Friday, December 30, 2011
It has been a while.
It is not that nothing has been happening, just not too much that would be worth writing about. We made a trip to visit daughter 4, her husband and her daughter for Christmas. They live in an 8th story apartment in beautiful Portland, Oregon.
I don’t think I took a single picture, though I enjoyed walking around the downtown Portland.
Someone said that “still water runs deep.” That should make someone happy, but most of life is not very deep and at times it is morbidly still.
Miriam is doing “fine.” She has a disease that does not respond well to much of anything and it continues to ravish her and her once active mind. Meanwhile, mine seems to be going into neutral.
I don’t wish to complain. Life is pretty good here. Miriam is getting better care with out daughters help than I could ever give her on my own, not a question in the world about that one. I struggle, but mostly I struggle with struggling.
When my kids were young I never would let them even say the “B” word (bored). It worked pretty well: “If you are bored find something to do,” father wisely (?) said. Now he has to live by his own words!
Santa was good to us. Miriam got a pair of UGG boots to help keep her always cold feet a bit warmer. The results have been encouraging. I got a Kindle Touch, the model I was thinking of buying myself. After using a tough screen phone I could not imagine negotiating a computer like device with a oddly placed keys. The Touch works pretty well.
The Kindle is a decent reading device, and for one who is living in a smaller space than before the idea of putting up to 2000 books in one small space is good. So far I have about 75 books downloaded, a lot of reading, but that much is just a corner of the capacity.
“Reading is fundamental,” the slogan used to say. Yea, it probably is. Thank you, my daughters.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Years ago there was a country / western song about a farmer.
It was the end of summer, he had crops that were ready to harvest, he had kids that were ready for school and his wife, whose name poetically was Lucille, decided to leave him.
The songs main line was: “You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille.” Like a lot of country songs, you had to weep at the poor chap’s hardship.
Then someone did a parody (this was after Homer and Jethro, so it wasn’t them). In the parody version a guy was riding a bicycle at a good clip when the front wheel came off. The title for that version was: “You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel!”
Either version reminds me that there is eerily true.
As I get older, my “you picked a fine time to leave me” list is lengthening!
In our Idaho house there seemed to be just too much space between things. In the bus there sometimes seems to be too little space. Things are pretty compacted. Things I thought were important are not so much any longer.
The stuff that we no longer have is gone and I have made peace with most of that
Right now when Miriam and I could be having such a good life, we are not having the life we might have planned. It is not all bad, by any measure, but it is different. Other family members are slipping too. There are a lot of things that are leaving us.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I wrote this piece a few weeks ago when I was in Idaho:
Pat Tagasugi died this week.
Of course few reading this knows who Pat was. He was a farmer (around here if you are a “rancher” you are a cattleman). Pat’s farm was a thousand acres or so of Onions, mainly. He worked as director of the Agriculture department in the state government under 3 governors. Later he was elected to the state house of representatives. I never met Pat, though I read of him often. This last session of the legislature a woman I do know stood in for him while he went through treatment for the cancer that would finally take his life.
Last night there was a TV program about the Japanese internment at the beginning of the Pacific part of World War II. Pat was Japanese and would have been a little young for that internment, but his family wasn’t. At the beginning of World War II we were so frightened we rounded up all the Japanese -Americans and put them into “internment camps.” They were actually jails, remote and in isolated horrible locations.
There were a lot of fine Japanese farmers around southern Idaho where I grew up. They were some of the best. But they were rounded up.
But the piece on TV went on to compare the hysteria about the Japanese with the more recent bewilderment after 9-11 attack.
None of us are as wise as we wish we were, but in retrospect I think most agree that the internment of Japanese Americans was a horrible mistake. No one locked up Germans or Italians, just those who did not look like us.
Hind sight is so wonderful, but we learn from our past or we do not, and I am not sure we are doing well on this one.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Very few homes are really built for the area and climate they endure.
We tend to overcome our bad design with lots of BTU’s either as heat or cool. But I have lived in badly designed and built houses in very cold areas and it is not fun.
Our house in Idaho was built to be comfortable in cold winter and warm to hot summers, and it worked pretty much as I designed and hoped.
Living in a tiny house (under 400 square feet) does not change that idea. Any RV has to many limitations to be really good in either intense heat or cold. The laws of physics come into play here, as much as we would like otherwise.
When I brought our vintage travel trailer up here a few weeks ago, I decided to put it in a barn that was very well designed and insulated for the hot and cold of SE Washington. And since there was no “perfect” barn space available, I decided to built a barn that surrounded the existing trailer.
When that is complete I’ll build an add on that will extend the square footage up to that 400 number.
So far I have the posts in place and the collar beams lag bolted in place. Next is the roof trusses, which will be built in place (I am not 65 any more!).
It won’t be finished for this winter, but should be ready for us to occupy by summer.
The design: Pole frame for simplicity; tight sealed exterior; super insulation; along with a good bit of light and a great view across the valley.
I don’t get as much work done now as I once did, age is part of it, and taking care of Miriam takes some of my time. It gets dark here a little after 4 in the afternoon, so a 3 or 4 hour work day is pretty good. Besides it can be a bit cold.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
(This was written a couple weeks ago when I was in Idaho).
I am not very optimistic right now.
No one seems to have any viable answers for anything more complex than next year’s garden. The people on top who are supposed to have all the answers are clueless, but won’t admit it.
My grandkids are college age now, or soon will be. Going to college is not all that difficult, but they could spend the rest of their lives paying for it. Not good. To make it even more scary there is no guarantee that they will find a job that is remotely in keeping with their eduction. The trends are not good.
My daughters and their spouses will work longer, meaning they will be older when they retire, but that longer work life will deprive a young person of a job. Will there be any kind of safety net when they retire? There are many who want to eliminate all such “foolishness.” And there aren’t enough jobs to go around now, and it does not seem that there will be much change in any future we can see from here.
