Saturday, December 29, 2012
Back in June I was engrossed in reading The Invisible Bridge, a story about a young Jewish man who is caught up in the horrors of World War II and beyond. The more than 600-page-long book took me into another place and time, and the author Julie Orringer created a world I couldn't leave behind. I highly recommend it. My sister Norma Jean also recommended that I read The Warmth of Other Suns, another tome, this one on the subject of the migration of blacks from the Deep South to other parts of the United States during the twentieth century. Isabel Wilkerson follows the lives of three people from their original homes to where they ended up. I loved this book. All three of the individuals were real people. A truly wonderful story.
I also read a book I enjoyed on introversion, which was recommended by a blogging friend: Quiet: The Power of Introverts. As a pronounced extrovert, I have always been curious about the inner lives of introverts, and this book confirmed a belief I have long held that introverts have many advantages over us extroverts. It was very educational. Then I read Jonah Lehrer's book on How We Decide, which I enjoyed very much (although the author has now become rather controversial, since he apparently seemed to plagiarize much of his work). However, the book was really engrossing and well written.
The last two books I recommend are Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, a very honest and revealing book written by Cheryl Strayed about how she decided to try to clean up her life by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail solo, when she had never backpacked a day in her life. It became an Oprah Book this year. And finally, I read The Life of Pi after seeing the movie. Since I saw the movie first, I had several aspects of the story clarified for me when I read the book. I think I actually enjoyed the book much more than the movie, although the movie was really good. I can understand how people must have wondered how the book could possibly be captured on film. But it was.
I will also do one of these reviews for my favorite movies of the year, but for now, this is already plenty long enough!
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Stimpson Family Nature Reserve in Bellingham with the Senior Trailblazers. It's a beautiful pristine park on the outskirts of the city that is maintained by the Whatcom Land Trust. The core of the park was donated to Bellingham in 2000 by the seven children of Edward and Catherine Stimpson. Bikes and dogs are not allowed in the park; it's a nature reserve and they would disrupt the ecology of the area.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
One year when I was home visiting my parents and siblings for the holidays, my sister Norma Jean and I went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I think I had been married for some time and away from home for awhile, but I really don't remember when it was for sure. My parents had two distinct families, and the youngest three were all six or under at this time, while Norma Jean and I were adults.
When we went out the door, Mama and Daddy had begun the Christmas Eve preparations for the young ones in the house (my brother and sisters) who had finally gone to bed. They had begun to assemble a bicycle for our brother Buz and had to finish wrapping and putting Santa's gifts under the tree. It was a warm and happy scene. Off we went to Midnight Mass.
When we returned, the scene was anything but happy. The entire living room was scattered with glasses half-covered in salt (from partially consumed margaritas), and the bike was still only half assembled in the living room. The entire scene was, in a word, a nightmare. And our parents had stumbled into their bedroom and crawled into bed. Apparently in the midst of their tasks, some friends had come over to visit and our parents had gotten quite drunk and forgotten what tonight meant to their young children.
We were aghast. For a few minutes we wandered through the living room and kitchen and wondered what to do. We decided that we would be Christmas elves and fix things. Norma Jean set to the task of reading directions on how to assemble the bicycle, and I began to clean things up: we toiled for several hours before we inspected our work and called it good. Norma Jean had learned how to follow arcane directions and actually put the bike together! (I was more impressed by this than I let on at the time.)
Well, in the morning the kids came downstairs to find that Santa had indeed come during the night, and that his elves had done their work quite well. It is one of the more satisfying Christmas memories that I share with my sister. We still smile about it. I had to write to Norma Jean to see if my memory of the event matched hers, and it pretty much did. She said,
Maybe that's where I got the start of loving the feeling of accomplishment when I read directions and put things together. . . . We cleaned up and set up the living room to be a real Christmas when everyone got up the next morning. It was certainly memorable.Over the years, Christmas has lost much of its magic for me. I don't like what I see happening to Christmas these days, but I am sure that there are still many parents, and Santas, and elves, making things happen for others.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
|Local library Christmas tree
Now I'm home and have downloaded my pictures and am busy writing this post as I listen to the continuing rain. After having been out and about, it sure is nice to be warm and cozy now! Until next time, I hope you stay warm and cozy too.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
|End of October but it sure looked like Christmas
I find it fascinating that as the earth moves around the sun in its annual path, the days closest to the winter solstice get shorter and shorter until here in the Seattle area our days are so short that the sun comes up around 8:00am and goes down a little after 4:00pm. But in the summer, the sun comes up a little after 5:00am and goes down after 9:00pm. I sometimes think what it must be like up there near the Arctic Circle where the sun doesn't come up at all in the winter and doesn't go down in the summer! Want to know what happens in your area? I found this time and date calculator on line, which can be modified for the month and location. It's pretty cool.
