walk and talk/listen

Now that I’m in my second year of retirement I should probably stop writing about how much I am enjoying it. I wouldn’t want to give the impression I didn’t enjoy working—because I did! I told a friend I don’t sit around doing nothing now that I’m retired, but the difference is that I can if I want (sit around and do nothing). I won’t lie—sometimes I want/do (sit around and do nothing)!

This morning I pulled into the parking lot for Bible Study Fellowship and into this spot. I’m sure these signs were there the previous Wednesday mornings, but I no doubt dismissed them as not applicable for me because, well, do I actually qualify as a senior? Yes, a social security check is deposited into my account every month, and I take advantage of the senior discount at the local grocery store on Tuesdays. I see an increasingly disproportionate number of gray hairs on my head, yet the brain underneath them doesn’t seem to register that I am old enough for this spot.

So I think I’ve concluded that while our bodies unrelentingly age, our minds resist. I’m starting to believe this resistance is a good thing! The rational strategy in the war against Father Time is to give our youthful minds a reasonably fit body in which to thrive. This is much easier to say than to do! So many factors outside our control need to align. Not many years ago I could barely walk because arthritis did a number on my spine. Skillful hands and $35,000 worth of hardware restored my ability to walk upright and offered me a “new lease on life.”

All to say—I’m committed to make the most of my retirement years because God’s grace and mercy have allowed me this privilege.

One blessing is what I call is “walk and talk” dates with women friends. As I set up these dates, I openly admit I’ve developed a reputation for being “long winded.” I put that term in quotes because those were the actual words one friend used to reference me in conversation. Trust me, I took no offense, because, after all, it is true! I never thought of myself as a talker—until I started, first with “sit and sip” dates and then as the weather improved as “walk and talk” dates. Apparently, I have a lot to say, but I also listen. Otherwise, I don’t learn anything!

My friends and I talk about our families, our church(es), theology, the culture we live in, our commonalities and sometimes our differences, our plans, what we’ve read . . . yet these dates that fill much of my time aren’t usually conducive to photos. It’s sacred space, with conversations that never cross the lines of privacy.

But then my friend Clara invited me to her neighborhood for our walk and talk and allowed me to take some pictures of our time together. Our stories match in many (many!) ways, but just take a look at her back deck and know that we have one big difference! (I usually settle for artificial plants.)

This is the top of her long driveway, down which we are headed!

Well, hello there!

You might detect a slope in the topography.

Still heading down, some forestry on the right.

Preparing the field for winter.

A vineyard and the remaining downhill to the main road. I was grateful for the overcast sky as I peeled off a layer of clothing.

I admit I didn’t have a lot to say as I huffed and puffed my way back UP to the house; I couldn’t claim it was the beautiful surroundings that took my breath away.

The next morning I spent a few minutes wondering about the new pain in my glutes before connecting it with my climb up Herring Hill. At least I didn’t have to blame it on old age!

So the second part of this post is about my “walk and listen” dates with my new podcast friend Allie Beth Stuckey. I honestly don’t remember by whose influence I added her podcast to my “Overcast” app, probably Twitter, but there she was on a day I needed something other than my friends who taught me everything I needed to know about Anglican theology at “Word & Table.”

Now that I’m captivated by Allie and her “Relatable” podcast, I never need motivation to don my walking shoes and walk the track or sidewalks in my neighborhood for up to an hour on those days I don’t have a walk and talk date scheduled. No kidding—I’ve become evangelical about sharing my enthusiasm for Allie. She’s a millennial (hope for the future); she’s conservative (so am I); she’s a Christian absolutely committed to basing all of her opinions (and, trust me, she’s opinionated) on scripture, which she knows very well!

I listened to quite a few podcasts on my phone before checking her out on YouTube, where I learned how late I am to the party—she already had 57,000 subscribers!

Today was a “walk and listen” day, so off I went with my phone and ear buds (preferred over blue tooth) and a headband to keep them in my ears, stopping off down here at the river to take a picture for you. I was listening to “Episode 9: Who Even Am I?” because I’m working my way up through 170 episodes starting at the beginning. I started out by choosing episodes by the titles that interest me, and you might do the same (presuming I’ve caused enough intrigue to at least get you to click on a link or two). Here, let me help you!

HERE’S THE ONE that got me started, and since I heard it while Quinn and I were traveling together she couldn’t very easily deny her mama the wish to watch/listen again in our hotel room.