We have a house that is paid for (thanks to a daughter). We sold her half interest in the house to pay for the rather modest student loans WE took out when we went to college.
The house is for sale, sort of. Yet, I wonder what the future will hold and if a house somewhere along the line would be of great benefit to some one in the family. No one knows.
Today I work on cabinets to make the down bedroom more useful and workable. I enjoy the work. I would be truly lost without some sort of a shop, I fear.
It was a great Thanksgiving time, to be sure.
Saturday afternoon, the house was full of family I felt something funny in my throat. OhO. Within half an hour I had a full blown cold. My throat felt like someone had taken a wood rasp to it. My nose was running, and my feet were smelling.
The classic misery!
I drank water and stayed close to the couch in the Bus. lI took NyQuil, which is, hands down, the nastiest stuff in my cupboard. If a cold settles deep into my chest it takes weeks to get rid of it, so I puled out all the stops.
It is early Monday right now and i am feeling a lot better. I might even get to sleep in my own bed tonight.
Of course, it could all reverse and I could spend the next week in bed, but I hope not.
Friday, November 25, 2011
I am father to incredibly devious women. That is how I have to start this post.
Several weeks ago daughter 4, who lives in Portland asked if she could come to Fort Nash (my name for daughter 1’s house -- I’ll explain later). Her new husband was out of the country and she was looking for family.
Of course the answer was in the affirmative. That meant that we would have Thanksgiving with 3 of our 4 daughters. San Francisco is a LONG way away, and 3 is a good number.
Wednesday evening when I drove up to the front gate Wednesday evening on my trip back from Idaho, there was a visiting car in blocking the gate. I recognized the car and knew it would be leaving soon, so I got out of the car to open the gate.
Two figures (it was pretty dark by then) advanced toward me. At first glance I recognized the profile of daughter 1 and assumed the other was granddaughter Jessica, but the information did not all jig well. I didn’t have long to think about it.
It was daughter 3 from San Francisco! She noticed that the whole family (except her and hers) would be together for T day except them and decided to come up but keep it a secret from almost everyone else.
She was there with her husband and two teen sons. WOW. My cup was running over!
Daughter 4, from Portland, was due in another hour or so. She did not know her sister was coming either, and was as surprised as I. Thanksgiving day grandson 1 and his wife drove in from Sacramento, making the complete family together. It was good.
So, today is the day after Thanksgiving. It is called black Friday some places, but it is a great friday for grandpa! For dinner we had 4 daughters, three sons in law, 11 grandkids, a grand daughter in law, my aunt and her husband, my sister and a dear family friend, plus Miriam and I.
The house is not small, but with 25, it was a houseful and it was wonderful. Daughters are fab cooks alone or together, and the food was superb.
Today we are going to have a family picture taken. It has been 5 or 6 years. An old photographer friend who has photographed our family in one way or another for a very long time will do the honors. We will all be together, all that is except for the new son in law. I am very pleased.
These family portraits are getting more precious as the years go by. We have had a lot of them taken through the years. Those portraits are priceless.
I woke up Tuesday thinking (not unusual!).
The car needs new front tires. If I am going to build anything, I desperately need some power tools that are in Idaho. I need to visit with a few friends about my building project. I needed a haircut (it takes a while to teach a new barber, and I haven’t done that in Washington yet). And, my sister needed a ride up for Thanksgiving.
That was a good list.
So, after consulting with daughters, I headed out. It was midmorning. It is a 3 1/2 to 4 hour and there is a time zone change. I drove right to the tire shop and got the two tires I needed. The two friends I needed to consult with were home, and I got good advice from them.
When I got to our house it was cold, of course, so I brought in an armload of firewood and built a fire in the wood stove, and boiled some ramen noodles. The bed was warm and comfortable and I slept well.
After breakfast wednesday I got that haircut. Since I still own the house and expect to for a while, I wanted the utility and insurance bills sent to our Washington address so I made several change of address, change of bank visits. In the middle of all of that I did a load of laundry and took a long hot shower.
You can take a good hot shower in an RV, but not a good LONG hot shower. The water heaters are in the 5 or 6 gallon size!
So, a little after noon, sister and I headed back for daughters homes. I was to leave my sister with daughter 2 who lives half an hour away from daughter 1, where Miriam and I now live.
My little car (a 20 year old Chevy Coupe) had the trunk loaded with tools (air compressor, chop saw, cords and hoses, 8 or 9 hand power tools, my chain saw, 4 or 5 air nailers along with nails for them, as well as a box of hand tools. The back seat was quite well loaded with my travel gear as well as my sisters.
But the trip went well. Sister and I visited. I left her off at daughter 2’s house and headed for home.
Monday, November 14, 2011
There was a chance of snow last night.
We are in Idaho again, and the forecast was for cold in the 20s and a chance for snow. here in the desert cold does not guarantee snow. But tonight it is due to get down to 25 and they are predicting snow again.
I brought Miriam with me on this trip. I won’t get as much work done, but I’ll eat better (It is so easy to snack when alone and not eat real food). Yesterday we got the plywood that will be the center of our work for the week.
There is a list of work that has to be done before we can rent/sell the place. First on the list are book cases for the downstairs bedroom closet. I am also making some book boxes (stackable boxes for book cases) for daughter one.
With the infusion of our furniture into what was already a pretty crowded house, new book cases are in order. Back in the 80’s before we went to BSU full time and then on to Texas, I made a dozen or so of these boxes.
The idea was to fill them with books and the books are ready to move. The problem was that the size I made them (32” long) made them very heavy once filled, but they make great bookcases since they an be stacked so many different ways.
So today, I began cutting wood. I write this in the morning, but since we don’t have internet in the house right now, I’ll post it later in the day. Ahh disjointed technology.
