Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Bevy of Babies

Windy and Chris Roth are expecting a little girl December 21, 2007 and Andy and Laura Graham are expecting their baby on March 28, 2008. This will be two grandchildren for me.

Teresa and Lance Bolden are expecting a little brother for Brayden on February 25, 2008. He will be a great grand nephew and my sister’s great grandchild. So I am filling in as a great grandmother.

Pretty awesome to have all these little ones arriving so close together. The Roths and the Grahams both live here and the babies will no doubt spend lots of time as playmates. The Boldens live in California but come to Portland several times a year so all the kids will have a chance to play together as they grow up.

This does, of course, mean a knitting and quilting challenge for me. I can see where my efforts will be spent during the upcoming fall. Can’t think of anything I would rather be doing. I am fixing Windy’s former room as a Baby Room with a crib and changing table and shelves for toys. I hope the little ones will be here often.

Thanks to all who have written with congratulations and good wishes.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Harvest Home

My alarm clock has glow-in-the-dark features and they are needed now as the mornings are dark and sunlight no longer wakes me. It is the end of summer and there are only a few days left before autumn officially begins. As the Equinox approaches the days are noticeably shorter and my walks with the dogs at sunset move earlier and earlier.

Two nights ago the temp dropped dramatically and I shivered throughout the night. Next day I was in the storage shed, moving plastic bins to get to the one on the bottom (Why is the one I want always on the bottom?) with the winter bedding. Now I have made up my bed with flannel sheets and an extra blanket.

This is a time of drawing in and tonight I am happy to be home and settling in to watch Survivor. I stopped on the way home from work for a Lil’ Caesar’s Hot ‘n’ Ready $5 pizza. A tradition I started back when I lived in Osceola. Haven’t done this for a long time, but tonight it seemed just right.

This Sunday at 2:51 a.m. summer officially ends. Another season, another page on the calendar. In the fields, the last harvests are coming home.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

In 1986 I started watching Sunday afternoon football. I was living out in Meadow Valley in the far backcountry region of Plumas County, California. Still grieving from my sister’s death two years earlier, separated from my kids, unemployed, broke and experiencing loneliness beyond anything I had ever felt before. My residence…such as it was…was a barn. A real one that still smelled of the previous equine tenants. My little portable TV was plugged into the one and only electrical outlet, its rabbit ears replete with tinfoil flags wobbling on top. The only channel I could get was CBS and so I watched football.

This worked out nicely in the overall scheme of things. It gave me a topic for conversations with my sons and at the same time provided me some entertainment and a chance to sit down and be still. I had been looking for an activity to ease my solitude and the local dime store featured some knitted items in the window. I scraped enough money together to buy some needles and yarn and I set out to make the first of what were to be many Football Season Afghans.

That summer I had left San Francisco for the promise of a job with access to the wilderness. The job didn’t work out, but the wilderness was there for the taking. I spent my days hiking with my new pup, Babe, and searching for solace and sanctuary. Sunday was our day to stay home and tend the home fires. The little black & white TV was our connection to the “real world.”

Not too long afterward, I was forced by approaching winter to head back down the mountain and look for work in Sacramento. But by then…I was hooked on football. Those were the glory years of the San Francisco Forty-Niners and they became the family team. In phone calls and letters my sons and I followed their victories and shared the triumph of picking a winning team. And the boys, and then many others, received the afghans I made on those Sunday afternoons.

This year, I am making a smaller blanket, a lollypop afghan for my little not-yet-born grand-daughter. The Forty-Niners are history, and it is hard for me now to know which player is on which team. The boys are grown and have busy lives. We don’t spend so many hours watching as back in the old days. But not too long ago, Andy said to me “Are you ready for some football?” I am.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blackberry Fields Forever

Invasive is not a strong enough word to describe these tenacious vines that took over a corner of the yard and began stretching off into infinity. They were strangling the rhodie bush and the little maple tree as well as pulling down the fence. Most importantly (for my dog) they crawled into Buddy’s mud wallow (dust bowl) and interfered with his nap.

Scott and I pulled them out on this sunny Saturday morning and have scratches and bloody gloves to prove it. We dug out the giant pumpkin-sized root from which all appeared to spring and sent it to yard waste recycling. The dead vines are heaped behind the shed awaiting dismemberment and transport to the dump.

