Monday, November 22, 2010

Vintage Kinship

I am not a very patient person.

 We belong to an Oregon winery's wine club, and their latest newsletter shared that a wine expert thought that one of their pinot noirs was good, but would be better in ten years or so. OK, I'll most likely be alive in ten years, but waiting for the "better" for almost ten years?
Recently, I waited three whole years to drink a bottle of wine that I had purchased at the winery during my fortieth birthday weekend.  Several weeks ago, I shared that wine with good friends, most of whom I have known twenty years. We savored every last drop of that bottle of wine.
Three whole years of waiting for "better."
Over thirty-five years ago, I began my friendship with my sister-in-law, Lindsay.  A beautiful, brown eyed girl who had stolen the affection of my brother, Doug. Ten years or so past, and another beautiful brown eyed girl, was wooed by my brother, Bob. Thus, beginning my friendship with my sister-in-law, Jan. Together, we ladies  have shared many of life's markers including weddings, births, and deaths.  Together, we've experienced life's joy, sadness, heartache, pain, met and unmet expectations.
These women knew me as a child and knew me whilst a teenager. When I think no one really knows me, I have lied to myself. These ladies have watched me grow, and with their patience, still love on me.
As I write this, the tears are flowing. Not my intention. It seems I often forget that I am loved. I expect love from others, but often do not "feel" the love. These ladies, these sisters, go out of their way to love on me.
Often, I find it difficult to maintain relationships with my extended family.  Living 100 plus miles away from the majority of my relations make the natural bond of kinship rather labored. I can only "watch" my nieces and nephews "backs" from a distance. I hope my prayers for them to experience the love of Christ, and to live a good life, is a reality for them.
The days and years  have past since I moved away from my family in Portland. Most of the children I left when I went off to college have children of their own. It seems time and distance could only allow me to pop in and out of their lives.  Now, and all too soon, they are starting families, and having babies of their own. Babies, whose names I sometimes forget. Most likely, because I can't be there to watch them grow, to enjoy them, to laugh with them, to pick them up when they fall, to comfort them when they've fallen, and to encourage them to pursue goodness when they falter.
I can only speculate that my sister-in-laws have experienced some of these feelings in their relationship with me, watching me from afar.  I often wish that they lived near me to help me along in life, and I to help them.  I think about the field trip with the grand kids we could go on together. I see where Lindsay could help me design my garden.  I imagine that Jan could teach me (or try to teach me) how to make a pie that might be good enough for someone to request as his or her last meal.
Sometimes, I want desperately for these sort of fancies to be filled. Yet, life's circumstances put limits on these yearnings or expectations.  The miles we live apart, economics, and commitments to our children and husbands keep these expectations from being met. The heart felt question of, "What can I do for you?" is limited to talking on the phone, interacting on facebook, or sending emails.

Both of my sister-in-laws are beautiful on the inside, and out, as they will never be anything but that to me. Perhaps this is me realizing that all along, in their friendship, it's as if I have been given a great wine, that in time, matures into a wonderful, indescribably good fruit that can only be experienced in shared moments that have required much patience.  This sweet aging of our friendship is the "better."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ode to the Internet

I don't want to take the time necessary to convey the love I have for what has become my love of being able to share with my world of "friends" the very important, deep, and meaningful thoughts I have within moments that I have such thoughtful thoughts. I want to be able to share what I think is worth sharing, with a photo, let's say, that may convey the humour of the situation, within moments of that thoughtful thought.
But the world is not up to speed with me. It's driving me batty to think that I couldn't call out of England without sacrifing our next house payment. All so that I could call my Mum to say that I was at Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. I also couldn't upload to facebook a picture of the fruit compote that we had for breakfast in Spain, as the compote had very interesting looking fruit/garnish on top of it. All this frustration because I didn't have a free  wireless connection at every street corner as we do in America.
I have imagined what it must have been like for those travellers back in the day when everyone did a "grand tour" of the world. They too were probably wanting to share their experiences with their peeps, but those travellers may have actually taken the time to write and to give thought to what they were writing, in a letter intended for one particular person, or audience. 
My last blog post seemed to be an example how we can make a choice to share even ridiculous thoughts with the world. Does the world need to know that I had a gurgly tummy during my first transatlantic flight? I think not. 
It takes time, and some level of deeper thought to find, and use words to describe the "pretty" river outside our hotel in Toledo. It takes time to decide whether I would like to convey my thoughts in a way similar to Nathaniel Hawthorne, or Erma Bombeck. Either of those writing "styles" take time, which the "younger" generation, such as myself, is no longer willing to take.  Nor are we interested in the wait it may take to have shared those thoughtful, important thoughts that go beyond that layer of instant gratification to which our modern minds have become accustomed.
So, I am not willing to take the time, at present, to really write an ode to the internet, as is would take too much of my time to explain what would only scratch the surface.
I wonder if "we" as a generation have become such that by only extending ourself to "scratch the surface" on any given subject, that we are missing out on a deeper, truly more excellent and meanful life that is intended for us by our Creator.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I Was Suppose to Be Sleeping. Things They Don't Bother to Mention in Travel Guides

