Six Word Saturday 8/17/19

Reader or walker?
Please! Both / and.

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A Walk to Remember: 12th Street

Bonnie and I walk together in the morning. Walk and talk. And soak in the lavender joy.
We encounter deer close up every day
Rock walls, the work involved, and artistry: a wonder
Looking up
Our small town university nestled in the valley
A profusion of Queen Anne’s Lace
Emily! (Mt. Emily)
X-raying a sunrise through a house
No filter! Just glory!

A Walk to Remember: Fox Hill

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I’ve long had an idea for a series of posts
entitled A Walk to Remember.
I’m a moment-hoarder,
a memory-grasper,
knowing how easily they get
plowed under by the thrum of life.

DSC_1036Two things were special about today.
I woke up at 4:25 a.m., a personal best!
For a lifelong night owl,
that’s a victory in itself. {laughter}

DSC_1037To be precise, it’s not unheard of
to wake up with a 4 on the clock.
But to get up and walk out the door?
Unfathomable.

DSC_1041My co-workers are fitness gurus.
The kind that participate in Warrior Dashes,
look for “Fun” runs (???!!!  #interrobang)
and organize triathlons.

DSC_1043The only “selfie” I took.

 

DSC_1045Last summer they started walking up Fox Hill
on Sunday mornings.

DSC_1049I couldn’t join them because it conflicted
with my music commitments at church.

DSC_1055They decided to hike up Fox Hill on Friday
this week, so I could join them!

DSC_1056This is a picture of endurance.
I needed it today!

DSC_1061The second special thing? I made it to the top!
Eastern Oregon doesn’t resemble the lush green
images of Oregon that most people imagine.
These high green hills will soon be dun.
But today they are simply splendid!

 

 

51 Things about My Mom

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Nellie Harper with her five oldest children: Margaret, David, Dorothy, John, Jim

 

51 years ago, May 7, 1968, my mom died suddenly and unexpectedly, probably of an undiagnosed case of Addison’s Disease. She was an extraordinary woman and a magnificent mom. Her legacy continues. Since most of you didn’t know her, please let me introduce her to you. I may have some facts mixed up; please feel free to correct me if you know better.

1. Her name is Nellie (Stover) Harper. Many female descendants have Nell for a middle name. The son on her lap in the photo above became a grandpa a few days ago. His granddaughter’s name is Juliet Nell, “Jules” for short.

2.  Nellie was a farm girl. She worked her way to a college degree by ironing and milking the college’s cows!

3. She was an introvert by nature who welcomed people and seldom knew solitude.

4. Gardening was in her blood.  Vegetables, flowers, she loved it all.

5. She gardened in a dress. With sturdy shoes.

6.  Her hair was long, but always in a bun.

7. She was the first one up in the mornings.

8. She was no slouch intellectually. Her friend told me about an astonishing moment she witnessed when Nellie was stirring noodles, a toddler hanging on to her legs, while nursing a baby. My dad came in the door. “Nellie, did you study your Greek today?” he asked.

9. My dad was wholly incapable of refusing anything free. (That’s where I get it!) He brought home bruised apples, government-issued dry milk, wilted produce, etc. She took these offerings, cut away the bad and transformed the good into dinner.

10. When she was not enthused about a situation, she had two default responses. There was the chuckle. And there was the sigh.

11. Once she took a millinery class to learn how to make herself a hat. Women wore hats to church back then.

12. The first three years of my life, Nellie functioned as a single parent. My dad had a teaching job in another state and came home twice a month.

13. After getting married, my folks lived in Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Most of Mom’s family was in the Yakima Valley of Washington.

14. She wrote weekly letters to her family. Besides a brief time when her sister’s family lived nearby, she only saw her mom and siblings again twice in her lifetime.

15. I remember seeing her cry only once: when hearing new that my oldest brother was in the hospital with a concussion sustained while playing college football.

16. She was a no-nonsense disciplinarian. I received spankings. And stern words. One night we had grits for dinner.  I had to eat my “no-thank-you” portion. But I didn’t swallow. So grits remained in my mouth 45 minutes until my mom asked me a question and I couldn’t respond. Then I swallowed.

17. Like many other families we went to church with, our family hosted college students for Sunday dinner every Sunday. We made enough for 6-8 extra people. Always.

18.  There was a rule in our house: No reading at the table. Someone caught in “story grip” always challenged the rule, sneaking the book under their shirt, holding it on their lap and reading a sentence on the sly.

19. My mom and I flaunted the rule when I was the only one coming home from school for lunch. We both propped our books in front of us and read to our heart’s content, while we ate our lunch!

20. She made lunches every morning. It took an entire loaf of bread to get the job done.

21. One of her abiding characteristics was cheerfulness. She lived life with a smile and a song.

22. The radio on the kitchen counter was dialed in to WMBI, the Moody Bible Institute radio station.

23. She carried an extra ~ 30 pounds into middle age. In letters to my Dad she bemoans her weight. We never noticed.

24. She and my dad both had clean, consistent cursive handwriting.

25. Every summer of my life, she packed up clothes and our family went to Bair Lake Bible Camp in Jones, Michigan. She cooked every single day, which my father managed the staff.

