Posted in gardening, Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: a peony for my thoughts

One side of our backyard deck is awash with vivid pink and fragranced with an intoxicating aroma. Our peony bushes are blooming.

These lovely and aromatic flowers have a history. I’m not certain how old these perfectly pretty in pink flowers truly are.

For as long as I can remember peonies bloomed in the flower garden of my childhood home, where my maternal grandparents lived with us. Either my maternal grandmother or my mother planted the peonies there.

After Papa and I had our country home built, my father gave us permission to dig up some of the peony plants from my parents’ garden and transplant them around our newly erected deck.

By then, my mother had passed away and possessing the peonies seemed a nice way to keep remembrances of her and my grandparents alive. After Dad passed, my childhood home was sold and now only memories remain of the happy years I spent there.

But these thriving peonies that bloom every year early in June cause me to smile and remember my parents, grandparents, and my childhood home.  

Peonies can be blush pink, bright red, white, cream, or hot pink like ours are. Some can be multi-colored, yellow, or orange as well.

One myth about the peony’s name suggests it was named after Paeon, a student of the Greek god of medicine. When Paeon used a peony root for the first time ever to heal Pluto, Paeon’s teacher became jealous, tried to kill him, but Pluto showed compassion, intervened, and turned Paeon into a peony.

That myth has led folks to believe that the peony symbolizes compassion. But it is interesting to note that the peony’s roots, seeds, and flowers were used for medicinal purposes in ancient and medieval times and were considered a cure for many diseases, so perhaps there is a bit of truth to the myth.

In addition to representing compassion, peony flowers have other meanings symbolizing prosperity, good fortune, honor, and even happiness. They are also believed to encourage happy marriages.

Pink peonies also represent love at first sight and perhaps that’s why they are often used in bridal bouquets and wedding décor.

One word of caution when using garden-grown peonies like ours for weddings or just to enjoy them in your home is that ants abound on them. Apparently, ants love the sweet nectar peonies provide, so it’s necessary to remove the little critters before bringing the aromatic flowers into the house.

Ants or not, whether they mean good fortune or compassion, when I enjoy the beauty and aroma of our peonies, I remember my parents and grandparents and the bright blooms mean love to me.

“I equate peonies with love because they’re the first blooms of summer.” ~Isaac Mizrahi

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in family, Life

Words for Wednesday: the way we were

I just spent several days in October with my sisters, which doesn’t seem that extraordinary, does it? But the three of us, of which I am youngest, haven’t been all together for four years or so.

One sister lives in the area and she and I are together often for which I am grateful. But my other sister lives a couple thousand miles away, so time spent with her is sparse due to distance or circumstances beyond our control.

Circumstances are what happened when my far-away sister and brother-in-law attempted to drive their RV from their out west state eastward to visit us back in May.

An unfortunate accident, when my sister fell and broke more than a handful of bones in her leg, prevented them from continuing their trip and waylaid them only a few hundred miles into their journey.

After surgery which prompted me to call her the “bionic woman,” much recuperation and physical therapy for many, many weeks which turned into months, she was cleared for travel once again. And this time, they made the cross-country trip without incident, again a reason for gratefulness.

What joy we experienced during their visit! And we shared a lot of memories. Wonderful memories of the way we were in our family.

If you’re a certain age like I am, you may recall a movie from the 1970’s starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford entitled The Way We Were.

Streisand sang the movie’s theme song and those old lyrics came back to me so easily as I sat down to compose this post.

Mem’ries,
Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?
Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember…
The way we were…
The way we were…
(Written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch)

Memories. While the three of us sisters gathered, we shared many truly lovely, endearing, and even funny memories of the way we were.

“Time and space may separate us, but not the thoughts and memories that bind us.” ~ Ed Parker

And we sorted through even more memories. With our mother already in her heavenly home, our father passed away over a decade ago, and we then emptied out our parental home to prepare it for sale.

