Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Reason...

  I haven't added anything to this site in a very long time. I started it for my mom, who was slowly being taken away with Alzheimer's. As part of the process it's good to tell them stories, frequently go through photo albums and tell them things about the people in those pictures.
  I wanted there to be a place that Mom could go to see and read these things. I chose to talk only about the good things that happened during my childhood, not any of the abuse, or any of the other garbage that my dad brought into our lives.
  It became clear that keeping this up for Mom was more my priority than anyone else's. However, while talking to a long time family friend, she asked if I could print off what I'd written & mail it to her.She wanted to read it and didn't have a computer. I did as asked. Later she told me she took it upon herself to go over to Mom's and read it to her and show her the pictures... "just in case".  :)

Anyway, here it sits... for all of eternity on the internet. One day I may finish it......... who knows.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stuck

I went to school and told everyone about my new little sister. I thought it was pretty cool, which makes my initial reaction even stranger. However cool I thought it was, I still couldn't figure out what good she was for.
I could talk to her, but she didn't respond to me with words (well, at least in a language that I knew), she drank this white, nasty smelling stuff that I heard Mom call "formula", she would spit this stuff up and it smelled even worse. She had gas most of the time, and I learned real quick that the funny face that she made and her face turning red wasn't her just being goofy, it meant that she was making a REAL STINKY mess in her diaper. Often times I had to leave the room... The smell and the sight of it all was just a little much for me, even at that age. She just seemed to lay around and leak a lot.
I really wasn't understanding that a baby couldn't do anything but lay around and leak all over the place.
There were many late nights when Jenni was first born. Most of the time Mom would come into my room in the middle of the night to change Jenni's diaper. One of those nights will be one that I will always remember.
I woke to my bedroom light being turned on, Mom carrying Jenni, who was fussing and squirming around. I squinted my eyes against the glare.
I moved over in my small bed to make room for Mom and Jenni. She laid Jenni down to change her diaper. I kept blinking my eyes, trying to get used to the bright light. Mom was yakking (like usual) and I was laying there listening to her. I don't remember what she was saying. I was laying there with my eyes closed, listening and suddenly there was this horrendous pain in the side of my thigh. I screamed and came flying up in that bed. Mom jumped back and Jenni started crying. Mom looked at me and started cracking up laughing. "Why are you laughing? What was that? That hurt!" I said.
There were practically tears in her eyes, she was laughing so hard. Finally, through the uncontrollable laughter, Mom says that what she thought was just a wad of blankets was actually my leg under the covers and when she took out the pins of Jenni's diaper, she stuck one of them in the blanket, not knowing she was jamming the diaper pin into my leg.
God knows, it was probably laden with all kinds of germs and Mom rammed them into my blood stream. Nice, Mom, real nice!
Maybe it was then that I got the feeling that having a sibling was going to be a challenge. And staying away from Mom in the middle of the night would be a good idea.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Changes


