Friday, August 27, 2010

Our State Fair is a Great State Fair

Perfect weather.  Manageable crowds.  Great company.  Good food.  Are you getting the idea? 

I got a call from Brian this morning asking me for a date.  He didn't have any meetings tonight and I needed a little carefree, spontaneous fun.  The State Fair opened today.  That's the ticket!

We had a few stowaways, but they were pretty cute so we let them tag a long.
As always, my children never miss seeking out the baby pigs when going to the Fair.
Make way for ducklings and baby chicks.
Perhaps the funniest thing I saw were these sheep in their unusual outfits. Spandex?  Really? 
One of the highlights was the Hypnotist Show.  One of us may have been too cowardly to volunteer because she knew she was very susceptible to hypnosis.
Turkey legs, onion rings, Gyros, french fries, scones, burgers, homemade marionberry and rhubarb pies.
And who could forget the Oregon Dairy Women's soft serve ice cream cones.  A State Fair Must!
It was a beautiful evening.  I went home without being exhausted, overheated, stuffed from eating too much, nor having spent every cent in my pocket.  Good day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Honeymoons and Exotic Places

Should you, or shouldn't you?  That is the question.  Should you take a honeymoon to some exotic place, or should you spend this important "get-to-know-you" time in a familiar setting?

The data has been collected with this conclusion:  if the opportunity affords itself to go somewhere uniquely beautiful, DO IT!  Just DON'T DRINK THE WATER!

Brian and I have tried to send our married children off in a big way.  Using points from our Disney Vacation Club membership, our gift to the newlyweds has been a Disney Cruise.  Robert and Josalyn cruised in June of 2008 down the Mexican Riviera, leaving from a port in Southern California. 

Erica and Derek recently cruised out of Florida for a honeymoon trip through the Bahamas.

Brian and I, too, were fortunate to fly off to some far away, exotic place to begin our married lives together.  We were thrilled to have a week in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.  For both of us, it was our first trip out of the country and it sounded very extravagant and romantic to us.  For the most part, it was.  Do have I any regrets?  Yes.  We had a lousy camera that took very poor photos, so most of our memories are stored on our internal memory discs.  And as unseasoned travelers to third world countries, naivete in drinking unsafe water and eating unsafe produce had very unfortunate effects.  When you are spending 24 hours a day with someone you adore, it takes away a little of the glamour when half of that time is spent in the bathroom....

Monday, August 23, 2010

We Do Make a Difference

The choices we make, the behavior we exhibit, the joy we share all reach out to impact others' lives, and their's, in turn, impact our lives.  The poet John Donne gets it.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man's death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

When our lives are filled with joy and love, we mustn't be afraid to let it radiate, no matter if we feel it might make others sad by comparison to their circumstance of the moment.  How do we respond to those in pain?  Do we hold back sharing our joy?  Do we become self-conscious of our own blessings and seek to diminish them?

God is full of love.  He wants us to be as well.  Showing and giving love can be part of sharing our own joy and happiness.  If I am struggling with personal trials, my desire is still for you to be happy.  That old phrase, 'misery loves company' is flawed in all regards.  Selfishness would have others be miserable too, but love rejoices in others' happiness despite our own challenges.  We do, and should, make an impact in this life.  If we are holding back we are only losing out on the love that would naturally be reflected back to us.

There is a shortage of joy, of hope, of confidence in our society today.  Struggles and hardship are present on all sides.  People are becoming discouraged and abandoning hope of a better world.  We need each other.  We need to reach out, never hold back, in sharing the light and joy whenever we are blessed to have it.  I love the Plato quote:  "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."   My daughter told me once that the greatest act of charity and love is to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  I agree.  We seldom know what folks are struggling with--many heartaches are visible, more are not.  Most people hide away their pain, try to paint a brave face, and many are none-the-wiser of their broken hearts.

I spent some time today at the doctors' office.  Not the most fun way to spend the day.  After blood tests and x-rays were performed, called for due to significant, prolonged chest pain, the results were declared to be normal.  I was given heavy duty pain medicine which succeeded in knocking me out, but which has failed to ease the pain while I am awake.

Why am I sharing this?  Am I looking for sympathy? for encouraging words? for a casserole?  No.  I have decided that I am not an island.  My family is not an island.  We all need each other in this great, big world of human beings.  If we know of each other's heartaches, then we can be prepared to share and help alleviate them.  We don't need to feel alone, while crowded on every side with humanity.  And yet we often do.  I need you.  And I hope one day you might need me and allow me to know of your sorrows so I can fill the Savior's injunction to bear one another's burdens.

Let us not be reluctant to spread some sunshine if we have received an ample supply.  Let us not be reluctant to reach out with a smile and a kind word.  Our lives here on earth were not meant to be handled alone, and if we feel as though joy is momentarily in short supply, let us remember the sure source of peace and happiness:  the Lord Jesus Christ, and His promise in Doctrine and Covenants, 101:36.

"Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full."

Let us be the Lord's hands here on earth; let us be instruments of his peace.  Share your joy.  And I will share mine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's MY party!

August 17th.  One of my favorite days.  When I was a child my favorite thing to do on August 17th was to go swimming.  I think it is one of the reasons I love hot, summer days.  Perfect time for a birthday.

This year I totally spoiled myself on August 17th.  I ate leftover wedding cake for breakfast.  I played with my granddaughter, Evelyn.  I took her to the beautiful Salem Carousel.  I played golf with my favorite people.  And I went out for Italian food, my favorite. 

I was also spoiled by the people who love me.  Miranda wrote me an amazing poem.  Erica called me from her honeymoon ship.  Jackie called me while I was on the golf course.  Robert and Josalyn stayed a few extra days so they could celebrate with me.  Brian gave me concert tickets to see Harry Connick, Jr. in September.

I feel so blessed.  I have a wonderful life, surrounded by wonderful family and friends.  I suppose that even though birthdays add onto my ever-expanding age, they are a great time to take stock of one's life, count one's blessings, and make new goals for the upcoming years.  I love August 17th.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My house is quiet....

I had forgotten.  This is how it usually is.  But I had forgotten what it is like to be mostly alone.  The company is gone.  The Honeymooners are gone.  I am left with an empty house and overflowing laundry hampers.

But, oh!  What an amazing week I have had.

Last Thursday we picked up Jackie, Robert, Josalyn, and Evelyn from the airport.  We traveled home to Salem where our dinner was mostly ready to go. (I love crockpots)  My mother, sister Suzanne, and my nieces, Malia and Lauren, came to enjoy our dinner with us.  We ate in the backyard.  Perfect evening. 

The following morning we arose early and went to the Portland Temple.  This was a special preliminary visit, a precursor to the wedding to follow, as Erica entered the House of the Lord to receive a special endowment of blessings from the Savior.  Such an amazing experience.  What a delight to be able to share this time with one's child who has prepared herself, has kept herself unspotted from the world in order to enter in that holy place.

We returned to Salem that afternoon to make final preparations for the Reception.  We met Derek's family at Copper Hill at 6:00pm and with their help we had everything ready for the party to start at 6:30pm.  Talk about miracles....

What a wonderful event.  It was delightful for me to greet all our friends that came to honor Erica and Derek.  I loved it.  And what a crowd!  I thought we would have lots of leftovers.  What was I thinking?  Every delicious morsel was gone, except one tier of wedding cake which I selfishly held back so I could take it home. (Mother of the Bride's prerogative...)

After the whirlwind of a party, we quickly "un-decorated" then headed home with our huge load.  Grateful for the chance to unwind, the family gathered to watch Erica and Derek open their lovely gifts.  Fun times.  Silly times.  The first gift opened was a set of Elvis drinking glasses.  Hmmmm.....what were we in for? 

Saturday morning:  SLEEP IN!  That was on all agendas.  What a blessing.  Rumor got out that our daughter, Jackie, an Esthetician with skills, was in town and willing to remove stray hair.  Believe me, more silliness!

At 1:00pm we gathered up everything needed for the rest of the day and drove to the Wedding luncheon at Macaroni Grill.  Perfect.  What a lovely, relaxing way to prepare for the next, most important part of our wedding weekend, THE WEDDING itself.

The Temple Marriage and Sealing Ceremony was the most sacred event I have ever witnessed.  Many tears of joy were shed as a beautiful bride and a handsome groom commited to each other not just for this life together, but to spend all of eternity together as husband and wife.  They were radiant.  They were blessed with an abundance of the Holy Spirit to sanctify this significant event.  I will never forget this special day with them.

After the ceremony, Erica and Derek came back "down to earth" and emerged from the temple, ready for whatever life would give them.  They were met by loving family and many photographers.  By this time on Saturday evening, the crowds had dissipated and we had the temple grounds to ourselves for all the pictures we could want.

After changing from their wedding clothes, they drove off together in their little red Toyota.  A fitting end to a perfect weekend.  A fitting beginning for the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Packing Bags

There is something undeniable about packing bags; it always generates some type of feeling.  It is impossible not to feel something when you are packing bags.  You might feel the thrill of anticipation as you pack your bags for a vacation.  You might feel frustration packing your bags for the umpteenth business trip where you will be crammed into a tiny airplane seat and have a bag of peanuts tossed at you.  And then there are the feelings associated with leaving home for the first time.  A sleepover at the neighbor's.  Summer camp.  Thanksgiving at Grandma's.  Going to the hospital to bring home a new baby.  The feelings may not always be the same, but as surely as the winds of change blow through our lives, we pack our bags for multitudes of reasons, accompanied by multitudes of feelings.

