Friday, July 29, 2011

Returning Home

Time to return home has arrived. Tomorrow I board the plane and return to Oregon. My daughter and granddaughters will be there to greet me.

Yesterday we did our final Skype. Gabby talked leaning over the top of the screen. The only thing I could see clearly was her nose. It has been wonderful to be able to talk to them live, face to face.

I will write next week after a few days of settling back into the routine. Have a safe and wonderful weekend.

'Til next week........

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

God Willing

miss my grammy on vacation. i miss you grammy if you read this. from Gabby dauter of Stacey that she loves a lot . i miss you grammy.

The Facebook message greeted me when I turned on the computer. Gabby had written the message on my profile from her mother's page. Sweet words that make a totally relaxed Grandma begin to think of returning home. 

I'm loving that my grandkids and I are in instant communication through the computer. The distance from Oregon to Indiana seems a bit shorter.

Gabby Skyped me yesterday. The scene behind her pretty face was confusing.

"Gabby, where are you?" I asked.

"I'm in the truck."

"Where is the truck?"

"In the garage."

Hm. I pondered this for a few seconds. "Why are you sitting in the truck in the garage?"

"Because we are having a fight so I came out here," she answered. "Grammy, just a minute. Watch me. I'm going to disappear for a little bit then you can see me again."

She placed the computer so I could watch her as she dashed across the back of the truck bed then over the side. A few seconds later she popped up on the stairs leading into the house.

"See me?"

Of course, I did laughing the entire time. A few minutes later the process was reversed, and she was back in the truck. Now I was talking to her and her sister.

I miss my granddaughters. Perhaps this separation will make us more appreciative of one another. Perhaps we discovered that we love one another a bit more than we thought we did...if that is possible.

"Grammy, I miss you," said the small voice on the phone one evening. "You'll be home in 5 days.  I really miss you."

"Oh, Honey, I miss you, too," I answered.

"I think Puddles forgot about you," she continued. "He's not being friendly to Mommy. I think he thinks she sent you away."

Ah, a dog giving payback. 

"Grammy, will you do something for me?" Gabby's small voice asked.

"Honey, I'd do anything for you," I truthfully answered.

"Don't die before you get home. I want to see you one more time."

God willing......

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Escape of the Loose Tongue

"Don't do it," I berate myself. "Don't you dare open your mouth."

You know it will happen. You see it coming. Oh, how you want to say something.

"Don't do it," I think stifling the words I long to say.

Being a woman of words, I find it very difficult to keep my mouth shut. Opinionated, overzealous, eager to help all toss me into trouble time and time again.

"Muzzle, woman!" I tell myself. "Don't do it."

How many times have my children said, "If I want your opinion, I will ask for it"? How often have I done the "open mouth, insert foot". Yet, I still fall into the trap. I'm getting better at 'zipping the lip'. I am better at letting things fall as they may.

I know that I hated having my parents and sisters tell me what to do or to give me warning about the obvious. I think perhaps this 'advice' stems from the years of watching over small children who are constantly learning. That protective instinct pops into place. They grow up, but the same tendency to protect and assist lies in place.

Sometimes I look at a picture hung to low or a potential problem coming to fruition. I smile a little thinking to myself, "Good job, Pam. You kept your mouth shut."

Thursday, July 21, 2011


A rainy day in Oregon. Kids home on summer vacation. Boredom sets in easily under such circumstances. Some items on the list of things to do either cost too much or require a nice day. But then......

The Tualatin Valley Recreation Center and Park District is fantastic. Classes are affordable for adults and kids. Pools are available around almost every corner in the county. Baseball fields and soccer fields can be reserved. Parks and playgrounds are available for most any event. Old homes are preserved by the district for offices and an event center. Nature parks are wild and wonderful. We turned to the Rec Center to break the boredom.

I am not a swimming pool person. I can't swim in water over my head. I hyperventilate. The fear embedded when I almost drowned as a small child could not be overcome with swimming lessons as an adult. So a day at the pool is not a big thrill. Yet the kids wanted to go, I needed the exercise. I either took them or had grumpy kids all day.

Evidently, everyone else had the same idea. I hung on to a styrofoam noodle kicking my feet as small children splashed me, ran into me and spun me around. It was almost enough to make me swim to the deep end. Gabby was coming toward me when a man barreled over her to get to a child at the edge of the pool. The boy was in a life jacket....not going anywhere fast. Gabby was on her tiptoes. (She shares her grandma's respect for water.) I grabbed her and glared at the man.

