My retirement is now six months old, and I’m still basking in the freedoms it has opened for me.
Not long ago I got to interview the director of Chehalem Cultural Center for a story in this issue of The View. His enthusiasm left me with no alternative but to become a member of Newberg’s “cultural gem.” I realized being so busy with work et al had separated me from my community as I more often than not chose an introvert’s position of comfort a the chair at home (where I now sit).
So to start off, I registered for the annual Camellia Festival 10k/5k run/walk as a 5k walker. It was a first-timer, conservative choice.
The 10k runners/walkers left first, and I happened to capture my young friend Emily in the picture,
wearing her always-pleasant demeanor.
Newberg’s mayor announces the lineup for us 5kers.
We less-competitive walkers did our best to give the runners a good start.
That’s my friend Connie (red jacket) with her daughter, Tami, part of my smaller community within the bigger one.
This enthusiastic cheerleader danced and shouted encouragement as we passed.
I heard my name announced as I crossed. Sharon! Oh, my parents (who named me for Jesus, Rose of Sharon) would have loved that!
I stopped to pick up my free camellia plant,
and asked a friend to take my picture. Mission accomplished, I walked on home to start the laundry. It is Saturday, after all. Retirement hasn’t changed everything!
Poetry emerged as a theme this weekend, not that we planned it or anything.
I guess it started when Mauri received a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay in his email about the arrival of spring. Several lines caught his attention, compelling him to share it with me. “It is not enough that yearly, down the hill, April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.”
But then our friend Bethany, who herself has written a book of poetry that is about to make its debut, was being featured with her harp at a poetry reading by Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford.
We were both smitten with his easy manner and engaging writings,
especially when the two read/played in tandem. We were so glad to be part of this!
And part three of our poetry weekend involves this event six months ago when my whole family gave me the surprise of my life.
Sage gifted me a date to the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland. Our first attempt to go was thwarted by a snow storm, and today, determined, we carried umbrellas because it was pouring rain when we left Newberg. But look ^ —blue sky.
Looking down …
… and looking up, we found plenty of inspiration to participate in the Couplet Poetry Arch Activity featured at the garden.
But it was tea time, and the upper level of the tea room called out.
We had a server all to ourselves, and he kindly complied to our request for a photo. While we sipped bamboo tea, we composed couplets from our list of key words.
Back at the arch, we wrote out our compositions. My granddaughter, the poet!
She added her couplet to the arch. I wrote one too. Something about the koi performing their troupe’s routine.
Hers is much more, um, poetic.
Dr. Jiyu Yang, Chinese musician, calligrapher, and brush painter, demonstrated his talent. He was just getting started, but it was inspiring to watch for a while before our parking meter ran out of time. And we needed to hit the gift shop!
What a fun morning! And to think we drove there in pouring rain. Oregon!
But there was more! The date included lunch . . . and Sage likes Thai food. Me too!
I delivered her back home with her parasol from the gift shop. Cutie patootie. . .
Thanks, Sage! I sure enjoyed our date. Happy retirement to me!
With a full heart from my days in Michigan, I loaded my rental car and hit the road—not for the airport but for Virginia to spend a week with my other Carlson son and his family in Haymarket.
It wouldn’t have been a visit to my old stomping grounds without a refresher course in the use of one of these.
Meh. I don’t miss Michigan weather at all! Thankfully, I had to deal only with some leftover snow and a little frost on the windows. But I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to complain about it.
Perfectly located as a halfway stopping place in my travels was Columbus, Ohio, and my cousin Helen Katherine. Our visit was compact, and we took turns showing and telling our stories.
She always has something interesting to show me! I asked her to pose this for Mauri’s sake, since he’s a former ’55 Chevy owner.
My dad and her mom were siblings, so family resemblance can be understood. I only hope my genetics work their magic to make me look so good in ten years when I’m her age.
A good meal and a good night of sleep later I was back on the road. When I asked Google to map my day’s travels I didn’t notice I’d be driving in five states–Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia! I would have enjoyed the seven-hour journey better without the incessant rain and fog patches, but during one of the sunny spells I couldn’t resist taking the exit for . . .
And eventually my navigator said,
“you have reached your destination.”
These two and their mama greeted me at the door. Emery and Avery will be two in July.
Declan and I got right to work getting reacquainted.
My first morning, when Beth headed out to enjoy a kid-free CrossFit workout while Declan was in school, I pulled out these funky balls to entertain the girls. From their expressions you can guess they were a hit.
For at least ten minutes!
The true indicator of my success as a care provider is that the babies were alive when their parents came home. That one standing in the window is part mountain goat. I’m absolutely certain that were she given access to the kitchen, we’d be pulling her down from the refrigerator.
A deer sighting in the backyard.
