Category Archives: Three World Wednesday

Things in My Backyard

Things in my backyard—

Well these aren’t literally in my back yard, but a quick trip down the coast last fall and a stop at Beach 1 near Kalaloch, Washington revealed this anomaly in the Sitka Spruce growing in and around the Olympic National Forest.  The rounded knobs are tumors, possibly caused by a virus that damages the growth cells and makes them grow more rapidly than normal.  The result—these burls.

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Burls that look perverted

Among animated branches in the wind

Cause impassioned longing for the sun.

Three word Wednesday:  pervert; animate; impassioned.

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A Malevolent Presence

I think a malevolent presence has taken over our lives in the past week. As I probe the events of the last few days I am considering it a temporary presence.  I would find it repulsive if it decided to hang around.  But I am getting ahead of myself here.  I think I better start over.

We decided to remodel our master bathroom.  Hubby usually just shrugs when I ask him which counter top he prefers or which flooring he thinks is best.  However, I discovered that he has definite thoughts about the toilet.   It must be taller than standard.  It must have a wooden seat and lid, no concave plastic thing.  It must be guaranteed not to clog.  And it must be eco-friendly.  Who knew there were so many decisions to make regarding a toilet?  At least it wasn’t the most expensive one in the store.

We finally agreed on all the details and took ourselves out to lunch.  Immediately after we spent the money, my husband’s front tooth split.  The crown is scheduled.  Then we discovered a crack in the other toilet.  It must be replaced.  This morning our television quit working and I broke my favorite glasses.  That malevolent presence must go.

The 270  (check out J.T. Weaver)

3WW  Words:  malevolent, probe, repulsive.

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First Snow Adventure

I grew up in Southern California during the 1950’s.  It didn’t snow in our neighborhood.  The rare sleet or hail storm was almost as exciting for us as the snow is for children here in the Pacific Northwest.  I remember at least one time that our Church took us to the mountains to play in the snow.  This was supposed to be a rare winter highlight for us.  I must have been ten or eleven years old because it was before we moved into the Poppy Way house.

Mother packed sack lunches for my younger sister and I containing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple and two cookies.  Then she dug out our winter gear.  We had mittens, not gloves.  Mom attached our mittens to a length of yarn and strung it through the sleeves of our coats to make sure that we didn’t lose them.  I was old enough to find this embarrassing, but now realize how practical that was.  We didn’t have fancy jackets or waterproof snow suits like those commonly seen today.  Instead we donned our brothers hand-me-down plaid flannel shirts, pulled on a pair of pajama pants under our regular slacks, and put on two pairs of socks.  We packed a change of dry clothes into a bag, added our boots, coats and scarves and we were ready to go.

We joined our friends at the church and were assigned to a car.  Parents drove in those days.  Our church didn’t have a bus or van.  The trip seemed to take forever.  As we made our way up the mountain pass the rain turned into tiny snowflakes that spotted the windshield.  We had never seen it actually snowing.  Anyone living where they have winter weather wouldn’t have considered what we saw as snow. It melted as soon as it hit the glass.  But for us the excitement was almost unbearable.

It took forever before the driver in front of us pulled off the road into a little turnout.  Not a parking lot, just a little turnout.  Our driver followed.  Soon we all piled out of the cars and put on our coats and boots.  I remember that at that time I didn’t have regular boots, I had overshoes instead.  They were just a rubber slipper that slid over my shoes.  They didn’t even cover my ankles.  They were designed for walking in the rain, not playing in the snow.  I considered my coat as really luxurious.  It had a faux fur yoke and collar.  The body and sleeves were “wine” colored corduroy.  It was long enough that it reached my knees.  Most of the kids had some kind of knit cap, but my sister and I had scarves to tie around our heads.

