Life’s Little Surprises

July 15, 2019 at 8:57 pm (Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age) (, , , )

For some reason, when I received my new tabs for my car in the mail, I did not put them on the car right away. I usually wait until the end of the month of July to secure them in place. Yesterday, I received a manilla envelope in the mail. I knew what it was and hoped I was getting my old license plates. When I opened up the package, I was excited to know I was able to keep my plates.

I know what is the big deal about keeping a set of license plates you ask. let me tell you why they mean so much. Several years ago I worked at a hotel in my home town. One afternoon, a very handsome new driver came to my work to see me. My son Levi was getting ready to buy his first vehicle. He was working as an apprentice laying carpet at the time. He decided to buy a truck to help haul materials to the job site. For those parents who have gone through the trauma of a new driver, you know what I mean by yikes!  Levi owned the truck for a couple of months and decided to trade his truck for his dream car.

Levi bought a Mitsubishi Eclipse in dark green. Many people including his boss were angry at him for buying a high powered car. I think his feelings were hurt because he was proud of his new car. When Levi transferred the insurance from his truck to the car, the agent told him for ten dollars more, the policy would cover hospitalization and pay the car off if he were in an accident. Levi told the agent” I can not afford my insurance now, what is another ten dollars”.  The agent was impressed with my son for taking his advice. Next came the license plate drama.

Levi wanted a specialized plate that read Eshchelon. The plate means an army of one God. When my son called me and asked me if I would for half of the plate, I told him no. I knew he would be disappointed but I also had a sinking feeling inside me when he bought the car. Well, low and behold his plain, normal, boring (love his enthusiasm) plates came in the mail. He, of course, hated them.  I knew by the time Levi had ordered his new personalized plate, he would never have the chance to see them. My son passed away in a tragic car accident three weeks after he bought his new car. Someone pulled out in front of him going around the lake and his car went into the pond where he drowned.

Life has been a challenge for me since the death of my son Levi. with the love and support from family and friends, I have been moving forward in the good things God still has for me. I work in health care in a job I love, I write my blog post three times a week, and I care for my aging mom. My plate feels full sometimes, but I know a very handsome young man is also smiling down from heaven and winking at his mom encouraging her to keep carrying on. I am happy I was able to keep his old license plates and not issued new ones. Hug your family extra tight every night, tell them how much they mean to you and how much you love them. My life was forever changed one sunny Sunday morning when Levi set off with his friends to float the river.

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Summer Bucket List

June 27, 2019 at 8:47 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So many are talking about a Bucket List for summer. I do not have too many activities to add to a list I am afraid. I have never wanted to climb the tallest mountain, skydive( deathly afraid of heights), ride along with a race car driver, no, this middle age person enjoys living a quiet lifestyle.

I have to say that I admire those who like the challenge of off-road racing. it is a long and grueling race that tests the driver’s endurance and skill. I had a chance to participate in such a race instead of going to my Ten-year high school reunion. I think this was my twin brothers way of getting out of going to afternoon activities. He got his wish anyway, we spent the next day visiting relatives. I enjoy watching the off-road motorcycle endurance race. The rules can get interesting. On the last leg of the race, bystanders can root on the rider, but if the rider gets stuck or cannot pick up his bike after it falls, he can be verbally guided, but not helped. There is a sheer rock hill one must ride up to get to the finish line.

I am enjoying my summer so far. I have seen friends and family I have not seen in twenty years. The family is visiting my mother who is now living in a wheelchair. She has faced many difficult challenges over the last six months. Being part of the sandwich generation can be exhausting sometimes. We do not realize how busy our lives have become until one day, your mom comes home from rehab hospital and she now needs specialized care. Until you live the old saying, it is difficult to image. Our parents gave up so much to take care of their children, now it is our turn to take care of one or both parents. Mom id is fortunate to be able to live in her home with a night care provider. I come during the day.

I do not have a bucket list per se. One day when I retire, I would like to buy a motor home and travel to some of the places my husband and I dreamed about so long ago. We often teased we would sneak our grandkids into the motor home and head to the Oregon Coast and play at the beach. The only State my husband did not live in was Alaska. We planned to take a trip there someday also. In 1990, my husband passed away due to complications from his disease. In 2007, my son Levi passed away in a tragic car accident. He was only 20. I only have a couple years until I retire, I hope to travel to some of the locations that my husband and I talked about laying in bed listening to a summer storm. I am thankful to God for so much. With the love and support from family and friends, I keep moving forward in my life, my glass will ever be half- full because life is truly what you make it.