This joyful boy and I spent the first few days playing “Let’s look for a dinosaur!”—our made-up version of follow the leader. Clothes? Who needs ’em?
Taylor travels a lot for his work with Agilent Technologies, and Beth has become an expert at putting her three littles in their carseats every time she goes somewhere. But she’s always grateful when an extra set of hands can help. I was there to photograph this process because it was Sunday and we were heading . . .
. . . to church!
Am I biased or are they really just as cute from the back as from the front?
Sitting quietly in mass was not their shining moment, but they’ll learn.
The cameraman needs to work fast with this busy crew. Here’s my best attempt at a dressed-for-church family photo.
To honor my visit, the Ambrose clan gathered to share a Sunday meal. From the look on their faces, I think they’re hiding something.
Trish, Beth’s mom, would have hosted the meal at their home, but the Carlsons won out because they have all the kid entertainment.
Also, Taylor doesn’t want to miss an opportunity to smoke a brisket and bacon-wrapped shrimp.
March Madness, y’all—so the TV is on! We’re about to see the halftime extravaganza—Riley and Regan performing their dance-class routine.
With such an adoring audience, they’re bound for stardom!
Patriarchal approval from Moose.
Grinning girlies, one has her fingers crossed.
Beth says we are too cool for school.
By Tuesday we were ready for an outing to Busy Bees.
Get it out of your system, little mountain goat!
Daddy’s turn to give his girls their bath and read them a bedtime story.
Oh, yay, another blocks photo to match up with her daddy . . .
I know—I’m insufferable!
She posed, so what was I going to do? Her sister is just the opposite, does not like the camera, and a smile is out of the question. Unless you catch her by surprise.
This boy is the same, though he’s getting better.
There! By the way, Declan will be four in August.
He was very serious about Easter egg dyeing.
And before I could blink, my week was up! On the way to the airport we met Moose and Mimi at Frying Pan Farm Park, a hop and a skip from their home in Herndon, VA.
We were transported by wagon around the whole park.
We saw (and heard) baby goats,
had a chance to play on farm equipment—well, they did,
counted our chickens after they were hatched,
and were gobbled at by this great big turkey. Being so close to the White House, the tour guide said this is the one pardoned last Thanksgiving.
Really!!??!! Then I need to take a selfie with him since an autograph is probably not an option.
Beth caught me showing him our picture together. (He asked me to email him a copy.)
My memorable finale with the pardoned White House turkey was easily trumped by the family’s traditional white-hanky farewell at the airport. Who wouldn’t adore a daughter-in-law who goes to such lengths to make me happy?
Traveling post employment means I no longer need to carry a computer. Since it and I have been joined at the hip for so many years, I anticipated a bit of separation anxiety. To combat the potential symptoms I bought an iPad and got it set up with all the apps I might need. I practiced blogging because of course I’d want to keep you informed of my every move.
Turned out I took plenty of pictures along the way but then used my occasional spare moments to, well, enjoy the moment.
You’ll be happy to know I’ve pared down my photos to the cream of the crop to give you but a taste of my nearly-two-week adventure.
As we taxied for take-off at PDX I snapped this quick look at Mount Hood. I couldn’t have guessed I’d end up with this fun match-up as we taxied to our gate at the Denver airport. I took the Denver shot to show the absence of snow from blizzard conditions only days earlier, making me fear I’d miss my connection to Grand Rapids. But both flights arrived early!
Ben’s birthday events began with a Sunday lunch with these close friends. It was my first time to meet each one. You will see Ben had opened the book I made for him.
Even more fun than watching Ben look through the book was watching his friends see a little bit (OK, a lot!) of Ben’s history and family.
Man of 50 years! I couldn’t be more proud of him.
When in Michigan I try not to miss an opportunity to see these dear sisters, Ange and Ev. We have much history together, and they traveled out here to Oregon for a visit in my early years as a Macy. Now in their mid-90s, their collective spunk puts me to shame. Ange, in blue, upped her goal to celebrate her 100th birthday in five years. I have no doubt she’ll make it!
They care dearly for each other, and I join the love fest!
Only a few blocks from Ange’s home is Ben’s workplace. He’s worked for this company for going on 25 years, though it was Prince back then, bought by Johnson Controls, and recently by Yanfeng.
He offices in this exceptional facility.
He introduced me to several of his work team. His new position is “director of strategy for North America,” a promotion from . . . who can keep track?
Did I mention how proud I am of this man?
Joe and Rosemary defy description. Be sure: they are a force, and spending an evening with them and their youngest-of-three-sons, Seth, will stand out for a long time. Every page of the book from Ben’s high-school+ years brought on wild stories and fits of laughter.
Longtime friends are the best, made even better when they are actually friends of your children and claim you as a friend too.