26. Mom and Hallie Southland fed a hundred campers with a frugal budget. A huge Hobart mixer (floor model) stirred up dough for homemade hamburger buns and crumb topping for apple crisps.

27. On Monday afternoons Nellie and Hallie poured a cup of coffee and worked through a menu and food orders. I loved to sit on a stool next to Mom and observe these planning sessions.

28. All the kids were basically on autopilot in the summer. We saw our folks if we got in trouble. We roamed the woods and swam in the lake. And bought sugar-laden items at the Snack Cabin.

29. One Christmas, my present was a new wardrobe for my Barbie doll, hand stitched by Mom. This makes me smile. I never had daughters, but I’m not exactly pro-Barbie.

30. One Halloween, I was a witch! Black drapery and a pointed hat fashioned by Mom!

31. The thing is this: she had seven children and every single one knew down to their bones her unwavering love.

32. She delighted in this story: the third grade teacher warned the fourth grade teacher about my brother. “He’s always reading.” The fourth grade teacher replied, “Great! I’ll make him the class librarian!”

33.  Mom had two older half-brothers and three younger brothers. They all adored her. On a 1967 family visit to Yakima, one brother asked her help by trying on a coat, implying it was for someone else. He then bought the coat and gave it to her.

34. In 1981 Curt and I moved to Klamath Falls, OR, about an hour from her half-brother Herbert. When I wrote Herbert and Hazel and told them who I was and that we lived in the region, they came to see me the same day they received my note. We spent several weekends with them. **

35. Mom also had a sister. Her name was Lenore, but everyone called her Smokey after a comic strip, Smokey Stover. Aunt Smokey lived in Portland, OR, and was very kind to (young adult) me. I never got the impression that Mom and Smokey were close.

36. Mom’s mother-in-law was a domineering type. Opinionated and kind of bossy. I was too young to witness how Mom reacted, but I think she just got very quiet.

37. Nellie was a good friend to many. Her house was open and welcoming. She was other-oriented and was genuinely interested in others. She fed people, hosted visitors; she opened the door with a smile.

38. In Lombard, we lived next door to Dan and Margaret Ball. After the kids all left for school, Mom would clomp up the back stairs to Margaret’s kitchen and they would share a cup of coffee and visit. Margaret’s stories are treasures to me.

39. I loved my mom’s coffee breath.

40. Two things my mom absolutely refused to do: worry and gossip. If any conversation veered towards gossip, Mom would stop the talk and  pray for the person being discussed.

41. She trusted that God would supply all her needs. They raised seven kids on a tiny income.

42. The only time we went out to eat was when a child graduated from high school. It’s staggering to imagine how many meals she fixed and put on our table. We did get ice cream cones on the way home from a school event.

43. Our house was comfortably messy. When we came home to a clean house the first question was, “Who’s coming over tonight?” That said, she made her bed every day.

44. An obituary: “Nellie Harper was well and affectionately known for her simple, spiritual witness…. She was a woman of marked Christian simplicity and transparency…. all [young folk] received a mother’s welcome and reciprocated her affection. Nellie was a fragrant Christian.”

45. My dad signed her 1942 college yearbook: “Dearest Nellie: This year has been one of the best of my life all because of you….The Lord has made me supremely happy and you enter largely into that reason. We can praise Him together.”

46. She was skilled in domestic arts. Sewing, mending, canning, baking, washing, ironing. She made a Spanish Cream dessert, served in fancy water goblets, for Sunday dessert.

47. Nellie did laundry with a wringer washing machine and hung the clothes on a clothesline. When the weather was nice the line stretched between the house and the garage. When the weather was not nice, she used lines strung across the basement.

48. She was tall (5’10”?) with big feet. I remember we had to drive a few towns over to a shoe store that carried size 12? (11?) in a narrow width.

49. We all took music lessons and necessarily practiced simultaneously in various parts of the house. The cacophony! Mercy! 

50. Nellie excelled at studying her children and encouraging their strengths.

51. She was a kind woman.

 

 

 

 

** A tragic postscript: Herbert and Hazel Stover’s great-granddaughter, Jama Harms, 19, was murdered in 1995 about two miles from my house. I had no idea she even lived in the area and the family connection had sort of dissolved after Herbert and Hazel passed. It is one of the handful of unsolved mysteries that La Grande is notorious for.

 

 

‘All or Nothing’ Much?

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Consider this a graphic depiction of my life. I’m either ALL IN … except when I’m ALL OUT. Let me explain.

I use a CPAP machine as therapy for sleep apnea. My machine gives me a “sleep score” for every night that I use it. (Hint: use is the operative word!)

In order to get a 100 score you must:
1) have the mask on for a minimum of seven hours (70 points)
2) have good mask seal (20 points)
3) have less than 6 “events” per hour (5 points)
4) only take your mask off once/twice per night (5 points)

In order to get a 0 score you must:
Not put the mask on. This is what a British nanny would call “bing NAWty.”