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Back To Reality

June 23, 2019 at 7:16 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Last week, I went on a stay-cation. I can always count on it raining, no, down pouring about the time I decide I need a break from my normal routine. Friends do not ask me what I did for fun that week off, they know I enjoy my home town. It was nice getting a break from having to water my lawn so much, the temperatures were staying in the high 60 degrees mark for the most part.

I ventured out of my home one day and finally went to a big box store that just opened up. I think this store has a Lowes beat in size. I walked in thought this place is huge. It will take me three days to see everything like at Disney Land. I felt a little bit overwhelmed with how many choices you have for one color of a throw pillow. If you want brown, they have fifty shades of just brown so you can coordinate your bedding or your accent chair in the corner of the living room. I found many double duty furniture solutions for hidden storage or a chair that folds out into a bed for guests. A fun afternoon indeed.

Sometimes, it is nice to take a break from your daily routine, not check emails for a couple days, no computer, keeping cell phone use to a minimum. For some, this seems impossible I mean staying off my phone for a couple days. All the things we do every day just to keep our lives running smooth. Between my job, caring for my aging mom, blogging, and weeding my yard I keep a full schedule. Anyone who knows me laughs because I hate yard work. I am becoming a reformed black thumb gardener. I had two shade trees planted in the back yard recently. I can say with pleasure, they are growing taller and branching out like they are supposed to.

I have not been camping since I was a child. My parents would take off when school let out or in October during hunting season in Colorado. I can truly say, I have my love for driving from my dad. We have visited many National Parks. Seeing Old Faithful is a must for all. It is funny now that my family moved to Post falls years later. I have always enjoyed watching wildlife, step outside your front door and see the forest, able to drive beside the river on a back road. I think this daily routine is one I will never need a break from. I have lived here for thirty-eight years, there are still so many places I have not seen yet. Sometimes it feels like have our own small piece of paradise living right here.

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A Time Of Refreshing

June 18, 2019 at 10:07 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

This week is a time for me to refresh, to unplug from all the cell phone, answering e-mails, computer, and all the other devices that we all need a break from.  I care for my aging mother in the morning, then I will be off for some much-needed fun.

I  have always been a homebody. I love living here and seeing wildlife. You are driving around a neighborhood, and see several deer eating on the front lawn, stopping for wild turkeys to cross the road, following the stream around a mountain back road. I like taking the less traveled forks in the road because you are pleasantly surprised when you see a quaint town with small shops to explore. Last year friends of mine and I traveled to the top of the mountain and looked over part of Coeur d’Alene Lake. The drive back was beautiful.

My mom and I are still expecting relatives to visit this summer. My next door neighbor agreed to come to help me clear the basement of items to donate and then make the space functional. Aside from this, catching up on reading some good books in the park, taking some afternoon drives around the lakes in the area, binge-watching my favorite shows, getting out and hiking Tubbs Hill, meeting friends for lunch at our favorite upscale restaurant. I may even go on a silver mine tour, and go to a ghost town in the area.

I can say that I have enjoyed the life I have lived in my home town. I have watched the town grow more and more every year but we still maintain our small town friendliness. I have my favorite places I shop,  have the oil changed, get my groceries, and get my hair cut. One thing remains the same: The grocery store clerk to my bank teller has the same friendly smile and warm greeting when you walk in. I choose to pay my bills in person instead of online for the reason of I have known the tellers and clerks for the last thirty years and enjoy the interaction with them. This is what makes a town feel like home. I could plan a trip and travel anywhere I wanted this week but where would I be any more satisfied than where I love living? I told this to a friend today in the grocery store. She wondered why I was not on an airplane heading for another destination. Folks come here to enjoy our beauty on a vacation. I think I just may be on to something.

Summer will be short-lived and fall will be here before you know it. The changing leaves on the trees to gold, red and orange, fall drives, sipping cider, planting fall flowers to replace the summer blooms. The coats, boots, sweaters, jeans, scarves, and gloves will replace the shorts and tees, sandals, ice tea, and warm summer days. It seems like summer is shorter every year. The Inland Northwest get the fires that surround us and it makes for dry, hot and smokey conditions for much of the season. Lasy ear, it was advised to stay indoors because of the poor air quality. It is scary when a fire breaks out fifteen minutes from your home. You pray for the families that are in harm’s way and hope that the fire does not spread any further. You take the good with the bad I guess.

