i stopped noticing . . .

You might remember my admission that I’m leaving messes all over the house. This is a small one, comparatively speaking, and its scope is narrowed to electronics. We decided this living room chair was a good place to leave it until our calendars aligned and we could sort through it together to decide what cord matches what gadget, etc., and whether we even still use it.

Let’s see, how many weeks ago was that?

Meanwhile, John came over one evening to make music (and entertain the dog) in that room. My photography carefully avoided the mess in the chair (and elsewhere).

When Bethany came over yesterday morning with scones and some show ‘n’ tell, the living room mess hadn’t entered my mind. You know how you stop noticing? I’m pretty sure that’s why we didn’t get around to dealing with it.

You’re curious about those pens. Yes, seven fountain pens! Bethany didn’t come with the intention of showing us the seven pens she carries around in her small purse. Each one has a story; each one might be her favorite for individual reasons. “This one has a protected nib; this one has a fine point; Bryan gave me this one for my birthday; Bryan gave me this one . . .; I ordered this one online because it had Bethany written all over it!”

This, when all the time she only intended to chat and to show us her new website. She’d probably stopped noticing she carries seven pens in her purse.

Oh and she came for one other reason.

To make beautiful music (and entertain the dog) in our living room. Here I am again, behind the camera, taking photos strategically to avoid certain messes we’re stopped noticing.

And so, today we got after that mess and look! Some progress in the ongoing effort to deaccumulate.

Next up . . . get those IKEA curtains hemmed and hung. The rest of the mess is mostly empty containers (the first step is to admit you have a problem. . .).

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it happened again

I’ve been making messes all over the house as I work to clear out accumulation that happens without much effort. Almost everything deemed unnecessary goes to Goodwill, but there were some items that fit more in the antique store category. I’ve found myself in this place before, where I’d be happy to give my stuff to the local antique merchants just to encourage their business. On two different occasions in the past two years at two different downtown stores I’ve asked the owner to come out to my loaded car to look at my treasures for what they might find marketable. Each time they wanted to know how much I was asking. Each time I replied, “Just give me a really low number.” Finally they said something like $20 or $30 and I would bid them down, happily walking away with $10 or $15 in my pocket and leaving them with a story to tell when they got home from work.

Yesterday I pulled into the parking lot of a third local antique store, went inside, talked to the owner, and convinced her to come look at my stuff. She looked through a basket of small items (only one with any sentimental value to me) not very interested (since her store is already crammed with similar items) while I pulled a wooden music stand and a wooden high chair and an old fire extinguisher out of the car. I started with: “I’ll give you all that stuff if you’ll consider a really low price like $20 for these items. “OK, how about $40?” she answered.

We settled on $30, as we both chuckled at the reversal of our bargaining roles. And I hope she makes a bundle on our business dealings.

But there these well-worn Farberware pans waiting by the stairs. Why is it so hard to part with them? They were a wedding gift to Paul and me more than 50 years ago, used by Mauri and me the past 24 years until I scored a set of Calphalon Classic at the church garage sale last year.

Maybe this has something to do with my reticence . . .

Cassidy, now 15 years old.

Oscar, turns 10 tomorrow.

Sage will be 8 in a few weeks.

And these darlings who visited just a few months ago.

Maybe I can fill them with dirt and grow tomatoes. Maybe the Calphalons will fall apart and I’ll call on these faithful pans again. Maybe they’ll be useful if the roof springs a leak. Maybe you can help me justify keeping them handy “for a rainy day.”

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how’s retirement going?

I get asked often how retirement is going. That’s an easy one—it’s going great! I was ready, which leaves me with zero regrets. As I write, it’s nearly three in the afternoon. Not so many weeks ago at three in the afternoon I was still at the office with a do list. Well, that last part hasn’t changed; I still have a do list. The difference is how imperative it is to accomplish my list every day.

