Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Learning the value...

of opposable thumbs!  Last week I slipped going down some stairs and caught myself with my right hand.  I figured it was slightly sprained but didn't think too much about it.  I proceeded to do all the many things I needed to do, not realizing that the overuse of my hand was delaying the healing process.  It became very painful to do even ordinary activities.

Yesterday evening I decided that I had to do something to force my hand to remain stationary, so I ran to Wal-Mart and bought a thumb stabilizer. Oh dear.  Have you ever realized how many simple, everyday things one does using their thumb?

I look pretty silly, and I am awkwardly trying to forge ahead with Thanksgiving preparations.  I am doubly grateful for helpful daughters this year. They have been great in helping get all our preparations done.

I had already decided that the underlying theme for our family celebrations this holiday season would be "Relax; enjoy, and just do the best you can do".  Little did I realize how important that attitude would be.

So, that is what I am going to do.  I am going to relax as best I can, enjoy the great company that I will be spending the holidays with, and toss perfection out the window while just doing the best I can do.

Have a wonderful holiday.  Count your blessings, while I find someone to take the turkey out of the oven for me...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful for...

Thanksgiving Roses!!   Can you believe it?  I glanced out my back window amidst all my pre-holiday rushing about, and could hardly believe my eyes.  The trees are bare, the leaves have fallen and have been gathered, and still there are flowers that are working hard to dazzle.
Who ever said that roses were tempermental? that they have to be pampered and babied?  I don't think so!

This gives me hope.  This gives me confidence in myself, somehow.  I often struggle through the gloom of Fall, pining for the sunny days of summer, thinking that my days of happiness and blooming have been curtailed for the long winter months.

Not so!  We can take a suggestion from these brave roses and find the best in ourselves even on a cold, gray day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Go Team D'eRica!

That's what we affectionately call Erica and her good friend, Derek.

In the wee, small hours this morning, I heard them downstairs having breakfast and preparing to participate in their very first Half Marathon.  They had consulted the internet to find the best food to eat before long-distance running.  They were dressed in high tech running gear, most of it provided by Erica's generous dad.  They had been training for months.  Today was the day!

The event was in Eugene, and we made arrangement to meet them down there later in the morning.

It was so much fun to wait for them at the finish line.  The energy and excitement was palpable.  I wished that I wasn't there just as a spectator.  I thought it looked like so much fun to be a participant. 
It was a gorgeous day, down by the river in Eugene.  What had started out in Salem as a cold and rainy day, turned out to be perfect running weather.  Here they come!
I was so proud of them.  This was a huge achievement.
Obviously, I was not the only proud parent.
Way to go, you two.  There is nothing like setting a difficult goal and finding a way to make it happen.  And I knew that you would take good care of each other.  What a blessing to have someone by your side that's always got your back.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Bubble has Popped...

and I am back home again, surrounded by suitcases that need unpacking, a pile of mail that needs attention, a refrigerator that needs to be restocked, hampers that are overflowing...well, you get the picture.

It seems like forever ago that I was here, sitting at home, at my family's beck and call.  That part of being home I actually don't mind at all.  Wish I could say the same about that other nonsense. No, no, no.  I'm just kidding.  I have actually been reminded recently that I am the woman who loves her life, and isn't there great power just in saying that out loud?  I dare you; try it! 

And it is particularly appropriate at this time of year, to pause for a few moments and reflect upon the abundance of blessings we have received, and that indeed there are so many reasons to love one's life, both the great stuff as well as the challenges.

I have had several inquiries about my "pet" seagull, and whether or not I actually gave in and fed the silly bird.

He (or she) and I became quite well acquainted during my stay at the beach.  He made his presence known everyday, several times a day, for the week that I was there.

I was surprised by his tenacity.  He never gave up hope that the grumpy lady would give in and throw him a crust of bread.  And I wrestled with my dilemma every time he would come knocking at my door, literally banging his beak on the window.  I worried that he was starving because instead of foraging with the rest of the birds, he was pinning all his hopes and energy on me.