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Unexpected, Pleasant Surprises

June 14, 2019 at 12:17 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The last couple of weeks have been a busy time for my mom and I. It seems every week, a relative we have not seen in years coming for a visit. My one cousin was on his way to Montana for a long awaited fishing trip and my Aunt and cousin are coming for a short visit next week.  So many family members said they wanted to come for a visit but something always came up. My mom is not able to travel anymore so it is nice the relatives are coming to see her. When the family started moving away, I know it was hard on my mom, she was used to having company often.

The last family reunion we had was eight years ago when my cousins came to visit from Florida and one from Washington State to help me celebrate my birthday.  It was not only a memorable birthday,  my cousins and I also reminisced about riding horses on our ranch and helping my twin brother walk our lambs one mile around our circular driveway. There was much fun playing with the rabbits, chasing the chickens until the banty rooster decided to chase us for a while. I sure could use a few more birthday celebrations like these.

having so many people come to see us this year makes me want to visit some friends I have not seen in a while. I have been planning a trip to Seattle for five years now.  Between work schedules and family issues, I have not been able to get away. I plan on going to my high school reunion next year. My twin brother and I joked we will be each other’s date for the evening. It will be a nice trip down memory lane catching up with old friends. My brother, best friend and I went to our ten-year class reunion several years ago. I could not remember having a better evening than this.

Life is full of surprises. Some of them are pleasant, some are well (the car needs to be repaired again, or the baby is sick). I love the phone calls that a good friend is on their way over to your house and they brought the meat to BBQ. I realize how busy I have become and need to take time and have a nice evening and spend time with some good company. I older I get, I am thankful for my friends and family that I am blessed to have in my life. I love it when my friend calls me and invites me to spend the afternoon with her going for a drive. We always find a quaint country store and buy an ice cream cone to enjoy. I am beginning to like this season called summer more and more.

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Best Laid Plans

June 3, 2019 at 8:05 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Last weekend as I was getting ready to freshen up the columns on my front porch with a coat of paint, and have my backyard mowed, we get this incredible thunder and lightning show. I had to laugh because I always pray we can have more than five minutes of the rain and lightning. Well, it poured, lightning strikes and rolling thunder overhead for an hour. I love these late spring storms that clean the air and water your lawn.

I must admit, I am late on planting my flowers and cleaning out a very overgrown flower bed this year. My mom had some medical issues that started last year. I split my time between her, my work and last, my house. I have some dear friends who came over and helped me extend my patio and are getting ready to put on a new front porch railing. I cannot wait until all the work is done and I can have them over for a nice afternoon get together. It is amazing how a mowed yard can increase your happy mood. The lawn never bothered me before but a friend told me you are upgrading the yard so it makes a difference.

It is interesting to me the older I get, I notice things that did not bother me last year, does now. Letting my front yard be unmowed for two weeks was fine with me in the hot days it does not need it, but when it has been four weeks, I am wanting to keep it look nice as the rest of the neighbors. I live in a desirable area by an inlet bay. The water is a block away if you want to hike or bike or ever paddle board around. When my husband and I first saw the house thirty plus years ago, we fell in love. I loved the neighbors, our son had kids here, and the bay where you could launch your boat. I cannot imagine not stepping out my front door and seeing the forest and the storms blowing in.

I was talking with my friend one day about why I wanted to spruce up my back yard area this year. I noticed a couple years ago, the seaplane passes over my neighborhood because of the mansion around the corner from my house. If people can see my backyard from the air, I might as well have a yard I am proud of. I have been so busy the last few years that I had dinner with friends and not have them over. I enjoy entertaining and have a big yard to accommodate a crowd. The older I get, the more I look forward to this semi-retired lifestyle. My schedule allows me to go on day-trips and enjoy some of the lakes in the area. I think what I am really figuring out is life is what you make it. I have suffered some personal loss, but I live with the viewpoint of my glass is half-full. I had to learn to enjoy all four seasons where I live summer being my least favorite. It feels good when you realize your projects are almost complete and then you can enjoy your improved home.