More? OK, sure: “Biblical Marriage” “Should Christians Care About Politics?” “Praying for Trump”

I’m sad to say I can’t find Episode 9 (the one I listened to today) on YouTube. Allie shares her story, which builds understanding and trust in her ability to speak truth. All I can say is PLEASE GIVE HER A LISTEN! She talks fast and sometimes says “freakin'” and other millennial words you might find distracting (unless you’re a millennial yourself) but oh she certainly speaks my 74-year-old mind! Then after you’ve listened a while, we can schedule a walk and talk and compare points of view.

Posted in in the neighborhood | 1 Comment

oh how God loves those babies!

It’s been 12 years since Quinn and her family traveled from Colorado to Juarez, Mexico, with a team from their church to build a house for a deserving family. While they were there she learned that one in four babies born there never reached their first birthday due to malnutrition and/or infection from severe diaper rash. Parents didn’t name their babies until they believed the danger had passed.

As a mother of three, Quinn’s heart broke over this unimaginable statistic. A clear calling to act on that great need led her to start Babies of Juarez. Read the short story in her own words HERE. Narrowing the solution to diapers and formula, she began sharing the need any way she could think of.

Imagine Quinn’s excitement at Babies of Juarez’s very first donation. And twelve years later . . .

. . . accepting donations is no less exciting! My visit last week had fortuitous timing; I got to help Quinn, Neil, and Randee move the huge collection from the Andersons’ church — Redemption Gateway — the prior weekend. The wall behind me (as I took this picture) was stacked with formula.

Donations like these, and the financial gifts that allow Quinn and her crew to purchase diapers and formula, over these years have fed and diapered babies who might not have survived otherwise. Oh, how God loves those babies! He moved in the hearts of many, many donors to reduce the mortality rate in the colonias outside Juarez to nearly zero.

This is the new header for the Babies of Juarez website, newly updated! You might have clicked on the link above (I hope so) and already saw it. Quinn is so shy about taking any credit for her efforts that it took Dusty’s convincing help for her to allow her photo to be part of it.

Still! My favorite part of the website update is the PHOTOS page! Pictures guide you through the process that puts your donations into the hands of the Mexican mamas. It’s a sight to behold!

Once you’ve witnessed the beauty of the process, you’ll no doubt find the annual Dorthy’s Match and Legacy Match offer irresistible!

Dear friend of Babies of Juarez,

 A big part of our family’s annual Thanksgiving build in Juarez is seeing first hand what our doubled dollars offer the mothers who struggle to raise healthy babies. Mauri and I are making plans for our tenth trip and would love to cross the border with another trailer filled with diapers and formula.

Dorothy’s Match began six years ago with an account left behind by family friend Dorothy Barratt; Legacy Match, now in its fourth year, was started by Dave and Sue Martinson in memory of Paul Carlson (Quinn’s dad). Because of these associations, your ongoing participation holds meaning higher than financial. May I encourage you to take advantage of one of these matching-gift options? Your gift is doubled dollar for dollar and 100 cents of every dollar is spent on diapers and formula. Donations are tax deductible through Blessing for Life (Babies of Juarez’s own non-profit). 

If you want to double your dollars*, either…
…write a check to “Babies of Juarez” (Dorothy’s Match or Legacy Match in the memo line), then email sherrymacy@gmail.com for my mailing address;
…or visit babiesofjuarez.org/get-involved/ and click on “visit PayPal site.” Remember to designate your gift with one of the match names: Dorothy’s Match or Legacy Match.

This is one of my favorite pictures. When these grateful moms learned Quinn would be in Mexico, they made a plan to thank her as a group. Of course she would never OK my using it on the Babies of Juarez website because it feels too much like taking credit for what you do. But I promise you she told them (through a translator) how much God loves them and their babies and shows it through the gifts of many people in America who love them too!

Please consider adding your support to this good work for these dear families just across our border. Life there is so different from ours, but the parents love their children in the same way we love ours. And isn’t it extra fun that we can do it together?

(*matching gift offers end November 18, 2019)

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a week in the heat

A week ago I drove the two hours to Eugene in a downpour to catch a flight to Phoenix Gateway Airport, which is a ten-minute drive to Quinn and Dusty’s home. They accept and honor my preference to not be entertained but to simply join in with whatever is happening at the time. In other words—just be part of the family.