We just couldn’t decide what to do with some memorabilia, so we packed items into plastic totes and unfortunately, those bins took up residence in my basement ever since. So, while our other sister was visiting, the three of us sorted through those remains.

What did we find? Memories. But most of them did not belong to us. Some were from our parents. Even some belonged to our grandparents who passed from this earth over 55 years ago.

Old greeting cards. Long forgotten letters. Personal items like Grandpa’s coin purse, bow tie, and leather straight razor shaving strop. Grandma’s hat pin, shoe buttoner hook. Mom’s overflowingly full recipe boxes. Dad’s high school graduation yearbook and his retirement recognition. Memorial books from all their funerals.

And there were scrap books. Five scrap books full of newspaper clippings some going back to the 1930’s and further back.

Memories. All those memories that actually did not belong to us but gave us a glimpse into the past. A glimpse of our departed loved ones’ memories. The way they were.

But the question we had to ask ourselves was “Who will care?” Who wants to preserve those old memories of days gone by and long forgotten? Not one of us three sisters believed our children or grandchildren would be interested in any of it.

As we rifled through those memories, sorted them, and eventually tossed most of them into the refuse bag, it saddened me.

Not because I wanted to keep those remnants but because at some point in time, our family members long gone thought they were important enough to keep. But their value had diminished away.

And the material items we think are worthy of value now will do the same. Perhaps we should leave memories behind by our words, told and retold to our children and grandchildren, not our things.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” ~ Dr. Seuss

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2021

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: memories as vast as the ocean

Can you ever get tired of pictures of the ocean? I can’t and I’m hoping you can’t either today as we journey down the Oregon Coast Highway, US Route 101, on my Tuesday Tour.

If a traveler desires to travel from start to finish along the Oregon coast, the first place to start is Astoria.  Next stops might include Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Tillamook (best ice cream and cheese ever!), Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, and Newport.

During our years living in the Pacific Northwest, we visited them all and you can read about those places and see my photographs in my previous blog posts.

But today I’m highlighting some of the Pacific Ocean’s beautiful sights, which our young family of five observed on our way to northern California for the first time in the early 1990’s, and showcasing just some of my captures with the 35 mm automatic film camera I had at the time.

Traveling south on US Route 101 just past Depoe Bay, we stopped at Cape Foulweather, a land formation 500 feet above the Pacific. Named by a seagoing captain named James Cook in 1778 after enduring terrible weather and rough ocean conditions, this area is now a state park where visitors may be fortunate enough to spy gray whales and bald eagles.

A little further south brought us to Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which has existed there since 1873 and I highlighted in my Tuesday Tour series on lighthouses. An interesting note to the Cape Foulweather area is that winds there can reach up to 100 miles/hour. Now you know why it’s named thusly.

Between Newport and Waldport, we found Seal Rock State Park, a perfect place to eat our picnic lunch in the day-use area. Then we explored the sandy beach, collecting seashells and examining the interesting tidepools.  

Our next stop was to view a spot located in Suislaw National Forest, which runs right up to the ocean. A small inlet called Devil’s Churn was carved into rock there by the crashing ocean waves over a multitude of years. Visitors have been known to be hit by the waves churning into the outlet when they send saltwater hundreds of feet into the air.

From there we continued southward to Florence, where one finds miles of beaches and the beginning of mountains of sand dunes. We also caught a glimpse of Heceta Head Lighthouse from a distance there. Another big attraction in the Florence area are the Sea Lion Caves, called America’s largest sea cave and home to scads of sea lions, which you can view while they lounge around inside the cave.

For almost 40 miles from Florence to Coos Bay, we felt like we were in another area of the world. Why? Because the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is located there, an amazing place where the forest, the desert, and the ocean all meet.

Our children loved frolicking over the huge sand dunes and pretending they were in a never-ending desert of sand looking for an oasis to find fresh water. With three rambunctious children who needed to get exercise outside of a long car ride, a lot of crawling and clowning around took place.