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Weekend Getaways

May 28, 2019 at 8:47 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

As long as I can remember, I have always loved to go for a drive. maybe because my dad has always taken the family to visit relatives when I was a child. Often times, we split our weekends between my grandparent’s house in Kernville, or in Santa Barbara. I had fun seeing my cousins and enjoyed the different environments of both locations.

On Friday night after my parents came home from work, we had a quick dinner and off we would go in our camper. Kernville was a wild west looking town, small and quaint. The town has not changed one bit since I remember it as a child. My grandparents owned a duplex on the edge of town. I remember my twin brother, my cousin and I all were afraid to go into the converted garage guest room because of the wild boars head hanging in the front room. The family would go swimming in the local swimming hole.

Goleta is a suburb of Santa Barbara. I remember many Easters spent with my family in a quaint trailer park near the beach. I remember having to go down a wooded path downhill to get to our beach. I remember one family member joking about swimming with the sharks….. We probably did because we could hear the seals in the distance. Across the street from the trailer park was a beautiful black horse. The kids would sneak across the street and go pet him. I guess I never realized how fortunate my brother and I were to have two places to visit on the weekends. We often talk about how much we love Santa Barbara and Kernville. Living out of state, it is difficult for me to take a trip back in time.

I guess this is where I have my love of driving as well. I love to take day trips and even not going very far, I feel like I have had a mini- getaway. I live in a four-season climate. I can enjoy the beauty of winter, watching the flowers bloom in the spring, designing my backyard retreat, and then enjoying a nice fall drive watching the leaves change color. I feel fortunate to look out my front door and see the national forest, so many biking trails, and waterfalls to explore local wineries, a local farm that makes goat cheese, floating the river with friends, ice cream shops found in small gas stations in a less traveled road. I find when you get off the main highway, you see more wildlife in the farmer’s field. I was driving a back road a couple weeks ago with dear friends we stopped to let the elk cross the street to the open field. It is fun to watch them standing there watching you as you slowly drive past them.

I love small town living although, my home town is growing. New apartments going up, more traffic, more accidents, but the forest is still unspoiled, wildlife sightings, back roads to keep exploring, and just staying home sometimes and enjoying what the season has to bring.

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Let’s Stay Home

May 23, 2019 at 10:03 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

While grocery shopping yesterday, I went looking through some of the summer items for sale. I ran across this little wood sign that said Let’s Stay Home. I have always loved any idea of a stay-cation or being a tourist in your town or unplugging for the weekend. People are starting to adopt the idea of having friends and family over for an informal dinner outdoors or creating a family weekend getaway at home.

It is easier than ever to create a relaxing retreat of your own. Home Shopping Networks have paired with home decorating experts for a few years showing the homeowner tips to create the home of your dreams. There are countless home improvement catalogs and DIY weekend classes helping the beginner from paint techniques, tile setting, and installing an outdoor fire pit. Families are deciding to stay in their home instead of downsizing. The new empty nesters are updating the family home for future grandchildren.

My yard is half completed. Last weekend, good friends of mine came over and helped me plant two shade trees to replace my late son Levi’s twenty-five-foot pine tree that mysteriously died during this last winter. I was sad at first that the tree died, but then I decided to to take the opportunity to update the old backyard. We expanded my patio with brick pavers(my friend is a paint contractor so he will stain the existing patio to match), cut down the old dead pine tree, and plant my Mother’s day gift from one my second son. Mike has been a part of my family since the boys got in trouble in Kindergarten.  I was surprised when I returned home from a great day trip hiking to find a huge waterfall.

I never thought of myself as a Type A personality, I thought of me as easy going….. My yard is partly finished and I am thankful for all the hard work my dear friends have done for me but with work, caring for my aging mom, and the yard almost completed, I am needing to refocus my energies. I Should be outside right now repainting my front porch columns that my friend sanded and primed ready for paint. But as you can see, I am here writing this post. One of us will get it done soon.  My house is coming together and I enjoy my stay-cations, no wait my Let’s Stay Home state of mind.  I love being a tourist in my own town, getting out seeing the new stores coming in, the new coffee shops, seeing how the City wants to build the new downtown area. We are a small City right now growing more every year. I have to say I liked the town small but in time change does come. I just have to get ready for it.

