August 31, 2010

No Lunchbox for School

My dear husband gathered up his notebook and pen, cell phone and glasses this morning, and off he went to his orientation at Lane Community College. Remembering my motherly musings about being an older student on campus and enjoying it, I watched him get in his truck and drive off.

I had my turn three years ago when I stepped out to learn something new. I chose my top two favorite classes in the entire course catalog, and decided that if I only had ONE term of school, these would be the most valuable to me: Microsoft Word and Computer Fundamentals. Both of these fed my hunger and love for words and seemed an easy beginning for me. My self-confidence was lagging a little bit, so "easy" was important to me. From that point I grew to where I am now working in my dream job at home from on my computer.

Now it's his turn. His daughter-in-law joked with him last night that he needed a lunch pail, and we reminisced about the tin lunch pails of the 60s when we were in elementary school. Mine had a conservative plaid design, his had "Fireball XL5" printed on it (a children's TV show). Those were important things to us 50 years ago.

New beginnings, new things to learn, overwhelming adventures. Here we go again!


August 27, 2010

Internet Woes

Tears of frustration—is that what happens when the internet is down? My goodness, how did I become so attached that I would feel this way when it’s not available to me? Part of the problem was that I was functioning in the personal fear that I was to blame, that I’m not smart enough to figure out how to fix it. Too many steps and things to try, it was all terribly overwhelming for me.

I spent most of the morning yesterday troubleshooting, going through the steps I’d learned in my courses at LCC. Finally, I had unhooked and rehooked the modem and router so many times that I was afraid I’d tear the cord apart in my distress. When I identified the fact I was getting angry I shut everything down. I knew my work was not going to get done that day.

I’m rather embarrassed by it now, but I went through a progression of worries like “what if” terrorists controlled internet service and shut the whole country down? “What if” I couldn’t work any longer? “What if ” my house slid down the hill into the Long Tom? “What if” all my hair falls out when I get old?

Rational or irrational, I unplugged my worries from my hub (my head) and turned my eyes back to reality; to Jesus, my Prince of Peace. The Bible says we are all like sheep. I think that’s very kind, because yesterday I behaved more like a distressed chicken.

-< -< -< -< -< -< -< ---

August 25, 2010

Down by the Riverside

Just thought I'd share a multi-generational family moment. Here's a picture with my parents, husband, son, daughter-in-law, daughter, friend, and grandchildren all cooling off by the river at Harrisburg, OR. It was a rare occasion when we all could come together with just 2 hours' notice. A sweet, relaxing time.

I've been 100% guilty of neglecting family time. I am mending my ways now, and putting other things aside to be with them more. You're welcome to join us; just give me a call next time the temperatures go above 90 degrees. Let's go get our feet wet!


August 21, 2010

Elder Disruptions in Church

Thwack! The old lady's cane came down hard on the top of the pew 2 rows ahead of her. She was aiming for an older gentleman's head, believe it or not! I didn't see it, but I was told her first shot had hit home. Evangelist Tim was well into his sermon and was struggling to stay on track while Mr. Wayne, the older gentleman, repeatedly turned to converse with the boy next to him on the front row. Apparently Mr. Wayne was distracting more than just the speaker, and this lady took it upon herself to reprimand him! Thwack!

I had found Mr. Wayne a delight to converse with before the service started. So many interesting stories you can hear from a 94-year-old; driving a model T when he was 9 years old, outliving three wives. I guess he just had more to say.

As I leaned discreetly to view the goings on, my mouth dropped open. Pastor Fred was sliding into the pew next to Mr. Wayne with his finger on his lips "shushing" the older saint. It just never occurred to me that this would be necessary for someone other than a child, but here it was in a church that boasts a sizable majority of elderly worshipers (I didn't realize till then just how young my home church is).

The speaker continued without missing a beat while Pastor Fred continued to encourage Mr. Wayne, but I had to turn my face to the wall so no one could see my amusement. My grandmother, a pastor's wife, called this "getting tickled." I was tickled, all right!