This morning, being Wednesday, I decided to walk up the street to attend the Ambleside chapel service. Ambleside began leasing classroom space from Newberg Friends last fall while I was still employed there, so I got warmly acquainted with the school’s principal, Megan, and some of the teachers. This is one of those rare times I’d like to turn back the clock to the days my children were in school. I’m absolutely sure I would have prioritized our finances to give BQ&T an Ambleside education, kindergarten through high school!

But I’ve made peace with the clock and just enjoy attending chapel.

It’s a sacred time. We sing from the hymnal, individual classes recite scripture, an older student reads a passage, and a speaker is introduced. Everything is done with such remarkable order and respect, I usually have to swallow down a lump in my throat. It makes me so happy to see children taught such high values, a “living education” that empowers students to author lives that are full and free, rich in relationship to God, self, others, ideas, work, and creation. [from their website]

In the photo you see the speaker, Aaron Rauch, a local pastor, being greeted and thanked by each student. They shake his hand, look him in the eye, speak clearly, and smile as they walk on. In every instance I’ve observed since they came to NFC, the adults model the same respect they expect from every student.

An exceptional way to start my day!

An hour later I was over at Friendsview’s Springbrook Meadows for a photo shoot. Co-editor Susan met me to work through our vision for this particular two-page feature in the upcoming spring issue of The View. I know—I just finished bragging about being retired, but here I am working! I retired from my full-time job at NFC, but I kept my freelance work, affording me many opportunities to mix with people in the Friendsview community of retirees (just like me!)

Inside that building on the right I chatted with men and women at their weekly coffee and conversation. A couple of them are our cousins!

Back home to drink my replacement meal with Mauri and to watch another episode of Black Earth Rising and then to work on adding my new photos to the publication layout.

It’s January 30, you know.

This is what it looks like at Ben’s house in Michigan, which he hasn’t left since Sunday.

His loving and helpful siblings shared their sympathies with him on Facebook.

Me? I drowned my sorrow for him by putting on a light jacket and walking five blocks to the grocery.

Locals will know from this unfiltered photo where I bought hot dog buns for our gourmet dinner tonight.

People at the store were talking about something called the Super Bowl. I don’t know what that is. Maybe you do.

Once I publish this, I’ll check my list for what I can put off until tomorrow. After all, I have a book to read . . . Ah, the retired life!

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my week in arizona

I picked only the very best pictures. I’m not sure you can fully appreciate the challenge I faced. Because I take a lot of pictures! Even when I exercise self-control!

I need to impress upon you the amazing beauty we experience here in Oregon. Even on a cloudy day we catch glimpses of Mount Hood on our way through the French Prairie heading south to the airport at Eugene. I couldn’t leave that out!

I know, there aren’t even any people to see. Still, you can sense the calm atmosphere in the Anderson home here in “my” spot. I/we had lots of plans for the week, but I have a phone full of new books I’ve been ordering on the cheap through BookBub; this spot became my retreat center.

I made a date with Joy (Hatch, our Erin’s mom) and Ed happened to be home from work this day. Joy and I enjoyed 2.5 hours of comfortable conversation in comfortable chairs in the comfort of their backyard overlooking the golf course. We seem to have a lot in common, the two of us, neither running out of words about books and church and family (we’re related, of course) and life in general.

Who could resist booking a flight?

Are they not as cute as they come?

Who’s inside and who’s outside?

That’s Tera, dear friend of Quinn and this is her home. You’ve seen her before, in my Thanksgiving build posts. The whole Finkbeiner family is close with the whole Anderson family. I love when that happens.

Yep, they played that game. They got most of them right, but oops not this one.

The crowd was most entertained! BTW, Bailey’s parents adore and admire his choice for a lifemate.

And so many thoughtful and generous gifts!

Marissa, Bailey, Sarah, Cassidy—on June 1, they will all have the same last name.

“Old” and good friends just can’t be beat. Heather, Justin, and Quinn go back 24 years!

Thanks, Tera and Julie! You threw a smashing wedding shower party!

Sunday morning followed and I lingered behind to get yet another favorite shot of the family heading into church.

After service they willingly posed for this whole-family shot. Gotta snap these when I can!