We are back in Washington State. In Idaho we don’t have internet, so keeping up with a blog is a bit tricky. Sorry about that one.
I pulled our now ancient travel trailer back last trip. We bought it almost 20 years ago. It was quite new then. Miriam had a good job and she paid for it, and lived in it for a year after I returned to Idaho (we would see each other on weekends here and there!).
After Miriam was diagnosed with AD, I gutted the trailer and rebuilt it with the idea that at some point it would provide me a living space. It is a bit small for two people for very long, but I could live there alone with a degree of comfort.
Miriam is starting to have mobility issues, so our lives will continue to evolve. Daughter has a space in her house that was originally set up as a small apartment for us and that will be our next “home” I know.
Meanwhile, I need a bit of studio space, I need a place to go hide. That is more reasons for bringing the trailer up here.
My plan is to build a shelter over the top of the trailer, to close it in tight and thoroughly insulate it so that it will be cool in summer and warmer in winter. That will take a bit, but I’ll make the first steps this week.
Once again we are glad to be here.
About the time we got back to Washington the front brakes on the pickup started making sounds I did not like. After we got the travel trailer in place, son in law looked at the brakes and they were not good. He said he would change the brake pads (disc brake pads are easier to replace than brake shoes) last evening if I would get the parts.
On Sunday evening? Yep. Bought the pads, Sid installed them and we have a pickup again with good brakes. Wow what a son in law.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Motorhomes and busses are intreating creatures.
They are big aluminum tubes, not unlike “tube steaks.” And they are designed for 60 or 75 mile winds, coming from the front. This rig is a big 70’s Greyhound bus.
Today it is windy, pretty stiff winds, from the SW. It is a warm wind, so it is not cold. In the winter a warm wind like this is called a Chinook wind around here.
If the wind was blowing into the front of the bus it would be just as the designers figured, but from the back or side it is a bit different. So we rock a bit.
Most RV’s that are parked have jacks of some sort in the 4 corners, making it solid. This vintage capsule has a glitch in it’s built in leveling jacks, and I was sure I could live with that, and we have. In the morning when I am awake and Miriam is still in bed, I can feel slight movements when she gets up to go to the bathroom.
So today we sit here, being slightly rocked back and forth.
When I was 18 I spent a summer on a 60 foot high forest service fire look out tower. When the wind blew at all the tower rocked slightly. I found that strangely comforting.
And so it is here more than half a century later.
Monday, October 31, 2011
We attend a large church, membership in the multiple thousands. The church is part of a smallish bible college (2000 enrollment), hence the outsized enrollment.
My church is hardly on the leading edge of the women’s equality movement. The world church is dominated (numbers, at least) by Latino’s and Africans who are not about to let their women be equal, it is just not part of their system.
But this woman is on the staff of the church. She is young and she is attractive and she is a very good speaker.
She talked about hugs and how much we need to be hugged each day. We need mental hugs, but we also need physical hugs. She did not use the phrase, but we are all in this together, we need each other much more than we might think.
The push to strong individualism flies in the face of this reality. We can think we are independent and above the need for other humans, but we are not. Their happiness contributes to our happiness. Their freedom to ours.
So I return in my thoughts to Pastor Emily. As the father of daughters and the grandfather of granddaughters (and the grandfather of an Emily), I am really interested in my women getting a fair shake in this world.
They need to be strong, they need to be capable, but they also need each other. We all do.
Having lived in the desert most of my life, rain is not what we did a whole lot. I would joke that our rain came in the irrigation canal. We got lots of snow in the high country, when it melted the water ends up in the canals (eventually).
So today when it rained a good share of the time it was not what I was used to. Besides, there really is not too much to do here. I fed Miriam a couple of times, made a run to the grocery store, and played a hundred thousand rounds of a stupid computer game.
It is going to be a long time until spring!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The next year I married sweet Miriam and moved her back to this town. Three of our 4 daughters were born here.
Now, I am back again. But it is 2011 now, 56 years after I first arrived here. My grandfather was born here 125 years ago. His grandfather was an officer in the Union Army and arrived here right after the end of the war between the states.
That was about 1865. Now for 146 years (give or take a few) some part of my family has lived in this town.
The people I knew when I moved her 56 years that were older than me are nearly all gone. Those who were my age are mostly gone too. Only the younger, the ones I did not really know remain, and since I did not know them then, I don’t know them now! It works that way.
So as I wonder around town, which I don’t do very often, I see some of what I used to see, I see a lot of changes and a few reminders of “the old days.”
This is somewhat nostalgic and somewhat unnerving.
It just is.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I went back, but home isn't what it was. I have only been here a couple of days, and I am doing alright, but home isn't the same.
When the house was new it was full of teen aged daughters and their friends, then one by one daughters moved out and on with their lives. Then we moved out to go to the University in Boise and then to a couple of other Universities in Texas.
If that wasn't enough we ended up back in Washington state, in the same town we lived in years before, and live now. But finally we were drawn back to our Idaho home.
Still everything is the same and nothing is the same.
This time I am here alone. I don't mind being alone, in fact I relish alone time, but as I sit here in my recliner (we did not move it!) I remember all of the voices and people who have been in this room. I remember a vibrant Miriam, and that is the point where I stop thinking about it all.
I was born half a mile from where I now sit. I was married, went to grade school, high school a half mile the other direction. It is home, but it isn't the same.
Old guys live their lives in memory, and I guess I am old.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The bed is queen sized, but on the sides there is only a little space between the bed and the walls, so we climb over the end.
I do that easily, but Miriam has problems with it.
Getting out is OK, she is slow, but she gets it done. She goes in the bathroom (I, of course am awake during all of this) goes, flushes, turns the light on and off and then comes back to bed. The long nightgowns that worked so well for so many years are not easy to climb in, so she gets into bed and then wiggles for several minutes getting everything adjusted. By now I am wide awake. (New night wear is on the way).
