The way you love your partner

“Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.”

~ Barbara De Angelis


I’ve been thinking lately about a near miss, something that happened in March that still gives me pause. It started out as a much-needed girls’ weekend at the beach. We’ve taken this trip many times, the girls and I, and went away without worry. We’d left behind our families, homes, and pets on Friday, and came back refreshed and giggled out on Sunday. We gossiped, talking late into the night; we ate too much junk; we drank too much wine (is that possible?); we ate too much chocolate (also impossible). We shopped. We walked. We slept in. We washed dishes, hours after each meal. We sat around in our jammies until 11 am, or later. We broke as many rules as we could, the makings of a great girl’s weekend.

It was great, but it could have turned out a lot differently.


When I leave for the weekend, I always text my husband to let him know I arrived. He does the same when he goes away. Friday evening, March 17, sometime after we arrived at our destination, I texted home. There was no response.

I wasn’t overly worried. I knew he would be out and about, working on our deck and in the garage on other projects. Our daughter had arranged to meet a friend on Saturday, so Bruce was home alone. By Saturday, when I tried to call and could not reach him, I started to worry. Between 10 and 11 a.m., I texted again and called three times. Nothing.


The girls and I were on foot, walking the promenade, peering into shops. It was cold but sunny; so bright, in fact, it was difficult to read our phone screens. The lack of response made us all uneasy. Deb tried to locate the house phone of my neighbor, Richard. She could not find it. It was hard to miss the worried look on their faces. That sick feeling took hold. I felt shaky. My hands became clammy. My mind was racing and I couldn’t focus.

Richard and I are Facebook friends, so I sent him a written message. He didn’t answer.

“Marriage is not what everyone thinks it is. It’s not waking up early every morning to make breakfast and eat together. Its not cuddling in bed together until both of you peacefully fall asleep.

After a few minutes, I noticed the small green dot next to Richard’s name, which, I presumed, indicated he was on Facebook at that moment. I’d never tried to make a call using Facebook. I didn’t know how to use that feature. I pushed the icon. I soon heard a faint, “Hello?”

I said, “Richard, this is Karen, your neighbor.” I paused. There was no response. I later learned he was just as astonished as I was; he’d never used Facebook to make a call and to this day does not know how we both managed to do so.

It’s not a clean home and a homemade meal every day. It’s someone who steals the covers and elbows you in the face. It’s a few harsh words, fights and the silent treatment, it’s wondering if you’ve made the right decision.
It is, despite all of those things, the one thing you look forward to every day.

I told him I was away but had not been able to reach Bruce. I asked if he could go over and take a look around. He said he was on his way. Then I waited. And waited.

It’s coming home to the same person everyday that you know loves and cares about you. It’s laughing about the one time you accidentally did something stupid.

After a long ten minutes, I heard my phone ring. Richard was standing in front of our garage. Our car was gone, but Bruce’s truck was there. My daughter’s car was gone. All of this was what I expected to hear. But, where was Bruce?

I asked Richard to walk around to the back of the garage and look in the window. He would be able to see whether or not the car was inside. He hung up and said he’d call right back.

It’s about eating the cheapest and easiest meal you can make and sitting down together at 10pm to eat because you both had a crazy day. It’s when you have an emotional breakdown and they hold you and tell you everything is going to be okay, and you believe them.

My fear was, since Bruce has Atrial Fibrillation, there had been a heart issue. Worry sent me to the worst possible place: I feared he’d had a stroke and was lying helpless somewhere on our property. When he stood at the back of our garage, Richard called me again and mentioned he could hear very loud music inside. Typical. Bruce cannot function without his “Oldies” and always leaves the radio playing full blast.

It’s about still loving someone even though they make you absolutely insane.

Our car was gone, Richard said. I breathed a sigh of relief. At least that meant Bruce had probably taken off for parts. I next asked Richard if he wouldn’t mind driving to our greenhouses (we have 23 acres and the business end is at the opposite end from the house); he said that was his next stop.