It seemed that we were settling into life in Seattle. Mom and Dad had made some friends, Bobbi and Jon . Bobbi kinda took me under her wing. She taught me to sing "Oh, Christmas Tree" in German... most of which I have forgotten over the years. Jon, her husband raced motorcycles. We all used to go watch him race. He was a funny guy and always looking out for all of us.
We were about to have an addition to our house, at least that is what Mom kept saying. Something about a baby growing in her tummy or something strange like that. I really wasn't too sure what it was all about. All I knew is that Mom's tummy just kept getting bigger and bigger. Once in awhile she would jump and say something about this "baby" in her tummy was kicking her. She had me put my hand on her tummy and when I felt that "thing" move, I pulled my hand back like I had just touched a hot burner! YUCK! That was just too strange. It really freaked me out. The whole concept to me was just a little creepy.
Around December in 1964 Grandma T came over to stay with us. It was to help Mom out. I had noticed that she had been moving around a lot slower and didn't seem the same.
One snowy night Mom and Grandma had gone for a walk. Dad seemed a little nervous about them being gone.
The next morning I got up as usual to eat breakfast and get ready for school. I was sitting at the kitchen table listening to Mom and Grandma talk about their walk in the snow and the craving Mom had for a bean sandwich of all things. I remember not being able to imagine what a bean sandwich tasted like back then and I still don't know what one tastes like. It sounds completely disgusting.
Mom was sitting at the table across from me. Suddenly she jumped out of her chair, freaking out and saying something about "water breaking" and a whole lot of other gibberish. I kept asking what was wrong, getting no response from the "otherwise engaged" adults. When I saw Mom run out of the kitchen I noticed that the whole back end of her was wet. I was horrified! What was wrong with Mom? Did she wet her pants? I must have had quite a look on my face because suddenly Grandma was putting her arm around me and steering me to the living room. She quietly and calmly explained to me that Mom was just fine. It was just that the baby was on its way. The first sign is that the water sack that surrounds the baby to protect it while it is in Mom's tummy broke because it is ready to come out.
School was soon forgotten. Grandma was pacing around trying to figure out how to get Mom to the hospital. We had two major problems... No car. Dad was at work and he had the only vehicle. And no phone. Things had gotten pretty rough financially for awhile.
I was standing in the middle of the living room and I remember looking out the window just in time to see Jon driving real fast up our driveway. My Grandma ran out to meet him. He came running into the house and straight into the bedroom where Mom was. A few minutes later, he came out with Mom in his arms and off they went. Grandma stayed with me.
At some point I was able to go with Dad to the hospital where Mom was. I have a vague memory of standing outside in the hospital parking lot, looking way up and seeing Mom standing at a window looking down at me and waving. I didn't understand why Mom was gone so long. Other than when Mom was working, I had never really been away from her and I didn't like the feeling or understand what was going on. I remember feeling really sad looking at Mom way up there in that hospital room.
A few days later Dad came home with Mom, and in Mom's arms was this small bundle of blankets. Mom looked really tired, but she was smiling. I really wanted to see what she was holding, yet I was afraid to look at the same time.
Mom bent down and carefully moved the blanket away from this little creature. I saw a whole bunch of dark hair and a little pink face. Mom said quietly, "This is your new little sister." I turned on my heel and ran crying to my bedroom.
To this day I don't know why I did that. I don't know what I was thinking or feeling, if anything at all. One would have thought that with my reaction, I would have been ticked off or upset that there was a new addition to our home, but I don't think that was it.
There are many pictures ( the one above, for example) that I have my face right up close to my sister. I was fascinated with her and yet I didn't understand her either. She laid there, moved around a bit, cried, made messes in diapers, sometimes she smelled good, other times she smelled really awful, she stared with eyes as big as the moon, but that was about it.
By this time I was discovering music. Grandma and Grandpa had bought me a little transistor radio that I carried EVERYWHERE. One day I decided that I was going to share the music with my little sister. I put the radio down next to her ear, laying the radio against her little head. Mom came into the room to see what I was doing.. The look on her face was one of complete horror. She quickly ran toward the bassinet and grabbed the radio. She explained that Jenni's ears were way too sensitive for that sort of thing. I was beginning to wonder what this "thing" was good for....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Bike


