on the pot

Bob Hampton sleeping

Our plumber and friend, Bob, posted this picture on Facebook this morning with the caption: “I’m hoping not to fall asleep on the job today, as I was caught on camera a while back.”

Of course it got a lot of laughs out of me, especially when I noticed his mom (also my friend) had tied him to the pot with a towel. Not a bad strategy, Maribeth! Raising four sons requires creativity.


You might imagine I’d have a matchup! Taylor fell asleep in the most unreasonable places (yes, I have a series of Taylor sleep pictures!), here shown waiting for me to brush his teeth. While there are differences in the two pictures, I see so many samenesses I had to share it.

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paying tribute to a tree

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This old apple tree has made an appearance on this blog numerous times. To the average passerby, it’s just a gnarly and gangly eyesore, its better days far behind. It’s been dismembered for overhanging the property line and for taking up space needed for housing growth. It has given shade and fruit for much longer than the 38 years Macys have inhabited “514.”

To Pete and John Macy it’s also a playhouse. Well, a former playhouse also shared with their sister, Rachel. But its time has come and we’re very close to saying goodbye to it (in its current standing form).

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So the local kids and grandkids showed up to pay tribute to this old climbing friend. Here’s a side view of the photoshoot.

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And here is the front view. At first it was a little too high for Lincoln.

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All is well.

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Happier on his own.

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Lovely Sage. Pete upper right.

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Around all the hubbub of climbers and observers, Mauri and I each caught these two in a candid pose — in which, if I had looked at the Macy album photos in advance, I might have requested they switch spots.


Still, I’m completely enamored with this matchup. But wait! There’s more . . .


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A friend asked me on Sunday what I love. My first answer was words, which brought a quizzical response. My second answer was photo match-ups.


I’d give anything to have a match-up of this but will settle for the smile that comes to my face as I think of the joy Rachel would take in seeing this post.

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october 31 revisited

Photos started arriving three hours earlier from the East Coast.

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The elephant, with his years of experience trick or treating, might be more excited about Halloween than his two peanut sisters.

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Yep, takin’ it in stride. Sorta.


Me, I found the polka-dot overload right there in my closet. Who knew?

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Yes, even the pants are.

Ben Halloween 2018

Like son, like mother, I suppose.


We decided to stay home to answer the doorbell. It paid out in a visit from our new pastor and his family, who live in the neighborhood.


The local grands — oh yes, they were out too.



Can you guess who they are and who they’re pretending to be?

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it was a ruse

On September 3, Erin sent out a local-family-wide invitation that went like this: “Hey all! We JUST accepted a great offer on our house! 😊😭 Holy cow… and our closing date on the new place is Oct 12. SO we were thinking of having you guys over for a last family get together at our Coffey Lane house. We have shared significant times here with you all and thought it would be nice! Can you make it on Sat, Oct 6 at 5:30pm? I know it’s a ways off but it’s gonna go quickly!”

Sage’s birth then Brynn’s birth and then Rachel’s death all occurred in the Coffey House living room. Surely these significant events will always be part of our family story. And I moved on an idea for the perfect gift to honor the occasion.


I sent this listing photo to my friend Susana as the starting place, commissioning her artistic efforts. She makes one-of-a-kind shadowboxes with peg doll people. Check out her website.

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I also sent her a few photos of each person in the family.


First she tackled the backdrop.


And then the people. I also sent Susana a photo of the kids’ backyard, asking her to add some scenic mountains (some might call them hills) behind the house.


It was SO fun to work as a team, Susana so patiently interpreting my suggestions.


She regularly sent pictures of her progress.


The final decision was how to include the from/to dates. Of course! The girls loved to fill the sidewalk and driveway with chalk art. Perfect!

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I could hardly wait to pick up “our” masterpiece, but then I could hardly wait for October 6 to give it to John and Erin and Sage and Brynn at the family gathering!

But it was all a ruse. A crazy ruse!

As children and grandchildren from far away showed up at our house to surprise me I kept thinking I need to let Erin know the family gathering keeps growing! Ha! The “family gathering” was only a placeholder, a ruse to keep me from making plans that evening.

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Our final meal together before the travelers headed out provided a perfect time to present the Coffey Lane gift.


Not everything works out how we plan; sometimes the outcome is ever so much better than we could possibly plan.

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yum yum

I’m sure you find it hard to believe I wasn’t the easiest child to raise. One of my parents’ challenges was getting me to eat. I remember Mother exclaiming, “You’re just going to blow away!”

I believe mac ‘n’ cheese was their go-to when fried Spam with brown sugar or salmon patties failed to entice me to clean my plate. Let’s just say I “outgrew” that stage, but mac ‘n’ cheese remains high on my favorites list to this day.