She goes back to sleep without a hitch and I am wide awake staring at the ceiling. When I get up, I get back to sleep by not letting my mind take the first spin.
She is nicely asleep, but I am wide awake. My head swimming with too much already. I get up, dress enough to keep warm. I check the email. Daughter 2 send a picture, but she is the only one in the family who uses Windows and I fiddle with opening the file, which opens Picasso which is supposed to be a perfect way to hold all pictures, but is a pain so far.
I'll take a nap later, maybe.
As much as she would like to go I’ll not take Miriam. It would be best for her here with daughter. I have a good deal of work to get done, and alone it goes better. Truthfully I am adjusting to life more and more alone.
Here in the bus I spend a great deal of time sitting and doing what my step father would call “wasting time.” I play computer games, I read, I write, I think, and I take walks, but I don’t do too much real work.
Yesterday I planted Garlic and I tilled up a new garden plot. In Idaho there is no shortage of things to do.
Right now I am planning on spending about a week a month in Idaho at our “lake house.”
I don’t have internet at the house now. I will need to find a WiFi hot spot, so I may not post too much during this time.
One thing I noticed right away is that it is easy to not eat terribly well when there is just one, so I’ll have to work on that one.
Monday, October 10, 2011
He was the subject of a short movie produced by the predominant church in the west a few decades ago. The setting was a semi primitive village somewhere, maybe in the south pacific. The custom was that a man who wanted to marry would negotiate a dowry with the father. The dowry was in cows. A real good wife might bring 3 or 4 cows and occasionally a particularly desirable young woman went for more.
In time Johnny let it be known that he was seeking a wife and that he had made a decision. He came to the village for the purpose of letting his wishes be known. All the girls were a atwitter.
He sat down with one of the fathers and said the girl he wanted for his wife was Mahana. Now Mahana had always been told how ugly she was and what an embarrassment she was and how useless she was. When strangers visited the village she would hide.
Privately Mahana’s father had said that he would give a cow to get rid of her, but when the negotiations began, on a while whim, he asked for three cows. Johnny said NO. Father dropped his number and the answer was the same. Finally Johnny said he would give TEN cows for Mahana.
No woman had ever, ever been so valuable.
They married and went away to live in Johnny’s village. No one saw there for quite a while. In time a rumor arrived about the incredibly beauty that was Johnny’s wife and the village was stunned. They sent someone to investigate, and the rumor was true, Mahana was stunning.
When asked what had happened, Johnny explained that when a woman knew that she was very valuable, very highly esteemed, very much loved, she would (and did) respond and her true beauty would be seen.
The basic idea of the movie is true, the plot was a bit awful, and we are not pleased with the idea of buying women, but there still was a bit of truth to it.
Still, how we treat people is important. Treat someone with great respect and they will rise to that level. Always? I don’t know. But I have seen it happen.
Miriam’s dad always told her and anyone around that she was like him: “Kinda dumb in books.” She believed him of course, yet after he died she graduated from college, the only one of her family. She was not dumb.
It does make a difference.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Years ago in Texas I saw a show of Lewis Morris's paintings.
They were huge 10 or 12 feet high and yards and yards long.
Raw simple colors. Pored over the canvas and allowed to run and blend.
I was mesmerized. When I told my professor about seeing the show and my delight, he thought a minute and said: "Of course you would like him!"
Sometimes my minimalism is more in my head than in my life. I guess that is how it works sometimes.
Friday, October 7, 2011
I know the story, we have the LP of the sound track and I’ve seen the movie a few times. I still like it.
It is a story of a film flam salesman who set out to take advantage of people by selling band instruments to young boys on the premise of a band. His habit was to get the money and run. That worked until he met the gorgeous unmarried Librarian, and all things changed.
It has good music and a weak plot, I suppose.
But the premise off the fake Professor Harold Hill’s system what he called “The Think System.” You think the notes and out they come. Having played a brass instrument since I was 10, I know it is not that easy.
Still, there is a lot to be said for the premise. If you think evil it affects your head. If you think good it also affects your head and your view of others.
In the final scene, the boys band, boys who have never played an instrument and it was not hard to tell, imagined of themselves as a real band, and it happened, if only in their head.
The wise man said that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. If it was true then it is true now, Professor Harold Hill notwithstanding!
But a band with 76 trombones! That is a lot of brass.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Purposely I choose the black and white version, mostly because the battery would go longer. The top of the line color version sold for an amazing $4840, plus $1000 for an upgrade of the RAM, but I bought mine used. It was a couple years old. I think I paid $600 for it.
I still have a 540c, the top of the line book of its era. It is way to old to get batteries, but plugged in, it does run at an amazing 25 MHz. In those days hard drives were calibrated in Megabytes, RAM in kilobytes. 1995 was a dozen computer lifetimes ago.
That was my introduction to Apple and by extension to the Steves. (Apple was founded by two Steves in case you forgot). Since then I have owned other PowerBooks, a Quadra or two, settling down finally to a series of iBook and now MacBook notebook computers.
Jobs was just a couple years older than my oldest daughter. That makes me an old guy. But for an old guy with very limited resources, my high tech equipment is fairy extensive and I am reasonably savvy about it!
I use an iPod, a MacBook and an iPhone. I text. I email. Hardly cutting edge, but somewhat unusual for an old guy, I am told.
There are a few true geniuses around. Some have the numbers, but there are so few who have all of the skills and lay them all in a straight line. I have heard it said that at best there is one of them per century.
It may be little early to lay that heavy load on Steve, but at the least he is a candidate.
David Pogue in the New York Times says it well: “What are the odds that that same person will be comfortable enough — or maybe uncomfortable enough — to swim upstream, against the currents of social, economic and technological norms, all in pursuit of an unshakable vision?