Disclaimer:
DO NOT take this as permission/suggestion to not use your own CPAP machine. Those little boxes can save lives. Since I’ve lost 40 pounds some of my apnea has gone away [based on the word of my husband, not a new sleep study] and I’ve been, well, careless. Since my weight loss has stalled, however, I decided on March 10th to give my body every possible advantage; practically, that means using my machine.

Observations:
1. I’ll be honest: I used to feel blushing shame that I needed a CPAP machine. It was something I kept secret. The best remedy was finding friends who used a CPAP and hearing them say how much it helped.

2. This much is true: I can look at any photo of me and tell you instantly if it was B.C. (Before CPAP) or A.D. (after device). My eyes tell all. Haggard or bright.

3. Do not believe that having the mask on for seven hours means I slept seven hours. The pity is my over-caring about a stupid number. I have learned how to play the game, how to ‘cheat’ the numbers. I have woken at 3:52 and waited until 4:14 to rip off the mask and go back to sleep. All for a number. (There may be other therapy I need!)

Any other all-or-nothing types out there? CPAP users?

 

Listening In on Grownup Conversations

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When I was a child, my bedroom was an upstairs windowless closet with a slanted roof. There was barely room for a bed to the left and a dresser to the right. A lonely light bulb hung from the ceiling. My dresses floated from a pole across the ceiling. Don’t think Dickensian: I loved my own cozy cocoon.

The room was at the top of a stairway that had two ninety-degree turns. As the youngest in a home where parents sent their littles to bed at 8:00 p.m., I often sensed that I was missing out on the important stuff of life. I’d hear the murmur of conversations that I wanted to be part of. I would tiptoe out of my bedroom and down the five steps to the landing where the stairs turned. As close as could be and still remain out of sight. Hugging my benightgowned knees, I would strain to hear the grownups talk.

Even when I didn’t understand the talk, I enjoyed the aura, the camaraderie. When laughter erupted, I sat in the darkness and smiled.

That, my friend, is how I feel reading C.S. Lewis’ academic work The Allegory of Love. I’m sitting in the dark, listening to the adults, not quite understanding all the fine points, but basking in the atmosphere. Smiling when I grasp a point, soaking up the delicious banter.

Happy to be in the company of such witty erudition.

Like that little girl long ago, I need patience. Lewis quotes Latin, Greek, French, Old French, Old English without translation. He writes about writers whose names I’ve never before heard. He uses words that have never come close to my radar.

Sometimes the words are clear. It was the misfortune of Jean de Meun to have read and remembered everything: and nothing that he remembered could be kept out of his poem.  Yeah, I think, I’ve heard sermons like that.

So I will continue sitting in the dark, craning my ear, hoping to hear something wonderful. Why? Because I’m stubborn; but mainly to be in the delightful company of CSL.

 

A Winter Travelogue

We wanted to honor our friend (my next door neighbor from Lombard, IL) and his family at his memorial service six hours away. The Pacific Northwest has been pounded with winter storms this weekend. As we studied the radar it looked like there was a break in the weather, when we could thread the needle and get through. We decided to give it a try. Except for a few dicey spots, the trip was a blessing.

Chapter 1  Setting Off

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This, my friends, is Eastern Oregon.

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Dry pavement. Yes!

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Deer crossing

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Welcome, Holly! This sign has been a source of delight for decades.

Chapter 2  Investment Opportunities

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This stark landscape reminds me of the Midwest. Or Scandinavia.

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A fine barn

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I imagine homesteaders lived here once upon a time. Or, perhaps a school?

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The detail on this fine old barn thrills me.

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Roof needs repaired. Air conditioning free.

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It was Tiny before Tiny Houses were cool

 

Chapter 3     Birds and Such 

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We’ve never seen so many hawks on posts. Here, there, here again. Sidenote: I over-helped my son write a paper on the red-tail hawk in 1993. I’ve never forgotten the scientific name: buteo jamaicensis.  Isn’t it weird what sticks to the inside of your brain?

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This horse has been studying and applying the Marie Kondo method.

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 Hawk perched in a tree.

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Waterfowl feeding

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I am drawn to lonely trees

 

Chapter 4  Coming Home on the Rattlesnake

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Driving south towards Lewiston

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I wonder how this highway was named The Rattlesnake?

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Looking down from above

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It descends, slithers along the floor of the canyon (see center of picture),
and slinks upward to the next plateau.

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S-curves superabound

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Sidling up to the mountain

 

Chapter 5  Watch for the Light

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Coming into the Wallowas, spots of blue sky

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A shroud of clouds cannot cover it. The light still shines.

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Light and shadow. And a lonely tree.

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Luminous

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Winter glory

 

Bonus Chapter: Deer and Elk

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Outside of Enterprise, deer feeding

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Outside of Imbler, elk herding

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I don’t have the skill to convey this magnificent sight: about 300 elk

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Walking, loping, bunching together

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Move ’em out!

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Bull supervising the exodus