What a shame

Turns out, this year’s vacation in Yaak, Montana included a couple of unexpected but altogether charming places. On our first full day we saw the Yaak River Falls and the Kootenai River Falls, places one could easily call A Little Slice of Heaven. If you’d like, you can see photos of the Falls, this year and from 1968, here.

Why, you might ask, did we go to Yaak, Montana–in the middle of no where–for vacation? I’m getting there. Remember that charm I mentioned?

Take a peek inside the dining hall of the Yaak River Lodge.

Yaak River Lodge_Yaak MT (38)If that’s not enough to help you digest breakfast, how about this:

Yaak River Lodge_Yaak MT (36)I honestly hadn’t noticed the cats because (I was tired, and) the big black beast held me captive. I had to get a close up of those eyes (and those teeth).

Yaak River Lodge_Yaak MT (37)Breakfast was served and we were not disappointed. The coffee, ready at 6 a.m., did not disappoint, either. Owners John and Dallas were most gracious hosts.

Yaak River Lodge_Yaak MT (32)As I sat enjoying this wonderful meal–we didn’t have much of a dinner the night before so I was feeling quite satisfied–when I happened to look up, straight across the table.

Yaak River Lodge_Yaak MT (35)There was another; I’d missed most of the smaller animals in the room aside from those most obvious.  Something told me I’d better start paying closer attention. I was in Montana, after all.

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Our room, the last one at the end of the hall, was so quiet one began to think everyone had left the planet. We live in the country, and we are used to quiet, but this? This was eerily quiet. And, just the ticket.

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in front of the lodge when we arrived

Yaak River Lodge_Yaak MT (8)The lodge is on the right and does not include the buildings on the left.

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Above are the grounds behind the lodge.

It was lovely and peaceful and quiet and refreshing–possibly a little scary in the dining hall–but well worth the time we spent here. About that dining experience: as explained by the owner, breakfast is served in the lodge during the week. On the weekends, they serve breakfast at the saloon (in Yaak, two miles down the road) also owned by John and Dallas. That meant that on Saturday–the day of the event that brought us to Montana–we had to eat breakfast at the saloon. The Dirty Shame Saloon.

I can’t say I’ve ever had breakfast in a saloon. I can’t recall the last time I was IN a saloon. Back home we call them bars; the last one I’d been to was when I was in college. We weren’t sure what to expect. Turns out, The Dirty Shame was a delightful breakfast experience.

We were the only customers. I really liked that. We had our own personal chef. Floyd is his name and he knows how to cook a pancake:

Yaak MT breakfast at the Dirty ShameNo ordinary pancakes, these were huckleberry pancakes, and they were fabulous. I never order pancakes in a restaurant, but Bruce nearly always does. I tried a couple bites. I ordered a ham and cheese omelet our first morning there–yes, we ate here twice–and scrambled eggs the second. Neither day did I leave hungry or disappointed. Floyd, you made two fabulous breakfasts. Thank you!

You may have noticed that they think big around here. Below is my second breakfast here, but note the butter. It is served by the slab for the pancakes.

Yaak breakfast at the Dirty ShameI was asked whether I’d like hazelnut or vanilla flavoring in my coffee. I declined and said, “No, just plain, thanks.” I meant black, but he thought I meant cream without flavor, and promptly brought out a half gallon carton of half and half and set it near my plate. They don’t mess around here; they aim to please. I thanked him and smiled.

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As I looked at the table and remembered where I was, I felt a little giggle inside that threatened to break the silence. As time and place are everything, I could only smile once again:

Dirty Shame Saloon breakfast_July 2017 (1)My orange juice was served in a plastic Coors cup.

The choices are few for food in Yaak; there is nothing else on the main road either way unless one is willing or able to drive to Troy or Libby, some distance. In Yaak proper, below, one must dine at The Dirty Shame, buy food at the Yaak Mercantile, or eat at the other saloon next to the mercantile. That’s it.

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As we finished our meal in the company of a darned good cook and a delightful host, I thought, what a (dirty) shame that more people don’t know about this place. I don’t know if we’ll ever be back, but if we return, I know where to get a fabulous huckleberry pancake.

Next post: Day #3 and the reason for this trip.

Until then, Cheers!

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.

Marys Peak_1 (11)

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.