At first we made snowballs.  We didn’t have enough snow experience to think about a snow fight.  We tried to make a snowman, but none of us really knew how and none of the adults seemed interested in instructing us.  We didn’t have  a sled so we just sloshed around in the wet snow.  What had resembled snowflakes on the trip up the hill soon turned into a torrential down pour.  Our inadequate gear left us defenseless against the moisture. We had been in the snow for less than half an hour when the adults nudged us back into the cars; the girls in one and the boys in the other.  We were happy to submit to their commands.  We all changed our clothes right there inside the car, first sliding off our wet shoes and pants and replacing them with our dry ones.  Next we slid our arms out of our coat sleeves and slipped off our wet shirts while still covered with our jackets.  We replaced the wet tops with our dry ones before we removed our coats.

Our coats were too wet to put back on, so we sat shivering inside the car while we ate our lunches.  Then the adults drove us back down the hill.  Perhaps it should come as no surprise that as an adult, I don’t really get too excited about going out in the snow.

Written for  Three Word Wednesday   words:  highlight, instruct and submit.

Also written for The Short and the Long of It:  Three words:  plaid, moisture and defenseless.

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NICKNAMES, SILLY LABELS and other Conventions

What my photo album revealed….

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 I opened my photo album and my younger sister, Jo-Ann, appears. July 1949, she isn’t yet six months-old.  I am no more than a year-and-a-half.  She has hair.  I don’t.  Well, mine is very light and it appears as if I have very little.  This image doesn’t make me shrink with disgust.  I know that I am en route to a discovery.

The next picture of me was taken sometime later.  I am big enough to sit on a backless stool.  I have no more hair than I had in the first picture.  Today, this one doesn’t make me pout like I did for the photo.  Instead it makes me smile.  It reminds me of why Dad nicknamed me Butch.  Butch is such a silly nickname for a girl.  But yes, he was right.  When I was small I didn’t have much hair.  Dad never used that moniker maliciously.  He never called me that in front of my friends.  It was instead a special endearment that seldom went beyond the family.  I wish he were here today to call me Butch just once more. September 3rd would have been his 99th birthday.

As I continue through the album, I come across numerous pictures of Jo-Ann and I dressed alike.  Unfortunately the quality of the photos is so poor that I cannot scan most of them in and share.  And alas, I do not have the technical ability to scan them and improve them.

 My favorite is of the two of us standing in the yard.  It reveals so much about our childhood.   It was probably a Sunday morning.  We both have our short blond hair curled in soft curls, parted on the left and combed to the right.  Hair barrettes hold our hair out of our faces.  That in itself is a reminder.  Bangs were not permitted in our household.  Never! They reminded Dad of a really mean little girl from his school days.

We both wore white ankle socks.  I know there was probably a stitch of blue embroidery thread in each of Jo-Ann’s and a stitch of red in each of mine.  Each Monday the laundry was done and sorted.  All of our clothing was labeled.  I am not sure why it was so important that we each had our own clothes and never wore the others.  As we grew, items were always passed down from one of us to the next.  And when we were quite small we were always dressed alike. However  I am grateful that we each had our own things.  I know a lot of kids didn’t.

Our brown sandals reminded me of another part of the family tradition.  Brown, not white.  Brown could be polished and didn’t get scuffed up as easily as white..  Oh how I wanted Saddle Oxford’s for school when I got older.  But my folks often bought Jo-Ann and me shoes from the boy’s department; because that was the only way they could get brown or black shoes for us.

In the snapshot we are both wearing checked cotton dresses, with puffed sleeves, and ruffled skirts.  Jo-Ann’s looks neat and tidy.  Mine looks wrinkled.  (Hmm, I wonder if there was more to that nickname than just my lack of hair.)  I am not even half-of-a-head-taller than she is.  I can tell which one is me because my shoulder is higher than hers…and my skirt is shorter.  Her skirt almost reaches her knees.  I must have been in a growing phase.  My skirt hem and knees had separated company.  That was another family must…Skirts are to be worn halfway across the knees.  Can you imagine how much stress that caused when I was in my teens in the 1960’s and the mini-skirt was popular?

We both have little purses with long straps that reach across our bodies from one shoulder to the other side.  That is how I know it was Sunday.  There was, no doubt, a handkerchief with a few pennies for the collection plate, tied in the corner and stored within those bags.  We are both looking at the camera and smiling.  And best of all, we are holding hands.  Today we live in different states.  I wish she was close enough that I could reach out and hold her hand today.