Some day I hope to meet the girl who wins the heart of this 15-year-old. A gem!
Another dear friend met me for a Starbuck’s date and conversation. Nancy oversees group homes for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. I met her from my work with the yearbook class at Grace Bible College, but we soon became friends. She is credited for the many candid photos she took (on film!) at Paul’s memorial service and Mauri’s/my wedding events. Now wise beyond her years, she slipped me some helpful advice relating to some decisions I’m making. I waved farewell with “WOW” smeared all over my face.
Ben chose this old family favorite for his birthday celebration. Don’t worry, it’s really just a Mexican-food restaurant that, yes, serves alcohol.
Ben got there early enough to get us a table for 10. I showed up soonafter and recruited him to hang the blue and white celebratory flags.
Bless him, he didn’t act the least bit embarrassed by all my traditional wishes.
After all, Carlsons have been stringing blue and white flags since the time Paul bought a set at a garage sale and put them out for every celebration. What I wouldn’t give to offer him a momentary glimpse of this photo, his son half a life older than his final photo taken with Ben (as it happens, at Joe and Rosemary’s wedding).
I think it was Shannon, front left, who gave his camera to the server for these two table shots.
I finally got to meet Linda, Ben’s “other” mom, who invites him to join her and her two sons (to her left) for holiday meals. Bless her heart!
I think it was Shannon’s camera because he posted the two group pictures on Facebook along with a video of me singing the family birthday song to my boy Ben. And Ben received all the attention like a champ, along with the many accolades of his personhood, which his mom soaked up as though she had some part in it.
Happy birthday, Bentley! I couldn’t love you more!
I’ll bet you didn’t know we have an art museum two blocks from our house. Its hours are 9 to 10:45am and only open today. Of course I didn’t want miss out, so I went!
Given its small window of opportunity, no one else wanted to miss out either.
My ticket gave entry but no docent met me, which allowed me freedom to self-tour the displays. One particular artist’s work caught my attention.
I was surprised to see she was an art instructor, and I was honored to be invited to sit at her table!
My teacher was so thorough, she even added her own elements to my creation.
This wall display of self-portraits caught my attention. Kindergarten art impressionism is fun to interpret, but rather than presume I recognized Brynn from among her classmates, I asked for her help. I had an ulterior motive for wanting accuracy.
Are you at all surprised I have a photo folder titled “self-portraits”?
These two are the works of son-in-law artist John Williams.
Could be his son, Oscar, drew this portrait of his dad.
Not exactly a self-portrait either, this portrait ended up in the folder.
And this one of ME by an unknown artist who perfectly captured my essence during those years after our tandem crash and leading up to surgical back repair.
Back from that little side trip into my photo files. I’m prone to wander, as you know. Here’s my art instructor with her mama, a volunteer at this museum.
I’ll leave you with my favorite of all the art media on display at the museum. Sometime I’ll walk around our house and photograph all the similar pottery pieces I still consider art from my children’s school years. Sitting here in my office I can point to three such treasures. Consider that a warning.
I learned today that my second cousin Bob Ronke died. I haven’t had direct contact with Bob in many years, especially since his mother, Beryl, passed away. I’m glad my first cousin Helen Katherine has had a more intentional relationship with him through phone calls, which is how she received this news.
Bob returned from the Vietnam war with PTSD, never to recover his full emotional health. This affected the rest of his life, likely inhibiting multiple opportunities for professional and relational pursuits. So it’s only natural I feel more than the usual sadness at learning of Bob’s sudden illness and death; I feel the weight of the cost he paid to defend my freedom.
Rest in peace, cousin Bob. I’m glad we shared a family tree.
Today’s a day of celebration for at least two of us here in Grand Rapids, Michigan! In particular, I’m celebrating motherhood that began 50 years ago this day down in Jacksonville, Florida.
This is the son I always dreamed of, dating back to my childhood when all I wanted was to be a mom. I wore out the pages of the Sears catalog where the baby clothes and equipment were displayed. I practiced on baby dolls until I was old enough to babysit for the neighbors across the street, who added children nearly annually–Ricky, Mary, Sarah, Tom, Jean, John, Bernice (plus two more after they moved across town).
But first came love, then came marriage — then came Bentley in the baby carriage.
I was so smitten by his perfection that if he was napping, I’d sit and stare at this picture, not yet believing he belonged to me. But I eventually came back to earth, and let’s be honest, raising children has its ups and downs.
So today I’ll wish my boy Ben a happy fiftieth birthday and at the same time wish myself a happy birth day, celebrating God’s good gift to Paul and me.
Now before I go meet up with the birthday boy, I leave you with a photobooth matchup. (The tan is real…we lived in Florida.)
This last snap is from the photobook I made of Ben’s first 50 years. What else was I going to do with all those pictures of him?