Living with the person you love, is fights about absolutely nothing, but is also having a love that people spend their whole life looking for.

About five minutes later I received two phone calls. Richard dialed me as he pulled into the business driveway after spotting our car. He tells me he’s spotted Bruce with a gorgeous blond. I tell him that’s fine; I’ll kill them both later.

As I finished explaining how I was about to murder two people, my phone rang. Bruce. And, do you know what happened? I was so relieved to hear his voice I could not speak. The tears started flowing and my throat thickened and my chin started shaking.

It’s not perfect and it’s hard, but it’s amazing and comforting and the best thing you’ll ever experience.

We don’t know what happened, but he didn’t receive any of my attempts to reach him until 24 hours later. My texts came in the next day. He wasn’t overly worried when I had not checked in with him; he figured I was having a good time and is not the type to worry (this is very good; it provides the balance given my propensity to fear the worst). It was a scare I hope to never relive. It made me think about a situation I may be in someday, but hopefully not.

And, it got me to thinking about marriage and what we have right here, together. When I read these lines in purple today it struck home and highlighted that imperfectly perfect thing we have here that is difficult, wonderful, hard, lovely, hot, cold, warm and everything in between.

“….it’s amazing and comforting and the best thing you’ll ever experience.”

In my case, I have to agree. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it was getting scared and fearing I’d lost something great. Maybe it was the realization time is limited. I don’t know, but it shook me up and I didn’t like it one bit. I could hardly wait to get home.

Go ahead and share a picture of the person you love and copy and paste this, make their day.”


2014_Bruce at Astoria Column

Now, about that blond….


“In order to achieve anything you must be brave enough to fail.”

~ Kirk Douglas

Mystery Mary

It’s called Marys Peak, the name of the highest peak in Oregon’s coastal range. The trails surrounding her make for a beautiful day hike. But, who was Mary? How did this lovely place get its name? Marys with no apostrophe? Why wouldn’t she want to own this place?


We tagged along with our son and his wife Sunday to see the peak they’d heard much about but hadn’t yet seen. As the highest peak we hoped we’d see the coast from the top. I’ll get to that.

Marys Peak_1 (3)As we arrived and parked, my daughter-in-law and I scouted for THE most important part of any successful hike: a bathroom. The left side stall had TP.  Bless you, Mary.

While it’s not hard to figure out the trails–they are not clearly marked–each begin and start from the parking lot. You literally can’t get lost, not here, unless one slips and rolls down a hill. NOT saying I got lost. NOT saying I slipped. Just sayin’.

Marys Peak_1 (5)
Service road to the top

From Corvallis the prospect of clear skies was bleak, but once up the hill, it was gloriously clear.

There is nothing like being above the clouds. It does something for the soul. I’m not sure what, but it seems other worldly, out of body, maybe spiritual. My saggy skin soul could use a lift. I was in. I felt fabulous even before we hit the trail (although that could have been my elation to find toilet paper at the top). Life is good.

Marys Peak_1 (2)Heartened by clear skies and “sunshine on my shoulders,” we meandered to the top. (Uh, oh…now I can’t get that John Denver song out of my head. I’m not rewriting that line. It stays. Well, I did not include audio of my singing. You’re welcome).

Marys Peak_1 (9)And, well, about the view of the gorgeous Oregon coast? Not this day, not at this time. I don’t get to see my first born that often, so I’ll gladly settle for this view. Any day.

Dead center up top we found fenced off satellite and cell phone equipment. Beside the wonders of that, all the area above 3,000 feet is designated a botanical area, the trails sprinkled with old growth (like me).

Marys Peak_1 (13)
Looking toward a cloudy west coast

After hiking to the summit first, we hit the trail for our descent.

Marys Peak_1 (10)Old man winter took its toll, but, we begin again; yellow life hugs the hillside.