This week “part of the family” included being chauffeured to Target by the newest licensed Anderson driver. I can thank a canceled basketball practice for this shopping outing with her. My observations indicate 16-year-olds have very busy lives that include student council assignments (especially during spirit/homecoming week), classes, coffee/study dates, games and practices, National Honor Society assignments, church youth group. My observations also indicate it’s a good thing she can chauffeur herself now!

We were on a mission that I’ll write about soon, but I’m including this photo because of our location—Redemption Church Gateway’s brand new campus, built adjacent to the rented facility they occupied for ten years. It’s my church away from home, and I feel especially connected because I get to listen to the messages on YouTube every week. Here’s the one I heard in person on Sunday! We’re studying Exodus.

Here’s a literal snapshot of life at the Andersons. Marissa had stopped by with three friends; all four girls attend Grand Canyon University. They were chatting at the kitchen counter when Dusty arrived home from work (he commutes to Portland every week!) and all of us jumped up to greet him. Notice who beat the rest of us to the door—Marissa’s friends!

Not that we always need one, but this visit had the main purpose of our annual adventure to a Beth Moore “Living Proof Live” conference. This year the one in Austin, Texas, fit our timeline, so off we flew another two hours to the east.

She booked us a room in a hotel walking distance from the conference venue, so of course we walked, Texas heat notwithstanding!

We knew it would mean walking “home” after dark, but it also saved us the $10 parking fee.

This was a smaller crowd (4,000) than other LPLs we’ve attended, which gave it a more intimate feel. You can see we snagged our favorite top-row, top-of-the-stairs spot. Pictures are great for showing you place. But they are absolutely worthless in giving you the sense of belonging and the camaraderie of the group and the wonderfulness of the singing and the soul-satisfaction of the teaching. You just need to go yourself. Check out the 2020 schedule and make a plan!

Maybe Quinn and I will see you there. . .

Here’s how Beth compacted her teaching theme on social media:

I really did mean to take and include this picture. Some people name their children for ancestors or people they admire; Quincy Joy got her name because I loved (still love) the letter Q.

This might be just what you think it is—inspiration to kick up our heels and party down, so to speak. They don’t want us to get dozy for the third teaching session, so some lively music is prescribed. And at the strike of noon we hurried to the airport for our return flight.

I always lag behind to catch one of my favorite shots—the family going to church. Their number has dwindled to three with Bailey married and Marissa at college.

Wow! I hadn’t noticed until now just how much taller one is than the other.

Bless her heart, she and Issy Bear were the only ones at home to give me the traditional white-hanky farewell when Dusty took me to the airport. She knows how to make her Gus happy. I smiled all the way home.

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the pose

Fourteen addresses in the first 18 years of my life as Mrs. Paul Carlson meant our kids didn’t really put down roots until we settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We lived there ten years, longer than any other location. So it’s no surprise they all consider Michigan their “home” state, Wyoming their home town. Son Ben’s roots are deeper than for any of the rest of us, since he still lives there.

It’s no surprise that Taylor would want to share his home town with his family. You can be sure they wouldn’t choose any of the winter months for such a visit. The very fact Ben agreed to share a prime boating weekend with his brother proves the extent of his love for him! So Taylor and Beth and Beth’s mom, Trish, loaded the three kids and gear in their car and made the two-day drive from Virginia, stopping in Sandusky, Ohio, for some nostalgic fun.

High fives with Uncle Bentley, on hand to say Welcome to Michigan!

Beth is supplying me with much vicarious enjoyment of their visit, and I might have to return here with some more pictures of their fun. But for now I’m only setting the backdrop for a series I feel compelled to share. It begins with . . .

This is Paul’s extended family, his grandparents seated in the center.

I didn’t want you to miss Paul’s pose. Little did he know what he started!

Poses snagged from Facebook overflow my “The Pose” folder. I limited myself to sharing two.

The youngest Carlson man gets in the “pose” game.

And today . . . Beth sent me this:

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Posted in family matters, grandkids, nostalgia, series / match-ups, travels | 2 Comments

same age

I know it’s weird. For some reason I wanted to compare my exact age to the exact age of my mother on the day of her death in 1988. Yes, I actually counted the days from her birthday to her death day and added the same number to my birthday. That’s how I know today I’m my mother’s exact age at the time of her death from pancreatic cancer.

