Saturday, July 27, 2013

14 And Moving

It was on my fourteenth birthday that my parents told me they had been offered an opportunity to serve at a church in Oregon. This information was quickly followed up with an assurance that they weren't going to take it. It was just to let me know that there was this option out there. My grandmother was suffering from dementia. It might be necessary for us to be closer to her. This church was available. There were options.

Three months later we were moving there. Blodgett, OR. Sounds like budget (money has always freaked me out.) A smudge on the map. A hodgepodge of unpleasant imagery. There was nothing inspiring in the thought of living in such a place.

Horse Creek, CA, with it's population of 115 people, might not sound like much to most people, but it was the only home I had ever known. Our house was snuggled up next to beautiful mountains. All my friends were there. All my memories were etched into the forest, the house, the bends and turns of Highway 96. My sister and her precious baby boys were just a short drive away. Basically, this was my paradise, and I had no desire to leave until I was 18 and finished with high school and ready to travel the world.

I will never forget one of the last days we were in our house. My room was barren, all except for the bed. I curled up there and let my eyes run around and around the walls, memorizing every square inch, even though it was already solidly in my heart since earliest childhood. There were people from the church helping us pack up. A lady came back to the room and asked if this used to be my room. Her words hit me with as much force as if she had physically hit me. "No," I told her. "This is my room."

I haven't thought about these events for quite some time. I have lived so very many places since then. I have cried tears over parting ways with friends, family, countries, and cultures. A six hour move doesn't look like much from this vantage point, and yet the memory of that first big move still has an impact. There was so much love and loss, joy and pain, discovery, friendship, and even fear experienced there. A home like that, a room so poignantly experienced, is never forgotten.

I wrote a letter to my fourteen year old niece this week. She is moving, leaving the only home she has really known. It is the closest thing I can give to her. I know it will not erase her pain, and it will not make the prospect of moving seem brighter. I can only hope that it will remind her that she is not alone, that she is deeply loved, and that there is hope, even in the midst of the heavier emotions. And just maybe, when she does find joy in her new home, she will be able to embrace it without feeling guilt, and she will hold her love of the past, and her joy in the future, together in her hands with a full heart.

My advice to anyone who knows someone who is 14 (or a plethora of other tender ages) and moving, is to let them mourn, let them rage, give them hugs (even if they stand there for them like stiff boards) and share in each one of their new joys with total abandon.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Something to be Learned from Weeds

There are lots of advantages to living in a house. Space, privacy, a certain element of freedom...and a yard. The only thing is, that last one also comes with a certain level or responsibility. Yards don't look beautiful naturally, but neighborhoods tend to expect that they maintain a quality that reflects positively on the entire street view. Therefore, when you don't own a lawn mower, and can't afford to buy one, let alone pay for yard maintenance, and you're away from the house a good eleven hours a day, it can get tricky.

I think I mentioned before that we tried, unsuccessfully to user a push mower, and were blessed by the use of a neighbors gas powered mower, but borrowing every week or so gets a bit tedious. And the truth is, during this dry part of the summer, the grass doesn't grow much. That just leaves the weeds to be considered.

Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to deal solely with the dandelions. My thought was, if I could just trim off the buds with some lawn clippers, I could keep the place relatively decent. (Note: with the short grass, we again tried the push mower, hoping it could at least lip off the tops of the weeds, but to absolutely no avail. They just bent over and bobbed back up ad soon as the blades passed over.)

It was during this exercise in futility, that I came to make some thoughtful observations. There is a well known saying that we should learn to "bloom where [we're] planted." The idea is, with a positive outlook on life, we can chose to flourish under any circumstances, and in any location. If you have ever worked with the fight to keep flowers, gardens, quite frankly any growing thing that is not classified as a weed, alive, you'll know that few of these things just naturally, happily, and easily bloom where they're planted. A far better encouragement would be, "Live life like a weed."

Here are a few good reasons:

1) Weeds are well accustomed to being unappreciated, and yet they don't give up. No matter how many times you lop their buds off, they just keep blooming.

2) Weeds are used to making the most of any situation. They grow up between any crack in the concrete, and given a little time, will actually make what appears to be impenetrable stone, move.

3) Weeds are the ultimate in tenacity. Cut them, uproot them, even poison them, they just roll with the punches. It only takes the slightest breeze to fly in a seed that will joyously take root and burst into bloom in the middle of the most immaculate yard.

I could go on, but for now I'll leave you with this little gem from my old neighborhood castle in Cheb:

A little weedy cheer...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Hesitant Attempt

I'm trying to figure out how to get pictures to post from my phone. The app acts like it should happen. It shows me the camera, lets me upload the photo of my choice, and shows me said photo inside the post. Unfortunately, the last time I tried to publish, all it did was send me an error message. I was not a fan.

