Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Faces of a Father's Love

Dad, Daddy, Wad, Papa these were all names that my dad answered to. And for the record WAD rhymes with DAD not sod, just wanted to clarify for those who don’t know. My dad was the instigator of nicknames and our family is rife with them. My oldest sister, Robin was Dude, Jennifer was Spud, Kat was Kasser-did and I was Tiger, Wiger, Mud, all of the above. J

Dad’s been gone since September of 2001, I still miss him so much and I want to take a moment to honor his memory.

My dad was a study in contrasts. His gruff exterior belied a soft and tender heart that wasn’t displayed to many; my mom always said that he developed that gruffness in order to protect his tender side. He was a un-believer for all of my childhood and he had a habit of holding people to very high standards, particularly if they were Christians. At that time he didn’t claim to be a Christian but one of his favorite songs of all time was “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”

He loved music, motorcycles, card games, his family and cars and car parts, not necessarily in that order. He came from a family of ten kids, five boys and five girls. He had four daughters and never had a son, I think I was the closest he got to that in my own tomboy way.

My dad's family, he is top far left half hidden.

 Dad had a succession of shops over the years. When we still lived on North Shore Drive he had the “little garage.” While I was still young he built the “big garage” (we have improved our building naming skills since then…) that was roomy enough for three vehicles, all his tools and sundry car parts, a large desk and work benches galore. He had a man cave before it was trendy. The final, not to mention largest shop came when my parents moved to Lakewood Lane where Dad eventually built the shop of his dreams. It was 36x­­­­­­48 and held more cars and parts than was sane but he loved it and spent time in it every single day. In fact, when I was a kid I am pretty sure he hid out in whatever shop was current to avoid the inevitable ruckus that seemed to follow me around.

 Dad really came into his own after he retired. He spent 30 years working at Intalco because it was a good job, certainly not because he loved it. Once he retired he was able to putter around in his shop with his much loved cars, make the rounds for coffee with all his buddies, play cards with the grandkids and we even got him to go to garage sales for a while! His entire personality blossomed and softened as he grew older. He would burst into song at random moments. He would call me up and say, “Is this the Ranch? This is Geneva calling, we thought we would come out and see you guys.” I guess what I am trying to say is that a degree of spontaneity appeared that I had never really seen before.

My daddy
The following are memories from my sisters.

Robin remembers:  Dad walking out to the shop every day, ever so carefully carrying his red plastic cup full of coffee. Another of her memories is of dad bursting into my Everett house wearing the ever-present red Snap-on jacket and being all smiles.

Jennifer remembers: In 1969 when I went away to attend college at Biola, at the age of 17 I discovered how far away southern California is from Washington! It’s hard to describe what being homesick is like, but if you’ve ever been homesick you know exactly what I mean. I didn’t have two plug nickels to rub together, so a trip home wasn’t in the offing. Somehow, the homesick blues struck a chord in my dad’s heart; he always was a sucker for melancholic music, so I must’ve sung the blues pretty good. Mom was normally the letter writer but this time I got a note from dad. It was pretty short but it said it all. He wanted me to come home and a Greyhound bus ticket was included. He was never demonstrative or even verbal about his love for us kids, but this demonstration of his love is one I will never forget.

Kat remembers: His face lighting up when he smiled (not the toothpaste smile) and his laughter when he was really tickled by something said or done. He truly loved his grandkids. He let Brandon to stay with them when I was hospitalized. He polished my red Chrysler with TLC; I truly believe he loved keeping his classics pristine! Do you remember him polishing chrome for the Packard?
He loved and cared for each of us in his own way.
Singing with the country music, and singing when we were all together.
He brought Russel B into our lives and Russ became family.
Riding in the corvette with dad out and around the lake; speed on! I loved it.
He taught us to ride the 90 motorcycles.
Teaching Mel to ride a bike, no matter that she crashed the first time on her own when she realized dad was not there.Who taught me to ride? I have no memory of who it was.
His beautiful caring of mom; sometimes putting his foot down when he thought mom was taking on too much.
He was there when I lost Camdon.
How his relationship with mom grew through difficult times.Bickering with Mom; it was so funny to hear; you know what I mean.