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

Bare Naked

I woke today in need of a really good chuckle. A belly laugh would be best. I searched my archives and found the following:


Did it work? It perfectly captured my sentiments. After this week I’m feeling old, rusty, and a bit saggy. I mean my brain, but still…I’m feeling rather exposed.

I started a new adventure and I’m not sure whether I’ve bit off more than I can chew (pun intended!). I told you about my new adventure last week; I began as a volunteer dental hygiene instructor at a community college. You can read about that here if you like. I now have a full two days under my belt. TWO DAYS, and…does anyone know where I can order a portable oxygen tank?

My role (newly defined as of yesterday morning) includes BEING BACK IN THE MOUTH. Yikes! Not only am I allowed in the mouth, I may help with instrumentation and placing films for the full series (18 individual films), a pano (where the machine goes around your head), 0r bite wings (the 4 you bite on at your re-care appointment). As a volunteer I may not grade them–Thank the plaque Gods above!–but I am allowed to dive in and help if needed. My biggest concern is my back; this is why I hung up my scalers a year ago.

Well, I dove, and, while there were a few retakes in radiology, now I know their system and what the lead instructor expects. I stood directly behind her as she assessed the full mouth series I helped a student take and I learned those expectations. In the real world as you may guess, it’s a whole new ball game, and the doctor may want a specific angle or just the root tip on a certain film. Here, in school right now, the expectations are different–indeed the bar is higher and slightly different–exactly how it should be. Now is the time to perfect the basics. Later, they may use the tricks I am showing them now.

  • My sudden “ah, ha” moment: Part of my role is I am there to help them think. They are learning one technique, but I bring years of experience. It’s all good.
  • My new revelation? In spite of last week’s experience in radiology, I LOVED BEING THERE THIS WEEK. I was shocked, but I ENJOYED HELPING THEM PLACE FILMS. Maybe they’ll let me park myself back there and mainly help in radiology. I would LOVE that.

As I left the clinic last evening and began my drive home, I felt shaky. Rusty. A complete and incompetent outsider. I felt so alone! That was eventually countered by feelings of, “But, Karen, this is your thing!” and “You KNOW this!” and “You’re being FAR too hard on yourself,” and “You need to chill, woman!”

There were some very nice moments from yesterday:

  • I was greeted with warm student smiles on my second day in clinic.
  • Out of the blue, a student thanked me for donating my time on Fridays.
  • Another thanked me for helping her use the ultrasonic scaler in a tough spot in the posterior teeth.
  • An instructor and I had a very nice chat about hygienists, our level of education, how our profession has been held back in several ways, what obstacles lie ahead. This is big as we are not self-regulated; we are regulated by dentists and one of the very few health professions not self-regulated).
  • I shared my experience with the same instructor about trying to bridge Oral Health and Gerontology with those in my master’s program (who were not overly receptive at the time). She stated an article needs to be written about this.

As I continued to drive, the next thing was, “How would YOU feel were you a student now?”  Well, since I can’t grade them, and since they don’t know me yet, I sense they’re holding back from asking for my help. I get that, and I might do the same thing were I in their place. What I’ve done is PUSH MYSELF to start talking with them, ask them about their day, what’s on their schedule, and how it went with their last patient. I need to earn their trust.

And, do you know how UNCOMFORTABLE that is for me? Holy Buckets! This is NOT my default setting. It feels as though I am naked, that the 20 students, the five hygiene instructors, and the one dentist are staring at me (never mind talking about me when I’m not looking). Sigh….

“If the door closes, quit banging on it! Whatever was behind it, wasn’t meant for you. Consider the fact that maybe the door was closed because you were worth so much more than what was on the other side.”

~ Author Unknown

While I can’t say that I know volunteering here is meant for me, or that what I’ve left behind (private practice) is behind me permanently, I can say I need to push forward, difficult as that may be. I simply don’t know what’s in store. And that feels like I’m teetering, bare naked, high on a cliff….

I know you tried. 🙂

And, today is a new day. I’ve slept well and feel much better after I’ve had a chance to rest my battered brain. It’s a great feeling to tackle a new day. That feeling was only enhanced by the following post when I opened up my Reader.

I saw this from my friend Carola at her blog My Dear Yellow World. The post is called “Go deep. You are not alone” (accessed here https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49867690/posts/1332622271), and oozes with positive affirmations. It is worth the read. Here is her first paragraph:

“I´ll never be content with the surface of things. So often we hold ourselves from going deep because we are scared it may be more than we can handle or worry what people might think. But we will grow so much more from it. Exposing our hearts is not weakness. It´s bravery. It´s authenticity. It´s love.”