It was red and white and it was mine. On one of the weekend visits, Grandma and Grandpa T came with a bicycle tied to the roof rack of the car. I could hardly contain myself as Grandpa and Dad untied it. But wait, what is that? Are those what I think they are? Oh, man, they sure are… training wheels… I don't need those dang things, I thought. Well, maybe Dad won't put them on. I started to get on it and Dad said "NO, I need to put the training wheels on." I told him that I didn't need them. The look on his face pretty much said it all. He was going to put them on, he didn't care what I thought or said. I looked at Mom, pleading with her, she knew, I REALLY didn't need to have those dang "baby wheels" on my bike. She just looked at me. I reminded Mom that I could already ride a bike, I didn't need to have the training wheels. I think at that very moment she must have gone deaf because she said not one word. She didn't even acknowledge that she heard me. I was getting panicky now. I stood there as I watch Dad start putting on those damn training wheels. My mind was reeling, trying to figure out how I could convince him that I didn't need them. It was no use. I was stuck with those stupid, ugly things.
I was beside myself with excitement in spite of the icky baby wheels. I got on it and though I fought those stupid wheels, I was in heaven… my own bike! There really wasn't a lot of room to ride it. We didn't have sidewalks or anything, but I didn't really care.
I waited a day or two and asked Mom again if I could PLEEEEASSSE have those training wheels taken off my bike. She just looked at me hopelessly. I wasn't sure what that meant. I just got the sense that my request some how confused her. Of course now, older and a little more aware, I realize it was just one of those instances that her hands were tied. What Dad said… well, that was it. No discussion. It was that way with EVERYTHING.
You see, I REALLY didn't need those stinkin' training wheels. Several weeks before I got my own bike I had been playing over at the rotten kids' house. The older brother had a 10-speed bike and I asked him if I could ride it. Uh, did I mention that I had NEVER been on a two-wheeler before? Did I mention this small fact to the kid? Oh, hell, no! Did I even realize that I might not be able to ride his bike? Didn't even give it a thought. I just had it in my head that I was going to ride it. In my head; pure and simple. I walked the bike over to the front porch, where it would be easier for me to get up onto the seat…once I did that, I was off and riding all over the place. It was SOOO much fun. I no doubt had a huge grin on my face the whole time. I was having such a blast and I was so excited that I rode a two-wheeler!
I high-tailed it across the street, up the hill, and burst through the front door, looking for Mom. I was so excited, I wanted her to see. I told her to come out and stand on the porch, I wanted to show her something. I ran back across the street and got on the bike again. I rode where she could see me. I glanced at her. Even from where I was, I could see the look of complete shock on her face. I was literally bursting at the seams with excitement.
When I went back home, Mom asked me who had been teaching me to ride a bike, I told her no one. I told her it was Greg's ( the big brother of his bratty siblings), and he let me ride it. I told her I just got on it. She was a little worried that the bike was a little too big for me, but I just shrugged it off. That is until something happened that made me realize just exactly what she meant by the bike not being quite right for me.
Once again I was riding that bike around. Greg was really good about letting me ride it around. Since I was so little in comparison to the bike, I couldn't sit on the seat and pedal, I had to stand up. Well…. I was just riding around and I decided to speed up a bit so I started pushing those pedals harder… suddenly my foot slipped and WHHHAMMMMMM! I came down on that bar!!! I thought that I had just died. I could barely walk my crotch hurt so damn bad. I hobbled home, crying myself senseless. I sucked it up just before I got into the house. I didn't really want Mom to know what had happened because she didn't really like the idea of me riding that bike and I didn't want to hear her say, "I knew that it wasn't a good idea for you to be on a bike that big." What kid would want to hear that? ESPECIALLY a stubborn kid.
I went into the bathroom. I felt like I had broken my crotch. When I took my pants down, there was some blood in my underwear. I freaked! OH, NO! I DID break my crotch! The crying started all over again. Mom heard me and came into the bathroom. No doubt she was thinking in total frustration..."Good, God, now what?"
I told her what happened and there was that look. The one I didn't want to see. She told me to just keep an eye on the bleeding if it didn't stop or get less, to let her know. I remember being VERY uncomfortable for a few days then everything was fine. But I will never forget that pain. NEVER!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Life In The Woods- Part 2