Our first day of that road trip ended when we spent the night in Gold Beach, a town in the Siskiyou Mountains where the Rogue River deposits itself into the Pacific Ocean. It’s a great spot for wild, whitewater rafting on the river, jet boat tours, and plenty of fishing for salmon. 

The next day we passed through Brookings, the last Oregon town on US Route 101 and six miles from the California border. Driving into northern California, plenty more adventures awaited us as we made our way to Eureka and eventually San Francisco.

But for now, we’re going to leave the USA’s west coast and those travels from the past for a spell and I’ll take you on a more recent journey away from our empty nest beginning next Tuesday.

Those amazing ocean views will step back into my memories but won’t be forgotten. At some point in future Tuesday Tour posts, I’ll continue sharing some sites Papa and I explored ‘back in the day.’

“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.” ~ Unknown

©2021 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: forcynthia

blogIMG_7647You read that title correctly. No, I did not make a typographical error there. I didn’t misspell the word forsythia, I truly meant to post forcynthia.

What in the world? you may ask.  As she nears that ripe age of 65 is she starting to lose her faculties? Or is it simply that the appearance of sunshine and spring-like weather addled her brain? Is she giddy with spring-time bliss?

To answer those questions: No, I don’t think I’m losing my almost-65-year-old mind. No, my brain isn’t addled…at least not yet. And maybe, yes, I could be giddy with spring-time bliss.

But the most accurate answer is there is a story behind the title of today’s post and I am going to share it with you.

In our yard there is one forsythia bush. It has been planted in the same spot for several years now – almost 10 this summer – and this is the year it has bloomed its best. The bush exists for one specific reason; it was a gift to me because of a childhood story I once shared with a friend.

I’ve always loved seeing forsythia bushes blooming their golden yellow, delicate, skinny petaled flowers clustered on tall spires in spring. Forsythia are so cheerful to view, even if some folks consider them invasive as they can grow quite large and can take over an area of landscaping.

But to me, they are special and I’m going to tell you why.

Unless you know me personally, you do not know that my given name is actually Cynthia. It’s right there, written on my birth certificate although the only person to call me by that name was my mother – when she was angry with me.

I’m more known for the nickname associated with Cynthia – Cindy.  But my birth name is Cynthia, a name derived from Greek, another name for Artemis, the mythological goddess of the moon. But even from my earliest memory, I knew my ‘real’ name was Cynthia and that I certainly was not a goddess.

As a youngster, every time I heard my parents discussing those bushes that appeared in spring with their bright sunshine-color blooms as forsythia, I honestly thought they were saying “for Cynthia.” So at some point in my childhood, I claimed those plants as my own. And when they bloomed, they were for me – for Cynthia.

I related this silly, little story once to a friend and it made her chuckle. But she remembered my tale. Not quite 10 years ago, my father passed away. The loss was difficult for me as he was the last remaining parent either my husband or I had. Losing Dad came right on the cusp of empty nest hood too, so my emotions were kind of a mess.

Imagine the joy it brought me when the friend gave me a gift to express her condolences at my father’s passing. The gift was a small forsythia bush which she spent a good deal of time searching for.

blogIMG_7640A gift to bless my heart. This Cynthia. This Cynthia who loves forsythia. This Cynthia who still thinks of this particular spring bloom as exclusively mine – my forcynthia.

And my forcynthia still blesses me each time I look at it, but especially in spring time. And that joy of remembering my parents, remembering that little girl who loved her parents so dearly and also her forcynthia stays with me.

Sometimes joy comes in yellow.

“Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in family, Life

When there’s pie in a blizzard

img_6583 (3)What day is it anyhow?

Did you ever awaken after a deep sleep and be just a little bewildered about what day it is? It happens to me every so often. I open my eyes and think, “Is today Wednesday or Thursday?” Or “What is today’s date, do I have somewhere I have to be today?”

Yesterday I crawled out of bed at my usual time – early morning before dawn – to go walking with my life-long friend. Upon awakening, I knew it was Wednesday and I needed to don my walking clothes.