Now let’s recap this photo.  We had the same hairdo; the same socks and shoes; the same dresses; matching purses; and we are just about the same size.  I guess I don’t have to wonder why people thought we were twins.

Jo-Ann was nicknamed Jeep.  One of the most popular stories was that she was standing up in the back  of the car on one of our outings.  A Jeep vehicle had cut Dad off, or some such thing and he said, “Get out of the way Jeep.”  At this point Jo-Ann ducked, she thought he was talking to her.  From that day on the family says she was called Jeep.  But as I look through the album I wonder if there might be an additional reason.

In the album I find several pictures of Jo-Ann and me dressed alike.  The big difference is that in one I am admiring how cool I look; and she has a wad of her skirt twisted up in her fist, and she is crying.  In the next, she has her hands bawled up into little fists, and yes, she is crying.  I am just standing there looking at the ground.  And on and on they go.  She always looks ready to be on the go and not happy to have to stand still.  She wasn’t a sit and do nothing child, unless she was ready to fall asleep.  And now I wonder if that is why Dad affectionately called her Jeep.  She was like a Jeep–always ready to go.

As I continue I discover a photo taken in 1955.  This is a picture of me with both of my sisters.  We are dressed in matching blue dotted nylon skirts.  Other than the 1955  photo matching outfits seldom show up in the photo album after we started school.  The pictures that appear are instead pictures of us under the Christmas tree with three identical dolls; or on Easter Sunday with different dresses, but wearing identical hats, bags and sandals.

It is amazing that we grew up to be such different personalities.  We are compatible, but different.  Just the way it is supposed to be.

 

This was written for Three Word Wednesday.  The words:  disgust; pout; wad.

Also written for my monthly memoir group.  Topic:  Something from your childhood.

 

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Where is My Muse?

Sometimes my muse behaves like a delinquent child.

She refuses to send me a  coherent thought.

She does nothing to trigger an inspiration and

I end up feeling like a hapless lass.

Today is one of those days….

Three word Wednesday:  hapless; delinquent; trigger.

 

 

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I Always Thought I’d Live in Colorado

In the summers before freeways crisscrossed the country from short to shore and border to border, when major highways remained unpaved, and before pollution grayed the skies of every major city, our family used to drive from Southern California to Granddad’s farm in South Dakota.  Late on a Friday afternoon when Dad arrived home from work, he would load the footlocker into the trunk.  Mom would add the little leather suitcase that held everything we would need overnight, if we stopped, although we seldom did.  Then a thermos of coffee and a jug of ice water were added to the floor up front by Mother’s feet.

Dad liked to leave in the evening so that we could drive across the desert in the cool of the night.  He would drive straight through to South Dakota, or at least until his eyelids could no longer remain open to navigate the curves and hills of the country roads; or until a nighttime summer-storm rendered the windshield wipers useless.  When that happened he’d park the car in the gravel lot behind a market or tavern that was closed for the night.  He would lean the car seat as far back as he could, without crunching a child, and close his eyes until the sun once again appeared on the horizon, or the early sounds of daybreak  disturbed his sleep.  Then he’d drive some more.

Sometimes, while Dad slept we would wake up in the dead of night and hear phantom creatures crunching the gravel around the car and be afraid to open our eyes for fear some flaccid being would be outside staring in.

During the early morning hours we would stop at a diner or café where one pancake filled the plate and milk was drawn from a machine.  But soon we’d be on the road again.

There were times when we would arrive at the farm in the wee hours of the third day.  Our bodies no longer agile, Mom would lead us from the car, into the house and up the stairs to the comfort of a bed.  Other times we would wait in the car until Granddad headed to the barn for early morning chores.

Week one was Mother’s vacation.  There would be one day each for each of Mother’s four sisters.  And Sunday always meant church and family dinner.  If we were there for the Fourth of July we’d have a massive family reunion at the farm, with fireworks and homemade ice cream.  It was a busy time.

Week two was when Dad’s vacation began.  There was a little gypsy in Dad.  He liked traveling from place to place and exploring parts unknown to him.  We visited National Parks and explored underground caves and other oddities along the way.  But the year I remember most is the year we drove through Colorado.  We had never been in Colorado before, I don’t know why we’d gone that way on this particular trip, but that is where we were when the car broke down.