While we were behind the shed (in no man’s land) we discovered that some giant squash vines have migrated from the yard next door and one giant fat pumpkin is ripening underneath all the pyracantha and other debris we have been tossing back there. Perhaps it will be a Jack-o-lantern.

This is a tiny yard but every so often it requires some serious work. Several neighbors have already stopped to comment on how much better it looks. Scott also brought his brand new Turbo Jet power mower and made short (and I do mean short in both senses of the word) work of the grass that passes for a lawn.

Now we are all tidied up and ready for winter which appears to be just around the corner. Rain is predicted for tomorrow and cold nights are ahead next week. In other years when I lived other places, this clean-up would take place toward the end of October but the seasons are different here. “Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about…blackberry fields forever.”

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Anchor Points

On the East Face of Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountains, iron pitons were driven years ago into the cliff’s smooth surface and left there for the next climber. It is a difficult ascent, not for the faint of heart, but has been made numerous times including once by this writer. Before the wall, there is a long and challenging route across ice fields and scree that tires the climbers, and the 14,000+ altitude leaves them breathless. Mountaineering skills are involved in conquering the sheer sheet of rock. The toughest part of the climb comes when you are nearing exhaustion. Without those pitons, those anchor points, it would be impossible for many to continue.

Those long distant mountain climbing days did provide life lessons that I have carried for all these fifty plus years. Now…as I am struggling to fill the huge hole Windy’s marriage and subsequent move have left in my home and in my heart, I’m hanging on to anchor points… looking for the next foothold or place to grasp to pull myself to safety. These spots of protection help me to steady myself and keep from plunging into free fall. They are plans, events, appointments… duly noted on the calendar to remind me of places I have to go and people I have to see. They are family and friends who reach out. This is a climb for me up a blank wall out of beckoning depression. As treacherous as if I were setting out to summit Longs again.

The slant of late afternoon light and the chill breeze of approaching night spark me into action to find a comfort zone before darkness falls. Armed with my book and my knitting and my ubiquitous afternoon pot of coffee, I seek shelter from the storm of emotions that keep me off balance. Joy and happiness for Windy as she starts a new life as wife and soon-to-be mother with her own home, sadness and nostalgia for time past as my life turns a corner and heads into another decade. I will need those anchor points.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hark the Herald Catalogs Sing

The first Christmas catalog arrived in yesterday’s mail. Thank you L. L. Bean for being so swift with the reminder that The Holidays now begin right after Labor Day. Is this the harbinger of a year-long Christmas season? I am so old-fashioned I remember when folks were horrified if a hint of Christmas was to be seen before Thanksgiving. Go back even further, and in my home growing up, Christmas began on Christmas Eve when the tree went up and lasted for Twelve Days after the 25th of December.

Barely have the stores scooped the school supplies to the back aisles than Halloween costumes and candy vie with early Christmas cards and decorations for the displays front and center. And I expect a flood of catalogs in the next few weeks. All for naught as far as I am concerned. This will be a home-grown/hand-made/family-produced gift-giving holiday for me. I am not falling victim to the Mercantile Madness. The best defense is to stay out of the stores, ignore the inserts in the daily paper, toss the catalogs in the recycle bin on the way back from the mailbox, and block all the pop-ups coupon e-mails on the computer. It won’t be easy.

The MacLeod clan motto is “Hold fast” and I shall.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It’s trash day in Wood Village and my morning reverie is interrupted by the raucous grinding of hydraulic gears as the giant trucks lumber down my street grabbing our new big green all-in-one (except glass) recycling bins and flipping them into the maw. The bins have wheels and are much easier to get to the curb than the small orange tubs we had before. No more sorting of cardboard and paper and metal and plastic. Everything goes in. Except, as I said, glass which messes up the automatic sorting machine. The trucks are automated and no more friendly garbage man teasing the dogs. Just a big iron hand that slides out and grabs the bin.

This morning I am home and getting used to my fall schedule. All summer these Wednesday mornings were my time on the golf course. Our group has disbanded now and we are all back to our regular lives. The dogs are glad to have some company as I have been gone quite a bit lately. Now I have this day for errands in the morning and Knit Wits in the afternoon. Working at the college on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mondays and Fridays are up for grabs but they will go quickly as groups bid for my volunteer hours.

Weekends are full with harvest fairs and family activities and hiking in the Gorge. Not many empty days between now and …The Baby’s Arrival. Taking advantage of this down time today to start making a “lollipop” afghan for the wee one. I treasure these lazy moments now that they are few and far between.

