"I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple."

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Good Friends, Good Food, Good Grief, Let’s Eat.

Ever have a blast-from-the-past, let-the-good-times-roll, crazy fun good time? 

Just waved some friends off after they spent several days visiting us from California’s Central Coast; amazing storytellers who grew up on the same street as my husband and who knew the old crowd. I suspected something great was in store the moment Cindy began pulling frozen Cattaneo Brothers sausages out of her tote and started with a great story about the local legends. And the stories never stopped.

It was an intense, creative, problematic, story-telling, throwback Thursday sort of week that left us giggling like seventh graders at a slumber party. I sat and listened as the three of them (Classes of 65, 66, 69) reminisced about hamburger hangouts, cherry Pepsi’s, days at the beach—and jet skiing at the lake, the Sunset Drive-in, late night escapes in borrowed cars, stolen kisses and the cops on the beat. Growing up in San Luis Obispo in the 50s and 60s sounded like a hoot. Names from the past peppered with stories about defending the huge letter “M” that marked the territory of Mission High School from the “SL” that marked the territory of San Luis High. High school rivalries, beauty queens and Vietnam casualties remembered with love and respect.

So many stories, so many great times. I watched the years roll off and laughter soften the wrinkles. Let the good times roll. We toured the Redwoods and the Oregon Coast, Crater Lake and Lake of the Woods while stories flowed. We target shot, shopped, sipped phosphates at the old soda fountain, toured antique stores and explored Southern Oregon while stories of another time and place kept inserting themselves into the here-and-now. I learned a lot listening to three people share their deep roots in one town. Good for the soul, those memories.

So now they’re gone and it’s back to the business of living. But the energy of their visit remains like the fading scent of a favorite cologne. I learned a lot about being a welcome visitor from watching these two. That’s how a visit should be—each party thinking they got the better of the arrangement.

Adios for now, Tom and Cindy. Don’t be strangers. We’ll keep the light on.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Got the Hanging Out, Old Man Blues

I’m retired. It should be easy to spend an afternoon in the hammock. To lie beneath the sky on a spring day and watch the cumulus clouds float by, to watch the breeze push the fluffy cloud bridge into a puffy old man with a sunshine wink. But I think I’ve forgotten how to do this. I remember from days past a childhood when the hot hours of the day were spent beneath the elm trees, just being alive. One day I found a patch of shamrocks in the lawn, huge shamrocks with four-leaf-clover leaves and I plucked one and pressed it in the old dictionary that had been my grandfather’s at the turn of the century.

It’s still there. I saw it the last time I rummaged through the old trunk. But where did the girl disappear to, the girl who noticed all those sweet clovers just under her nose? Is it a coincidence that I’ve never found another four-leaf clover in all the passing years? Maybe. But I never looked.

So now I’m the puffy old lady in the clouds. My granddaughters think I’m wise beyond words. I guess to them, I am, but inside I feel like I’m waiting for something to happen. And all that waiting makes me nervous so I stay busy.

On my list for today: Write the next big American novel, cure the lawn of whatever ails it, give a talk to my marketing group, go to the gym, post two letters, clean a closet, bake a pie, participate in a conference call for an organization I lead. Oh, and in the middle of it all, sit at the computer and write a blog.

Creating Balance seems to be the national pastime. Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but something is seriously out of whack. I sign up for more than I want or need in my life. Make promises to myself, my family, my God, my community that start smarting before the ink is dry on the contract (metaphorically speaking.) Hard to admit, but I’m that smarty pants kind of person who thinks she can do it all. I like the sound of my own voice.  

Spring is shortly here and quickly gone while housework is forever. Add to that the constant pressure of clubs, social media and the smart phone. I don’t mean to be cranky, but none of them are a fair trade for the old man in the sky. So that's it. It's midnight--officially a new day. Time to apply the lessons that I learned today. It was a good one, this day. But tomorrow... 
No matter what, tomorrow I’m hanging out in the hammock.