Me/House on 200th Seattle WA

For me, it was literally life in the woods because I spent the majority of my time there. There was a little squirrel that came around regularly. Somewhere in my head I got this idea to try to get it to eat out of my hand. I would spot the little critter up in a tree, so I would grab something for it to eat and then go sit out in the middle of the backyard with my hand held out, waiting for it to come down and see what I had to offer. It never did eat from my hand, but it got pretty darn close. I don’t know what I would have actually done if it DID eat from my hand, probably freak out.
One day after lunch I wandered through the trail that went straight back through the woods to that clearing. The closer I got, it dawned on me that there were some noises ahead of me… I was a little worried about who or what might be up there, but I kept on goin’. Suddenly, there it was… a huge white horse. It was beautiful. I just stood there smiling, in awe of such a wonderful creature. I slowly walked up to it and slowly held up my hand for it to sniff. That is what my Dad had taught me to do with dogs. You show them your hand and let them sniff it,it tells them that you don’t mean any harm. I felt the warm breath of the horse on the back of my hand. I quietly giggled, it tickled. I walked closer to it, very slowly… gently running my hand along its side……then…………..BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The horse kicked me to the ground. I tried to get up and run, but it just kept kicking me. I curled up into a ball and was screaming for someone to help me. Of course no one could hear me, Mom was in the house and the house was a ways away… there was no one around. Kick after kick after kick. I was laying on my left side, my hand up over my head, crying quietly. My right leg, all the way up to my thigh hurt so bad, I wasn’t sure if I could walk. I don’t know if it was because I stopped screaming and thrashing around, or what, but the horse eventually stopped kicking me.

This is a pretty good likeness of the horse that kicked the living daylights out of me. It is actually a little on the creepy side to look at it.


I just laid there on the ground for a bit. My leg and back was hurting pretty bad. I wasn’t all that sure that I was going to be able to walk, but something told me that I couldn’t stay where I was. I was right, I wasn’t going to be able to walk on that leg and even hopping wasn’t going to work because my back hurt as well. I ended up crawling from that spot to the house. As soon as I came out of the woods and could see the house, I started crying. I was tired and so very sore. I crawled to the back door and tried to pull myself up, but couldn’t. I finally knocked on the door and waited. Mom didn’t come to the door. I knocked a little louder. Nothing. Crying, scared, sore, and worried that I was going to get into trouble because my clothes were a mess… filthy and torn here and there. I finally made it to the front of the house. Now all I had to do was make it up to the front porch. By the time I reached to door I think I may have been beyond angry and upset. I hit the door hard with my hand. I could hear Mom hurrying towards the door. As soon as I saw her, I burst into tears. At first she thought I was goofing around, then the look in her eyes told me she knew this was for real and something was REALLY wrong. I tried telling her I couldn’t walk. She kept asking why and then I showed her my leg. My pants were torn and you could see that my leg was already horrendously bruised. She picked me up and carried me into the house. After she finally got me to calm down and cleaned up, I explained to her what had happened. My biggest question….”What did I do wrong? I was nice to the horse.”
You know, that is actually a little funny to me now. Guess I got my first life lesson right then and there. Had I been more aware of things then, surely I could have imagined God bending down and whispering in my ear… “Kid, yer gonna go through life, yer gonna be nice to some people and they are going to just kick the crap outta ya, sorry, but that is just how it goes.”
I never went to the hospital or saw a doctor. I hobbled around for a few days and that was it. I did go back to that pasture, however I stayed a good distance away from that horse. I remember asking why it kicked me. He just started at me. Didn’t say a word. Not one word.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Life In The Woods