I learned later that Mr. Wayne lives in an Alzheimer's unit and has no one to talk to reasonably except when Pastor Fred brings him to church. He calls his home "the crazy place." You can be sure I thanked God for his old friends, but I did suggest to Pastor Fred that he may need to have the elders check their canes at the door before services.


August 16, 2010

A Boy and His Tool

He was on to me. He knew this grandma would try to get him interested in an adventure that he might not like, not at first anyway. But we went out the door into the west Texas heat and played on our chalk drawings in the driveway. He needed to work on his hop-scotch proficiency and I was recruited to improve the tracing of his silhouette with a cape and power-charged boots so it would look more like Iron Man. Then we looked around for something else to do.

I decided to lead him across the street to satisfy my curiosity about an empty house that had been cleaned up the day before. (That old nesting instinct hasn't died off in me yet!) We didn't intrude, but I noticed further down the dead-end street some trees that appeared to be a park. I coaxed him along "just a little farther" until we came to a ditch that he recognized as a place where he and his dad had looked for a geocache* treasure. We agreed that the area appeared a bit spooky so we turned back.
"Look at that, Ayden. There's your treasure!" He picked up the slightly rusty vise grip tool and I figured out how to open it. After a good scrub I showed him how to snip a stick in two. Later his dad gave him some real man work to accomplish - snipping off the remaining pins from a broken honor guard medallion he could no longer wear on his uniform. Then he gave it to me!

This mama never tires of little gifts from her "boys."

*geocaching, I've been told, is looking for items that someone has buried and entered the GPS coordinates to on a Web site in order for others to find them.


August 11, 2010

Bowling Pins and a Quiet Heart

In the raucous of bowling balls pounding the floor and pins tumbling and crashing I enjoyed some quiet moments in my head tonight. Aaron and Sarah were enjoying their games and their friends, and Ayden was occupied with the business of getting his ball down the lane and watching the score. That allowed me to crawl into my mind for some thinking time.

1. Tomorrow is my last full day in San Angelo and I don't know when I'll see my son and his family again.
2. Aaron & Sarah are feeling a sense of loss with the eminent departure of several of their friends who are heading out to new assignments (military). We're all rather somber tonight.
3. I'm looking forward to getting back into my strength training, my work and worship ministry.
4. There are lifestyle changes awaiting me at home that could be overwhelming, almost as much as when I was preparing for my wedding 35 years ago - the most serious lifestyle change!

It seems remarkable, but with all of this there is quietness in my heart. It doesn't matter where I am or what is happening around me, bowling ball raucous and all, I have been given a place I can go where the God who does not change holds me always. I cannot imagine anything more valuable than that!


August 9, 2010

Caverns of Sonora, Texas

Yesterday we scooted along in the Honda for about 2 hours to Sonora, Texas. As a child I had visited Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico and thought it might be a fun trip for my Texas family, but Aaron found information on the Caverns of Sonora which was much closer!

After the tour we spent good money for three bags of dirt to strain in the sluice box like we were panning for gold. Sure enough, we found numerous bits of gemstones and pretty rocks. In the gift shop my son and I resisted the impulse to buy a rock for for his grandfather. What kind of rock do you buy for a guy who has just about one of everything already?


August 7, 2010

A Walking/Dancing Tour of San Angelo

My son, his wife, and my grandson took me on a walking tour of downtown San Angelo to show me some storefronts and historical buildings today. I'm such a wimp in the heat, but since it's just part of life in west Texas I embraced the challenge. Sarah found some nice things at a couple boutiques, Aaron enjoyed watching her, and Ayden and I looked into some kaleidoscopes and chiming clocks.

Most of the places where we stopped were filled with fine glass, ceramics and other breakables, so more reserved behavior was called for. But one of our last stops was at a re-sale shop with a more relaxed environment. At one point the proprietor even egged me on with some teasing. After a quick look-around I was pretty well convinced I wouldn't find anything I needed to buy, so Ayden and I played a low-key game of hide and seek around the racks.