The most difficult times would be when he seemed to be looking me straight in the eye, challenging me, summoning my charity, compelling me to give in to softest part of my heart.

He perched on the driveway this morning as I was driving away.  As I looked back I wondered if I would see him again; when I return next week for Thanksgiving, will he still be there, waiting for a handout, waiting for the pretty, generous girl instead of the grumpy old lady?

I guess we will see...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More from the Old Lady

Journal Entry No. 2

It has been an interesting  24 hours.  I have witnessed wonderfully powerful storms; I have witnessed beautiful skies filled with interesting clouds and rainbows; I have experienced a solitude that I can hardly ever remember feeling.  I know that I will "wake up" from this dream world soon, and be quite happy to go back to my life of laundry and errands and making dinner, but for now I will marvel at this opportunity to become reacquainted with myself.

I was also faced with a moral dilemma this morning, which was made all the more difficult by the ideas that I have been absorbing through books read during my hiatus.  Here is the scenario:

My daughter, Erica, who was here at the Coast a few days before me, had made friends with a seagull that would come to the back deck.  Of course, when you feed a bird an entire bagel each day it will be smart enough to come back repeatedly for a delectably easy meal.  In fact, she asked me to note the bird's markings so if it came while she was gone I would know to which bird I was to give my breakfast.

So this morning, right on schedule, at seemingly the same hour that yesterday Erica had offered her bagel, I hear a terrible racket outside on the deck.  Sure enough, there was Erica's friend yelling at another bird that had the nerve to encroach on his territory. Soon the other bird left and our greedy friend remained, waiting for his daily handout.  Here comes the moral dilemma.  I had just read the beautiful sermon by King Benjamin, Are we not all beggars in the sight of God?  Should we not give part of our substance to the less fortunate because it is a way of serving our Father in Heaven?  I had an extra bagel.  It was not taking food away from me or my children. 

But then as I watched the bird's tenacity at defending it's territory, as I watched it's boldness in pecking at the window to get my attention, as I watched it moving from one window to the next to improve it's vantage point, I realized that perhaps the situation was not as simple as it seemed.  If I continued my daughter's innocent gesture, would this bird continue to come back every day, even when we are not here, to pester and annoy the next residents who had come for a peaceful stay at the beach?  How would they feel about having to put up with the noisy, greedy bird?  Would they find it charming to have a feathered friend, or would they be upset by the shortsightedness of the previous inhabitants?

How does our society handle the "needs" of its dependents?  Have they become helpless because of the continuous string of easy handouts that are readily available?  Have they wizened up, having figured out the system, and are demanding their entitlements at the door of those that are working by the sweat of their brow for their daily bread?

Well, it is all food for thought, I guess.  And thankfully it is not yet frowned upon in our society to think or to reason.  Will the moral dilemmas continue to present themselves?  I'm certain of it.  Will there ever be an easy answer to them?  Probably not.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Old Lady and the Sea

Journal entry No. 1

I spent my first night in our new beach house.  And it happened to be a night that saw 90 mph wind gusts and torrential rain that beat at the windows most of the night.  There is an interesting conflict  that comes when one feels the security of being safely inside and warm and protected from the elements, and yet the vulnerability of wondering if the windows will hold against the gale force winds.  Brian and I chose to remain upstairs in our room that has the best view, being surrounded on three sides by windows that look out to the mighty ocean.  The constant pounding of the rain was a small sacrifice to be able to wake up this morning and enjoy the overwhelming view from the comfort and warmth of my bed.  My girls had other ideas; they abandoned their upstairs room to go down to the most tucked away, inside bedroom to escape the disruptive rhythm of the pouring rain.