Zero. The odds are zero.”
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Not in the usual sense. Newell are no snakes in the basement (but it live most of it’s life in the warm part of this country) and there are no bees in the vents (yet).
But in the 34 years of its life, since it rolled (or “rattled” since it is powered by a big diesel engine) off the line it has sat empty most of the time.
It did not come from the factory with a bed (only couches), so while someone could easily sleep in it, there is a doubt that anyone until Dave and David, have actually lived in it.
So, along the way, it attracted a few outsiders along the way.
There are some big black wood ants here and there. They are souvenirs of time on the Oregon Coast. Not a lot of them, I dispatch a few now and again, but are there more?
Then there are the little ants that seem to be pretty much everywhere. Dry food has to go into tight fitting bags or canisters, or the little guys will pay a visit. They don’t eat much, and I do not begrudge them that pleasure, but it is a wee bit annoying to see them swimming around in your cereal bowl.
But, like the storage under the bed, one learns how to adapt. Daughter 4 owned a house once that was really full of the little beasties. They would get into any food item that was not seriously sealed. Newell’s little zoo is tame by comparison.
Life is like that sometimes. We adapt.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Maybe more of a music flirt. Hmm.
Went to an organ concert the other evening. One of the best organists on a fabulous organ. “Mostly Brahms” the program said. It was good, I enjoyed it.
But mostly I like music to be a background. The fact that I was in church and couldn’t read or watch or do something with my hands made me concentrate on the music, which was wonderful, but largely wasted on my sensibilities.
Now I am as big a music snob as anyone out there. Dead white guy music. That is my thing and I listen to little else. But, I know the names and composer of precious few pieces, considering the multiple decades I have been listening. I know a few of Ludwig’s pieces and here and there are a few of Wolfgang’s efforts I can identify. There is even one by the frenchman Gabriel Faure that I recognize.
Not too much of a list I fear.
We go to hear old time fiddlers every June when we are in Idaho. Pretty pure bluegrass, with a unique twang. Good listening. The music starts about 7 and goes to midnight, but about 9 or 9:30, we are ready to go home (it is a 40 mile drive).
As friend David says: “When all the tunes sound the same it is time to go home.”
I still do enjoy the sound of good music. I admire the skills of good musicians and the incredible dedication to their instrument, and even if I can’t name many tunes, I continue to listen and to occasionally attend real concerts.
Guess I am just a rather lame but ardent appreciator. I can live with that.
Friday, September 30, 2011
As much a free spirit as I have been in this life, there still is some routine that is really dear to my troubled heart!
The galley (kitchen in a house) in the bus just has to have a certain amount of organization, some routine and a lot of discipline.
In the house we had a small pantry, as well as an actual pantry that held bulk foods, the flour grinding mill and our fruit jars, both full and empty.
The galley in the gus has no such riches. There is a 6” deep cabinet about 18” wide that is the main pantry, plus a little space over the small refer. There is a cabinet over the built in toaster and a long, very narrow space above the dinette. And, under the couch is a drawer that can hold some bulk items, as long as it is not too bulky.
So, rather than buying groceries for a month, once a month. Now I buy every week or so. I try to not buy cans of stuff I won’t use for a while, the can storage gets full very quickly.
And talk about routine. When we have a meal I jump up from the table and put all the stuff away that has a home, put the teakettle on the range to heat dishwashing water and clear and organize.
I found a plastic box that is sold as a shoe box. It is about 5” high, 6 or 7 wide and about 13 long. It is my dishpan. I some soap in the box, some cold water and add the hot water from the teakettle.
It is easy and fast to get the dishes all washed and stacked.
In this size space, there is no room for last meal’s dishes. Besides, probably I will need to use the same dishes for each meal!
It is fun though.
Monday, September 26, 2011
I know, but there is not too much going on here in this evening, and I did read a book today.
Someone came to the Roadshow with a coat that they thought came from the Civil War. Turned out it was made just after the war for the Confederate Veterans.
Which got me to thinking of my great great grandfathers, who were alive during the civil war era.
One was an officer with the Union Army, one was a soldier in the Confederate Army, I don’t actually know what the third was doing during that time, but he probably was in the war somehow, and he was from the south and the right age.
But tonight I was thinking of my mother’s grandfather. There was a war going on between his country and the one next door. That is between Germany and Denmark, Grandpa Jens home.
Guess he was not really mad at the Germans. Any way, he copped the draft (I think there was one) and came to America. He sent for his girl friend later.
I remember Grandpa Jens. He came to live with my grandmother (his daughter) for a while when I was young. Earlier, during what Grandpa Howard (grandmother’s husband) would always call the “hard times” and what we would call “The Great Depression” Grandpa Jens came to Idaho, bought a few acres on the edge of Boise and seriously grew vegetables which Grandpa Howard sold door to door to the better homes in the area.
It wasn’t a big living, but it did keep the wolf away during those rough times.
My friend Charlie is a fish biologist. He has been invited to talk this week about what has happened in the fish farming industry in the last 50 years. Those are the years he was working in the fish business.
We are the old guys, the keepers of the memories, if they are kept at all.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
In it the artist describes his or her viewpoint or points about his art, how those points fit into his or her larger view of life and the world, and maybe touch a bit on the technical system used to produce the artwork.
Done well it is extremely enlightening, revealing the intellectual part of the art work, as well as a few hidden motives. Done poorly it can be full of nice words with little insight.
It seems such an “statement” would be good discipline for non-artists as well.
I don’t have an art show coming up any time soon, and I have not written a real “artist statement” in a while, but I need to write and rewrite my “life statement,” from time to time. Now seems to be the time. Done well it will help me in unmeasurable ways. Done wrong it still has merit!
