sofas and asked Ulla if her experiences with Americans met her expectations. She didn’t answer right away but you could see the wheels turning. “I was surprised at how gentle Americans are,” she said. “Not arrogant like some other countries.” She puffed out her chest in a slightly bullying fashion as she said it. She also said it seemed like the people were satisfied with their lives here. She and her family visited Manhattan before they flew on to Oregon and even in the city she said, “The workers at McDonald’s seemed happy with their lives.”  It was so nice to hear!

I’m not one to blather on and on about a good time. But you’ve had wonderful times like this haven’t you? Times when you really, really wished everyone you know and love could be there having just as much fun, sharing stories of their lives, yukking it up at the antics of the kids, and chowing down because the food always tastes so much better when the good times are a rollin’. Yeah, I know you have.

For the 35 Americans and 4 Swedes who gathered at the Sunriver Resort in Sun River, Oregon last week it was bra times all around. Next time why don’t you come along? 

Image: Free Digital Photos

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter - When You're Five

I was five when I realized that Easter was something. From my kindergarten classmates I learned about things like bunnies, colored eggs, baskets and small green nests made out of special grass. We lived in upstate Minnesota then and sometimes snow was also a factor. I remember very little of how the world was at such a tender age, but I do have a kind of blurry vision of Easter morning that year.

Deep down I knew that our house must surely be on the Easter Bunny’s manifest, listing all the children who qualified for bright eggs and chocolate.  Other kids talked about the little nests that were tucked into nooks and corners all around the house just waiting to be found by eager hunters. This was back before the shiny cellophane grass we see now not only in green, but yellow, pink and purple, too. No, this grass was made of something else, a little bit dull and waxy. It formed a tidy little nest in your hand and tucked perfectly into corners or under chairs.

I was certain Mom and Dad knew all about this, too. After all, for weeks Dad would sing “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail” to the four of us.  He had a way of building excitement for all special occasions. I loved that about him. So the night before Easter I was beyond excited about what I’d find the next morning.

I got up very early to beat my sisters out. Our brother, Tim, was an infant so I wasn’t worried about him.  I crept down the stairs in the small two story house we were renting from my grandfather. I began my hunt for Easter eggs in earnest. I found nothing. I checked everywhere I thought that happy little rabbit might have set down a nest. I found nothing. Perplexed, I went into the kitchen. Had the Easter Bunny put everything in one room? I searched and searched and then I saw something way on top of the refrigerator. I dragged a chair over , climbed up and peeped over the edge where I saw . . . a partially eaten cake. There may have been some green tinted coconut on top and a few jelly beans scattered, but that could have been my childish imagination wanting so badly for something of Easter to be there for me. I was one crushed little girl. 

It took the distance of many years and a few quiet conversations with Mom to realize what had happened. When I was five my parents were poor. Poor. They were also very young and probably overwhelmed with their responsibilities. Green grass, dyed eggs, baskets and chocolate were beyond their means to provide for us no matter what romantic notions we may have had about the day. The cake was leftover from a card game the night before. Mom also told me that she and Dad were pretty sure we kids wouldn’t realize there should be something special for children at Easter. They may have been right about my siblings. But not me. I knew.

And I know now, too. I know what Easter really is. I know Who died and why He did it. I know there's something special at Easter for every single one of us. But I've given up childish notions of bunnies and candy and waxy grass as anything akin to what the day is about. Yes, I understand the symbols of Spring. I love them. I dyed eggs with my children and gave them candy and do so now for my grandchildren. I don’t ever want them to be disappointed like I had been that first Easter of my memory. But we talk about the real Easter, too.

Here is what Easter is now for the big grown up me.

If you celebrate the Resurrection, I hope for you the most blessed of Easters.

He is Risen Indeed!  

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Day of Small Things

Well, it happened again. Not only did the White House ignore my calls about how to run the country, so also did the State Department refuse to get in touch about my policy on immigration. And I'd called them four times! I closed my eyes to calm myself and it came to me that it was probably more like being sick of winter that had my cabin fever at a high pitch. Prompt action was called for. So  . . .  

I wandered into the spare bedroom and there on the chair at the sewing machine I spotted my spiffy blue shirt. Laying there for months with a tear in a seam. I grabbed it, rummaged around for needle, thread and scissors and sat quietly making tiny stitches to close up that seam. Nobody rushing me to do it, no timetable I must adhere to and certainly no State Department interruptions.  

After that I tidied up the room, finally putting things away where they should be, and, looking out the  window, I noticed a stranger in our midst. The sun. Whoa. I asked my restless self, “How about a little trip to the garden?” Downstairs I plopped my feet into my mud boots. Hubby bought them for me and our 11 year old granddaughter, upon seeing the cheetah print, commented, “Grandma, I see you finally have some fashion sense.” She cracks me up. Take a peek. Pretty classy, huh? 

Up I went, new Kindle Fire in hand, to see what I could see. The Kindle was a four hour “deal” on Amazon so we each got one. Takes awesome pics. I swung open the garden gate and began to explore. Not much green, except for a few onions popping up. Such hardy little things! I also found this.

Kind of fascinating to see how the pumpkin vines slithered their way across the ground. Couldn’t see this when the huge leaves and bright orange pumpkins were there. Soon to be plowed under for another crop – maybe corn – and a new harvest will be set. Am I eager for all that hard work? I'll get back to you.

I tromped down the hill towards the road. And that's where I found the green.

How sweet are these tiny treasures? Every year I marvel at their willingness to push through the mud, gravel and dead leaves to show their dazzling white faces to the world. Snowdrops - the first harbinger of Spring. Lovely.

Then it was coffee time. Every day around two 0’clock. It helps the mister and me put a frame around our days. this day the small things made a big difference. No rush. Time to appreciate our corner of the world. Wish you could have been here. I’d have warmed a cup for you and broken out the Girl Scout cookies. Perhaps we could have solved the immigration problem together. Maybe next time?