Just in case the Mayans are right and the world ends on Friday, I'm hoping it won't be until after my massage. And it's a good thing I took the above picture already, since it sure looks a lot like Christmas. I woke to snowflakes falling this morning, but mostly it's been rain. I think I'll be writing a new post on Thursday, but you never know.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
|Lighting candles for my departed beloveds
I was only 22 when my son Stephen died of spinal meningitis. It was inconceivable to me back then that some day I would not only recover, but that I would be grateful for those thirteen months he was with me. And when my son Chris died at the age of 40, I was almost sixty and had a much easier time of it. Not easy, just easier. And now I think of those parents and grandparents of these lost children and wish there were words that could ease the pain. There are no words.
How many mornings I would wake thinking that I had just awakened from a bad dream, only to find that the bad dream did not dissipate with the dawn. I had to go through every single hour and day with only my broken heart and the daily act of living to get me through. But even though when you are in severe pain the thought that it will get better is no relief at all, it is true: time softens and changes the loss until you can smile and laugh again.
And then something like this makes me wake in the night, crying and feeling the breaks in my heart as if they happened yesterday. It did happen yesterday... didn't it? Crying again... but I do know I will recover, and I wish I could tell those parents and grandparents that although they will be permanently changed by this loss, they will find joy in life again some day.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
|Under the canopy at Little Mountain summit
The sun is setting at the present time around 4:15pm, but in a few weeks the light will begin to return. Today we actually saw some sun breaks, but they were few and far between. We'll be keeping fit together, whatever the weather throws our way! It was a good day with good friends.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
|Taken by Theresa, our excellent waitperson
I had the choice of a shrimp cocktail or another appetizer (I chose the cocktail), three different salads (the bleu cheese salad was delicious), several entrees (rainbow trout was my choice), and that luscious dessert or ice cream (how could I pass up such an elegant dessert for pedestrian ice cream?). It was a wonderful meal and I enjoyed myself immensely. Today, however, I am feeling just the tiniest bit of guilt for my overindulgence. I'm remembering the good time we had instead.
I guess I've milked this special birthday for all I can, and now it's time to settle in to becoming an exuberant septuagenarian. The years go by so quickly these days that it won't be very long before I'm looking back at the decade and wondering where it went! What wonders lie around the next corners of time? Hopefully I'll find out...
Saturday, December 8, 2012
|All pictures taken with my iPhone
Today I left my regular camera behind and played with my iPhone camera and find that the quality of the pictures is quite acceptable. After a brisk five-mile walk, I went to the Farmers' Market, which has only three more weeks to go before closing up shop until April. I'll bet the vendors are looking forward to the break.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
|Wet Trailblazers at Larrabee State Parking Lot
|Peggy, Rita (behind), Linda, Ward
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
|Bellingham Bay through the evergreens
My usual Tuesday routine is to take two classes back to back, a step class that always gets my sweat pouring, and then a strength-and-tone class, lifting weights and performing lots of floor exercises. I was struggling while using my usual weights and found that I had to lower the intensity of the step routine as well. I just didn't have it, so I'm a little anxious about tomorrow's ten-mile hike with lots of elevation gain. It should be okay, but I won't know for sure until then. I may be bringing up the rear instead of charging ahead with the leaders. This particular hike is also muddy, and we've had quite a bit of rain lately, so I'll be prepared.
Last night I realized that I hadn't written a post on here since Saturday. I usually try to post three a week, and tomorrow I'll be posting pictures of our Thursday adventure. It bothers me when I forget, although I don't think anybody else is losing any sleep over it. Some bloggers write a post every single day; there's no way I could do that, what would I write about? Other bloggers have no particular schedule and just write when they are moved to do so. I wish I could be so cavalier, but it's not in my nature.
Here's a picture of Lost Lake taken in January 2011. As you can see, we have beautiful green scenery all year round. I wonder what tomorrow will bring? The one thing I'm not expecting is sunshine!
Saturday, December 1, 2012
|My birthday portrait with the Fairhaven Walkers
Yes, it's true: today is my 70th birthday, and where my 60th was painful, I am so grateful for my life and my health right now that I feel unbelievably lucky to be here today. It doesn't hurt a bit! Now I am back in my warm and cozy apartment with my partner, getting ready to enjoy the rest of the day together.
This is a milestone that neither of my parents met. Daddy died at 62 and Mama at 69. All through the past year it has been on my mind, and while I was with my family members, more than one of them remarked on the significance of being the first in our immediate family to make it. My son Chris only made it to 40, so again I am feeling incredibly fortunate. And to have found a community of like-minded folks here in Bellingham also makes my heart swell with gratitude.
Yes, three score and ten! Whoever said that would be a complete life? I've got lots of living still to do, I think!