Today, at my house, was a day of packing bags.  My daughter ceremoniously said good-bye to her childhood today.  She packed up her bedroom which held the treasures of her life at home.  She packed her clothes to take to her new apartment where she will live as a married woman.  She packed the suitcase she will be taking on her honeymoon. 

She didn't share with me the feelings that she had, but I suppose they are quite universal.  I suppose she felt a bit of sadness mingled with the excitement of her new life.  Never one to be too attached to belongings or possessions, she probably just matter-of-factly tackled the job before her.  I hope there was just a twinge of regret in leaving behind a world of doting, over-protective parents who adore her.  But she is leaving our arms to be met by the arms of the kindest, caring new husband.  No contest, huh?

While Erica was busy packing her bags, I had my own little project down the hall.  Within the walls of my bedroom, I faced the exceptional and unique responsibility of packing another bag.  I met this opportunity with respect, with reverence, with appreciation for the eternal and sacred nature of my role as Erica's mother.  I was packing the bag for her to take to the temple.   The feelings?  indescribable.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Craving Normalcy

Three months ago my life changed.  It required a dramatic turn from my regular activities.  It was a welcome change, but as I see the denouement advancing quickly, part of me is so relieved.  Part of me is craving the return to my normal life and normal concerns. 

Three months ago my daughter got engaged and I have been in wedding planning mode ever since.  With only three months to pull off the singularly biggest event in her life thus far (even bigger than Junior Miss, even bigger than the high school musicals, or proms, or graduation), it has compelled me to spend most of my waking moments thinking and planning and shopping and creating and organizing and ordering and arranging....

I am exhausted.  I am drained of energy.  I am spent.

I am excited!  I can't wait to see how it all plays out.  I can't wait to see all the elements combine in the projected and certainly lovely way.

I have spent some time in my craft/writing room the past couple of days.  I have been reviewing the progress I have made on my book project.  Oh, how I have missed my work on that. 

Although this wedding planning has been a fun ride, and the good times will only escalate as company comes into town, parties are thrown, and trips are made to the Portland Temple for sacred experiences, I must admit that now I am also anticipating the quiet times ahead to be spent reading, pondering, and writing.  These activities won't occur until after the company is gone and the party supplies are put away.  Then perhaps life can get back to normal....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Apprehensive? Yes.

Determined?  Yes.  Sad?  Absolutely.

In an hour I have an appointment to meet my neighbors in their yard for the interment of a cat.  Really.  Fourteen years ago we brought a delightful kitten into our home and our lives.  Because he was adorable, playful, and furry, we decided to name him "Elmo" which quite suited him.  As he grew older and more handsome and dignified, the name didn't exactly fit anymore.  But by then he was undeniably loved and cherished with a personality that was unparalleled.  He was a cat like no other.  He was friendly and patient and acted more like an attentive dog than a typically aloof cat.

He became the darling of the cul-de-sac, working his way around to all the houses, ingratiating himself with all the neighbors.  As the years went by and the Haws children grew older with more and more activities away from home, Elmo found the extra attention he needed at the house on the corner. This is where Mark and Audrey live.  He loved Mark and Audrey.  And they loved him.

It has been an honor to share ownership of Elmo with them.  I think they bought yummier food for Elmo than I did, because he soon showed no interest in the food I offered.  Just as well.  I think they made sure he had fresh water more often than I did too.  It all worked out though.  As the mother of four, I spent most of my time concerned with the welfare of my children, and Mark and Audrey treated Elmo like he was their child, and he really liked the "only child" treatment.  Who could blame him?

Early this morning, after a weekend of careful and extensive medical care, Elmo passed away quietly and peacefully in Mark's arms, the place where he felt undeniable affection.

I can't imagine a finer life for a cat.  He began his life in the hustle bustle home of young children.  He spent his later years in the quiet and gentle care of very doting "parents".  His body will be tenderly placed beneath the soil of Granite Court, where he spent many happy years, where he was watched and cared for, where he wandered and explored and said hello to all the neighbors.

I loved that cat. I loved his beautiful blue eyes. I loved his good nature. My sweet friend, you are missed already.

The Inseparable

There may be two years that separate them in age.  There may be a wedding coming up that might separate their living arrangements.  But these two are of one heart.  They share a love that is undeniable.  They will never really be separated. 

Last weekend, Brian and I  had the treat of taking two of our daughters to the beach.  There may have been other reasons that took us there, but the focus for me was spending a few last days with just our abbreviated family of four.  As I watched them playing on the beach, my mind went sailing back to another beach trip with just the four of us.
I am so happy to see that they are still great friends, still a resource for fun, for love, for understanding.
Their sense of fun and adventure has only heightened with their maturity.
I love you, my dears.  One of the greatest joys a mother can have is to see a special bond among her children.  I have been blessed beyond measure.
Though men will come into your lives and try to separate you, remember that sometimes, there is only room on the couch for sisters...