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Marys Peak_1 (8)

Marys Peak_1 (7)

Marys Peak_1 (15)The trail meandered through flower-filled meadows. Thoughts of must-come-back-and-see-soon began floating in my head (better than focusing on those funny glasses and hat up there on those old people).

Marys Peak_2 (5)

Marys Peak_2 (4)

Marys Peak w Tyler and Brittany_May 2017 (4)

Marys Peak w Tyler and Brittany_May 2017 (1)
Much of the trail: dense with floral ground cover

While more threaten to bloom soon, several weren’t so shy:

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Marys Peak_2 (2)More so than the blooms greeting us along the way, this star gave me pause. Have you ever seen markings like this? Was I experiencing a lack of oxygen?

Marys Peak_2 (8)Mt. Hood sits to the left, Jefferson is right of center. Three Sisters (not in view) live to the right of Jefferson.

Marys Peak_2 (1)
The last leg of the trail

Seems that our Mary is a mystery. We don’t know why her name graces this lovely peak. Here’s what Wiki has to say:

“In October 1845, Joseph C. Avery arrived in Oregon from the east.[8] Avery took out a land claim at the mouth of Marys River where it flows into the Willamette River and in June 1846 took up residence there in a log cabin hastily constructed to hold what seemed a potentially lucrative claim.[8] Avery’s primitive 1846 dwelling was the first home within the boundaries of today’s Corvallis and his land claim included the southern section of the contemporary city.[9]

Avery was quickly joined by other settlers along the banks of the Willamette River, including a 640-acre claim directly to his north taken in September 1846 by William F. Dixon.[9] The discovery of gold in California in 1848 temporarily stalled development of a township, with Avery leaving his Oregon claim to try his hand at mining in the fall of that year.[9] His stay would prove to be brief and in January 1849 Avery returned to Oregon with a small stock of provisions with a view to opening a store.[9]

During the year 1849, Avery opened his store at the site, platted the land, and surveyed a town site on his land claim, naming the community Marysville.[10] It is possible that the city was named after early settler Mary Lloyd, but now the name is thought to be derived from French fur trappers’ naming of Marys Peak after the Virgin Mary.[11]” (According to Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvallis,_Oregon).

She’s a mystery, our Mary. Seems sources vary about the origin of the name, even which Mary the area is named after. We still don’t know why the missing apostrophe. If this were named after me, I’d most certainly write it as Karen’s Peak. Oh, yeah. Marys Peak? This is just wrong. The grammar police along the trail had a fit. Regardless, it was a lovely hike, our second of the season, and we hope to head that way again when the earth is sprouting more color.

Still, Mary, about that missing apostrophe…


It really doesn’t matter as long as she keeps the bathroom fully stocked.

Be the change

“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”

~ Maya Angelou


From my yard to yours:

spring flowers_may 2017 (4)
Pristine
spring flowers_may 2017 (11)
Pink Bloomers
spring flowers_may 2017 (15)
Lavender cascade
spring flowers_may 2017 (17)
For drying and holiday decorating
rhodie and the bee_may 2017
Hard at work, helping
spring foxglove
Speckled bells
spring flowers_may 2017 (16)
Burst of sunshine

And, some not from my yard:

spring flowers_may 2017 (7)
Lavender and coral beauties
spring flowers_may 2017 (5)
Feast for the eyes

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

~ Gandhi

Crises in ice cream

“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.”

~ Elizabeth Edwards


Who said retirement was fabulous? Who said it would be easy? I want names and numbers (so I can wring their slimy little necks and give them a piece of my mind….).

Yeah, you read that correctly. I’ve had a bit of a struggle. For nearly 35 years, I’ve been part of a group, a dental group, and now, suddenly, I am not. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve said goodbye to saliva, bid my farewells to calculus (which often landed in my hair). I’ve also said adios to my achy back (and backstabbing as well). Yes, there are certain aspects of working in dentistry that I gladly left behind. But, then comes the “What’s next?” question and the identity crisis. Can I really find MEANING in dusting? Is there reward in a sparkly toilet bowl?