What should I do with this information? We lived entirely different lives. I could easily have died back in the late ’70s from one of five episodes of a syndrome that had yet to be identified as toxic shock. Every single day puts most of us in some setting that could lead to fatality. Let’s face it, we all live on the edge, more often than not taking our health and well-being for granted.

When my mother died at age 74 I thought she was way too young—way too young! She was ten years younger than my dad, for Pete’s sake! At age 84, he would have been the likely one to “go” first. Not that my siblings or I were ready for that either!

Bottom line, my health is good, and I hope to keep it that way. I’m not morbid and have no premonitions of an untimely end, nor do I believe I’m “tempting fate” by posting this. I was alone with my mother at her home in Florida that day in May when she was exactly my age. Her coma didn’t stop me from reading to her or from telling her things she should take with her to heaven. Seeing her through to the end gave me the unspeakable gift of time together. And now, without any effort at all, I can jump back more than 30 years and remember Mother as a peer, so to speak. That alone is worth admitting I’m weird!

Don’t worry about me, though; I have stuff to do and won’t give it much thought. Besides, every single day is a bonus for me!

Posted in family matters, nostalgia, series / match-ups | 4 Comments

traditions die hard

Nineteen years ago I wrote a piece as an assignment for one of my reading groups, inspired by our book—Kathleen Norris’s Dakota—specifically the chapter titled “Where I Am.” And now where I am has extended 19 years. Here’s a portion:

     Six years ago, as a newlywed I moved across the country to live in this burg with my husband, Mauri. I didn’t know him as well then as I had 30 years earlier. We had become good friends in high school in Wheaton, Illinois. But Mauri moved to Newberg to attend George Fox College (now University) and graduated four years later with a wife and a 20-year marriage ahead of him. I stayed in Wheaton and married a man seven months after he swept me off my feet. The only contact our families had through moves and more than two decades of marriage and three children each was the annual Christmas greeting. Twice letters carried news of cancer. Mauri was widowed first, then I.
     So here I am in Newberg, thousands of miles from my firstborn in Michigan, hundreds of miles from my married daughter in the Seattle area, and less than an hour’s drive from my youngest in Aloha. I’ve become step-mom to Mauri’s three children and daughter to his four parents, who all live in Newberg. (My original set of four parents have all died.)
     Where I am speaks of my physical placement and the stuff around which, the people around whom I exist. Locations link my past to my present. They trigger my memory. They add to my identity. They connect me to people. But my 24 geographic addresses in 55 years don’t define who I am. In reestablishing my root system as an Oregonian, I bring with me all of who I was the years preceding. Who I am builds on who I was. Every experience, every attitude, every response adds a new layer to who I was yesterday.
     Yesterday was the day. On our tandem rides I’d been observing the gradual ripening of blackberries along the roadside. This particular Sunday afternoon proved deliciously uncommitted, so I donned my grubby clothes and drove to the spot beside the railroad tracks where earlier I had eyed fruit-hung branches. With a plastic bucket swinging from my forearm, I studiously stepped a path through the briers, on alert for lurking predators who might have human on their evening menu. With gentle pressure I gripped one berry at a time, detaching each from its prickly branch, until my bucket was filled. The thorns did their best to dissuade my mission, but I accepted their lashes as payment for their offering. No blood, no berries.
     We have enough money for me to go to the corner fruit stand to purchase blackberries for a pie. Yet I perform this annual ritual because it reminds me who I am. In the process I momentarily remove what lies between my childhood and this current layer of my adulthood. I’m in the brambled back acres of the house my dad built in Wheaton. My mother, a homemaker in every respect, couldn’t see those berries wasted, so she commissioned my sister and me daily to fill several bowls each. For sure, it was against our will. We would rather be doing anything else. The chiggers would bore into our flesh; the sun made us sweat; the berries stained our fingers; the “prickers” gouged our skin. Not one thing about that task was pleasant—except maybe the fresh blackberries and cream or the blackberry cobbler or blackberry pie or blackberry jam we enjoyed all year long.
     This, and all the many, many learning experiences that comprise my life so far, make me who I am. Where they happen seems of least importance. Embracing the difficult, unpleasant stuff of life proves again and again the path to life’s best rewards. No blood, no berries.
     Half a blackberry pie waits in the refrigerator. Mmmm. A small slice turned a few moments in the microwave, with a small dollop of vanilla bean ice cream on top, sounds pretty good to me right now. But maybe I can wait until after dinner.
     Nah…

What comes to mind when I read this? “The more things change the more they stay the same.” We have digital photography now and rarely go to Fred Meyer to wait an hour for our film to be developed, but most of what was still is!