Then the music from the radio started affecting my feet. Was it dancing? YUP! I took a few steps here and there, and then pretty soon Ayden started in. We did a little two-step together, then he stole the show! He bowed and kissed the back of my hand, then returned to his footwork. A couple nearby shoppers smiled and remarked about the fun. The proprietor said she'd thought of moving racks out of the way.

Moments later we stepped out into the blazing sunshine with a tired boy and packages in tow.

Thank you, God for moments of pure joy expressing itself in a boy and his grandma!


August 6, 2010

Chalk Giants and Iron Man

Ayden and I hung around home today, so before the heat set in we made our own world with sidewalk chalk in the driveway. It's fascinating to enter into boys' play.

1. The first thing we created was a road. What guy would be happy without a way to go places?
2. The second thing of importance was a WalMart store, probably for buying more Iron Man toys, I'd guess.
3. Then we decided Iron Man needed a home, so Ayden made the city of Dallas at the end of the driveway and I drew a garage for his motorcycle to park in.
4. I suggested a gas station, but it was most likely a "girl thing" to think that a motorcycle could run out of gas. Don't bother him with such details!
5. At that point he was losing interest in my drawing. Drawing is my thing, not his, so in order to re-engage him I asked him to lay down on the ground so I could trace him and make a giant for Iron Man to fight. Then I lay down and we made a scary grandma giant. I haven't quite figured out how a grandma can be scary, but I'll consider that later.

Now if I had been playing with chalk by myself I would have drawn flowers or trees, and probably a cabin in the woods with a chimney and horses grazing nearby. I appreciate words, so there probably would have been an inspirational quote or scripture somewhere in my drawing. I'm a girl, and an older one at that, so I had to disregard my idyllic scenario and stay plugged in to a 7-year-old boy's world of battles and victories and challenges and bravery.

When I'm back in Oregon I can work on my cabin.


August 5, 2010

"Daddy Doesn't Go the Wrong Way"

Being a little sleep deprived did not help with my anxiety about navigating San Angelo for the first time this morning. The sun was threatening to pass 100 degrees by mid afternoon, so there was anxiety about the heat. Add to that my anxiety about driving someone else's car for the first time with someone else's child in tow. A little praying and a little singing--then I felt better. We gotta go now or I'll chicken out as it gets hotter, I thought.

Though the GPS unit had been demonstrated and well explained, I needed the comfort of finding a map and seeing the layout in my head myself. I can't handle too many new things at once. Don't tell me to head east, tell me the name of the road to watch for. Don't give me a list, draw me a picture. That's just how it works best for my brain.

I found a Google map and charted my course. Once on the road I thought at one point I might be leaving town and heading for Christoval. Deep concentration brought me through and we eventually arrived at Wal-Mart. Only twice did Ayden say, "you should turn there, that's the way!" after passing a street.

It was looking good for my nerves when I finished off my shopping list and let Ayden peruse the toy aisle. He enjoyed educating me about the things he wants and doesn't have. (We're all the same when we're shopping with grandma, aren't we!) After being thoroughly informed we headed back to the car.

As he buckled himself a look of Ayden-horror came over his face. "Where's Iron Man?" So we locked up the car again and retraced our steps through the store to where our last DON'T GOTTA lesson was. There he was on the bottom shelf. I informed Iron Man that he had completed his mission and he needed to stay with commander Ayden from now on.

I tried to breathe easier on our way home by noting the flat landscape and other differences from what I see in Oregon, but Ayden wasn't too interested. That is, until he recognized the street I should have turned on. Google hadn't informed me that the name of the street wasn't on the exit sign homeward-bound! He wanted to be distressed, but I assured him it was normal to be clueless in a new city. Daddy doesn't go the wrong way, but sometimes grandma does.

So now grandma is home, Ayden is home, Dad & Sarah have had lunch and returned to work. My grandson is resting sweetly in his bed, and I will be in that state soon - releasing my anxiety. God can help us get to that place of rest, even when we've gone the wrong way. Yawn!