This is just free flow of my thoughts as they come to mind.
He understood about my divorcing Bill and he supported of me.
4- Wheeling with dad when we were kids; I don't remember how many times this might have been, but I loved it. Teaching us how to shoot; busting my shoulder out when he had me try a rifle.
PLAYING CARDS; teaching us cribbage.Smear with mom and dad, smear at grandpa and grandma's house.Double deck pinochle, I learned by watching. And I play a mean hand of pinochle now!
It strikes me that anything I did with dad was a pleasure; maybe because we didn't have all that much time with him?
Camping in Canada with mom and dad; we played a lot of cribbage!
Financial help while I was going back to school to complete my RN. Don't know if this was mom behind it or not, but the checks were always written by dad, and once he even sent me a letter! Still have it. Memories.
Buying the blue bronco from dad. I loved that rig. Big sound, big power, ooh la la! Amazing, I bought 3 different vehicles from him.
Meeting dad, just to see him when he drove bus. We saw very little of him when he was driving bus.

Seeing his face for the last time.

*End sister’s remembering.*

As has been pointed out, my dad wasn’t particularly demonstrative but I never for one moment doubted his love. One of the hardest days of my life was the day I had to see his face for the last time. I never got to say good-bye.

We were raised with classic country music as part of the tapestry of our lives so I have included a video of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. Enjoy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Reading Mystique

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.” ~ Jacqueline Kennedy ~

I have a crystal clear memory of my older sisters reading when I was a little girl. I wasn't able to read and I just knew that I was missing out on something crazy-cool. Since I didn't know how to read I did the next best thing, I would take books and run my finger along the lines reading the words that I did know. It is puzzling to me that I kept at it because the stories, when read through my lens, amounted to a lot of, ‘the, and, of, it, if, so, to,' and well, you get the idea. Not so exciting. Unlike now, in those days kids didn't enter kindergarten reading War and Peace; first grade was the place for that. It was with great anticipation that I went to first grade convinced that I would come home finally able to read all those books that, up to this point, were like buried treasure that I was unable to dig up. But as you can probably guess I didn't come home reading that first day. Truthfully, I didn't learn to read until second grade despite my intense desire to learn. I had a first grade teacher who didn't much care for me and who punished me for not understanding how to do something by keeping me in from recess to "think about what I didn't understand." It was a sad circumstance that I may blog about in the future. I somehow managed to make it through first grade, never once being able to read. By the second week of grade two, I was not only reading but I had also been moved to an advanced reading class and I never looked back.

             A favorite book of mine given to me by my oldest sister


Hansel and Gretel

The pictures are so well done and beautiful

Despite my bumpy beginning with reading, I have had a life-long love for books. We always had books at home, my mom loved to read, and of course my sisters read. At one point, my sister, Kat, was reading All Creatures Great and Small, while she was sick with mononucleosis, and one minute she would be laughing uproariously, and the next needing a tissue to dry her eyes. Word of advice: if you have never read James Herriot’s books, walk, don’t run, to the nearest bookstore (or just log on to Amazon) and get the first in his series which is the one mentioned above. You will not be sorry, although you may rediscover your solar plexus. =)

My mom read out loud to us and the variety was something to behold. She regaled us with the outlandish tales of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty Macdonald, thrilling missionary stories that captured our imagination, countless adventures of the Sugar Creek Gang and so many more. Even as adults we loved to hear mom read. It is never wasted time to read to your children. You will open up worlds, vistas, situations, and people that will broaden their horizons and stay in their memory for a life time.

We were fortunate to have a branch library about two blocks from where we lived. I am pretty sure that I read every book that small library offered. I would drag home as many books as I could carry and devour them long before the date due stamped inside the front cover. I was an energetic child, (people who knew me would probably see this as a gross understatement) but I always read and living in Washington there were plenty of days where outdoor play wasn’t an option.

I didn't discover this book until I was homeschooling my girls
and because of it I still would love to learn to draw and paint nature.
So inspiring and gorgeous.
As a younger child, many summers I was fortunate to be able to visit my aunt and uncle on their 100-acre wood farm. A lot of my time was spent outdoors swinging from a rope in the hay barn, exploring in the woods, or riding the horse. But on the days that rain came to visit there was a perfect alternative. Downstairs in the basement of their old farmhouse was a room which was covered from floor to ceiling with bookshelves, jam packed with books. In the middle was an old over-stuffed chair with a cozy afghan. My aunt and uncle raised five kids so there were plenty of books to read and I whiled away many happy hours in that room.