When I arrived yesterday afternoon to join the rest of my family that had already been enjoying their stay, I found a small gift on my pillow that was accompanied by the most lovely card and handwritten message from my husband.  I hope he doesn't mind if I share his sweet words:

"My dear wife,
I hope you find absolute joy in your new home.  I think it is a special place.  I look forward to years of gathering our growing family.  And I look forward to quiet time with you.  I love you and I am happy that we have a chance to sit side by side on the edge of land and see all the wonders that are here."

Sitting side by side on the edge of land.  Beautiful.  He can be quite poetic without really trying.

I think this will be an important place for me, both as a gathering place and a place of solitude.  I hope that I never fail to marvel at the beauty of the ocean.  I hope that I wake up each morning that I am able to be here, and watch the waves with the same sense of wonder that I did this morning.

Meanwhile, I intend to acclimate myself to the place over the next few days.  I brought a couple of projects to work on, and I have an intriguing book.  Maybe I will venture out to stroll the little shops in between storms.  Then again, maybe not.  There will always be next time...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Missing a Birthday...

Not something I like to do!  Saturday is Erica's birthday, and not just any birthday, she turns 21 and I am not going to be around.

I adore my daughter, Erica.  She fills my life with joy, with music, with energy, with adventure, with love. 

I hope you have a delightful birthday, one that will be memorable in so many ways.  Enjoy the Coast, and I will meet you there when I get back from Idaho!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What is lasting?

What really has the capacity to weather the storms of life and pass from generation to generation?  It certainly causes one to wonder sometimes.

One of the themes of my life has become the preservation of memories.  I have a room devoted to the effort of maintaining photographs and life stories to be passed on to the next generation.  I have bookshelves filled to capacity with scrapbooks chronicling the lives of Brian and Ardith Haws and their posterity.

Are these efforts in vain?  Does it really matter?  Will these books ever be pulled from the shelves to come alive for future generations?

I guess the question really comes down to this:  Can we leave our mark on the world?  Do our lives and our stories matter enough to try and preserve them?

I read something that prompted these questions.  "But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates (of precious metal) must perish and vanish away..."

So the things I write and send out into cyberspace surely don't qualify as having any lasting value.  Then why do it?  I do know that a few of you are reading my ramblings, and certainly more than have ever looked at the scrapbooks that are gathering dust on my shelves.

Which, then, are of more value?  Or are they equally fleeting?

The same scripture from above that spoke of things perishing and vanishing away, also spoke of the need to "write a few words...which shall give our children...a small degree of knowledge concerning us."  (Jacob 4:2, The Book of Mormon)

I will take the challenge to leave a few words to my future grandchildren so they might have at least a small degree of knowledge concerning me.  And as ever, I will try to preserve them in some lasting way.  But I suppose most of my efforts will probably rot in attics or basements 'til someone has the courage to haul them off to the landfill.

Perhaps therein lies the difference between "the small plates" and "the large plates".

What are my small plates?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Life is good...

for little Evelyn Haws!  She may be the most spoiled baby of all time.
How many 3-month-olds get to hang out on the beach in Hawaii?

And it took me 40 years to get to the Polynesian Cultural Center, but Evelyn gets to enjoy it with her Grandma and Grandpa Smith, surrounded by her little cousins.

Not a bad life.

I'm glad to see that Evelyn loves to travel, enjoys a fine meal now and then, thinks the beach is awesome, and loves to get dressed up.  She seems to be taking after her Grandma Haws pretty well.

And next month, it will be MY turn to spoil her rotten!

Monday, November 9, 2009

My life is spent...

sitting behind the piano.  And I guess that is great most of the time.  I love playing the piano.  I enjoy being able to help add music to church services and participate in musical numbers as an accompanist.

My only regret is that I miss the opportunity to sit and enjoy the vocalists to the fullest extent.  I can't see their faces and I don't usually hear the music to its full advantage.

Yesterday in Sacrament Meeting at the Singles Ward, my two lovely daughters sang a duet together.  I enjoyed rehearsing it with them.  I enjoyed helping them prepare for it. I enjoyed the convenience of having an "in-house" accompanist saving me the trouble of having to arrange for someone else.  I enjoyed the push it gave me to learn a rather difficult piece of music.