A few years ago Gabby almost drowned when her swim instructor didn't keep an eye on the toddler. The life guard sitting right above her didn't look straight down. Stacey and I saw her go under and not come back up. We ran from the gallery screaming at anyone who would look up from the pool. By the time we got to her, another teacher had pulled her up. I don't take well to adults who don't watch out for all children.

We were in the pool for an hour. I was prunelike and ready to get out.

"Maybe I'll go read while you swim," I told Gabby.

Her eyes got big. "Okay, Grammy. I don't need you here."

Gabby can swim. Yet a voice inside of me told me to stay with her. Her sister was off playing with a friend, and Gabby got stuck with me.

"Next time we'll bring a friend for you," I told her.

"But I like being with you...."

Hm. My book didn't sound so good any more.

It was a day well spent treading water in the 3' shallows while my granddaughter swam out into deeper water to her sister then back to me. It was a good day to watch them having fun as I floated on the sidelines, the camera in my mind shooting memories for another time.

Gotta love the noodle.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Needs Be Done

While I'm gone I will post some writing already done while in Oregon. I'm sorry my writing is irregular. In two weeks, I will be back on track.

Hm. I wonder how that pile of clothing will get upstairs. Better yet, how will it get into the drawers? Hm. There are dirty dishes in the sink. I wonder how they got there? Better yet, how will they get from there to the dishwasher.....from the dishwasher to the shelf?

"Grammy, you said we would do lots of fun things this summer," Sydney said on day three of summer vacation. "All you are doing is work!"


"Honey, I realize that you both think I just sit around all day, but this is work I do daily that needs to get finished."

"But it's boring. You've been doing laundry for two days!"

"Yes, and whose laundry am I doing?" I say looking down at my half full basket and their overflowing big basket.

I made a grocery list and handed it to her. "Now we're going to the store."

We walked the aisles, granddaughter and I. She with list in hand shopping the shelves for the checked items. I was surprised that she didn't ask for anything not listed.

"Grammy, I think we can get this cheaper at Mom's store."

She's catching on.

"Thanks, Grammy. I had a good time."

"Me, too, Honey. Me, too."


Unemployed Update

Time has passed since I wrote about being an unemployed senior citizen. (Still not used to that senior thing.) Job apps go out. No interviews follow. Time passes. The arthritis in the hand worsens, my work experience goes further away from current. I've even lost track of my old bosses, my references. Would I employ me? No, not really.

I know I'm not alone. Many are living the same as me. Some have moved in with brothers or sisters. Some have moved in with children. Some are homeless. It is not a pretty place to be at our age. Life is longer so vague circumstances stretch further ahead of us. Life savings are spent. Homes are lost. Retirement dreams are long gone.

We also live with the fear that our already poor circumstances could worsen. We pray that Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security will not run out or change. Already the retirement age has gone up on me. Would the rest change by the time I retire?

Medical insurance destroys what little there is to live on while politicians and those who have never experienced what we are experiencing fight over a universal plan. There seems to be no way to move forward. Yet we must try. Despair and defeat are the worse enemies here.

Leaning on those we love should not represent failure. We have not failed. We raised our families as best we could. For many of us, we came out of the mode of homemaker into a world of the newly working woman. We stepped away from what we knew and tackled what we did not. We have faced loss and have survived. We are strong and so, too, are those who love us and want the best for us.

I don't know what lies ahead, but I do know that worrying about it will not make it better. I must do what I need to do daily to serve my family and myself as best I can. I am not a loser. I am not a failure. I am a woman who was a victim of the circumstances of an economy, of poor management in the workplace.

Hope is the staff we lean on, and purpose is our goal.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gathering Our Own Memories

The cows munch grass. A horse pokes his head over the fence and nuzzles my hand. Pigs' tails wag faster than a pups. Tractors kick up dust in the fields. The clip clop of a horse pulling a buggy wakes me in the morning. I am home again.

Where are my granddaughters? Why aren't they here? I want them to share all of this history, this piece of quiet life that is so hard to find where we live. Oh, how I want them to walk through the barns and fields with me, to meet people they may never meet again.