In 2014 I posted this, It contains nearly identical pictures to the ones I’m about to share tonight!

I had the identical response from 19 years ago when Mauri and I took a walk near Captain’s Cabin, taking note of all the ripe blackberries along the way. The following day I was back with an appropriate container, cheerfully and laboriously picking all the reachable berries of correct ripeness.

My harvest made it safely home in our cooler, and after we unloaded the car and reset the house I went to work on my annual pie-baking tradition. I would be too embarrassed to share pictures of the process, as I made a huge mess resulting in the world’s ugliest pie.

The baking process covers a multitude of sins, so I’m just barely able to swallow my pride to include this picture.

Thankfully, the proof’s in the pudding, or I should I say in the pie, for it was delicious. Pictured was last night’s dessert, and here it is a day later, almost time for another go ’round.

Traditions die hard, and I, for one, am grateful.

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we do what we do

Someone beat us to reserving Captain’s Cabin for the week of our anniversary, so we took the closest to it—this week! Turns out we’re sharing Harbor Villa with a high school youth group from Northwest Baptist Church in Bellingham, WA. “Happy anniversary!” and friendly waves were passed our way, and we continue to love the holy hubbub of their outdoor gatherings. And right up the street at the camp, it’s Surfside week, an important factor more than 25 years ago in deciding when to schedule our wedding because Mauri’s then-high-school-age kids didn’t want to miss it.

So here we are, halfway through our week. We each brought a project to work on. Mauri’s revolves around music, mine around pictures. After 25 years of life together, our interests have not changed and likely won’t. All of our time is spare time these retired days, so we are happy to simply do what we do.

Breakfast at the table in sleep clothes and bedhead. We are who we are.

And we do what we do. Take yesterday for example. We put on walking shoes and crossed the street to visit Deb’s garden. When we were here after Easter she showed us her work in progress, so we were eager to see the “fruit” of her labor.

Bless her, she pulled some invisible veggies out of the earth, assuring us they “need to be thinned,” and we remembered aloud the remnants of a shared Caesar salad in our fridge from a Tillamook Cheese Factory lunch. So she added a few snap peas to our “basket” and I quickly carried them back to our little kitchen for lunch later.

Now a walk on the beach.

Who says there’s no such think as a free lunch? We’re quite sure we’d’a tossed those sad leftover greens were it not for those fortuitous toppers. Thanks, Deb! You’re an excellent veggie grower!

Some afternoon project work for him. He brought a file of original scores that date back to the ’70s. It’s fun and interesting to hear his response to them this many years later—what he still likes, what he would change.

A step in my afternoon work: editing and placing the perfect cover shot for Declan’s book. The boy turns 4 in a few weeks, so I want it ready to add those last pictures before sending a pre-print (Shutterfly) proof to his parents. What could be more fun than that? And should I mention my perfect view of the rocks and ocean out that window?

With a half-hour window before we leave for dinner (breakfast & lunch in; dinner out), I head out for a solo walk. The tide is in, making most of the sand too soft for speed. I gave it my best.

A lovely and familiar drive up to Nehalem, two towns north of Rockaway. We followed the fishprints to a food cart Mauri had researched and found reviewed as 5 stars.

Yep—that’s just as described! I’m not normally a fish eater but embraced the whole experience as part of what we do.

We saved room for dessert at the ice cream shop our friends Ridgely and Wally discovered and highly recommended earlier this summer. Too bad it was closed on Tuesday. Oh well, not everything has to be perfect to be awesome (so says the hanging above our fireplace). So we bought Tillamook ice cream bars at a local market and sat by the quiet river, watching for that elusive eagle or kingfisher.

Back in the car Mauri asks: “Wanna go look for elk?” This question didn’t come out of the blue. Years ago in Nehalem we happened upon a huge herd of elk in a residential area, so we knew there was a remote possibility there’d be some lurking about.

Lo and behold . . .

We sat a long time, watching them slowly emerge from the grasses on the right side of the road, meander down the road toward the water, then into the grasses on the left. Could we have orchestrated the moment any better?

We took a longcut back to our cabin through this familiar countryside, drinking in the beauty of our coastline. Doing what we do.

Posted in nostalgia, travels | 3 Comments