I’ve been reflecting lately, thinking about life, what mine means, how I now fit. While I don’t know yet where I’ll land, or whether I need to land anywhere, I’m reminded of a strategy I often used in the past when in the midst of turmoil.

When in doubt, do nothing.

Sometimes making decisions hastily leads to more turmoil. I’ve learned that taking my time, letting the answers come on their own–allowing due process to thoughts and feelings, quiet time, and all factors involved–brings peace.

Breathe. Be in the moment. Smell the roses. Stop fretting. Do nothing.

Yeah, I like that. Those. This thinking. Why must I be in a hurry to decide where or what is next? Why can’t I just be? Can’t I be good to me by allowing myself some latitude here? I have earned quiet time, I deserve to ponder in the quiet of my home, surrounded by things I love.

Certain things like simple beauty propel me forward:

new flowers_may 2017 (13)
Last year’s Foxglove…

 

new flowers_may 2017 (8)
…which is taller than all of us.

Simple gardening, enjoying the flowers that I planted last year that have resurfaced, along with the new.

wild flowers and veggies_may 2017
Top to bottom: wild flowers, thyme, basil, spinach, lettuce, wildflowers

And, who can resist these:

OK, stop laughing! Yes, that’s my voice and my daughter’s over our astonishment that there are not four, not five, but SIX kittens in this bunch. (I said stop!)

We can only get so close to the “nest” while mamma is away. We are worried she’ll come back while we’re trying to take a look. (Mamma Cat is not ours; she’s feral but has adopted us. We do not feed her, or any cats, outside. Still, she likes our home and has decided to stay. By the time we realized she was pregnant, it was too late to catch her–the plan once she’s finished nursing–so she can be fixed and released.)  In the meantime, I’m Mamma Cat’s self-appointed Mother-in-Charge of her and her babies.

I caught her in the act yesterday while she was moving her clan to a safer place. She hissed and growled at me. I’m dealing with it. I’ll be fine. Really. Sniff, sniff…

I also realized after I officially retired (on Feb. 23, 2016) that I had not been very good to me. Yep, that is correct. I had fallen away from good self care: enough sleep, enough water every day, the best food, enough exercise…..and so forth. As we moms often do, we rarely put ourselves first–and looking back, I’d put myself last again, for my family–but I hadn’t fully realized until I retired that I hadn’t helped myself one iota by the lifestyle I had adopted over the years.

I decided to start with some basics: food and simple nutrition. I cannot run this engine properly without the best fuel. I am Somersizing for those who are unfamiliar with this way of eating. After cutting out sugar and all processed food, it’s lots of fresh foods eaten in proper combinations to promote the best digestion. I’ve never eaten so well. I began April 1, and I’m down 6 1/2 pounds and several inches (I did not think to measure when I started). I feel so much better.

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Other basics: I’m trying to push the water, make myself MOVE every day, and get enough sleep. It’s amazing how the body responds positively when it’s treated right.

Not to forget emotional health, I came across this book recently.

quaker book of wisdom (2)I have never been overly religious and prefer to keep my beliefs to myself, but I will say that I agree with many aspects of this type of thinking. I found the following in the back:

1. Seize the present
2. Love yourself, whatever faults you have, and love the world, however bad it is.
3. Stop talking and listen to what you really know.
4. Play soccer! (Or whatever team sport you love)
5. Accept the fact that our lives are only partly in our own hands.
6. Believe in the perfectibility of yourself and society.
7. Make your love visible in the world through your work.
8. Seek justice in the world, but not in your own life.
9. Look for the light of God in every person.
10. Let your life speak.

If nothing, it gives me food for thought, let’s me pause when I need time to reflect. I may not have a “job” right now, not one in the traditional sense, but I am part of something (letting go of dental hygiene is harder than I thought–until I recall plaque). I’ve peacefully rediscovered my sense of belonging. I am part of this family, this household, this blogging world, my genealogy friends, and with #7 in mind, those flowers and kittens out there.