But what I didn’t know until I glanced out the window was that it was snowing. We walk no matter what the weather brings unless there is a deluge of rain, so I bundled up and slipped on my hiking boots.

After returning from our morning jaunt, which was so peaceful with snow gently falling, I looked at the date on my calendar because even though I knew it was Wednesday, I didn’t remember the actual date.

Seeing that it was January 9th, I remembered that it was my maternal grandfather’s birthday. And just like that (snaps fingers), memories of Grandpa came back to me.

Grandpa died when I was nine, so my remembrances of him aren’t plentiful, but I do have some treasured and humorous memories of him, like when snow fell in huge, fluffy snowflakes, he would comment, “Look at those big cakes coming down!”

I also remember stories about him that my mother – his only child – told me. Stories that happened long before I was born.

My grandfather was born back in the 1870’s (yes, you read that correctly). Having a birthday in January as he did, chances are there would be a lot of snow on the ground and it would be blustery cold on his special day.

Yesterday’s snowfall on the ninth day of January in the year 2019, 143 years after my grandfather was born, reminded me of a sweet family story about Grandpa’s birthday one year.

My grandparents were married in 1900; my mother was born 19 years later. Since she remembered this birthday story about her father, I know it was sometime in the 20’s or early 30’s but I don’t know exactly when.  

Grandpa’s birthday was on a Sunday that year and my Grandmother, who was a queen of hospitality, invited many friends and family members to their home to celebrate Grandpa’s birthday after church. In that particular year, some fortunate folks owned automobiles, but some still traveled by horse and buggy or on foot.

The day of Grandpa’s birthday party, it snowed and snowed and snowed. Cars had a hard time traversing the country roads from church to my grandparents’ home for the party. So all of the invited guests walked through the snow and cold, some for miles, to get there.

And some of them carried pies on their journey. See, Grandpa wasn’t a big fan of cake but oh, he did love pie. So Grandma asked ladies to bring pies so she could cut a piece of pie from each one, arrange them on a big plate in a circular fashion to resemble one huge pie, and present it to Grandpa for his birthday treat.

His eyes lit up when he saw his birthday pie consisting of all of those different kinds of pies. And I suppose the “big cakes” of snow continued to fall as the party continued.

I wonder in amazement about several aspects of this story. First of all, the resilience of those who lived before us comes to my mind. Snowfall didn’t stop them from attending my grandfather’s party. They trudged through deep snow carrying pies and thought nothing of it, making the best of a bad situation. Now we seem to panic when the slightest bit of snow falls. 

They could have said let’s not go, it’s snowing too much, but they didn’t. They could have decided it just was too much trouble, but they didn’t. I wonder would we walk through deep snow and blustery weather just to go to a birthday party?

No doubt they meant what they said when they agreed to attend, no matter that the snow piled up high all around. They knew the meaning of the word commitment. Are we still as committed to following through with our promises today? I wonder.

Secondly, how generous they were to all bring pies, carrying them while trudging through snow,  to surprise my grandfather. Those folks were so willing to go out of their way to bring a slice of happiness to my grandpa.

Happiness that didn’t come in a wrapped, expensive gift but instead in a home-baked goody. Why do we place so much emphasis on monetary gifts we give or receive instead of just sheer thoughtfulness? Why do we think happiness comes with an expensive price tag?

And finally, this story reminds me that often times we encounter a “blizzard” of unforeseen circumstances in life. But we must trudge through the deep “snow” and make our way to where we need to be, no matter what.

And when we finally arrive, there is something worth achieving.

A piece of happiness. A slice of joy. A portion of gladness. A wedge of bliss.

Grandpa’s birthday story is enough to make me want to eat pie during a blizzard and be thankful for both the blizzard and the pie.

“You don’t really get Jesus saying very often there’ll be pie in the sky when you die. He’s really talking about now and today, and it’s supposed to be like that. You’re supposed to delight in what’s right in front of you.” ~ Greg Boyle

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Life, life changes

Digging up the past

abstract black and white blur book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I caught up with my past today.  It was buried deep in cardboard boxes high up on a shelf. Dusty and forgotten for so many years.