And the last:

“You are my people. I see you. I believe in you. So tell me anything. Tell me everything. I am not in this world to make small talk. Talk real to me. I am here for you. I want to be a reminder that it is okay to share what you are feeling inside. Your voice is needed and it matters. A lot. 💛

How fabulous is that?

As the day wore on and as I reflected on yesterday, I relaxed after re-reading Carola’s words of affirmation, her request to share, her knowledge we are not alone as I’d been feeling. This is what blogging is all about. Thank you. It is the push I need right now.


❤ I feel a little less exposed. ❤

This Is My Somewhere

“The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

A couple years ago I found a photo of the Gladstone, Oregon Pow-Wow-Ettes. You read that correctly. We were green and white, sequined, baton-toting twirlers who strutted with pride. We represented our town, Gladstone, the group named after an historic tree. It was the late 60s.

Can you find me?

We marched in local parades and for my family, it was an event. My mother made the outfits my sister and I wore; I wouldn’t be surprised if she made several others. Mom was an exceptional seamstress. She marched right along side us as we twirled. Neither she or dad missed a parade, or rarely any event.

Before the days of backpacks, mom carried anything we might need: Band-aids, a metal thermos of water, Bactine, salt tablets, white shoe polish. Our shoes had to be white. Not dingy gray like mine; they had to be white. Polish stunk. Maybe because I required extra. I recall the squish from marching with wet toes, the polish having leaked through my thin shoes and socks. Mom was forever after me with her bottle of polish, telling me to stand still so she could apply more.

Me as a proud Pow-Wow-Ette
My older sister, Lynne. I was the tom boy; her shoes are whiter.

Dad was a writer and photographer who stood behind the camera, capturing much of our childhood. While he did not take the following picture, he took and wrote about many others.

The Gladstone, Oregon Pow-Wow-Ettes in action.

I saw where a social media friend recently copied and shared the group photo above, the one I posted a few years ago. As it floated around again and we collectively tried to recall names, I thought about my roots. The building in which we posed for those pictures is now gone, a place where gym and band classes were held. We called it “the old gym.” I believe it was Gladstone’s original grade school building.

Our band teacher taught us to play the black, plastic Tonette in fifth grade. Later, I played the sax. Classes were held on the upper level at one end of the gym. There was a separate door inside our classroom which led to the bathroom below. I recall our teacher sending someone after me; he got worried when I left with a bloody nose and did not come back directly. That happened more than once.

What I recall having learned as floor exercises are what I’d now call prehistoric yoga, but it was on that blindingly polished floor where we learned to lean, stretch, and stretch some more. We were lined up in rows, each within our invisible 7 or 8′ exercise square. One day as I leaned and stretched I was admonished by Jane. With eyebrows scrunched together, she said, “Karen, you are doing it wrong.” The look on my face must have revealed my surprise. Indeed, I felt I was getting the hang of it quite well. I wasn’t the quickest or strongest, but I copied very well. Jane made no sense. I followed with the highly intelligent, “Huh?” to which she replied, “You’re taking up too much space.” Ah, then I got it. I moved back (but only a bit. When I realized what she meant, I knew I was within my rightful space). I took the polite road.

Another lesson I learned in that gym is something I’ve never shared. It is one of the most important lessons I learned, a life lesson, and one I’ll never forget. It has shaped my thinking for the better, and, reflecting on choices I’ve made, have wondered whether my band teacher deserves the credit.

We were ten that year, all fifth graders, and it was time for band. We’d lined up on the stairs waiting the arrival of our teacher. Sandy and I were at the head of the line near the door. For some unknown reason (that I would later realize impacted my life), our teacher was late. Really late. I never knew why, but that hardly mattered. As we fretted and waited and as our impatience grew, Sandy shook the door knob. Nothing. I also tried, to no avail. The door was firmly locked. We waited. We waited some more. Minutes passed. Finally, after we tried unsuccessfully to open the door once again, Sandy had an idea. She reached into her bag and brought out a skinny, plastic pixie stick. She then said, “Here, try this” and handed it to me.

These appear to be wooden; ours were plastic. Photo: Pinterest.

Well, the wise kids would knowingly say, “No, you try.” Knowingly, because, of course, they would think it through and realize this was a stupid idea. They would gladly stand there and watch you try, but they would know better. They were quicker on their feet.