 While many people embrace the philosophy that children should only read classics, I cannot agree with them. Children should be taught to love reading, and great care should be used to avoid making it an ordeal. I am not saying they should be allowed to read drivel, not one bit. What I am saying is that if you allow them to read for enjoyment and gradually expose them to classics and other good reading material you will have given them a precious gift. Samuel Johnson said it best, “A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.” Come to think of it, this is a great philosophy for education in general. And that, my friends, is a topic for another day.

Little Red Riding Hood.
This is what they called a "Peep Show" book. It is amazing in its 3-D depth and detail.
 Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of my photography skills. Still one one my all-time favorites.

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”

                                                                   ~ A C Grayling ~

Friday, March 16, 2012

Making Memories

Is there anything more delightful than the conversations that take place between an adult and a young child? The following are little snippets of conversations between Scott, me, and our grandson, Janzen.

Me-Me to J:  What would you like for breakfast?
J: Pizza.

J to Papa: Where is all your hair?
Papa: Your mommy made me lose it all.
J talking to himself: I need to put on my glasses so I can see. (Of course, J doesn't wear glasses he just hears the various grandparents say this).

Scene: J and Papa sitting side-by-side on the couch.

J: Say 'scuse me.
Papa: 'Scuse me.

Papa: I don't know how to play this game.
J: You just have to move the stylus, hon. (Said in his most patient 3 year old voice).

Me-Me: Let's wash you up.
J: I don't like being clean, I LIKE being dirty.

And randomly:   J: Can you help me get back to the main menu?

We had a wonderful week with Janzen at our house. My heart is full and I hope that J will have memories of it for a long time to come. He discovered our pool and spent a lot of time in it with his Papa. We read stories, J is a big fan of Dr. Seuss. We walked to the park where J made a new friend named Blaze that played on the equipment with him and Papa. We played with J's innumerable matchbox cars, made roads out of rocks on the patio and had a substantial excavation site. He is our first grandchild and such a delight to have around.

Kallista who is affectionately referred to as Bobber, Bobbi or any derivative you can think of,  is a water baby through and through. She floated around the pool happily for long periods of time. While she didn't stay with us we got to see her quite a bit and we were delighted to spend time with her. Though she looks a lot like J in many ways she definitely has her own little personality, mostly a sunny one. While she had a cold while she was here and was teething she was still a happy little girl. She loves her brother and works hard to keep up with him. She is just this side of walking and can get anywhere she wants to go without any trouble. Next time we see her she will no doubt be walking and giving J a run for his money! Kallista is a delightful treasure and I feel so blessed to have her in my life.
Sadly, our time had to come to  and end. Yesterday we drove Heather and the kids to the airport and said good-bye, I managed not to cry until we had left the airport. It was 1000 times worse when we got home because there were reminders of J in every room. Today has been a quiet day, too quiet. One grows used to the childish chatter and amazing laughter of a child very quickly and although Facetime is a wonderful thing it cannot replace the real presence of a child. We love you Janzen and Kallista, can't wait till next time! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

J and the Waterworks

This little guy is a real terrorist when it comes to the garden hose; He may not be tall but what he lacks in  height he makes up for with deadly aim. Once he figured out how to turn the hose on, there was no turning back. This particular day, he discovered the "mist" function and he had a blast soaking himself and anyone else who came within shooting distance.     

On another day he helped Me-Me wash her rig and it was toss-up who got the better wash job, Me-Me or the rig. At one point (AFTER he had soaked me) I turned around to find him in the suds bucket, sitting on the edge and scrubbing himself with the brush for the wheels. He's a very helpful and thoughtful little boy.

In the picture below you can see our other little terrorist, Maverick, our toy poodle. Janzen and Maverick are often partners and I am still unsure of which one of them plots their crimes.

And don't let this picture fool you, they both look innocent but looks can be oh-so-deceiving! This is probably immediately prior to their diabolical scheme to take over the neighborhood.

So, if you are minding your own business in your neck of the woods and you see these two coming your way, walk, don't run, to the nearest water shut-off or grab a large beach towel and prepare to have your second shower of the day!

NOTE: This is a blog post that I thought  I had lost! It is from the summer of 2010 and I thought it was worth posting.  =) For any of you who don't know this our grandson, Janzen.

A Mother's Love

I love the smell of freshly painted, well, anything. It took me the longest time to figure out why this was true.