 I don't remember the actual unpacking and all the normal stuff that goes on when one moves. I have chunks of memories from that house on S. 200th.
I missed my grandma something fierce. I spent nearly all my time with her and now I was with "these people" that I hadn't really hung out with all that much. It was quite an adjustment for me. And now that I am older, I realize that it was quite an adjustment for EVERYONE. I didn't realize until much later that it was the first time that Mom had lived away from her hometown and her parents, that had to have been quite an adjustment. I remember money was tight, so it wasn't as if she could just pick up the phone whenever she wanted to call her Mom.
I spent a lot of time exploring the woods around the house. There really wasn't much of a front yard, or a backyard with actual grass, so my playground became the woods. If you went right out the back door, you went up a little incline and to the left was the "burning barrel".
Nearly everyone had one of these things. It was a big old metal barrel, often times rusted and nasty looking. It was how many households took care of their trash back then.... you stuck it in the barrel, lit it on fire and burned it down to ashes. Mom spent a lot of time at the burn barrel... not because we had a lot of trash, but rather, she is mesmerized by fire, just as some people are mesmerized by water. You build a fire in the fireplace and she is right there, poker in hand, stabbing at the logs, eyes glazed over. I don't remember this actually happening, I may have been in school at the time, but I remember seeing the "results". Apparently one of the visits to the burn barrel got a little out of hand for Mom. God knows what she was doing. (Coordination isn't one of Mom's strong traits.) The fire apparently flared up and Mom was left with severely singed hair, no eyebrows and no eyelashes. She looked REALLY strange! But thank God that was all that happened. She was really lucky. Looked goofier than hell, but lucky.
There was this little trail that went past Mom's barrel and into the woods. It beckoned me, and finally one day I got adventurous and headed down that trail. The woods were thick and lush. I loved the smell. The freshness, the earthiness. I wandered through all the greenery, eyes wide open taking in everything. Suddenly there was half assed fence and a huge pasture beyond. I wondered what it was all about. I didn't see any sign of man or beast.
Standing in front of the house, to your right was more woods, these not as dense, but in one section it was filled with wild strawberries. Sometimes people would stop and pick them. They weren't visible from the road, so I am not sure how they knew they were there. Familiar with the area I suppose. Beyond the trees on that side was just a field and a few trees.... but above it... in the sky.... the flight pattern for Sea-Tac airport. The plane traffic back then wasn't all that heavy and the planes weren't all that big either, but occasionally it would get pretty loud. Grandma thought it was bad for me to be living there because apparently when a plane would go by and I was asleep, I would toss and turn violently.
On the other side of the house, more woods. These thick just as the woods out back. And somewhere beyond that was a house, though you couldn't see it from our place. I discovered that we had neighbors one day when I decided to explore that part of the woods. I was lolly-gagging along and suddenly I see this huge house through the trees. Scared the crap out of me. I wasn't expecting it.
Across the street was another house that sat quite a bit back from the street. S. 200th was a two lane road that was somewhat busy. What made it scary to cross was the cars that would haul ass down the road. Standing, facing the street, to your left, up the road was Pac Highway, to your right down the road a bit was Des Moines, and the marina.



Behind the house across the street and down a hill was another house and next to it were these huge rocks. The little shit kids that lived in that house used to tell me that they were dinosaur eggs and that they could hear the babies in there scratching to get out. Little ass kids. It freaked me out. If I was ever over there, I would always keep my eye on those rocks and if I ever saw them starting to crack, I was prepared to run like a bat out of hell!

Come to think of it, I had that feeling a lot when living there.

Further down the road was the elementary school that I would eventually go to. It was called Maywood. It had a huge grassy area in back where we would have our recesses. Beyond that grassy area was a chain-link fence and beyond that, another wooded area. Some bratty kids used to tell me that trolls lived back there and I shouldn't go near the fence or else they would grab ya. After that, I hated recess. They were probably the same bratty kids that told me about the dinosaur eggs. I wasn't used to playing with kids my own age. I usually played with kids that were a bit older. I decided that kids my own age were asses.

Pack Up The Car, We're Moving!


Little did I know that my summer trips with the Grandparents were going to come to a screeching halt. Everything that I had come to know was going to suddenly change. What had been safe and consistent, was now going to be a thing of the past.
When I was around 5 my Dad was having a real rough time of it. His answer was to move to Seattle. Mom and I were on our own for a little while. Dad got on his motorcycle and headed west on I-90. He stayed with some friends and looked for a job. Next he looked for a place for us to live. He found a house to rent on S. 200th in Seattle. Actually, it was a hop, skip and a jump to Des Moines and the marina. Once he lined up the job and the house, he went back to Spokane to move Mom and me over to the coast. I don't think I really understood the concept of Dad not being around, and him working far away. Had I known what it meant, it would have been even harder than it already proved to be once I DID find out that we were going to have to move far away. Now, technically it really isn't THAT far from Spokane, but to a kid of 5 years old, it may as well have been on another planet.

