Category Archives: writing

Gratitude, reposted from Writers Daybook

I got up this morning

In a warm and cozy house

While the breeze outside

Still chilled the morning air

I had a warm shower,

And took time to wash my hair

Day-to-day I take things for granted,

And it probably seems that I don’t care.

But I haven’t forgotten, that,

Although I am here,

You are there.

You serve somewhere for our country

Or you served there in the past.

And though you give so freely

I know you wish

Each war would be our last.

Today I am reminded

That peace is not at hand

And that at some point

You sacrificed

For this, our precious land.

You have my thanks and gratitude

Please let me shake your hand.

I’ll pray for peace and healing

Peace! Now wouldn’t that be grand!

I don’t usually write  poetry, but this is what was going through my head this morning, so I hope you’ll accept this for its sentiment.  There are many veterans and servicemen in our family and I am so proud to be related to each one of them that I decided to post it to express my gratitude to them as well as to all the servicemen that protect us.

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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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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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Forgotten Places

As we drove between Forks and Port Angeles earlier this week my husband commented, as he always does, about something that used to exist on a now vacant plot.  At one time this stretch of highway was filled with thriving communities that had been created or were supported by the timber industry.  As the face of logging changed and the big logging companies closed down and moved or abandoned their logging camps these communities withered.  The old-timers that grew up out there in the 1920’s and 1930’s are also gone, or soon will be.  Now most people give little thought to what used to be out there, or that there was anything out there at all.

For example there used to be a pair of communities out there called Beaver and Tyee.  When the federal government moved the Post Office to Tyee, what was Tyee soon became more commonly known as Beaver because the Post Office was still called the Beaver Post Office.  Today whenever a young person talks about Beaver they are referring to old Tyee.  Anyone that grew up out there before the post office was moved will ask, “Old Beaver or new Beaver?”    And then you will almost always hear someone mutter “Tyee.”

We are so focused on what is new and exciting in the world that it is easy to forget the rich history of these communities that no longer exist.  And before we know it all those who still mutter “Tyee” will be gone.  We really must start documenting the stories of our families if only because it helps preserve the history of these communities.

If you have stories of Tyee or Old Beaver, I would really love to hear them.

Written for Three Word Wednesday:  focused, pair,vacant.

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Foreclosure #6

 

“So-o-o, you c-c-come every day?”   She couldn’t believe that she was stuttering.  She had never stuttered in her life.

“Yeah, every day.”   His grin looked more like a challenge than a friendly smile.

“Good morning dear.” Don interrupted the conversation.  “What would you like for breakfast?  I have eggs, no bacon of course.   There is cold cereal or oatmeal if you prefer.  I think there is even some vanilla yogurt in the frig if you want it.”

Sandra quickly regained her composure and said, “Just coffee for now. Thanks.”

“Coffee won’t hold you through the day, Sandy.  I always make oatmeal for us.  I’ll add enough for you.”   Jason opened the cupboard, pulled down a bag of oats and started breakfast.  Sandra sat staring in disbelief.  “Here Sandy, you can cut the apple.”   Jason handed her a granny smith, a knife and pointed to the cutting board.  “Just cut it into chunks,” Jason continued.

Sandra wondered if Jason knew he had just endangered his own life when he handed her that knife and suggested that she cut the apple.  Sandra didn’t realize that the real hazard was that threatening grin of his.

(Three word Wednesday–cut, endanger, hazard.

 

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Foreclosure #5

Sandra could not imagine why someone would be visiting Don at 7:00 am in the morning.  She knew he had always been an early riser, but 7:00 a.m.  This was ridiculous.  She listened intently, trying to make out the voices.  She knew one was Don, but although the other was somewhat familiar she couldn’t identify who it was.

She decided that she might as well get the first morning drudgery over with.  She had no plans for the day so she slid into her ratty old jeans, a chambray shirt and grass stained sneakers.  She ran a brush through her hair and pulled it up on the top of her head in a less-than-attractive pony tail.  Then she clomped down the hallway.

As she rounded the corner into the kitchen she came to an abrupt halt as she collided with a six-foot barrier—a six-foot- barrier with blonde hair, blue eyes and a utility belt slung on his hips.   Before she had a chance to back up he wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the ground embracing her like a long-lost friend.

“Sandy,” he exclaimed.  “You didn’t turn out so bad after all.”

“Oh my gosh,” she exclaimed, “Jason?”  She went limp when she realized who it was.   Karen’s son was the last person she wanted to see.  But there he stood holding her in his arms like a homeless teddy bear.  She found herself smiling as she looked into his laughing eyes.  Don’t smile, she chided herself.  You don’t want anything to do with Jason, remember?

Jason was three years older than her.  She hadn’t seen him since she was eleven, nearly twenty years.  She had to admit he was no longer the scrawny nerd who had tried so hard to be her friend years ago.  That was the year that she refused to enter her father’s home if either Karen or Jason was present.  And until yesterday, she had not returned to this house.

She untangled herself, quickly looked away and reached for a cup and the coffee pot.  When she turned around, Jason was standing beside the table holding a chair for her to sit.   She practically shrieked, “What are you doing here?”  She knew that she and her father were going to differ about this issue, but having Jason visit was totally unacceptable.

Her father cleared his throat as if to speak, but Jason spoke first.  “I check on Dad every morning now that Mom is gone.  I make sure he checks his blood pressure and that he takes his med’s.  I don’t want him to have another heart attack.”

“…Another heart-attack?”  Sandra struggled with the words.  The information startled her so much that she didn’t realize that Jason referred to Don as ‘Dad’.

 

Three word Wednesday:  differ, halt, imagine.

 

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Foreclosure #4

Sandra stretched, opened her eyes, and looked around the room.  It had been three days since she had been forced to move into her father’s guest room.  She tried not to cling to the past.  Don is trying, she thought, he really is.

The room had been freshly painted a creamy beige.  All reference to her stepbrother had been taken away.  Simple silk drapes adorned the only window.  The wagon-wheel bunk beds had been replaced with a full size bed, a vintage vanity and a small stool.  Sandra’s suitcases—only two of them—sat in the corner.  The only items she had unpacked and hung in the closet were the two suits she might need for interviews.  After all, she told herself, this is only temporary.

Suddenly she heard voices, really no more than a murmur, but enough to remind her it was time to start her day.

(Three word Wednesday—cling, murmur, taken.)

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