The trucks have rumbled off and silence descends on Elderberry Lane. Time for a second cup of coffee.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back to Summer

After a touch of fall with crisp days and a craving for apples, followed by a preview of winter with a longing for a crock pot of soup, here comes full blown summer with a renewed interest in iced tea. Today the temp is approaching 90+ degrees and the sun beats down. These weather burps are confusing people and making wardrobe management difficult. Too soon to pack away the sandals but too soon to break out the boots.

For me…on a rare day at home with nothing scheduled…it is a chance to revert to what I now call my “Missouri Mode” which involves a great deal of sitting and knitting or reading and the sipping of raspberry or peach iced tea. The dogs are in their dust bowl wallows under the bushes where they stay cool and keep watch on the neighborhood. The cats have abandoned the fleece beds for the cool kitchen floor.

There’s a breeze and the curtains are fluttering a bit. Ceiling fans help the air along as it circulates through rooms that were shut tight just last week. It’s a welcome change as I felt cheated out of summer. It won’t be a lazy week, though, as registration has begun at the local college which means I am back at my part-time job.

Still…I found time this morning to finish two projects. A comfort shawl for a friend who lost her husband and a tiny hat for my little girl grandchild who is expected in December. You can see both on my craft blog at

Friday, September 07, 2007

The 7th of September

My mother died on the 7th of September in 1957, a few weeks after my 20th birthday. That was the day my childhood ended and my carefree life was over. Overnight I became an adult. It was one of those gorgeous fall days in Missouri, the air crisp and the sunlight sharp. I remember being so angry that the sun was shining on a day of such sadness.

It has been fifty years now since I drove frantically through the night in response to a call from St. Joseph’s Hospital. I was there holding her hand when she drew her last breath. Some said it was a blessing that her cancer-ridden body was free from pain at last after a two year battle. But I was her baby…her youngest daughter…and I was cast adrift. It was the worst feeling of my life, and still…these many years later…the days of early September bring an overwhelming sadness with them.

Remembering Mother
Winifred Barnes Anderson
February 21, 1895 – September 7, 1957

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

Pack away the white shoes…summer is over! Unofficially anyway. Three more weeks on the calendar until the Autumnal Equinox that signals the advent of Fall. This turning of the calendar page is becoming a very symbolic act for me as the days, weeks, months slide away faster and faster. Summer was a blur of wedding preparations, out of town guests, parties, camping and all manner of busyness. There were precious few of those long, lazy days drinking raspberry iced tea and dozing over a good book.

Now I am in “back-to-school” mode once again as I prepare to go back to my part-time job at Mt. Hood Community College. Craft Groups, Book Club and Friends Hikes are all gearing up for a full schedule of activities during the next few months. We are zooming toward Halloween and The Holidays. And…for our family…The Baby.

Today is a “down day” and it is most welcome. My time has been spent reading yesterday’s Sunday paper and my new birthday book, knitting a few rows, downloading computer photos taken with my new digital camera, listening to beautiful Baroque music on the classical station. Later…a nap and a walk with the dogs. A quiet day to look back at the Summer and look forward to the Fall and perhaps write on the blank pages of the journals I received as birthday gifts.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Hung by His Own Petard

Just as Gary Condit was grateful for Nine Eleven, Alberto Gonzales is busy thanking Larry Craig for taking the heat off his own demise and helping to refocus the media onto what is really truly important. Sex! Meanwhile, Karl is slipping quietly out the backdoor.

Former U.S. Senator Craig is not the first, nor will he be the last, public figure to get a body part caught in his zipper. And of course, as wife Suzanne smiles stiffly beside him, you can hear Tammy Wynette’s favorite “Stand By Your Man” playing in the background. Tra la.

So Craig is humbled before his long-suffering wife and embarrassed children, humbled before his friends who expected better, humbled before his constituents, and humbled before the media who will serve him up for breakfast. Abandoned by his president and cohorts and fellow R’s, he stands out there all by himself looking like the lost soul he is.

But no apology for what he did, no acknowledgement that it was wrong. Only a “sorry if he offended someone” and a sob story about his guilty plea. Now we will wait for him to check into rehab or announce to one and all that he has found Jesus.

Another fall from grace. Rather literally into the toilet! By next week he will be forgotten and we will be on to the next scandal.