If only I could have watched their faces...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Not afraid to say...


So Brian and I took someone's tickets to the Portland Opera last night that they were unable to use.  I was really excited.  I have always wanted to go to the opera but have never dared bring up the subject for fear of blatant rejection.  My dear husband has been persuaded to try a lot of my interests, but I felt like maybe this one was too much of a stretch.

I envisioned an evening of clever sets, incredible costumes, and most importantly beautiful music that would sweep us up into the emotion of the story, leaving us exhausted from the experience.

Well, I'm not afraid to say it:  it was NONE  of those things.  It was dismal in all regards.  And it COULD  have been lovely.  It was a modern adaptation of the ancient Greek Tragedy, Orpheus and Eurydice, a story of sacrifice and eternal love.  The setting was some non-descript modern apartment with characters dressed in boring everyday clothes, aside from the Princess of Death who wore a fur coat.  Not kidding.  Pretty lame.

Where I was expecting amazing music, there was nothing memorable about it.  I think if I heard a soundtrack of it today I wouldn't be able to tell you it was from that opera. 

I suppose maybe I wasn't adequately prepared to appreciate its subleties.  Perhaps being an opera novice I didn't know what to expect and shouldn't judge it against my preconceived notions.

Hogwash!  It was an auditorium full of people that had high expectations and I am convinced we were not the only ones to go home disappointed.  We may be the only ones not afraid to expose it for what it was.

Will I give opera another try?  We actually discussed that on our way home last night.  Absolutely yes.  But it will be one in which we research the production.  It will be one with clever sets, incredible costumes, and yes, most importantly, beautiful music that will sweep us up into the emotion of the story, leaving us exhausted from the experience.

Last night left us exhausted too.  But in the kind where you would give anything to be home in your bed!

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's time to...

regain control of my craft room.  Yikes!  I think the walls are going to come crashing down on me soon, and I will be found buried under the most beautiful pile of buttons and bows and pretty paper.

The problem is that my room has become the dumping ground of "stuff" that nobody knows what else to do with, you know the "I'll find a place for this later" kind of thing?  What used to be a place of sanctuary and creativity and renewal has now become just a source of frustration.

I am determined to reclaim that space, and return it to be my favorite place in the house.

Why would I blog about something like this?  So you can hold me accountable!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

If I could go back...

to Athens, Greece, I WOULD!  I fell in love with the place.  Even though it is a modern city,  it feels a little like stepping into a timeless place, lost in history, where the ancient coexists effortlessly with the present.

It calls to mind the words of John Keats:  "A thing of beauty is a joy forever:  Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."

So many beautiful sights that are courageously withstanding the test of time and the elements.

One of the highlights was certainly going up to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon.

It is the perfect vantage point for seeing many other significant landmarks such as the Dionysos and Odeon Theaters, the Ancient Agora, or marketplace, as well as the Plaka, which is the older area of the city located just down from the Acropolis.  We were able to spend time there, walking the narrow cobblestone streets, drinking in the authentic flavor of Greece, and being introduced to what has become a favorite cuisine.

Another highlight was Mars Hill, where the Apostle Paul preached his famous sermon on the Unknown God to a culture that had based its whole history on the worship and elevation of  some very flawed gods and goddesses. 

It was a day that was filled with history, beauty, and discovery that could have easily been stretched into a week.  Perhaps someday I will return to Athens and be able to get my fill of this amazing place.  One day only served to whet my appetite for more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's Not Easy...

Being Green.

Sometimes the most profound wisdom comes from the most unexpected places.  I think we could all learn a thing or two from Kermit the Frog.

Kermit battled with his color. "Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.  When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow, or gold, or something much more colorful like that."

 I believe we all battle something about ourselves that is a difficult fit. Certainly everyone has some challenge to bear that makes us different somehow, or draws unwanted attention, or finds us lacking in some way.