* warning- I know this post is not completely editted, but I know you all don't want to miss out on the fun!
>I should be sleeping right now... But since I'm not asleep like I should be, please enjoy my stream of consciencenessy thoughts.
Random idea, theme topic 1: Bloating in the sky.
Ever since the airplane ride back from the girls trip to Chicago last September, when Sunae told me that carbonated beverages make one, well, bloat at a high altitude, I've noticed that my in flight abdomen can be, well gurgly, unconcomfortable, and if I may say, Bloaty. Yes, capital B bloaty.
 Yes, middle aged women are often bloaty, but now that I am throughly into my own historical middle age, I can say that whilst travelling  in a plane, in the stratosphere, I, well, get bloaty. 
Why can't we just take a pin and pop the bloat like a balloon?
2. Squirells, as related to bloating.  
 It feels like a couple of squirells are chasing each other around in my gut. No. I think it's more like they are trampelinging from one of my internal organs to the other. Name an organ-liver, spleen, gall badder, those squirells are just bouncing away. 
This is what one may feels like after five airline flights and a transatlantic flight as one of those flights feels like. Not that I'm complaining!
3. "You were lucky!"
 This travelling process also reminders me of back in my old Young Life days when the old Malibu Princess would take FOREVER to get to the Princess Louisa Inlet. The last trip to Malibu, almost twenty years ago, I eventually progressed to bringing a sleeping bag, pillow, and Thermarest. Back then I wore a hat, Sporthill pants, all while I hoped it didn't rain so I could sleep on the less noisy deck, which was outside, mostly, uncovered. To makes the return trip more difficult, was when when I was all out of money, and could only smell the salt and vinager potato chips...
4. Preparation for Spench.
Another observation is that this world wind tour our family is taking is real, not just a dialogue previously written for Madame McKenroe's first year high school French class. Nor is it not just another hour of non-chatter in my college Spanish discussion class. This is genuine immersion. A chance for me to bring the good old American Melting pot across the pond and mix all my language studies, history studies, and art studies into a smorgasbord.
So, here's what's gone on so far. The beginning of this trip is like a Tuesday on a soap opera. The suspense that built up after Friday, climaxed on Monday, and this was the waiting time for whatever storyline change was going to happen on Friday to leave one in suspence. 
Today, well sort of technically yesterday's threat alert- a little snippet about increased terrorist threat for Americans in Europe added a little flavor to our itinerary. This  warning evoked that the kind of feeling one gets from watching a James Bond movie. The suspensful kind that leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sighting the Gems

Over the past six months, I have been mulling over my "next" blog post.  Having gone back to edit the post several times, I  have felt like something in my recollection was missing. It seemed to lack a revealing of what I truly enjoy about traveling within this Earthly world. While some of the places I've been lately show some aesthetic beauty, what I consider the most beautiful sights in my forays, are the people I spend time with along the way.
When I was a girl, I loved "Show and Tell." In grade school, I brought a piece of wood to share with my class that I collected from a visit to my aunt's place in Creswell.  Although I can't recall, it is also more than likely, that I was told my sharing time was up before I was done recalling the events of my visit. Hence, it's never been a problem for me to share about the donuts, or the bus tokens, or which celebrity I happened to befriend on a trip.
But now, when I'm blogging my "Show and Tell," what I do find difficult is conveying the fullness of the "sharing" with others as we make this journey through this life. It's those times during the exchange of the "What's Happening," or "Not Happening" in each other's lives that are most worthwhile. It's what I walk away with when I get together with a friend who "Knew Me When." I see the purposefulness in having had this person in my life. We can reminisce about those not so embarrassing "then" times and see our utter youthful naivety, the sometimes sad mistakes of then, and sometimes, even the humor of the situation now.
 I realize that each of our stories is unique. I believe strongly that God is the Author of our lives, our stories, and that joy is often strangely, mysteriously, puzzlingly intertwined with sorrow. That does not mean that I equate evil with good, but that we will encounter hardships, trial, villains, and difficulty enduring this life at times-even with a Good God who is in charge of the universe.
If you don't know me well, you might think I collect friends like I put pins on a map to cities I've been. Yes, easily making friends is one of my greatest strengths, and greatest weakness. But if the wind blows me your way, or you mine, I do cherish such a wind.