Months ago I read about the Portland Mac ‘n’ Cheese Festival advertised for October 21. Here’s the conversation that followed:

Me to Mauri: What would you think about spending $45 each to attend the Portland Mac ‘n’ Cheese Festival?

Mauri in the distance: HA! HA! HA! HA!

Me to Mauri: I’m serious, I think we should go!

Mauri to me: OK, sure!

He was a hard sell. Normally he would ask: Will there be people there? and if the answer is yes we think again and stay home. But we were ready for an adventure now that we’re BOTH retired!

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They picked a gorgeous, blue-sky fall day, and our drive to Portland was especially scenic.

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We traded our tickets for a wrist band and were given three drink tickets each and one macaroni shell to drop in the jar of our top pick of all the restaurant mac ‘n’ cheese offerings. After that we were left to fend for ourselves. Do you notice — there were people there! So many people just standing in lines we wondered what we’d gotten ourselves into.

Once we figured out that l-o-n-g line was for drinks, we found our way to the first tasting opportunity. Then the second, third, fourth . . . and by then we’d gotten the hang of the event.

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We could finally relax once we found a quiet corner and started to feel at home.

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This isn’t my picture but one I pulled from the event’s Facebook page later in the day. It gives you a good look at what we tasted. Mauri has a much more adventurous palate than mine — the words habañero and jalapeño make his eyes sparkle.

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But we both say yes to seconds of the Asian recipe that included a slab of pork belly and egg wedge along with sprouts.

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That was our pick!

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It was her creation, her idea! Mac’d didn’t win the event, but we are fans. Next time we’re due for another mac ‘n’ cheese adventure, we’ll just go straight to Mac’d’s and fill our bellies for a whole lot less than $90!

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Twenty-five — that’s how many years Paul Carlson has lived in heaven.


I have at least a thousand pictures of him, from infancy through age 52, but I chose to commemorate this notable day with this one for two reasons. First, because he’s pictured with his dear friend Dick Walker, who joined him on “the other side” two years ago, and second, because of the sweater he’s wearing.


On the Christmas after we lost our family’s patriarch I kept him in our celebration by wearing that sweater. I followed my own advice when I say to others who are finding their way through significant loss: “There’s no wrong way to grieve. Don’t base your process on what you perceive others are thinking.” We were still a family, and by George we were going to smile for the camera just like all the other Christmases when we were five.

Paul's plaid sweater-After 20 years I'm letting go of the sweater. It's heading down to Juarez to keep someone warm. Dad would like that, huh

Quinn kept that sweater for 20 years. But when it felt right, she sent this picture with a note — “With a lump in my throat I lovingly added the sweater to the Juarez pile. Dad would have given the sweater off his back when he was alive, it only felt right that it should keep someone warm now rather than stored in a box. On a business trip, Dusty stopped on the side of the road to help a stranded woman, feeling nudged because that’s what Dad would have done. That was his thought process, without having ever met him. Life is a ride, isn’t it?”


Mauri and I talk easily about our first spouses. So much about us, even now, is a carryover from who we were as married to Margaret-Rose and Paul. Margaret-Rose made Mauri a better person; Paul made me a better person. So we owe them a lot! Keeping their memory alive benefits us and our children. So on days like this, we commemorate Paul’s 52 years of good life — and smile. We keep smiling.

Posted in family matters, nostalgia | 4 Comments


We’ve been blessed with visits from kin around the country, the most recent ones took me by surprise.

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This afternoon’s visitor gave us a whole day’s notice, so when the doorbell rang at 3:05, I was not surprised. Kevin had flown to Portland from Jacksonville, FL, this morning and stopped for a three-hour chat on his way down to Eugene on business.

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Kevin is my nephew, my brother’s boy, born the same day my first Paul and I got engaged. That’s how I remember his birthday and age without looking them up.


There they are, father and son, just a few years ago, or so it seems.


These photos were at the tip of my fingers because I recently finished a book project for Kevin’s dad, my brother’s 80th birthday!

CJN-80 front cover

You might know I have WAY too much fun putting together books using my vast collection of family pictures. So when I tried to think of a meaningful gift to note the passing of 80 years of life, this plan quickly formed. Johnny celebrated his birthday in Peru, crazy kid, so I had to wait for those pictures in order to finish the cover and final pages. When I saw these two matched together, I hooted and hollered. Can you believe his mouth forms the same shape on both pictures?

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You might catch on to what I’m doing here — posting a few of the pages from the book with the hope of enticing you to “read” the whole book. Read is in quote because there’s really nothing read, only pages and pages of pictures.

Click here to view the the photo book.

(You don’t need to buy anything. Just click “view” and then “play.”)

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This page is near the end because it shows he celebrated his 80th by climbing Macchu Picchu at 14,500 feet! Crazy kid . . .

When I grow up, I want to be just like him.

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