Lately many of my values have come into question. Not the kind of question that will result in my abandoning those values, but maybe I can and should shuffle them a bit, raise a few in the bottom third of the list up a bit and demote a few that I thought were very important, but may have lived their useful lives.
One reason I keep a journal is to help put thoughts and ideas and concerns into words. That still is not easy.
My major professor in art school used to scold the sculptors. Get a bunch of us in a room together and it is not long before we are talking shop (the how’s of our work) rather than the big concepts of the why’s of our work.
Pat Robertson made some comments the other day about Alzheimer’s disease. Pat often says things that rattle others, and this time was no exception. He did, however, bring up some really important questions.
No answers, but good questions.
Friday, September 23, 2011
She wanted ceramic tile on her office floor so we went over and spent a few days doing the job. Miriam helped. She would run the water saw (Ceramic tile is cut with a saw blade that has industrial diamonds imbedded in the steel. To keep it all cool, so those precious diamonds won’t wear out prematurely, water is constantly running over the blade, hence the name.)
I would mark where I wanted the cut to go, and I had to mark which piece I wanted returned. Often she made a nice cut and brought me back the wrong piece. It was a good system.
So, we did this job for my sister.
I wouldn’t take her money for the job, but she bought us a big down comforter for our bed. Actually she intended it to go in the Teardrop trailer, but it never quite made it that far.
Down is a wonderful material. We sleep under the comforter in the dead of summer, it is just barely there. In the NW we have cool temperatures every night, and even in winter, it is our primary covering -- until it gets pretty cold.
It was on our bed in Idaho, but last trip I took that bed apart, loaded up the drawer boxes under the bed and brought the comforter to the motor home.
Ahh, such joy. Such wonderful sleep and dreams!
It may not just because of the down, but I like the idea.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Maybe I just was going soft, I don’t know. I am not 70 any longer, for sure, but the house and the garden and all was taking a toll. I, of course, did not notice, but friends and family did.
Daughter one saw disaster coming and in consultation with her sisters, she stepped up and offered a simple solution. It was as beautiful as it was simple and it was generous to a fault.
It was like a big puzzle, and quite quickly piece after piece fell into place: there was a buyer for our house; a friend offered us the use of his vintage motorhome; the state of Washington was ready to do what they could; daughter was approved as a caregiver and it was possible for me to get a break from caregiving when things get a little tight.
So we all gathered at the house we have owned for 35 years. The only house we have ever really owned. We, about 11 friends and family, packed and decisioned and threw and gave. We were fast and we were efficient. Miriam and I were going to downsize dramatically and suddenly.
That happened as we had planned. All was going according to that big plan.
Then the buyer got cold feet and decided he wanted to back out, it was his right and he exercised it.
I suppose I could bemoan the “things” that were given or discarded, but I refuse. It was a good purge, I am glad it happened, but that did not solve all problems. It just made my head work better.
The reality is that we have both a borrowed motorhome in Washington, but we still own a house in Idaho, on an acre, with orchard and shop.
Now what do we do?
If it was too much for me at one point, how will it be to combine that with place with the garden here in Washington state. We are still thinking, and working on that one.
Nutty as it sounds, I think I can do both, be healthier for it.
It is possible that just because I am old and should be wiser that it actually happened.
There are step brothers too, a total of 4 of them, but that is a different story.
This week we got news that her oldest half brother Wayne had died. He was one that was not recognized as part of the family until very recently, since his mother did not marry his father. One of those old family secrets that is not really a secret for as long as the principles had hoped. We only saw Wayne a couple of times.
Would we contact Miriam's other 3 siblings.
So I called her little sister. None of them are too good about keeping in touch, btw. The phone number was no longer in service. The last time we saw them she had obvious Dementia and her husband, who was older than her, had had by pass surgery, had lost a hundred pounds and looked really bad.
It is my fault I did not keep in touch with them. Sister's husband used to call me from time to time, but not recently. I will always regret that one.
So what do we do? I tried to get in touch with the next sister: Ellen. We had a couple of old phone numbers, but I looked her up on the white pages and found her address and phone number. The address was the same she had had for many years.
That number was not receiving calls, I was told. Sounded like it could be true, and I had no other number.
That leaves Miriam's only full brother. He does not have a phone. I will call the place where he used to work full time and now works a bit now and again and see if he can shed any light.
I am not optimistic.
So, Miriam has lost a big hunk of her family. Neither of the girls have children we can contact (only one son between them and he has been on the lam for decades.
Miriam cried tonight as we talked about it. I won't bring up the subject again.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Even though it does not belong to me, I live “full time” in a Newell motorhome (check the price of the new ones if you have enough nerve), and I “own” a beach house.” In Idaho yet.
When our buyer became a looker, things changed fast. Rather than having a little cash and no real estate, I have a bit of real estate and no cash. Wow!
There are no bad people in this tale. The buyer had the right to change his mind. Daughters had their parents best in mind. Everyone had good motives. But still it when it is over, my head is still spinning.
With that cash I didn’t get I was going to build a studio/shop complex inside a barn that belongs to daughter 1. Maybe I needed a big new project and maybe I didn’t, but I am also working on a merit badge in consummate laziness.
So now we have this beach house 4 hours from “our” motorhome. I have known people to have get away homes further from their usual resident than that. One friend has a nice “cabin” that is not too much closer, so I guess distance is relative.
Every once in a while I can come down and take advantage of the shop, and putter in the “beach house” garden and act like a british lord on a very small scale!
Monday, September 12, 2011
Along with 4 grandkids and daughter 2, we drove down afternoon Thursday. We got a lot of work done on Friday and the house is looking empty, which is good.
The beds in the house are full of family, so we go to the camper, where it is quiet and restful. I could turn on some heat - we have propane and electricity but it is not that cold. We don’t have water in the tanks. I am not sure I want to fill the system this late in the fall, and we only sleep here.