 If you know me well,  it will be no surprise that I'd like to end this post with a song.

 I guess part of what I'm trying to say is better said in a song by one of the favorite vocal artists, Julie Miller, entitled, "I Like You." It captures why the people I encounter in life are more important that the places I'll ever travel.

If you want to be big but are small, if you're little and you want to be tall,
And you feel like you're no good at all...well, I like you just like you are,
Now, some people run very fast and you always watch them go past,
And you think that you're always last, but I like you just like you are.

I like you, I really do,
You are the only you I ever knew,
Though everyone's special, there's no one like you,
That's why I like you, I really do.

Now a pony looks up to the sky, watches the birds going by,
But he never thought he should fly, and I like you just like you are.

I like you, I really do,
You are the only you I ever knew,
Though everyone's special, there's no one like you,
That's why I like you, I really like you,
That's why I like you, I really do 

 So you, my friend, those whom I encounter along the way, are a precious gem, a jewel  hand created by our Maker, who has not cast you aside, but sees you as the work in progress along the journey to the Eternity.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hello Seattle Part I

Back in 1984, I took my farthest venture away from home, passing through Seattle en route to Young Life's camp Malibu. I may be able to conjure up a date of my first sighting of the Space Needle, but the image of Seattle and the Space Needle seem to be an inseparable one, one that needs no timestamp for me.

My first real visit to Seattle, though, was the following year. Angie Hergert, a high school friend, with whom I had gone to Malibu for College Prep Week, in '85, had met a boy of interest at camp, and asked me to join her on my very first road trip-without "adults."

First time at the Pike Street Market was memorable, not only because we were on our own, but something about the history of the buildings, the shuffle of the city people, and the sites of a cosmopolitan, upscale place were something other than the familiar Portland.

As I recall various trips to Seattle, I realize that it is the city where I decided to name my first girl, Emma.

I was in the Laura Ashley store with Fiona and Erin, and at the time, Laura Ashley had a clothing line called, "Emma." We girls had a discussion that went something like...

"Emma is a pretty name isn't it?"

"Yeah, that's a pretty name."

Since I was the only one married at the time, I chimed in with, "I'll name my girl Emma." Like it was some sort of pact or something. So, I was then obligated to name her Emma, which I did, a few short years later.

Nowadays, my Emma is quite fashionable, and I still own the sweater I bought on that trip (mock me, if you must, but I have not worn it for some considerable time).

In the days of Seattle "Grunge," also the days of "Pre-kids," another road trip had me visiting an old South Young Life kid. Amber Young and I ventured north, from Eugene, to stay with our friend, Erin Lantz. This trip, now seems a happy blur: memories of driving around the city after dark with all the big city lights glowing; the Seattle Center; the Elephant car wash sign; and the giggling that comes with staying up too late ("too late" is more of a "forty-something term, rather than the twenty-something definition of time referring to "any time after midnight"). These particular recollections are mixed with a bit of sadness because I haven't seem much of those two since that trip, now almost two decades ago.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Relief from the Weariness

Before I recall some of the past few months of travel adventures, I must put aside those tales until I give a proper "Thank you" to all of my friends and family who have stopped along the road and given a word of condolence for the loss of my sister.
I didn't know what to expect the months that followed Christine's death, but grief, and many of life circumstances have hit me harder than I would chose. But what I have found, in most cases, is that people are willing to extend grace more often than not.
For those that gave me shelter when our family needed it, thank you. The meals from the heart, the listening, the shoulder to cry on, thank you.
At times I felt that I would never be able to repay such kindnesses, but those who have generously given do not seem to have this in mind. They have given their gifts freely.
I hope not to forget these kindnesses, as I sojourn in this world, waiting not so patiently for that place He has for me that has no need for condolences.