After lunch. I took a drive down to Oro Valley to spend some time with cousin Aneta and her husband, Kent. I visited them three years ago, yet we managed to find plenty to talk about.

Their daughter Stephanie dropped in after taking her kids to school the next morning. It was she and her sister, Carrie, who invited me to a 50th anniversary celebration for their parents last June. Quinn and I were there; who can resist a family party invitation? Obviously, I can’t!

We had a lot to talk about and I even let her get a word in edgewise. She has strong beliefs and isn’t shy about expressing them. I hope we’ll convince her and her family to join a Thanksgiving build some year. Maybe later this year!

Before I headed back up to Queen Creek, I grabbed this selfie, which I have to admit, makes me smile. I wonder why . . .

My post wouldn’t be complete without including one with the baby of the family. Issy Bear took me for power walks nearly every day. She gets her fair share of attention from every single family member.

How am I doing? Only the very best pictures, right? Here we are at Pei Wei, Marissa’s choice for her farewell dinner. She soon leaves for Verona, Italy, to spend a semester of study abroad. She is only a few days past her 20th birthday. Such a lovely young woman!

Exactly two years have passed since I visited cousin Carolyn and her husband, Tom, in their beautiful Scottsdale home. This time she met me at a coffee shop. Since she is actually cousin to Margaret-Rose (Mauri’s first wife), I get to claim her too. Our 2.5-hour conversation covered the gamut of iPhone photography, Bible study, family dynamics, our common love for Pepsi/Coke and resistance to indulge, and more. Margaret-Rose is my soul-sister, and I’m happy to avow Carolyn as my soul-cousin.

I couldn’t be so close to Grand Canyon University without getting a parking pass and taking a walk around the campus where Marissa has been a student for 1.5 years. She has moved out of her dorm because of her upcoming semester abroad. But now I can picture her in this setting when she returns as a junior next fall.

Cassidy shoots a free throw (it goes in) and I got to witness two games. As a freshman she played with the varsity as well, winning both games, by the way. The whole family turned out to cheer on player #12.

Cass was less than amused by her team photo, but she showed us anyway.

Everybody’s getting ready to leave, not just the gym but to other countries. Marissa says bye to Papa and Guh—she heads to Italy and her grandparents head to Mexico!

And the next morning Quinn dropped off two travelers, Dusty heading for Oregon, where he works!

Quinn unpacks another shipment of diapers for the Babies of Juarez. (I’m glad the site is back up so I could link it.)

Anybody recognize this guy?

Dale and Mina DeWitt are long-loved friends from my life in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Much water has passed under the bridge for all of us since those days, but being with them felt as though not a single day has passed. Still, we had plenty of stories to tell, and the afternoon turned into evening.

Their DIL Beth joined us for dinner (Brad couldn’t make it in time), and I just had to wonder if my heart could hold any more after a week of rich conversations with so many loved ones.

Time to head home. I’ll miss everybody, but maybe especially this girl. Thanks, Bailey, for snapping this keeper.

Issy is ready to wave farewell with her white hanky.

Sniff, sniff. Bye bye. I miss you already!

It’s only a nine-minute drive to the Mesa-Gateway airport. Allegiant offers two flights a week to/from Eugene, but you can’t beat the no-frills fares.

I couldn’t resist reaching across to snap a picture of Mount Hood on the way home. Bookend photos to hold together this photo epistle of my week in Arizona. It might take another week for my feet to touch the ground.

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walking the dog

I reclaimed Mr. Darcy (a.k.a. Darcy Girl) this morning after a week at her home away from home (a.k.a. Newberg Canine Rehab). She settled right back into her routine of sleeping, with the exception of our afternoon walk. When Mauri is away, I become her primary caregiver, and she adjusts quickly to my way of doing things.

For example, we go out the back door instead of the front.

She walks right beside me and doesn’t pull the leash. Mauri has taught her to sit when we stop, which is what she’s doing here even though it doesn’t look like it. I wanted her to pose at the new bypass. I’m sorry to say he’ll notice I didn’t clean her eyes when we got home this morning. Will he notice her nails are clipped?