My grandma T had been a constant in my life. She was always around, and during my most formative years, she took care of me while Mom and Dad worked. She taught me to read. She made sure that I had a lot of those Dr. Suess books and any other that caught my eye.
She had a way of doing things in such a way that half the time you didn't even realize that she was actually teaching you something. Quite frankly it was wonderful to learn that way. No pressure, no yelling and screaming.
In the evenings when she would start to prepare dinner, she would say to me, "Lynnie, go out on the porch and get the paper and read it to me while I cook dinner." I would run down the little hall to the front porch and get the paper. I would then crawl up to sit on a stool that she had near one of the kitchen counters, and open the paper. Naturally, like any kid, I would look for the easiest stories first, or if a picture looked interesting to me, then I would read what that was all about and show Gram the picture. She was incredible patient as I stumbled over some of the big words. She would sometimes explain to me what I was reading. Learning politics and world suffering at such an early age!
She was my constant companion and when it dawned on me that Grandma wasn't coming with us, I was devastated. I remember crying and crying and crying. I didn't want to go, oh, I SO didn't want to go. I suddenly felt very unsafe for some reason.
We left our nice big house on Adams, Dad, me and my cat (that Dad hated), Boots in Dad's truck, Mom driving Dad's Studebaker that he had had even before he met Mom, and my Auntie Lois and Uncle Larry (Mom's brother and his wife) driving their big old car. Everything was packed as full as they could get it, yet we still left a lot of things behind. Dad's idea... if it doesn't fit, leave it.
Off we went, the caravan... in the middle of the night. (another favorite of my Dad's- to move in the dark of night.) Boots wasn't too happy about this traveling thing and he was driving Dad nuts, but he eventually settled down, thank God. As much as Dad hated that cat I was afraid he would just get fed up and leave him on the side of the highway.
Years later when Mom and I would be talking about this move, she would remark about what the gas station attendants must have thought when the bunch of us pulled in. Yeah, you read that right... gas station attendants. Sounds really archaic, doesn't it?

You would pull into a gas station similar to the one pictured above and as you pulled up to the pumps there was this small rubber hose that was strung back into the garage. When a car ran over this hose, there would be a "ding" sound inside the garage, announcing that a customer had just pulled in. A guy would come running out, ask what you needed and pump your gas. He would also wash your windshield and check your hoses, belts and fluids. Back then they were called SERVICE stations....because, well, you actually got something called SERVICE.

Anyway, here we are.... first Dad and me in his truck..."ding"... then comes Mom..."ding" (I have no idea how she could see, Dad had that car packed to the roof. She barely had room to operate the car.) Then last but not least Uncle Larry and Auntie Lois... "ding". It must have been quite a sight. At one point during our journey to the west side of the mountains, Dad had taken a side trip. I have no idea where we were, but he said that he was going to stop and get us something to eat. He pulled up in front of a tavern. I sat in the truck, just me and Boots for quite some time. Finally he came back. He handed me a bunch of chips, candy bars and assorted other junk foods. He also had a beer. He seemed a bit more relaxed and was joking around and stuff.

Our new house was up a steep dirt driveway and in a horseshoe pattern around the back and sides of the house were woods. In the dark, I couldn't see any other houses. That came as quite a shock to me. No houses around? It all felt so strange. Maybe it was just because I was tired.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Wild Horses