I hauled it down, blew off the dust. And all the years and memories unfolded in front of me.

There were cards and letters, trinkets, and junk with meaning only I would remember. But the past became as vivid as today’s raindrops beating on my window pane.

When my youthful diaries revealed so many faded memories, the joy and pain of adolescence gripped my heart once more as I read of long-lost friends and school girl crushes. So much teenage angst.

Hurt, rejection, misunderstandings swirled together with excitement, thrills of shared smiles, first kisses, first love. It was all there written down for safe-keeping in my own handwriting on lined pages in small books entitled “My Diary.”

I read them from start to finish while scenes from the almost forgotten past floated through my memory. Of course now, looking back on those days with grey-haired wisdom, I marvel at how fickle youth truly is.

Love him today, hate him tomorrow. Best friends now, not friends at all as time marches on. As I read the short passages written in between empty spaces, I observed with hindsight and a little sorrow how easily a young girl can be manipulated as well.

Yet, those long ago years seem so romanticized. They seem golden in my mind. They shout fun, exuberance, and excitement of being young in times past. When life was as simple as worrying about what to wear to school tomorrow and whether that cute boy in history class was really looking at me or merely out the window beside my desk.

And I laugh out loud at my girlish thoughts which I put into written words.

It’s true I wouldn’t want to return via time travel back to those days of my youth. There were lessons to be learned, some the hard way. A lot of growing up needed to be accomplished.  Some dreams were foolish; some were worth achieving.

But what’s passed is past.

 “You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”  ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

So today I find myself placing those youthful memories back in their box, back where they belong. But before I do, I realize that I am grateful for those times, those long-ago events that shaped me into the woman I am today.

What that young, naive, and flighty girl has become. Wife of a good, faithful husband, Mama of three wondrous children, Nana to two precious grandchildren, Daughter, Sister, Friend.

For what’s written in the past made future me the present me.

“The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective. The past could not dominate the future.” ~ Barbara Taylor Bradford, Unexpected Blessings

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in catch a falling star

Never let it fade away

blogfallingstarMaking a long-lasting memory is like catching a falling star and putting it in your pocket and last night, or I should say early this morning, I secreted a falling star away in my pocket.

If you’re not familiar with that old song, Catch a Falling Star, here are the lyrics:

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away.

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day.

Actually I caught 20 falling stars in the course of one-half hour.  Determined to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower that is peaking right now, I mentioned it to middle daughter last night.  I had read that the shower would peak some time in the wee hours of the morning in our area so I asked, “Who’s going to get up with me to watch for falling stars?”

I knew hubby wouldn’t take me up on it because he was already dead tired and it was only 10 p.m. Besides he had to go to work today as well.  So I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter, who is a sleep-deprived new mom of our six month old grandbaby, said she wanted to witness the meteor shower too.

Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  We agreed when we headed off for bed that I’d set my alarm for those wee hours of the morning and that I’d awaken her to join me on our back yard deck for the show.

We all turned in for the night but I didn’t sleep much.  Whether I was too excited about seeing the stars or just worried I’d sleep through it, I tossed and turned until I heard my alarm sound.  I tiptoed downstairs and opened up our front door.  Brrr.  One of those crisp, chilly nights reminiscent of fall greeted me.

I threw a sweatshirt and sweatpants on over my nightgown, found my fuzzy warm slippers, and entered the bedroom where my daughter was sleeping soundly.  Gently calling her name, I half expected her to say she wanted to stay in bed, but she climbed right out of that warm, cozy bed to join her mama in pursuit of a meteor shower.

I grabbed the soft fleecy Steelers blanket for her on the way to the deck and my daughter wrapped herself in it.

The night sky was absolutely magnificent.  Being out here in the country there aren’t many bright lights to interfere with observing the stars on any given night, except when there is cloud cover. But oh, not last night. 