We took a longer-than-usual walk, probably to compensate for the past seven days.

We stopped at this sign so I could explain I grabbed the wrong jacket, the one without a roll of clean-up bags in its pocket.

Checking out the view from the top.

Half way down.

To think this beautiful river and landing are only a short walk from our house!

I don’t think my picture represents the actual angle of ascent we’re looking at.

Huff puff . . . almost there . . . huff puff. I think I can, I think I can.

We made it! Coming in the back way gives us a look at the school all three of our local school-aged grandkids attend. Maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of one or more on the playground!

She was not the slightest bit interested in looking once she eyed a squirrel. This is her slinky, pointy stance.

Outsmarted by that wily bushy-tailed critter, not very hidden in this leafless tree.

Whew! Back home for a long drink of water—both of us! Tomorrow we’ll go back to our normal half-hour route. Thanks for coming along! See you tomorrow at 2?

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jolliff “concert”

I’ve known the Jolliffs since I married Mauri nearly 25 years ago, though mostly from a distance. So we’re friends, just not close friends. Yet I carry a very close attachment to Brenda in particular, who was an attending nurse in the special care unit at Friendsview Retirement Community during Hazel’s final days. Who could forget one particular time we “kids” sat around her bed, Mauri playing guitar as we sang some old familiar tunes to ease those long hours of waiting? Brenda came in to check on Mom, then lingered to add harmony along with her gentle, sweet spirit to our song. She knew every word to every verse.

used by permission

When Bill and Brenda’s kids come home for Christmas, they spend a lot of time making music in their living room. For at least several years they’ve offered some of their “living room” music to the local public in a local coffee shop. Its popularity eventually pushed them to find a bigger venue, and North Valley Friends Church gladly opened their doors for this year’s “concert.” Bill was careful to make us attenders aware they were inviting us to sit back and listen in on their living-room jams, that lyrics and chords were notedly spread on the floor. Bill’s work as professor of English at George Fox University defines only part of him. His bluegrass roots go way back, at least as far as his grandmother, and he and Brenda have obviously gifted it to their children. HERE‘s a nice story about Bill.

I raised my arms in front of Mauri’s face to capture our good view.

And then I used his leg to steady my hand for this familiar tune. Jake has gained notoriety for his mandolin playing, turning his dad’s encouragement at age 7 to practice ten minutes a day into a profession. There’s a lesson to be learned there.

I imagine Brenda and Rebecca sing along in the living-room jam sessions. Maybe they hummed quietly from the back row. Much of my personal enjoyment of this “concert” centered around my own blessing to be raised in a musical family and the memories I still carry of standing around our living-room piano and singing the songs of our time.

This is my older siblings and me at Aunt Helen’s piano. c1954
Mother at the piano, Dad and brother Johnny singing. c1956

Somehow I find it irresistible to pull up pieces of my own history as illustration. What can I say?

Musical Macys singing by Hazel’s bed. Both sons still play the instruments they faithfully practiced in childhood. c2011
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family merry christmas

Like yours, our family starts celebrating Christmas long before the 25th. The bigger the family and the older we get, the longer it takes to fit in all the traditions and celebrations we’ve established over time.

Our Macy/Williams side began with its annual brunch feast at The Jory, a restaurant associated with The Allison, a local resort and spa. We have to reserve early in order to win the private room that seats all 12 of us at one table.

We always stop and take a big breath while a long line of accurately ordered servers carrying our food parade around our table and place steaming plates simultaneously in front of each family member. As they leave I resolve that next year I will be prepared to capture this phenom on film.

John Macy always comes prepared with his camera and tripod to document one year of change in our appearance.

These cousins (Will, Brynn, Lincoln, Oscar, Sage—clockwise) spend a lot of time together and adore each other just like the picture implies.

John Williams with Oscar. Rachel’s absence from this photo in no way illustrates her absence from our thoughts and hearts, especially at times like this.

Linsey and Pete, Lincoln and Will Macy

Erin and John, Brynn and Sage Macy

I’ll update the Family in Photos page after I post this. It includes family updates.