Retirement is not an event. It’s a process. No one told me that; rather, it had been painted as glee and glory. It can certainly be glee and glory, but for some, it brings to a close something that was pretty darned good for many years. To me that was a devastating loss.

My daughter whispered today to my husband to buy ice cream. Hmmm. If the only crisis I now face is which delectable dessert to buy or make, I say, Bring it!


elizabeth edwards quote_she stood in the storm and when the wind

Hazel de Helen

She stood all of 4′ 10″ and weighed 110 pounds. She was my father’s aunt but was more like his second mother. When I recently found a box with her name on the outside I felt my heart twist. Dad became her power of attorney. He passed 11 years ago; now those records sit at my house. I sat down the other night to sort the papers. They are still there. I can’t toss them, not a single one of the three-years-worth of 37 year old cancelled checks, not yet.


I grew up mostly in awe of her, the woman so much like a grandma but who wasn’t. She was, in fact, my grandma’s sister whom we visited often. She had no children–I’ll get to that–and I always wished that had been different. Of the four sisters in my grandma’s family, only one–grandma–had children (my father). The other sisters either died young or had no children. It may have been a miracle we were born.

Hazel_young woman_probably at Oakes st house_Tacoma around 1914 or so

Hazel de Helen Butterfield Kasae, my great aunt, made me laugh as often as she made me tow the line. I nearly wet myself once when I stayed with her; I was about 10. I was with her while my sister was at grandma’s. We’d switch off so they each could enjoy our charm all to themselves, then we’d switch again.

She’d bought ice cream and after dinner, we both stood in her kitchen while she began scooping. Her freezer must have worked hard that day, requiring her to use some muscle. She stressed and strained, worked a bit more. Suddenly, a scoop of ice cream went flying into the air, over our heads, promptly landing on the floor. It was the funniest thing I had ever seen, and I lost it. Her belly hurt as much as mine for the laughter; it was written all over her face. She tried to refrain. Soon, we were both toast.

Once, when she visited our house in Oregon, she and my mother were in the kitchen preparing for dinner.  Mom needed a can of something for dinner, but she’d run out. I was told to run up to the market three blocks away to buy said can. I reluctantly went and bought the desired can. I came home horribly glad THAT was over only to discover it wasn’t. I’d bought the wrong can prompting mom to ask me to go back to the store to get the right one. I didn’t want to go. I’d already been to the store. Couldn’t they do without? Apparently, not. It was Hazel who looked at me and, knowing I was upset and without saying a word, simply shook her head in the affirmative with her sweet smile, encouraging me to go. I will never forget her face, and how she looked at me then and when I got back. She was firm but kind. I loved her dearly.

PIX_BUTTERFIELD_BERTHA AND HAZEL SIDE YARD
Bertha and Hazel Butterfield, early 20s

Hazel was the third sister of four. Lillian, Lalla (grandma), Hazel, and Bertha were the four daughters of Orah Myrtle Smith and Elmer Hunt Butterfield.

I’ve written about Hazel before, but I’ve never written a post solely about her, in honor of her, or because of her.

I don’t know if she knew how much she meant to me, how much I enjoyed spending time at her house, and just being with her. That she tolerated her nieces playing in her basement–mixing the contents of old salt and pepper shakers until the whole room reeked of pepper–was beyond imagination in my book. She was the best.

And, isn’t that the way? We only realize certain things late in the game. Why is it that children are self-centered enough that sometimes people have to die before we realize what they meant? Did she ever know?

Hazel was every bit or more important to my father as she was to me. Dad, being the only child of the four sisters, was kind of like everyone’s child. He was the only, and being the only, was the center of attention among all the adults (that shifted a bit when my sister and I came along).