My world was about to shake, rattle, and roll.

The band teacher arrived, finally. He hurried up the stairs, sheet music in one hand, key in the other. He tried to open the door. Nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. He then bent over to peek inside the tiny key hole. He could see that something was inside, blocking the hole.

He stood up straight and slowly turned around. If you think about it, this adds to the impact. Sandy and I hadn’t had the foresight to head to the back of the line; nope, we stayed right up front. When the teacher turned around we were the first kids he saw. Guilt by association. In hindsight, I wish I could see our faces at that moment. We knew we were toast, but like frightened kittens, we stood there shaking in our boots.

Suddenly, our teacher bellowed something like this, “DID SOMEONE PUT SOMETHING IN THIS LOCK?!”

Sandy and I and everyone else stared blankly.

He then asked again, with a bit more emphasis.


I meekly offered “I did, but she told me to” and gestured towards Sandy.

And that’s when he slowly leaned over. He positioned his face directly in front of mine; we were eye to eye. He had thick, curly hair and he wore thick glasses. He was a tall, thin man, and someone I secretly worshiped. He was a fabulous teacher and a personal friend of my parents which made what was about to happen that much worse.

He puffed his chest and bellowed in my face, “WELL, IF SHE TOLD YOU TO JUMP OFF A CLIFF, WOULD YOU?!”

I’m not sure if I peed my pants then or when he first bellowed, but I’m certain I leaked at some point that afternoon. While most of the rest of that day is a blur, I do recall walking through the main gym doors and up the inside staircase to reach our room. And, in no uncertain terms, I was informed that not only was I to write a letter of apology to our teacher and the principal, I also had to write one to our class. I did both.

Here are some of my lessons from the gym:

  1. Don’t doddle when you have a bloody nose. Someone WILL come after you (and you will be more embarrassed). Arrange to have discreet bloody noses.
  2. Respect other people’s space when you’ve unintentionally crossed into theirs (because you can always trip them later  you can put a dead fish in their car  it’s the right thing to do). Keeps the peace.
  3. When you try to throw your friends under the bus, karma says KABOOM!! Really.
  4. If your teachers are worth their salt, they WILL yell at you when necessary (you’ll later love them for it).
  5. I learned to THINK FOR MYSELF and not follow the crowd (over the cliff, unless there’s chocolate at the bottom).

When I think back over decisions I’ve made and how I’ve conducted my life, I see that I have always operated outside the main group/idea/event and on the fringes. I don’t delve into the mix. I’m a watchful observer; I watch and wait (and then make my move). My comfort zone is on the edge. I’ve never been a sheeple. And you know what? Every bit of this is perfectly OK.

I was one of the lucky ones. As I get older and reflect on my growing up years, I feel unbelievably fortunate. Yes, the world is where we live and learn. We rise and fall. We fail and we succeed. We continue on our journey, sometimes with tears, sometimes with joy. We love. We learn. Some of us had great parents AND teachers. We survive out there based on where we began, from strength earned and gleaned from the early lessons that have become gems. It all started somewhere, in some gym in Smalltown, America, with a group of kids much like you, whose parents were much like yours.

This is my somewhere.

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”

~ James Baldwin

A bit about the historic Pow Wow tree.

“The white settlers lived alongside the area’s Indians, who operated a ferry across the Clackamas River. The famous “Pow-Wow” maple tree marked the place where the different Indian tribes, mainly Clackamas and Multnomahs, met to make trading agreements, settle community affairs, and conduct wedding ceremonies. The tree still stands on Clackamas Boulevard, though a little battered. Adjacent to the “Pow-Wow” tree was an Indian racetrack that Peter Rinearson later used as an exercise and training ground for the racehorses he bred. In 1861, it was used as a parade ring for the First State Fair held on the Rinearson property, with the “Pow-Wow” tree marking the entrance” (http://www.ci.gladstone.or.us/gladstone-history/).

Photo courtesy: Oregon Travel Experience
Photo courtesy: Oregon Travel Experience
Photo courtesy: waymarking.com

Smile and Keet Noothing

I have read about those Challenges. I’ve seen them here on WP for things such as kindness, photography, gratitude. There are many and I love the idea–I often read them–but I rarely participate. I’m not sure why, but after yesterday I am rethinking my behavior.