We had traveled along just outside Denver.  We had driven through trees, up and down grades; and stopped for a soda.  When we got back on the road I could hear a strained conversation between my parents.  I wasn’t sure what it was about, but it was clear that something was wrong with the car.  The car whirred when Dad tried to change gears.  The engine sounded like it was overloaded.  It became more and more difficult to maneuver the hills and curves.  Finally we arrived on the outskirts of Denver.  Dad stopped at a garage near a small motel.

Dad went to the garage and Mom checked into the motel.  We had one room with one bed and a tiny kitchenette.  At night we would stretch out the big bulky quilt we carried for a mattress and add two sheets and our pillows.  For the next two or three nights that was where my two sisters and I slept.

When Dad returned he was upset.  It was going to cost more to repair the car than it was worth.  My parents decided to have the garage owner take Dad into town to look for a replacement car.  Dad found a car that afternoon but we had to wait for three days for the bank to approve the loan.  There was absolutely nothing the folks could do but wait.  I don’t know what happened to the Rambler the folks had been driving, but all of our travel gear was removed from the car and squeezed into the tiny motel room.

I am sure that my mother was frantic about how she was going to keep us entertained for several days in a 12 x 12 foot space.  The motel clerk told Mom of the park just a block away.  I remember the walk to the park.  .  We had peanut butter sandwiches, cookies and apples in a bag.  Dad was busy making phone calls when Mom led us to the park.

It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen.  We inhaled the clear clean air and ran from tree to tree wrapping our arms around the massive trunks of large cottonwoods that were spread out on grassy mounds;  their large crowns created canopies that shaded us from the sun and provided the perfect picnic spot.    Later Dad joined us and spread a blanket on the ground and napped in the afternoon shade.  We played make-believe roller derby around the trees, the cool grass gently caressing our feet as we raced around each other.

A little creek danced along, the water doing pirouettes over the rocks and singing a bubbly little song as it went by. We removed our sandals.  Slowly we slid our dusty feet into the babbling brook.  The shiny rocks made us slip and slide as we tried to walk across.  I loved the cool feeling as the water cleaned the dust from between our toes and splashed upon our legs.  Back on the bank, we tried to catch the leaves as they floated along, but the current was too fast.  To grab them would have caused us to fall in; and we knew that mother would not be happy if we got our shorts and sun tops wet .  We remained content to watch the leaves float along.  Someone picked up a stick and tossed it in.  When Dad joined us he picked up a rock, gave it a low toss and we watched it skip across the creek.  We all tried it.  My younger sister was pretty good at it, but my older sister and I were dismal.  It didn’t matter.  We tried and tried again, just enjoying the moment.

When the sun hid behind the trees and the air-cooled we walked back to the motel.  Mom and Dad went inside while the three of us sat on the step and played count the out-of-state license plates until the sun was gone.  Inside Mom had placed our bedding on the floor beside the bed. We snuggled in, tired from a day of sunny play and ready for a night of pleasant dreams.

Mom and Dad left the room once we were tucked in and walked to the tavern to have a well-earned cold beer.  I heard them when they returned.  In the dark they quietly navigated the detour around our feet to enter the bathroom to brush their teeth.  And soon I heard their soft breathing that told me they were sound asleep.

I always thought I’d go back, not to visit but to live in Colorado.  But now I believe it was the serenity of the time and place that I was seeking.

Written for Three Word Wednesday:  agile; phantom; flaccid

And for Soup Night…Topic : Where I would live.

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Lifetime Treasures

 

Life is filled with this and that

Trinkets that we treasure

Little bits of memories

Stored within

A cherished doll,

A favorite ball

Or other childhood pleasure.

As we age and look around

Wondering how to measure

I wonder if the this and that

Stored inside

A cedar chest

Even if it is our best

Will still bring us such pleasure?

Material things are best

When they bring us joy or laughter

So if I discarded it

Sometime past

Without a question asked

I will not mourn it after.

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June 11, 2013 · 4:45 pm