As I mentioned, I went to the library the other day. It was mainly to do some research for this blog. The above picture was found in a book called, "Washington Curiosities", by Harriet Baskas. When I saw this picture I was full of all kinds of emotions. It brought back one of my most memorable experiences and one that elates me and saddens me at the same time.
On my summer trips with the grandparents I had the most awesome privilege anyone could have. (At least I think so.)
Between eastern Washington and western Washington, there is desert land. (As I mentioned in one of my previous posts. (
waving white flags)
Near a town called Vantage, Washington near the Columbia River I used to be able to see the most incredible sight and it brings tears to my eyes to know it is no longer there. I used to be able to watch wild horses run free throughout all that land. There would be 20-30 of them at a time running, kicking up clouds of dust. They looked so happy and free. I would strain my neck as we passed them by- not wanting to take my eyes off of them.
If I happened to fall asleep, Grandma or Grandpa would wake me so that I wouldn't miss them. And if there was hardly any other cars on the freeway, Grandma would slow down. I think she loved watching them as much as I did.
Telling the story to those who never had the opportunity to see such a wonderful sight, it just doesn't seem to have the impact as actually seeing such a thing.
And now, sadly, they are gone. Another thing of the past, vanishing. Only to be left and appreciated in the minds of those who got to witness such magnificence.
The above picture is of a metal sculpture that a guy by the name of Guy Govedare did. It sits off Interstate 90, overlooking the Columbia River. It IS an awesome work of art. There are 15 life size metal horses. It was presented as a gift during this states centennial celebration in 1989.
He created this sculpture in remembrance of all those wild horses that roamed that area. To me, it is a sad reminder... Sad because so many generations after me never got to see what I did, and now, in its place are metal horses. Though a beautiful piece of artwork, it just isn't the same as seeing it "live".
However, I do feel incredibly blessed to have witnessed something so beautiful and rare. (even then) I can still see them. First you spot the cloud of dust out in the distance, then you see the horses coming closer to the freeway, you see their heads shaking, their back legs kicking, as if they are jumping and leaping for joy. They are following the strongest horse. He is always out ahead, their manes blowing in the wind. It was exciting and peaceful to see. I smiled every time I saw them, just as I am smiling now, at the memory.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Browsing

I went to the library today. It reminded me of the times that Mom and I would pile into the car and go spend a couple of hours in the library. I was fortunate enough to come from a family that loved to read. At an early age, my grandma had me reading the local paper to her as she cooked dinner.That was how I learned to read. Screw those primary readers, or Dick and Jane books, I cut my teeth on road signs and newspapers!

I remember how excited I was to get my first library card. Mom helped me fill out the information that was needed and when they handed me that card, I thought it was the coolest thing! It was orange, not my favorite color, but who the hell cared, I had a library card! The librarian explained to me that when I got older I could get an "adult" card. That sounded good to me!

The picture above is of a library in my hometown, (Spokane). Mom and I didn't always frequent just one library, she would check out different ones on occasion. Each one had just a little different selection. I loved those old libraries. Nothing like the modern, metal shelved, teched out libraries that we have today. These libraries had wooden shelves and wooden floors that sometimes creaked. It was back when people had manners and knew that you used your "quiet voice" because others were reading. Not like now, when you walk into a library and you think you are in some daycare center with kids running around and screaming, or a bar, where everyone smells like stale cigarette smoke and talk loudly with each other.
It never fails, nearly every time I am in a library I want to go around and slap the crap out of half the people that are in there. (The rudeness and complete disregard of a lot of people today is a completely different story that I may have to save for a later date.)

I would often times finish picking out my books before Mom, so I would find some place to sit while she still browsed. I would sometimes watch her. She would walk quietly up and down the isles, looking at the spines of each book. Occasionally one would catch her eye and she would pull it slowly and carefully off the shelf, look at it more closely, if it appealed to her she would add it to the stack in her arms, if not, she would always carefully put it back where she found it. (Another thing that I was thankfully taught... you put things back where you found them, as you found them.) She likes to read stories from the 1800's. She feels that she was born too late. She loves to read about life back then. To her it seems like such a simple time. I have to agree to a point. But DAMN, life was hard back then. Sometimes Mom's life was rough enough, she didn't need 1800's living, at least that was my thought. However, from the resilience stand point, Mom would've faired well back in those days too. She's a tough old broad... and don't let her tell you any different.

On some trips to the library it seemed that neither one of us could get enough books. We would walk out to the car, our arms full of books, anxious to get started on immersing ourselves in the stories. I am sure she had just as hard of a time trying to decide which one to read first, as I did.

So, yeah, when I was wandering around the library today, I was thinking about "back in the old days" when the libraries had more personality, (well, a warmer kind of personality, anyway) and I said a little thank you to you, Mom for introducing me to the wonders of a library.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night....