The heavens were breathtakingly clear, no cloud in sight and the expanse of stars was absolutely awe-inspiring.  I honestly don’t remember seeing so many stars lighting up the darkness covering our surroundings.  Bright orbs of light even hung low on the horizon giving us the feeling that we were in a planetarium looking up at the starry show.

And then my daughter spotted it.  The first shooting star.  And there.  Another one.  A quick flash of light and sudden streak. And oh, look there, that one left a trail.  We kept count and even though we were only on the deck for 30 minutes, we spied 20 falling stars (and a couple of jet planes too).

We talked about constellations and how we wished we knew more of them so we could identify them because the jet black expanse of nighttime was chock full of them.  We spoke of how utterly amazing it was that God created the heavens and that He knew how many stars He placed in the sky.  And we fell silent thinking that over.

And then I sang so softly… “catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…”  And my daughter cracked me up with her immediate quip, “Well, that would be kinda hot, don’t you think?” And we laughed and pointed to yet another shooting star.

We made a sweet memory to last a lifetime and shared an experience bound with love while we shivered on the deck catching falling stars.  A memory to store away in the pockets of our minds to pull out later on those rainy days when life seems so difficult.  

Shooting stars are blazing bright one moment and faded away into nothingness the next.  But the time spend with my middle born child (okay, she’s an adult) will never fade away. And I wouldn’t have traded those 30 minutes of stargazing on the deck with my daughter for anything, not even a pocketful of stars.

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in family, Home, Life, memories, Spring

And I’m not fooling

blogkiteI hope you won’t be offended but I really want to tell you to “go fly a kite!”

No, really, I mean it.  And this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke.

Usually when someone tells you to go fly a kite, he means “get away from me.”

Leave me alone!  Scram!  Get outta here!  Go jump in the lake!  Beat it!  Or my personal favorite – go smack yourself silly!

So naturally, I don’t mean any of that because I love my readers, really I do.  I’d love it more if you commented and let me know you were here reading and enjoying (or not) my blog, but regardless, I feel the love when I view my site statistics.

So I literally mean go fly a kite!  All month if you’d like.  You see, I turned over a new chapter and page in  that  book of Opportunity this month, Chapter 4, Page 1.  It’s April and this month just so happens to be “Go Fly a Kite Month.”  Really!

I wouldn’t make these things up.  As it turns out, kites have always fascinated me.  When I was a little girl, every spring I tried making my own kites out of paper, sticks and string.  I’d run outside on a windy day and expect my kite to suddenly take flight and soar like a bird.   And it never did!

Apparently, I didn’t understand the aerodynamics of kites because my homemade ones wouldn’t lift off the ground.  No matter how hard I ran around the yard holding onto my string, the kite just followed me on the ground like a lost puppy.

My mother would sometimes let me purchase a store-bought kite from the five and dime store.  I felt certain those flimsy pieces of plastic cut into the perfect diamond shape would take wing like a bird.  Alas, those kites never were inspired to much flight either.

After a while, I abandoned kite flying and left it to the grumpy old dad who finally realized he was missing out on fun with his children in the movie, Mary Poppins.   I watched that film in the movie theater way back in 1964, when it was released, and wondered why my kites never flew like those in the movie.  Probably because I didn’t have a nanny named Mary Poppins!  Heck, I never even had a nanny!

Years later, I became a mother with three children and on a whim one day, I bought a kite for them.  One gusty day in April, we assembled the kite and attempted to fly it in our Midwestern back yard.

I watched my children flit around the lawn, and I was still skeptical that a kite would actually fly.  Suddenly, it ascended into the sky and swerved and darted with each blast of air as my kids giggled with delight and I marveled.  I think I was as happy about it as they were!

Fast forward a couple of years.  Our family had recently moved to the Pacific Northwest and we drove to the coast (FYI for you eastern folks, we go to the “beach” here but in the Northwest, it’s the “coast.”) for a day of sightseeing and fun.