Sometimes we just can't do it all. I can't be there to spend time at the fountain or to hike down the nature trails. I'm not there to participate in their summer laughter and little events of every day. Bringing my family back with me is not an option now. So we do the best we can apart.

Yes, we will appreciate one another a bit more. The hugs will be a bit stronger. Catching up will take awhile. Then once more we will fall into the rhythm of a usual day. For now, we go our separate ways gathering memories.

"I wish July was over," Gabby told her friend, Heather. "Then Grammy would come back."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Layers

Three sheets of paper laid out to dry, the paint still wet. One page is blue with a lone cloud. One was big squares of bold colors. Another was a solid color with small colored dabs of paint sprinkled across the page.

"Are you finished with these?" I asked Sydney.

"No," she answered.

I knew that she was going to do what I have tried to tell them in past painting sessions. Paint your colors in layers. Let it dry before stacking other color on top. It was a bit mind boggling looking at the papers. What would she do next? The cloud was pretty obvious. I was eager to see what she would do with the others.

My granddaughter is many layers. There is the base coat that is applied by her family, those early learning years. But now that that layer has settled in, she is trying to see for herself what will be added to that first layer. She must decide what she will become.

Next year she will be in the 7th grade. This journey into middle school that began last fall has changed her. A new maturity has set in, and she wears it well. She goes off to do her homework in her room and spends a bit more time on the phone and computer chatting with her friends. She sometimes walks into the kitchen on her own accord offering to help cook or clean up. She participates more in adult conversation. Her relationship with her sister has seen a few changes. She watches over Gabby and feels more protective. The butterfly is tapping on the cocoon.

Something happens to little girls when they step into 'young woman shoes'. More time is spent in front of the mirror. She loves to wear her mother's clothes. Showers are is her beautiful, brown hair. She seems to have developed that head toss that women do so well. Yes, she is stepping into her own.

A new layer is being applied to a canvas. And, three paintings are waiting for the next coat. I wonder if the new layers will reflect the beautiful young woman my granddaughter has become.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

High Above the 4th of July

The journey was easy, journey from there to here. I wasn't tired. A late morning flight is absolutely the best. I hugged my family before I left trying to store up enough essence to keep me company over the next month.

There's a sort of detachment that comes when flying high above the earth. Seat mates quickly become friends building a friendship that will last from one destination to another. A conversation behind me commences about how many guns each of the men own. I sit there biting my tongue wanting to say, "One is too many, you idiots." Across the aisle a man sits with his hand on his wife's knee. A reminder of my parents and the way they always reached for one another. For a few hours, a little community is formed.

"Do you have a bag up here?" I ask after we land.

"Yes, please," the man answers. I hand his bag down.

The man sat in next to me in the airport while we waited for our plane to arrive. He figited, paced and continued to look at me. I was determined to keep my seat since I was there first so ignored him.

I boarded the plane. As I settled into my seat.....

"Well, look at this luck," the same man said. "We have seats next to one another."

We flew through the night sky towards my final destination. One...two...three. They seemed to multiply across the dark landscape below. Fireworks seen from above. A strange sight. I ooooed and ahhhhhed the same as I would have on the ground. Sitting on the aisle, I tried to glimpse out both sides of the small aircraft.

We never really know where all a flight will take us once we board a plane. Mine took me high above the 4th of July.

Friday, July 1, 2011


For the next month, I will be away from home. I hope you will check back. My writing will irregular due to vacation circumstances, but I will try to check in as often as time allows. There will be no postings on the 4th and 5th.

The anticipation of traveling always leaves me with butterflies. I don't enjoy flying. I always know I'm forgetting something. Always sure I've packed too much. I try to slow time down, because I know the trip will be over all too quickly. I'm savoring every moment. Butterflies, calm down!

My life is richer for these trips home. I step back in time to a place that loved me. The memories will be rich with revisiting. People I will see once more will be even more precious.

My granddaughters are learning much from my trip home. They are learning that Grams is might be just a little more special than they realized. They will understand the importance of our roots. They will look in the mailbox for postcards and wait for Grammy to Skype. My suitcase will be frisked when I return home, and, the hugs will be priceless.

I'm leaving my home to return to another home, the one creating me. The one that calls to me daily.

Yes, I will board the plane. I won't be charged for the butterflies who accompany me. I know that when I walk through the airport gates, I will be home again.