August 4, 2010

50 Years of Sprinkling

I ran through the sprinkler with my grandson today, and I haven’t done that in Texas in 50 years! I don’t know what this neighborhood thinks of me, but I hope they see how much fun people can have if they take a little time to play with a child!

Ayden’s San Angelo parents and I enjoyed another sweet bonding time till rather late last night, so I got up too late this morning for Plan A: get a jog before they leave for work. Consequently, I kicked into Plan B: work out/play with Ayden. He played in the sprinkler alone for awhile as I jogged up and down the street in front of his house. Then I joined him! I slipped my swimsuit and my skirt covering on and had a blast teaching him how to gargle, not get it up his nose, not spit it out on grandma, and manipulate the spray with the airplane pose. We observed how only one side of the tree was getting wet, while at the same time we were totally soaked!

I sloshed indoors to get some towels and my camera and we played for another half hour getting some wonderful shots of a grandma and a kid enjoying the water.

Oh yeah, I had also served my country by washing the car for a couple of Air Force sergeants (my kids) before the water sports began. Water work before water play! That all happened before breakfast and before his Grandpa was out of bed back in Oregon. Not bad for an old girl, eh?


August 3, 2010

The Pleasure of Washing a Plate

I dug my apron out of my luggage this morning and went to work pushing counter-top appliances around to wipe and scrub. I guess I feel enough a part of this new family that I can start helping tidy up.

I don't know how to describe the simple pleasure of washing the dishes. Being here with my son's family has made me reminisce about my "younger mother" days. I wore the badge of HOMEMAKER proudly, because to me it meant that my husband and I were in agreement that this was the best investment we could make together. We supported each other, and it was all for love.

"You shall love the Lord your your neighbor as yourself."

So I washed the plates, swept the floor, managed the garbage, did some laundry and played Mario Brothers and Wii games with Ayden. Some of these things are not my most favorite activities, but love causes me to live outside of self. That is my joy.


August 2, 2010

Trudging Along in San Angelo

My grandson borrowed his Dad’s “O” (U of O) hat and he was ready to go. But his Oregon grandma required a little more time than that in order to fill the backpack with water bottles, sunscreen, a trail mix bar, cell phone, handkerchief, camera, lip balm and coin purse. My wide-brimmed hat was planted on my head, chin strap cinched down, sandals buckled. Ayden wasn’t sure he appreciated the idea of having to walk to the park today, and I was a little concerned myself. He preferred riding in the car, but today there was no car available. And it is out of my comfort zone to explore a neighborhood I’m not familiar with when the temperature is due to reach 100°. Definitely out of my comfort zone! But this day was a “new beginning” day, my first day in San Angelo with 7-year-old Ayden.

When we headed down the road it didn’t take long for me to become swarmed with memories of my childhood in El Paso. I’d forgotten about the heat and the days spent in our tiny plastic pool, and everyone moving at a slower pace. Not long after we crossed the street we found a marble and a plastic golf ball, and Ayden pushed them down deep into his pocket. Those would be treasures we would play with later when I got out the marble shooters I’d brought.

We explored an empty lot that bordered a small lake, walked on the curb, took water bottle breaks, arrived at the park to find a committee of vultures picking apart the carcass of a cat, made silly noises in the play structure’s megaphone, shared the trail mix bar, rested in the shade of trees I don’t know the names of and sat on grass that is coarser than ours at home.

Heading home we counted the streets to mark our progress. We stopped often to sit on a curb and wipe the sweat off our red faces. I remarked that there seemed to be far more red trucks in Texas than in Oregon, and far fewer blue or brown ones. And I thought possibly fewer people take walks in Texas. But then, these observations came only after one day in San Angelo.

After we cooled off in the air conditioning we made the treasures we found into a game to occupy even more of our together time. I stacked up the pop cans, placed the feather on top with the plastic golf ball, and he shot the marble and sent them flying.

One thing great about being a grandma - more freedom to play!