I was the youngest of four girls when I was growing up. And no, I don't feel like I got the short end of the stick for being the youngest. Sure, I wore hand-me-downs occasionally, but I also had many clothes that were custom-made for me by my mother. Mind you, I wasn't smart enough to realize that at the time, but I have come to understand and appreciate it since then. But I digress. As a child growing up in a family of six with four bedrooms, two things were true: Someone had to share a bedroom with someone else, and while my parents never seemed to mind sharing, we siblings were less excited about it. And second, the youngest child was the last one's opinion to be polled regarding bedroom choices (or anything else, for that matter). All that to say that when my two older sisters moved out a whole new world was opened up and I got to move from my less-than-coveted bedroom downstairs to the grown-up world of upstairs bedrooms. Trust me, this was a big deal, of course, I was still second in line for choices so my sister Kat, got the smaller room with the door that locked, which worked great for her. Unfortunately, she had to pass through my much larger, but less private bedroom, to get to her room, but that is a story for another time.
There are many things I could tell you about my bedroom, all of them cool, but there was no heat to the upstairs, so truthfully, it was far cooler than I would have liked. Back in those days I was still the recipient of my great-grandmother’s annual flannel nightgown (a tradition that my mom pragmatically continued) which was most useful for wrapping around the lower extremities to aid in the prevention of frostbite and least useful for the quick escape to the warmth of the downstairs, come morning. My room was not your typical 10 x 10 that you have in more modern homes and there was nothing square about it. It had alcoves where the windows were and most of the walls were sloped (which was murder if you sat up to abruptly in bed). Another big plus was that the walls were so old and beat up that my parents really didn't care what I pinned  up, so the whole room was a bulletin board, which was amazing (and cool), but not so pretty.

I don't remember how it all came about but eventually my parents decided to remodel the upstairs. My favorite color at the time was lilac and I wanted everything to be lilac. We had a huge lilac bush that I loved to pick bouquets from, I had a lilac solid-perfume, pens with purple ink, I even had a pair of purple and lilac striped pants, and yes, they were cool. Needless to say that room was going to be lilac or I wasn't the youngest daughter-with-her-daddy-wrapped-around-her-little-finger. Unfortunately for my mom, my dad wasn't the one making my dream come true. Those walls were old, beat up, and had several layers of wallpaper that all had to be dealt with. It was a monumental task that my mom took in stride and I certainly never heard her complain about it. I have no recollection of how long it went on, what I do remember is the day it was completed. I came home from school and my mom couldn't wait to show me. We went upstairs and the most beautiful lilac bedroom was revealed. The walls were perfectly smooth and painted in the most beautiful shade of lilac that you can imagine, mom had made matching lilac sheers for the windows and I can't tell you what was on my bed, but I know that it matched. Permeating it all was the smell of fresh paint.

Since that day I have always loved the smell of fresh paint because I understand that the smell of fresh paint is equivalent to a mother's love and sacrifice.

NOTE: This isn’t my bedroom but the color is right. As far as I am aware, there are no pictures of my beautiful Lilac Bedroom.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I made this sign recently and no, I didn't knit it. ;) I wish it was a better picture so you could see the antique finish I put on the (already antique) piece of wood. One wonders about that, doesn't one? Anyway, another thing you can't tell from the picture is that the piece of wood is actually curved which made it very interesting to figure out how to hang without it looking, well, dumb.

The wood is unique in that it used to be part of an old chair (which hopefully explains the odd shape) that has been in my family as far back as I can remember. Despite that, I deemed it no longer usable as a chair but definitely salvageable for my newest endeavor, making signs.

I spent quite a lot of time attempting to make the finish look antique and then it was just a matter of how to paint the letters on. This hobby is definitely in it's nascent stage and I am excited to see how I improve and progress.

I already have a large stash of antique wood, most of which used to be furniture just waiting for me to have the time and inspiration. Scott is starting to have some nagging worries about our remaining furniture.

 I wanted to start with a one-word sign so that I could work out the bugs that are inevitable with any new project. Because of the various issues that were unique to this piece of wood, I may do another one-word project on a more typical piece of wood. Then it is on to something more ambitious which I will be sure to share when it comes to fruition.

I am thinking it would also be cool to use old shingles or fencing.  Right about now Scott is very grateful that we have a block fence...