The house below is the first house my father lived in–he was born in 1929–but which was later purchased from grandma by Hazel and her husband. Here are pictures of the “remodel.”

House on Park_remodel photos_late 30s early 40sAbout that purchase? When going through Hazel’s things I came across this record of the home purchase.

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It helps to remember people if I see where they lived, where they worked, and with whom they associated. Exactly none of those papers have been tossed. It feels like saying goodbye all over again.

House on Park_Tacoma_5815 address_Bert added this front porch_House was sold to H and B from Lalla
Back then, after the remodel, and…

Hazel on steps of house on Park_30s

House purchased by Hazel and B from Lalla_now 2017
Now.

Hazel began working at People’s Department Store in Tacoma in the late 20s. She worked her way up to head cashier and was well respected. You’ll recognize her below.

hazel and work buddies I believeAs mentioned, Hazel did not have children. The story goes that she was dropped as a baby resulting in an injury to her right hip; one leg remained shorter than the other. Whether from stigma or fear or both, Hazel did not want to risk having children born with the same affliction. Notice below that her right foot rests higher than her left. She would have made a fabulous parent.

Hazel and Lalla_July 1917_Point Defiance Park
Lalla and Hazel, 1917

Regardless, Hazel welcomed my sister and I with open arms, always. She loved my father and mother as her own, and it showed.

There were no holidays celebrated without her; each time we visited our grandparents, we saw Hazel.

Hazel and her husband were eventually able to buy a larger home, also in Tacoma, within a few blocks of grandma. Her husband added the garage, and they had a dog and raised chickens in the back for a while. They lived in this second home when I knew her.

Below is that new house when first purchased, and at bottom, you’ll recognize two little girls who gave their father a run for his money.

She may not have given birth, but Hazel did, in fact, have children. She had all of us. Dad did right by her. The journalist and “stickler for details” man he was, he kept records of all phone calls, all conversations, why and when. I have those, too. If something seemed off, he called and recorded the outcome. He followed up on anything amiss until it was clear. He did it all from out of state. He was POA for the youngest sister, Bertha, too.

Mom grandma and Hazel with us at Hazels house_Tacoma
Front yard of Hazel’s house, Tacoma

It’s difficult to throw away those papers, the recordings of her life. It’s proof that she was here. Seeing her beautiful, showy handwriting again made me smile. She and I wrote letters when I was young. The direction of her sentences often took various turns such that she wrote upside down, along the side, or my favorite, in circles. She’d jump to the next, non-sequential page, conveniently leaving off page numbers. It was up to me to figure out where she was going next. It was sheer joy reading Hazel’s letters.

In the later years Hazel developed a form of dementia, particularly painful to me on one specific visit. Dad, Hazel and I had gone out for lunch, and while in the restaurant, she looked at me and said, “Are you Lynne or Karen?” It crushed me that she could not distinguish me from my sister, but I could see in her eyes that she honestly didn’t know. It broke my heart. I cannot recall how well I hid my hurt, whether or not she knew how her question affected me. I simply said, “I’m Karen,” and smiled. She smiled back and my heart swelled and broke all over again. It was my first introduction to dementia.

Her decline was also evident in her changing signature.

I’ve never met anyone like Hazel. I doubt I ever will. She was part of my life from the very beginning, even though she lived out of state. Below: Mom, me, and Hazel.

Karen walking with mom and Hazel_backyard of 228 South 59th_Tacoma_May 1960

So, why all the fuss for my father’s aunt? Today is a very special day.


I wish I could make her a great big chocolate cake.

I wish I could scoop some ice cream on top and celebrate for days.

I wish she were here so I could say, “Happy Birthday!”

Born on this day in 1902, she would have been 115.


❤ Wherever you are, Thank you sweet lady, and know you will not be forgotten. ❤

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Hazel de Helen Butterfield Kasae

May 1, 1902- June 16, 1982

Hazel_birthday cake at bottom_not sure of the year_likely 60s

Those papers? They are still in the box….