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A Walk Down Memory Lane

May 16, 2019 at 10:56 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The other day, I decided to get under the house- the great unknown (spiders, spider webs) and such, and go through some of the many boxes I have compiled over the years. I found some of my late husband’s Karate trophies and his favorite pair of boots, his jacket, and his motorcycle helmet. There are many boxes that I just forgot about after he had passed away suddenly. It’s funny how over the years, friends had offered to help clean the space and you are not ready. I guess you have to be in the right mood to deal with all the treasured memories.

In the far end of the crawl space,  I saw something that looked like someone was trying to build something down there. On closer inspection, I realized the fort my son was building fifteen years ago, was in the final stage of deterioration. I was impressed, to say the least. He found boxes that he used for the walls of his “new bedroom”, he had installed an extension cord, for tv viewing purposes and let us not forget his lamp. I finally figured out where most of his clothes went. I sat on the floor and laughed out loud. I had forgotten he had built this or tried to. He was moved into the bedroom next door after he was discovered.

I think this will make a cold, rainy day project for me on a staycation. I can get help putting all the boxes in the garage and take one out and go through it, donate what is not needed anymore. It is funny when sometimes you look through a box and find what you need and do not have to go rebuy the item. I know I will find clothes that Levi has outgrown, old toys, video games still in boxes keep them in the box mom, they are worth more money he used to tell me. Some of my high school clothes that are a trip down memory lane in itself. I found one of my favorite blouses I wore back then (I could not get the blouse on over my wrist that is how tiny I used to be). that was a shocker for sure. My mom’s favorite story about me is when I threw a party the day I weighed one hundred pounds.

It is fun to rummage through the past and remember what you found important to keep. A good friend started my bell collection years ago when she went on a trip. I watched her kids for her. Two of my favorite Aunts have given me some of the most beautiful prints of their paintings for my home. My dad painted his last picture for my late husband and my six year anniversary, my dad had no more desire to paint afterward. I still have the artwork hanging in my dining room. Life is full of unexpected pleasures sometimes you look in a junk drawer and find a special note from your son giving you his new cell phone number, or a receipt you find reminding you of that special getaway. I enjoy each and every treasure I find.

 

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An Unexpected Gift

May 11, 2019 at 9:45 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Survivor, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I am sitting at my computer wondering what to blog about when I remembered I was given an unexpected gift. When my son Levi was a teen, he worked laying carpet and installing granite countertops. Levi would start working early in the morning and I can remember seeing him heading to his grandma’s house after work. I would laugh because I was running a few errands and Levi was done for the day.

One afternoon, Levi told me his boss had some extra carpet he wanted to get out of his garage. My neighbor also wanted to buy the carpet, Levi told me if I had the money available, he could lay the carpet for me. A few weeks later, my good friend and I were out for a nice drive, (like an hour from home) her husband called her and told her his crew was having a slow day. I could hear some rough words being spoken over the phone when Levi was hammering the nails into the floor. No wonder I had so many squeaks(smirk). My friend and I arrived home in time to see all the carpet installed and the baseboards being put back.

 This is one of my favorite stories because it was a treat to have new carpet and my son install it for me. I remember Levi wanted to continue improving my home for me by adding new door molding. He was working on million dollar homes in the area and wanted me to have a nice place to live. I never got the new countertops he wanted to install or the new flooring he passed away in a tragic car accident before he had the chance to keep updating. The last couple of years, I have had new flooring and carpet installed in my kitchen and dining by Levi’s old boss. I think if Levi could see what I have already done, he would be happy. 

I turned Levi’s old bedroom into my dressing room. I had to do some repainting and taking down of the military-themed bedroom before it became my oasis. Yes, the fifteen-year-old and his friend painted his bedroom the most god awful green you have ever seen. (funny how now the color is in). A good friend of mine gave me some beige paint to repaint the room after my son had passed away. I added a few finishing touches with Victorian shadow boxes and updated his bookshelf. I have many author friends so the bookshelf went back into its corner filled with inspiring reading material. 

Life is full of unexpected surprises, a helping hand, good advice from a loved one or best friend. I hope this Mother’s day finds you surrounded by family and friends and those you love most. Some mothers are expecting or celebrating the first Mother’s day, others are having the kids over, while some moms are hoping their kids are safe abroad and some, like me, lost their son and have wonderful memories of when I was given an unexpected gift one day. 

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