Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Extra Blanket

In early June I took the extra blanket off the bed after we had two days in a row with temps in the 80s. Too soon, it turned out. Since then, I have put it on and off a few times. Sometimes getting up in the night to close the window and grab it from the pile ready to be stored. Portland is still having winter!

Today…it is snowing on Mt. Hood, pouring down rain here, and the temp is 54 degrees. Hardly seems like summer to me despite the fact that solstice was last Thursday. I’m still waiting for those tank top and shorts days. We have had a total of five days in the 80s since last September. On all five of those days Portlanders complained about the heat. I can hear my friends in Missouri laughing!

Life goes on here at The Hideaway with all the usual activities, the part-time job, and now…the wedding preparations. Still…on a day like today…I can find some quiet time to sit on the couch and watch the rain pounding down and knit on the wedding shawl and enjoy the peacefulness. It is not a day to work in the yard or go for a hike. I did get out with the dogs during a short break in the weather. Now they are sleeping on their beds content to be inside.

June winds down and July is only a week away. The wedding is in seven weeks. And the baby is due in six months. All those weeks and months will fly by. So I grab these quiet moments and cherish them.

And tonight I will put the extra blanket back on the bed one more time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Longest Day

Summer Solstice occurs at 11:06 a.m. PDT on Thursday, June 21st and we switch to a new season as the begin to grow shorter. This poem about the longest day was forwarded to me by my friend Larry in Missouri and reprinted here with permission from the author.

O purifying Earth, I thee invoke,
O Patient Earth, by sacred word enhanced, bearer of nourishment and strength, of food and ghee
O Earth, we would approach you with due praise! Atharva Veda

Gather, people, while Sun shines strong,
In shimmering air filled with heart's deep song.
Gather and listen, listen and pray
Give thanks and praise on this longest day.

Praise to earth, air, water and fire,
As portents loom of times that are dire
Ice caps melting, sea winds churning,
Islands drowning, wildfires burning.

Call on spirits South, West, North and East
To tame and temper the human beast
To wake us from our electronic trance
And restore us to harmony in the cosmic dance

We inhabit a planet born in the stars,
Wondrously forming all that we are
Humans and others who swim, creep and fly
Or put down roots while they reach to the sky

All one in our living in this beautiful Earth
Greening, growing and giving birth,
All one in our loving then fading away,
Here for a moment or a long summer's day

Embrace what is given, ask for no more
Give away what you can , make love not war.

Amy Hannon – Raritan Valley, NJ 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Father

My Father
Clarence “Andy” Anderson
1896 - 1964

He was 68 when he died a few months after Scott was born. He never got to see his grandson. Or any of my other children. He would have loved them and they would have loved him in return. A man of remarkable skills and talents with wide-ranging interests, he taught me so much of value. I am only now realizing what gifts he gave me.

His deep-rooted concern for the earth and for protecting the world around him pre-dated the current environmental movement, and was, in fact, ahead of the curve called “conservation” even back in the forties. He knew the names of trees, and plants, and flowers, and taught these to me on our walks. He taught me to walk. I don’t mean toddle. I mean walk to enjoy all the wonders of our neighborhood. He knew the history of houses and architecture, he knew where our water came from, he knew what weather was coming from watching the clouds in the sky and the birds in flight. We walked together almost every day all through my childhood and those rambles now live in my memory as very special times.

By profession he was an engineer. By avocation he was an artist. These talents together enabled him to supplement his income by making detailed drawings to accompany patent applications. This resulted in a parade of rather strange inventors through our living room and the assembly of unidentifiable machines on the back porch. In his spare time, he “tinkered” in his workshop in the basement where he kept a short wave radio, a 24-hour GMT clock, a Morse code transmitter and an assortment of art materials for making his “illuminations.” At night he laid on his back out in the yard and watched the constellations. He read Latin and Greek and had an incredible library of classical literature. He knew all the great myths and most of the stories of the Bible. He could quote Shakespeare and often referred to Socrates and Plato.

He taught me Latin and tried to teach me Greek. I learned Morse code and the names of all the constellations and the mythology that went with them. I learned the names of most things living including trees, plants, flowers, birds, animals, bugs, fish, snakes. And things not living like rocks, mountains, machines. He taught me to read and to appreciate literature. He taught me to draw and get the perspective correct. He taught me to use a slide rule. He taught me the principle of internal combustion. And nuclear fission and fusion. He taught me to make a fire and other survival skills. He taught me to use a map and compass. He sang old Celtic ballads in Gaelic and knew the words to many Broadway shows.

After I left home for college, he walked with his beloved collie, Boss. After that dog died, he gave a home to Skipper, a Llewellyn setter, who was a staunch companion after his stroke. No one but his close family knew that he was deaf. He lost his hearing as a small child due to an ear infection. (Pre-antibiotics.) He wore a hearing aid, read lips, and faked it. He was a ferocious advocate for the handicapped long before they had come out of the back bedroom into the public eye.

Today, I salute him, my wonderful father who made it possible for me to enjoy life the way I do. He taught me to find joy in every day, love the world I live in, and be compassionate to the other inhabitants of the earth. He was an extraordinary person whose legacy I hope to have passed on to my children.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Clara Barnes Marsh

June 9, 1885 – June 26, 1980

As I enter my septuagenarian decade, I am growing more aware of family members who passed this way before me. My Aunt Clara lived to be the oldest in the family, dying at age 95. It is hard for me to believe that I knew so well, and spent so much time with, a person who was born in the 19th century 112 years ago today.

Aunt Clara was my mother’s older sister, the oldest of the four Barnes children born at the end of the 1800s in Kansas City, Missouri. Aunt Clara was born at home in the house near Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral where the Convention Center now stands.

She married a “railroad man” and moved to Chicago. She lost her husband and an infant daughter in the flu epidemic that swept the country in 1918. She never remarried and remained a widow the rest of her life. She was a “career woman” long before such were common and was a valued “Executive Assistant” for many years.

She never learned to drive, and walked everywhere or rode the bus right up until just before she died. She returned to live in Kansas City in 1957 when her sister, my mother, died and she “took care” of me for over twenty years. She lived on The Plaza in a brick apartment building across from Winstead’s. It’s long gone now and a glass building now stands where we used to sit on her porch all bundled up and watch the Christmas lights come on.

She earned extra money on the side by knitting tiny baby garments for all her friends and co-workers to give as gifts for new arrivals. I’m sure she is up there now knitting a tiny cap for Windy’s little one.

Her apartment smelled like lavender and old lace and I miss her still. Rest in peace, Aunt Clara.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What's In A Name?

Just to make a point relevant to the latest news from my end of the earth: the correct term for what I am about to become is Grandmother. Not Grandma. "Grandma" Graham is 100 years old and lives in Petaluma, California and still makes aprons and is beloved by all her grandchildren. Windy's baby will be her great-grandchild and will call her Grandma as all the others do.

On the other hand, I will not be Grandma. I will be Grandmother and the little one will decide on a nickname when he/she begins to talk. Something like Nana which I like, or GaGa which I called my own grandmother. Or some other gibberish or string of rhyming syllables. There is, of course, a term some of you will recognize from 70s TV: "Not-the-Momma."

I'm reminded of the Rowan and Martin skit "You can call me Ray. Or you can call me R.J.” Enough reminiscing. I don't care what the kid calls me, but the grown-ups will refer to me as Grandmother and, as is the case with calling me Patty, only call me Grandma once.