The parental units.

Our family celebration then continues at John and Erin’s house for a “stocking” exchange.

It was so fun to see this displayed in a prominent place in their new home.

It as also fun to watch Lincoln master the balance board we gave him.

Soonafter, we saw it on social media repurposed as a foot rest.

Still a traveling musician, Mauri has minimized his travel gear to carry in with one trip: guitar, stool, and amp. In days of yore, he hauled a trailer full. We’re heading in to Friendsview Retirement Community to provide some Christmas cheer for the Parkinson’s support group.

We got to pick up the girls from school, a two-block walk away, and entertain them until their parents reclaimed them. I include this so you can see our tree and lights. Another area to minimize/simplify.

Leading up to Christmas, I’m sent (or snag from social media) pictures from far-away family. Here’s Beth with Avery, Emery, and Declan—and that jolly guy too. I had to narrow my photo choices because Beth, not wanting her kids to miss anything, took them on at least one Christmas outing every single day.

The Carlson family at Beth’s parents’ home.

Here’s another batch of cousins, grandchildren belonging to Beth’s parents, Tim and Trish. Yes, they represent two sets of twins with a recent announcement that another set of twins, this time boys, will become brothers to that sweet, unsuspecting boy in the middle.

After a retirement absence of four years, Mauri again led the handbell choir at NFC’s Christmas Eve services. They played great! [Apologies for cutting out one top-row ringer; I guess I was making sure the director got in the photo as they rehearsed.] I helped Mauri lead the singing portion of the services, preempting my ability to take other pictures.

Meanwhile, the Anderson clan filled one whole row at one of Redemption Gateway’s Christmas Eve services down in Arizona.

Next Christmas Eve, services will be held in their brand new facility. We might need to plan ahead . . .

This new tradition awaited us after our second service. I had to go back to the invitation to tell you what it’s called. Charcuterie, pronounced SHär’koodərē. Got it? This one’s an expanded version that includes more than meats.

We were happy to be included in this new tradition (replacing one that had reached its appropriate closure) that includes our kids’ family and friends.

This photo of two enthusiastic sis-in-law cooks instantly sent me back to 2005, when I caught this one:

I tell ya—I’d like to meet anyone who loves her pictures more than I love mine.

And—poof—it was Christmas morning, when Mauri and I and of course Darcy enjoyed some traditions of our own. How does she know that present is for her?

She got one-on-one attention from her adoring master, a sun-shiny walk through the George Fox campus and a rest on this picturesque porch.

And on Christmas evening we were, yes, eating again! Lighting inspired by hygge, pronounced HUE-gah! John and Erin have a lovely new home with lots of space that allows us to all eat around one table and other gathering spaces that allow us to . . .

. . . assemble a puzzle!

Sage stayed with it start to finish! She even found the three missing pieces that had slipped under the sofa.

I sure love the camaraderie element of puzzle work!

The day ended viewing with videos and photos of our Carlson littles reacting to Santa’s generosity and a peek at them playing with the gifts we sent.

Then today, two days after Christmas, FedEx delivered a bonus gift—three layers of Christmas temptation. Thankfully, the sender was clearly marked on the box. Two gifts came this year without identifying the giver. One mystery has since been solved,

…but this gift will go unacknowledged. Unless, of course, it’s from you, my dear friend. You’ll let me know, right?

Thus ends my up-to-the-minute Christmas report. Now we move toward New Years. By then Mauri will be settled out at Twin Rocks for Sabbath by the Sea while I keep the home fires burning with the dog. There’s plenty to do here, even for one newly retired. One luxury is time to reread all the letters we received from you and others who don’t follow this blog. I love communicating with friends and family by any means possible and look forward to all opportunities 2019 holds. You will no doubt be included in many of these connections.

I’ve been writing a Christmas greeting since 1971, the year Quinn was born. Like with this blog, I use my notebook of letters for reference because the memory I carry around in my head sometimes needs a little assistance. On my list for the months ahead is to scan all the letters and then update it until I can’t anymore. HERE’S the one I’ll tack on to the end.

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