Next is to load the remaining furniture into the Cargo Trailer. Daughter and family will leave here today, leaving Miriam and I alone in our house for the first time in a long time.
My leather recliner, the lamp beside it and the TV will be the last to be packed away. I may well bring a lawn chair inside so we can both sit in comfort. There is enough “stuff” in the kitchen to function and we will be OK. How long will we stay camping here?
Not sure, but it will be most of this week at the least. There is no deadline. There is plenty of work to do. We may stay a while! Since the sale of the house fell through, there is no deadline.
While I do enjoy being with my family, I also enjoy being with Miriam, alone.
Miriam bought this trailer the year we were separated, she in Washington State with a job and I in Idaho, trying to make a job. A few years ago I gutted it, improved the insulation and built all new cabinets. It is comfortable.
Before winter it needs to be pulled back north.
Since we did not sell the house and have no idea of when that might happen, plans to build a studio or shop have been tabled. In Washington, this ancient trailer will be our “studio” and I’ll see if I can conjure a place to do some wood work, come spring.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
It is amazing how little it takes to make a dream go bad.
Last night's political debate was interesting. One strategist advised to never base your plan on what the other guy may or may not do. They change their direction and you are in tall grass.
Selling property is like that, I guess. Your joy (a sale) is based on someone else's actions, which can be influenced by well meaning and not so well meaning friends and family.
Which makes it all sort of a house of cards.
But we are not kids any more (75 next time). To be really useful for the last of our years, a tad of money would be better sooner than later.
And, speaking of the Lord's leading. Up to this point everything was falling into place.
Rent the place? Past record on that one was 2 good renters and one extremely bad one.
Not much assurance there.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The sale of the house went south, way south.
So we are back to where we were before we were there.
But, that is how life goes.
Tomorrow we go back to the house to clear and clean. We is a daughter and two very capable granddaughters. I may spend a good bit of the fall there, or back and forth from here to there.
Not what I had in mind, but I am often such a romantic!
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Miriam is beginning to think of our Washington home as HOME. That is good. When I told her that she would need to come back with Daughter 1, she had a fit that lasted until I changed my schedule so she could come back with me.
The house is emptying. I brought back a ton (quite literally) of books and stuff. The girls squirreled boxes of things away with them when they left Idaho for their homes. The inside of the house is down to furniture, mostly.
The furniture in our house was mostly hand made. That give each piece a priority when it comes to moving. We will leave a few built in pieces, but virtually everything that will move will be moved.
The plan is to go back to Idaho Thursday and load up much of that remaining furniture. It is bulkier, and the pickup and trailer will both be filled to capacity by it all.
I will take Miriam with me, since Daughter 1 and her family are committed to another event. Daughter 2 and her family (maybe just the two teen age girls - who are fabulous help) and maybe a guy or three too will go also.
I just brought construction equipment (not to be confused with cabinetmaking equipment - there is some cross over, but for the most part, though each works with wood, the tools and equipment are different) enough to build the studios and shop. I also brought a lot of garden hand tools.
Someone borrowed my little Mantis tiller, or it was stolen (hopefully the former), but I brought all my favorites including the scythe I bought with money my grandmother gave me for my birthday several decades ago.
Indeed we are moving "home."
Thursday, September 1, 2011
That sounds dumb. This was her home for as long as it has been mine. But with AD and her lack of cognitive skills, I was not sure it would work out well. As is often the case, she is better to the daughters than to me. To me she began about as soon as she walked in the door.
"What have you don't to MY house?" "Why don't we live here, I like MY house." etc. There are just a few questions, but they are asked again and again. In bed last night, she would not stop. She kept repeating the same lament.
In a lot of ways she is right and she really does have a good reason for being sad about it all. All of us are, to some degree, What I see as the beginning of a new adventure, she, in her foggy AD mind, sees as calamity. I remind her that her mother died 17 years younger than we are now, that her father was an invalid by the time he was our age and that he came to live with us when he was in his late 60's. I reminded her that neither my mother, father or step father lived as old as we are now. We are older than we sometimes think.
Last evening the 4 of us who are here were looking around(daughters 1 and 3 drove in yesterday - today daughter 4 arrives by plane, and daughter 2 will arrive by car). We spent some time looking through a pile of Miriam's watercolor paintings. They were exquisite.
We decided that there is enough there, of superb quality to mount a true retrospective show. There is a gallery at the small University in our new town and we know the people in charge of the gallery. We are going to see if we can have an art show.
This collection of her paintings reminds us of what a wonderfully skilled artist she was. This week I was interviewed for an article in our church newsletter. When i was asked if I had any regrets, I said that I so wished I could have gotten her into a good art school when she was 20 or 21, rather than at 46 or 47.
Today we will photograph all of the paintings, so we have a digital record to share. Then we will carefully pack them into cases waiting for that art show.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I have very fond memories in and around this house. Our kids were near teens or teens when we moved here. My mom wanted me to build this house so I could have a place for my girls. Later it was grandkids.
Happily, Miriam and I have spent countless hours reading to our kids and grand kids. We don't regret a moment of that time.
This is a particularly poignant photograph. Miriam, long before AD, reading to Emily, who is now 17.
I will miss the house, but the memories are mine to keep.
Arline (#1) will arrive from Washington State with Miriam, and later Dea (#3) will arrive from California. I spent yesterday going through stuff in Miriam's office. Left her a box of things that she can pour over and through for a long time. There are letters from her mother, uncles and aunts, her sisters and so on. Many of those people are not with us any longer.
This morning I am going to set a bathroom vanity cabinet for a friend. That is what friends do! They have been friends for a LONG time and have helped here more than once. That should not take too long.
Then it is back to loading boxes, making trash and wondering what to do next.