I went to see mom. She’s 88 and now calls Independent Living her home. Indeed, it’s quite nice and she’s made many friends. She’s nestled into a cozy apartment perfect for her at this time in her life.

But, often with age comes inactivity which, as expected, directly affects health. My sister and I encourage our mother to walk on a regular basis. Her doctors have suggested a daily, 30 minute walk. Mom uses a cane in the halls and when she leaves the building. Inside her apartment and our homes, she walks very well without help. She is not fragile, and for 88, is in pretty good health (not counting the arthritis in her fingers).

Yesterday, mom agreed to walk the halls. I was determined to keep her moving for 30 minutes. It was 10:23. I grabbed my phone, she her cane and keys, and off we went. We’d been strolling but a few minutes when we ran into Eleanor. Eleanor is very chatty. The fall six weeks back that cracked her tailbone changed the course of her daily activities. We met up on the first of her two, daily walks. We chatted for several minutes, including about the family history of those she knew back in Ohio with the same last name as mom, then turned to go. I like Eleanor. It was very good for mom to see what Eleanor can do after a severe injury. It’s an example I’ve parked on the back burner.

And, I’ll fess up: I prolonged our chat with Eleanor. We marveled over her comeback from that nasty fall and how much fun Genealogy can be…partly because I saw Ed leave his apartment. He was heading our way. I like Ed. But Ed’s a hugger. This is flu season and I do not want to shake hands, I do not want to hug or breathe in sickly molecules. I don’t want to touch door knobs. I’m far from unfriendly; this is survival

Ed did not stop and offer hugs, thankfully, as we engaged in conversation with Eleanor. He walked past us and I was most thankful.

Her smile spoke volumes: she spied us before we knew what hit us. No sooner had we left Eleanor and were turning around when we saw Blanche sitting in a chair in her room. Her door was wide open; she was watching the hall. She said nothing but her grin did. It was that “come hither” and “I know you want to” look. Under my breath I smiled and said to mom, “Keet noothing,” you know, the language ventriloquists use to prevent the lips from touching. But mom, in her sweetness, said to me, “Oh, you have to see her toothpick containers.” I kept smiling. Before I knew it we were standing inside Blanche’s apartment marveling over her display–the count must exceed 150–on the five wooden shelf units attached to a wall behind her strategically placed chair. Blanche had collected containers of varying color, shape, material, and theme from the world over. It was impressive.

After walking the full length of mom’s floor and as we neared the elevator, I suggested we tackle the floor above. She was game and I was soon to find out why. We enjoyed seeing how people decorate their doors, the ceramic animals that sit outside and the cheery quilts on some. We enjoyed the various Welcome signs that greet visitors as they approach. I pointed it out when I saw that a Margaret lives in 310. Mom’s name is Margaret, and her address of 51 years before Independent Living was 310. We both smiled.

There was one door in particular that made me smile. It wasn’t the lady ready for Valentine’s Day whose door sparkled with red streamers and hearts on both sides. Nor was it the lady whose door welcomed visitors with a stream of red Valentine lights. It was this:

nuts-at-the-home_jan-2017-1I think it appalled mom who is very private and wouldn’t in a million years do what I was about to do. That didn’t stop me. I pulled out my camera and took not one but two shots of this wooden sign. I didn’t just smile, this one made me laugh. I pocketed my phone and we continued.

Visiting is fine, but I was on a mission. Apparently, so was mom. I was about to find out what she wanted to see. We continued down the hall. She’s been telling me about the noise directly above her apartment. She said it’s a man and he’s awfully loud. Under her breath, she mentioned his name. But as we approached the door above her apartment, she was surprised to see the name on the door wasn’t the one she expected. The man who lives directly above mom is not the man she’d assumed. The one she’s been mad at lives further down the hall and around the corner. We both smiled and finished our tour.

We headed back to mom’s apartment. As we walked inside I looked at the time. It was 11:01. Bingo! We did it.

As I reflect on yesterday’s visit, I realize that I smiled many, many times while on our walk. Mom did too as she proudly introduced me to her many friends. She learned a few things as did I. The walk was nostalgic, friendly, inspiring, humorous, and healthy, if not a bit nutty.

From now on, I aim to find the smiles, to challenge myself to find the joy. Sometimes it’s in the little things, in simple moments with loved ones, that bring happiness.

When it gets a little nutty, and it will, just smile and keet noothing.

❤ What are the little things that bring you joy and smiles? ❤