I swear to you, this boat was bigger! It is some kind of a strange phenomenon that happens in childhood memories. Everything is remembered in a HUGE way. Is it because we are so small and new to the world? I don't know, what I DO know is that by the time we become adults and we figure out that something wasn't as big as we thought, it is terribly disappointing.
As I am sure you have guessed, this was yet another summer excursion with Grandma and Grandpa T. This time we were to meet up with some friends of theirs. Some where along the line they decided it would be great fun to go catch some crabs for lunch. I had never eaten a crab, so what did I know? Besides, I wonder if in my little adolescent brain I thought, "Well how bad can it be, I've eaten sardines for God sake!" (Yes, I probably really did think thoughts like that and use language like that, what would you expect from some one who's first words were Son of a bitch?)
We set out to a special place that they knew would be good for crabbing. Once there, big cages with long ropes were slowly lowered into the water.... down they went until I couldn't see them anymore. I was told it would take a little while. I was the only kid onboard with 4 adults , there wasn't much to do. Grandma and her friend decided on a game of cards while someone put a huge pot of water on the stove. The little galley was cramped, but I don't remember it being horribly cramped... though looking at the picture I wonder how we all managed to even move around on that thing! What the hell kept us from flipping over the side from even the slightest of waves? I leaned over the side of the boat to try to see down to where the traps were. All I could see was the rope going down until there was nothing... the water was as dark as ink. I didn't want to stare into the water for too long, it gave me the creeps. I have always had this fear of staring into the water and then suddenly seeing someone's face staring up out of the water at me. Who knows where this fear came from. Maybe it was just a matter of not really knowing what was down there.
Finally, the time came to haul the cages back up to see if we caught anything. The anticipation was almost too much to bear. I leaned way over to watch as they pulled the rope up. Why did it seem like it took longer to get the cage out of the water than it did to put it in? My eyes were going blurry I was concentrating so hard on trying to see something... suddenly the cage came into view. It didn't look like there was anything in there. I started to get a little disappointed.
Wait! What was that? I could see something in there... was that a crab? I couldn't be sure.
Everyone was getting excited, the cage was apparently heavy, which apparently meant there were crabs there. With one swift yank, up came the cage and sure enough it was full of crabs. I heard someone say something about Dungeness crabs. They were huge and mad! Snapping their claws wildly at whatever got in their way. I followed as the cage was hauled into the galley. I no sooner got right at the door and Grandma stopped me dead in my tracks. She told me that I didn't need to watch that. She looked nervous and worried. Watch what? I wondered. I sat there with her for a few minutes then asked her why I couldn't go in there. She explained to me that the crabs were put into the boiling pot of water while they were still alive and that they made this noise like a scream. I must've turned 3 shades of green. Grandma patted my hand and said, "Don't think about that, and once you taste them, you won't care about any of that anyway, darlin'." I sat there staring at my feet. Oh, this sounded so not good.
However, I will tell you that I sat at that little table with my Grandma and Grandpa and pigged out on crab. It was the best thing I had ever tasted and Grandma was right, the icky thoughts were long gone and forgotten.
My next memory of this outing was us deciding to camp. We found a quiet cove with woods as far as anyone could see. Grandma and Grandpa didn't have a tent, the weather was beautiful so we were just going to sleep up on a bluff looking down at the cove. Their friends were going to sleep on their boat. Some time in the middle of the night I woke to pouring down rain,wind, as well as thunder and lightning and my Grandma holding some small piece of tarp over me, she was soaking wet, but was trying to keep me dry as I slept.
That right there was the epitome of Grandma. And it was a realization that sadly wasn't found until she had already passed on.... the woman would have sacrificed (and maybe often did) anything and everything for her family. There she was in a horrible summer storm, in the middle of the night, making sure that I was dry, warm and comfortable.
And now as I sit here, in my late 40's I look back at the adult women in my life with whom I was in their care -I realize that each and everyone of them were and are -some of the strongest, most resilient women that I have ever encountered. In just their presence and in their actions, they have taught me one of the most important lessons in life... survival and overcoming.
Sometimes I have to struggle to remember that, but eventually genetics takes over and before I know it, I too am surviving and overcoming the obstacles in my own life.
This is one instance when I can say "thank God for genetics!"