This being said, I'm going to try giving it another go. If this works, it will be easier to write posts at work that include pictures. It will also make everything faster, since I take most of my pix on my phone these days. (Insert "Instagram addict" confession here.)

That should be more than plenty of build up, so here goes...

*okay, I know it didn't work, but I'm posting this anyway just to express my irritation,and hopefully to receive some help that will make it work in future :(

Monday, July 15, 2013

Something about Swedes

There is something about playing tour guide in the place where you live, that makes it all that more magical. I have been the host in Hong Kong, I have made the most of my knowledge of the Czech Republic to be a guide, but last week was my first opportunity to show off Oregon.

I guess that's not really true. I drug my husband across the world, hoping to fill him with the wonders of the US, but I was struggling so much to figure out what living here was going to mean to me that I was a very pathetic and irresponsible tour guide. In truth, most of the exploring he and I have done, has been new to me as well. The sort of blind wandering that happens when you move to a completely foreign landscape, only this was supposed to be my home.

Anyhow, this time we had a chance to take the things we have discovered over the past year, and share them with my Swedish friends. Thanks to a little schedule rearranging, we had three days off in a row, giving us a decent amount of time to really see some things.

So here's the crazy schedule we threw together. Malin and Anders arrived late on Monday, so we came straight home and got some sleep since we did have to work on Tuesday. After showing them the store, and getting a fresh take on what we might be able to do in the store, we sent them off with our car to enjoy Portland. After a horrible escapade in which the car keys went missing in the parking garage, they finally made it back to the shop and we took them to Southeast Portland to enjoy the food carts. I was curious to try the Viking cart, but they were closed, so we stuck with Mediterranean food this time around. We headed back home and had a nice evening in complete with some crazy American sweets, and Foosball.

Well, I was going to try to add photos, but I'm currently, having issues. What's new? So in the end, I might just end this here, as a pathetic portion of a blog, and wait until I can do things differently. I've had trouble adding photos from my phone before, but now it acts like I can, only not from my computer. Is there a reason they make these things so complicated? Honestly, you would think that technology would get easier, not increasingly more complicated. And here I am ranting about nothing whatsoever.

Ten, just when I thought I had it solved, I didn't so for now I'll leave it be, and come back soon with more about the visit, and hopefully some photos to boot.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Date Dress

I was never a boy crazy preteen, but by the time I was thirteen I was already certain that finding a man was going to be a challenge, and one I was eager for. In 7th grade, besides writing a full fledged soap opera/romance novel, I also wrote an essay about how my favorite pastime was looking for cute boys. Yeah. So, when high school passed, and I was still single (despite reaching the magically dateable age of 16) and then college got well underway with no beaus in sight, I became certain that my self imposed ugly title was working its curse, and I would never get my ring by Spring.

Then came the fateful day when Banana Republic came out with their elegant linen dress with the delicate coral toned crocheted straps and low cut back. It was a perfect dress. I tried it on, and felt like a dress like that was clearly date material. Covetous is an appropriate description for my feelings for said dress, however, the price tag was (ahem) cost prohibitive. So, rather than buying it, I came back over and over just to touch it and see that it was still there, and imagine that someday it might be mine. When, much to my surprise and thrill, the dress went on a 90% sale, and suddenly cost only $25, I could not have been more elated. There was still no safe in sight, but with the dress in my closet, I felt certain one was possible, just as I was possible...Had I known the dress would languish, unworn, for more than ten years, I would no doubt have been less cheered by its presence...

I bought the so called date dress in the summer of 1999. It dwelt in closets in California and Oregon, it took a trip to Hong Kong, then languished in Idaho, no doubt contemplating self destruction to escape moths. But then, oh then, in the summer of 2009 I finally had a reason to pack it up on a flight to the Czech Republic. It was a warm late summer afternoon when I slipped into my favorite dress accessorized with some of my grandmother's pearls, and went on a date!

A walk through an ancient square, a stroll through the forest by a quiet river, then sitting quietly on a picnic bench near a bright yellow observation tower, talking until it got so cold that my Love gave me his shirt to wear. I can still remember how it smelled of minty gum. The sun went down, and we scared ourselves with imaginary night sounds, and mostly ran back into town. Oh memories.

I wore my date dress on Sunday. No date this time. I don't really need an excuse anymore. It just seemed the thing to wear on a sunny day, and it complimented my new coral and gold nail polish. Sometimes it's the little things that make it all worth while.