Driving through one of the coastal towns, we decided to stop and venture out onto the beach where a kite-flying contest was in progress.   Our eyes just about bugged out of their sockets.  What a sight!  There were huge kites, box kites, kites of every description floating and flying, soaring and swerving.

Eventually on one of our coastal trips, we visited a kite shop and bought ourselves a modest kite.  That kite fluttered and glided in ocean breezes in both Oregon and Washington giving us much delight as we took turns guiding it.   Even after we moved back to the home land, our youngest sometimes flew our kite.  But then he grew up and the kite lost its appeal.

You know what?  I’m pretty sure that somewhere out in the garage, that kite sits on a shelf unused and dusty.  You already know I live in a wind tunnel.  [If you missed that post, read  stirred-but-not-shaken]

So good grief, there’s plenty of gusty breezes at my house.  I’m thinking it might just be a good day for flying a kite! Oh wait, it’s snowing outside and that’s no April Fool’s.   Oh well, I have the entire month of April to go fly a kite.  Want to join me?

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Posted in family, fragrance, gratitude, Home, Life, memories

I smell a memory

blogDSCN0618 - CopyI’m a smeller.

Oh, I don’t mean I smell awful, although on a hot summer day I imagine I don’t exactly smell fresh!  I’m a smeller because I possess a pretty keen sense of smell.

If there’s an odor in the air, pleasant or malodorous, it seems to reach my nose before my husband’s.  Often I ask him, “What’s that smell?” and receive this reply, “What smell?”

The sense of smell, which apparently triggers memories in a powerful and instantaneous way, fascinates me.  Actually, my earliest memory is a smell – not a person, not a sight, not an event, but an odor.

When I was a just a toddler, my grandparents lived on a farm for a time.  I have no memory whatsoever of visiting them, but I’ve seen pictures of my little self there, petting kittens, posing with my older sisters.   So I know I’ve been to that farm, but I can’t recall what it looked like or any event that happened there.

As I grew up, whenever I smelled a particular smoky odor, for some reason it reminded me of my grandparents.  One day after puzzling over the connection, I asked my mother about it.  She informed me an old smoke-house (where meat was smoked) existed on the farm so that odor permeated throughout my grandparents’ home.

Aha.  My first memory – smoked meat – explains why I can’t turn down bacon, doesn’t it?

I’ve read that our sense of smell, more than any other sense, is vitally linked to the part of the human brain that processes emotion.  It’s no wonder then that every time I handle a handmade quilt crafted by my grandmother long before my birth,  I inhale the smell of it and it brings me to tears.  That quilt smells like my beloved Grandma, who I lost when I was nine.

Other odors – and not just onions – cause me to weep also.  If I catch a whiff of Chantilly perfume, I automatically recall my late dear mother-in-law; that scent, her favorite, reminds me how much I miss her.  Smelling freshly laundered and hung outside to dry clothes evoke sweet memories of my mother as does the clean aroma of soap.

Fragrances mesh firmly with my memories, nice or otherwise, which is also why the men’s after shave, Brut, brings my first boyfriend to mind, although I’d definitely rather forget him.  I don’t enjoy the scent of roses, although I love to partake of their beauty.  Just don’t make me smell them.  There must be some negative connection to their fragrance, but I haven’t figured out yet what it might be.

Researchers say children possess more acute senses of smell than older folks and that as we age, we start losing some of our smell-ability.  I lost my ‘smeller’ once when I had an atrocious case of bronchitis, sinus and double ear infections all at once.  It was Thanksgiving time and I couldn’t smell a darn thing.

No delicious aroma of roasting turkey or pumpkin pie registered with me, not even a hint.  To top it all off, I lost my sense of taste at the same time.  When I closed my eyes and chewed my food, I couldn’t distinguish mashed potatoes from peas – certainly not an enjoyable Thanksgiving feast!  So I hope to maintain my sense of smell as long as possible!