"It's not easy being green.  It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things, and people tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water, or stars in the sky."

We usually come to uneasy terms with our challenges simply for survival's sake.  We find ways to accept our differences while still pining for what we feel must be a better way.  And usually it doesn't take much as a reminder to have our esteem plummet and yet again we find ourselves struggling with questions about who we are, what we are, why we are...

Kermit eventually comes to resolute terms with himself after some soul-searching and a pep talk, and calling to mind the positive things about the color green.

"But green's the color of Spring, and green can be cool, and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree."

True peace comes only after acceptance of who we are.  And really, not just acceptance but truly embracing who we are.  Is it possible to look at ourselves with a new set of eyes and truly appreciate our own uniqueness?  Kermit did.

"When green is all there is to be, it can make you wonder why. 
But why wonder?  Why wonder?
I am green, and it'll do fine; it's beautiful!
And I think it's what I want to be."

My name is Ardith.  And it'll do fine; it's beautiful.
And I think it's what I want to be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What is it about...

the Oregon Coast?  What is its power that continually draws us to it?
It is completely different from the wiles of a warm beach, like the California, Florida, Hawaii, Mexican, and Caribbean coasts.  The water is so cold that even in the middle of summer I don't stick in so much as a big toe!  In fact the few brave souls that try to surf off the Oregon Coast must do so in full body dry suits.

Oregonians must be a little bit crazy.  And how many times have we found ourselves huddled in jackets and blankets just so we can stay out on the beach just a little bit longer?

And yet we do.

There is something magical in its raw, untouched beauty.  It is like our own best kept secret.
 The tourists flock here, but in manageable numbers and mostly during the summer months, completely missing its most charming winter months.  And the weather is often better at the coast than an hour's drive away in the valley.

As of late, I have felt the pull of the Oregon Coast even stronger than usual.

It seems to be calling my name, like a siren's song.

I am finding that this is where I want to be. Maybe this is where I will resume my painting hobby, or where I will write a book, or where I will gather my family around me to lavish them with my love.  I envision myself as the eccentric old lady that  goes to the seashore to find solace, to find inspiration, to find peace.

I guess I am going to have to find me one of those funny hats...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bring it on!

Are you ready for the whirlwind called the Holidays?  I'm not sure if I am ready, but what choice do we have?  It's coming!

I know that November is going to fly by for me.  This week will have to be a major preparation time for me because next week I am flying to Idaho for my niece's wedding. 
I am excited but apprehensive about Thanksgiving this year.  This is the first time since 2002 that I will be hosting Thanksgiving at my house.  We usually go to Boise or Rexburg, but I guess it is finally my turn to "grow up" and have the festivities at my house.  I am a grandma now, and that is what grandmas do!

I don't know how big of a gathering we will have, but I am excited.  I know that the missionaries will be joining us.  We always enjoy that.  We started inviting the missionaries into our home for holidays when our son was serving in Philadelphia.  It adds a very nice dimension.

Of course, Thanksgiving is really only a speed bump on the road to Christmas.  I have been laying the foundation for our Christmas celebration since clear back in January.  There have been plane, and resort, and rental car, and dining, and tee time reservations to make.  We are taking our family to Florida this year.

We won't have to worry about taking many gifts cause the whole trip has a big red bow tied around it.

But you know, it doesn't really matter where or what or how grand or how simple our holidays are; the very best part will be in just being together with our children.  And this year, little Evelyn, our granddaughter, will be the sweet, juicy, bright CHERRY on the top!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


as night and day!  Can two sisters be more dissimilar?  And their choosing of  Halloween costumes is only one huge difference.  There are many more.

Could they have swapped costumes?  Maybe, but I don't think either would have been quite as successful in pulling off the look.

Despite their differences, I have observed a great love develop over the years.  These two are fiercely protective of each other, and though there has been some frustration, some resentment, some bewilderment, some jealousy, as most sister-relationships have, there has also been pride and patience and adoration and humor.

And most of all, there has been love.