The new owner of the house, a good friend, says to leave what we don't want to take and he will consider it a treasure hunt! We won't leave it a mess, but we will leave him a good bit of "treasure."
By tomorrow night all 4 of our daughters will be here for a few last days. They grew up in this house. It is the only house I ever owned. We have wonderful memories, all of us. It is a time to put things together and to remember and maybe even shed a tear now and then.
Then it will be over and we will move on to the next part of our crooked lives!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I went for a little walk the other day.
The dam that created the reservoir where we were camped was at the end of a 5 mile hike. So i did it. By the time I got back it was getting pretty hot, which worried some of my friends. I had water, I was OK.
I wanted to see if I could still walk/hike that far and I can!
Last night Jim, the new owner, stopped by. He and I are on the same page about so many things. He will be good to the place and it to him.
Today I am packing Miriam's office/studio. It is the space where she worked for half a dozen years before AD. It will go better if I can get it cleared out before Miriam arrives tomorrow.
Now if I could just sleep well. Some one said that good sleep is the sign of a clear conscience. By that rubric I am in deep trouble.
The powers have decided to run a piece about us in the church news letter. Our finger prints are all over the church: Stained glass; sign out front; cabinets; book cases, wood work etc. etc. I resisted the article, but finally agreed. My friends know we are leaving. Other wise I wanted little comment.
Before this week Miriam and all of our daughters will be here. Partially they are here to divide some of the art and craft items that we cannot take with us. They are also here to pay respect to the house where they grew up. They will meet Jim and Veronica and I know they will be at ease about the house.
My guess is that cracker box house have less attachment. It is these weird, wild nutty places that seem to tug the most. The house was pure 70s when built, but since then I have picked up motifs and ideas for the inside from the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century.
Jim says he will continue with my dream.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
It was designed to be a bit screwy.
Maximum privacy and energy efficiency within a very limited budget, it was all I had hoped for.
The outside was understated on purpose, but the inside was comfortable and warm.
Now we go to clear and to make peace.
Indeed we are in a different part of our lives now.
Today I join some friends for a weekend of camping. I am leaving Miriam with Daughter 1.
Next week all of the daughters will meet at our house in Idaho, along with Miriam, to clear out, to clean out, to remember, and maybe even shed a tear.
Since my daughters were teens this house and the acre it sits on has been our home. Even when we were away to Texas it was still our home.
But right now I can't think too deep. I just need a break and a time to think.
See you in a week or so.
My first notebook computer was an old 520 Power Book. It wasn't even in color. Since that time I've had desktop Macs, and notebook Macs, a few iPods, and an iPhone. I like them all.
But today is the day we all knew would come eventually. The guy behind it all, the cofounder of the company and the guru of gurus, pulled the plug on his work at Apple. It reminds us that good health is a blessing that has no monetary equivalent. Jobs was a man of incredible wealth, and could afford any treatment he wished for, yet we are reminded that even those who can are still mortals, like the rest of us.
Of course, I never met the man, but I have lived a better life for his pursuit of perfection. His search was to make high tech so easy that we regular folk could make it work for us.
He succeeded. Thanks Steve.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
He owned this place, where my daughter and her family (which includes us) live now. The state took the place for payment for nursing home care for both Wilnert and his wife. It came up for sale then.
Daughter asked me to look at it. I had my friend David with me. The gable was straight, the eves did not sag, both signs of a solid skeleton of a house. Inside was beyond disaster. Wilnert’s false teeth were on the kitchen table. Junk was stacked everywhere. The toilet had not been cleaned in decades.
The basement was dark and not deep and the floor was dirt. The inspector for the loan company rejected the foundation. So the house was jacked up a tad, a deeper basement was dug, a concrete floor poured, and finally foundation walls.
Meanwhile the house was held up with a lot of small posts. It looked like it was held by toothpicks. But in time it was all in place and the house had a solid foundation. The upstairs had walls removed, and doors moved. Finally I came in with wide wood trim (sort of Craftsman style) and ceramic tile. We set the kitchen cabinets and put the tops on.
That was 10 years ago, give or take a bit. The house was built with a large space that was designated as the place for us to live. Miriam had just been diagnosed with AD, and we had no idea how fast or how soon we would need different living arrangements.
In time the space became a storage room/craft/sewing room. The house is on a couple acres of ground and there are several out buildings, but nothing you would store much in, unless everything was carefully encapsulated.
So, today I began clearing out one of the buildings. It has wood leaning against the walls. Some short pieces and some 12 and 14 feet long.
More on the subject next time.
Monday, August 22, 2011
This is a friend I have never met (I have lots of friends in that category), but one I greatly admire.
She had an AD family member and I met her there.
She is returning to blog, and I welcome her.
Look on my updated list of blogs I follow and she is the first.
She is worth reading.
Welcome back Ann.
He was not too far away, on his way back to Idaho from visiting friends. He would be to our place in about two hours.
I made sure the place was cleaned (vacuumed the carpet mostly -- using the built in Vacuum that came with the bus). He and hi wife Lynda (Y Linda we call her to keep her separated from al the other Linda's in our life). THey stayed a bit, fixed and ate their lunch and went on.
David had a mild heart attack a few years ago and he is on a very struct diet. There is no way I could easily do what he needs to do to keep up with the diet.
We are going camping this weekend, David and some other friends. I am leaving Miriam with Daughter 1. I'll go on to Idaho after the camp trip, Miriam and all the daughters will arrive the following week. They all grew up in this house and they want a few days together, so they can put some closure to that part of their life.
It is a mean trick to leave Miriam here, and she could camp with me OK, but I want some others there with her when we are in Idaho. I have no idea how she will react to all that is going on. Since she can't remember facts, she doesn't do much better with emotions.
Lloyd and David and Ray will be there this weekend. I will so enjoy their company and friendship.
It will be good.