Not only can odors flood our thoughts with memories, they supposedly influence our moods and even affect work performance.  You could try to use that one as an excuse.  “Boss, I just can’t finish my work today because there’s this awful smell here.”  Just don’t blame it on the person in the next cubicle or your boss!

Yesterday I realized how grateful I am for the sense of smell.  As I arrived home, I inhaled a most aromatic odor – roasted chicken wrapped in bacon, baked to perfection by my hubby – which almost smelled as good to me as he does.     Nothing welcomes us like a house full of home-cooked aroma.

Helen Keller, who lost her sense of sight and hearing at an early age, once said, “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.”

The aroma of fresh-cut grass transports me back to my childhood.  What about you? What smells conjure up pleasant memories for you?  Take a minute, reflect and share your thoughts on this 11th page, Chapter Three in my book called Opportunity.

“Don’t hurry.  Don’t worry.  You’re only here for a short visit.  So don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.” ~ Walter Hagen

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Home, Life, memories

Video gaming…those were the days?

play-fun-blocks-block-591652.jpegRemember when.   Is everyone who passes the half century mark programmed to utter those two words?

Today on Page 27, Chapter Two, in my book of Opportunity, I’m contemplating that.

With more than half of our lives over, is that why those of us who cross over the big five-o threshold tend to look back at the past instead of forward to the future?

Recently I ate lunch with a co-worker who is just a few years younger than me and we started talking about “the good ol’ days.”

At first, we discussed restaurants and stores long gone from the main street of my hometown and then we delved into childhood reminiscences.

Most of our conversation revolved around those two words, “remember when.”  Remember when the drug store had a soda fountain counter?  Remember when there was a five and dime store?  Remember when you could eat at the snack bar in that store?  Remember the candy counter?

My friend remembers her grandma taking her to the “five and ten” (as we called it) where she allowed my friend to pick whatever candy from the big bins that she wanted and she would happily go home with a ¼ pound of goodies.  I also remember salivating there as a kid surveying all the candy and salted nuts you could purchase.

In the middle of the wooden floored store stood a wide staircase that led downstairs to where the magical toy department existed and the pet department where you could buy not just fish but tiny little turtles too.  I know because I had two of them.

I was one lucky little girl because my oldest sister worked at the five and ten store while she was in high school and sometimes I was the lucky recipient of a treat from there.  I especially recall receiving packages of cut-out dolls.

Life was a whole lot simpler back in the day.  Children played with simple toys.  We didn’t have electronic gadgets that blinked, beeped or lit up like a Christmas tree.  Computer games, video games…non-existent.  A computer was something mentioned in science fiction books.

Indoor play consisted of items like jacks, yo-yos, pick-up sticks and cut-out dolls – cardboard folders with a flat cardboard figure (mine was National Velvet) and sheets of paper clothing that we cut out with our scissors. The paper clothes had tabs on them that folded down on the doll to keep the outfit on.

A package of cut-outs could keep me occupied for a long time.  I loved playing with them so much, I would even make my own from the huge Sears and Roebuck catalog.  I would cut out an entire family, their clothes and a household full of furniture and appliances all out of that one catalog.

But a large segment of my play time was spent outdoors.  My neighborhood girlfriends and I even set up elaborate Barbie doll arrangements outside under the trees or on the front porch.  We ran as we played different versions of tag, we jumped rope, we rode our bikes, we swam in their pool.

We made up our own games and imaginary playtime scenarios.  Sometimes we played secret agent, sometimes restaurant, sometimes house and we did it all outside.  If it wasn’t raining we were outdoors.  If it snowed, we couldn’t wait to be outside sledding, making snowmen, building snow forts and engaging in snow ball battles.

Hours of very inexpensive and simple fun.  All accomplished without a computer, an expensive game system or TV.

When today’s children reach their half-century marks in age I wonder if they will sit around and reminisce, “Remember when we stayed inside all day with our noses stuck to a computer screen or the TV playing video games.  Those were the days.”

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com