Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Springwater Trail, Boring, OR I did not want to go running this morning. Due to the holidays, weather, work, and a nasty virus that kept me indoors for quite some time, I had not been out on streets or trails for a month and a half. And it had become much easier to sit at the computer than move my feet. Still husband was urging me on, and I knew my body could use some exercise. So I plodded back to the bedroom, changed into my running clothes, and joined my ready-to-go hubby. We drove a short distance to Boring, Oregon. (Yes, there is a Boring, Oregon, and yes, it really is kind of boring… But it does have a Sister City: Dull, Scotland. Honest! You can look it up.) Anyway, we drove to a newly-paved section of the Springwater Trail in Boring. It was a good choice, a chance of scenery to get me started.Filbert catkins

Aspen trunksI wish I could say that I started down the trail excited to be running again and full of energy. No, I’m afraid my run was a slow, very slow jog, and the walk breaks were eagerly anticipated. Still, I did like being out in nature. The clouds billowed above me, and the sun managed to shine through at least part of the time. Yellow catkins dangled from the filbert trees along the path. The white bark of a crowd of aspens stood out against the browns of winter.

I think I annoyed my husband, who likes to keep his running rhythm going, by stopping to pull out my phone and take pictures along the way. But he’s learned to put up with it. I see beauty and I want to capture it. The photo is never as good as the real thing, of course. But it’s like a sign along the way, taking me back to the realness of the moment and helping me remember its fullness.Clouds, Springwater Trail

I made it almost three miles, not bad for my first time out in so long. It was almost fun. And perhaps the spell of inertia is broken, and I can get back into the routine. We shall see. At least I have my pictures to remind me.  🙂

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Foggy morningI hate goodbyes. I dropped my son off at the airport this morning, knowing I would probably not see him again until next Christmas. We hugged, and I watched him pull his suitcase toward the revolving doors. Around me, other people hugged their goodbyes, grasping that last touch, one final memory to hold them until next time.

Why do kids have to grow up and move away? I remember how excited I was when I went away to college. Did my mother cry as they drove away from my freshman dorm? Did a hole open in her heart that only my return could mend? I never thought about it much at the time; I was too busy living my own life.Son and husband

At my age, goodbyes become more common. A little over a year ago I whispered goodbye to my father as he lay silent in a hospital bed, his spirit perhaps already flown. That farewell was even more wrenching, tinged with the knowledge that I wouldn’t see him again until eternity.

sun shining through the fogAnd yet I go on. The sun shines through the fog and brightens the morning. I smile through my tears. Tomorrow my husband and I will be the ones leaving, off to see our other son and his wife. The hugs will be ones of gladness, as we reconnect after many months. The time will be all the more precious due to its brevity.

At the end of every hello is a goodbye. It’s just how life works. But the pain carves passageways for joy, and every farewell increases my longing for that day when goodbyes will be no more.

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A writing conference is a wonderful thing. A place to learn more and improve the craft. A chance to talk with editors and present articles, book proposals, etc. for their consideration. A time to see old friends and make new ones. And maybe even a little time to write…

Aldersgate in Turner, Oregon was the place for my recent writers’ conference– beautiful surroundings and special people. A wonderful time that will inspire me to keep writing, keep saying the things I need to say, keep listening to hear the words God whispers to me for me to share with others.

Writing can be a lonely enterprise, at times. A writing conference takes away the loneliness and replaces it with purpose.

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Family is one of the most important things in life. I’ve heard that many times, and I really believe it. But often I get so busy that family gets ignored, particularly family that doesn’t live in the same house. I intend to call or visit, but time flies, while I crawl along, loaded with the chores of everyday.

Last weekend I spent time with family. My brothers, husband, sister-in-law, and I took our father to the beach for two nights to celebrate his upcoming 90th birthday. It was the first time I’d been to the beach with my brothers since we were kids. And it was wonderful!

We spent a lot of time remembering adventures—and misadventures—we’d had when we were little. “You know,” one brother said. “I can’t blame any problems I have on my childhood.” So true! We had a good childhood. Our parents weren’t perfect (although they didn’t make any more mistakes than I did with my kids!), but we always knew we were loved, and that they would be there for us anytime we needed them. That sense of security made childhood a safe place to explore and learn and grow.

We walked on the beach once the sun cleared out some of the clouds—at least all of us did except for my dad. Legs no longer steady enough for beach walking, he sat by the picture window, content to watch the crashing waves and kaleidoscope sky.

If any man fits Paul’s description in Philippians 4:12, it is my dad: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” He has been widowed twice, survived four types of cancer, been on three-times-a-week dialysis for years, and yet I rarely hear a word of complaint. “The secret to happiness is not feeling sorry for yourself,” he told me.

I’m so glad we could all spend the weekend together. It’s good to be with people who know and love me just the way I am. Not all families are like that, I hear. I feel so blessed!

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The bus to Kamikochi breezes along the narrow road with only a short guard rail separating us from the precipitous drop off to the canyon below. The rocks, the rushing river, the cascading greenery heighten my expectations as we near our destination. Kamikochi in the Japan Alps—an amazing place!

The Azusa River—flowing gently in places, rushing over rocks in others, clear and fresh water straight from mountain glaciers

Myojin Bridge


Takezawa Marsh—dark and mysterious, haunting birdsong echoing through the trees

Takezawa Marsh

The forest—bright greens springing to life on the ground and in the trees; Nirinsou Anemones lifting their clean white flowers, filling the woods with green and white.

Nirinsou Anemones

“Snow monkeys”—the native Macaque monkeys peacefully munching on new greenery, doing acrobatics in the trees to reach the tender buds

Macaque “snow monkeys”

Northern Japan Alps in Chubu Sangaku National Park—looming over us in snow-covered majesty, lit by the sunshine, or hiding in the mists of a rainy day, pure beauty.



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My husband and I returned recently from a two week trip to Japan, where we visited our son and saw some new places. I will have to do a post on Kamikochi soon; it was an amazingly beautiful place! However, today I want to talk about some of the people we met over there and the kindness shown to a couple of sometimes-confused Americans.

Police let children sit on their motocycles at the Karuizawa Half-Marathon

While my husband has been studying Japanese and can speak a bit, I know little beyond “Konnichiwa” and a sentence asking the location of a certain necessary room. However, everywhere we went, people were overwhelming gracious and helpful. I will mention just a few of those encounters here.

Matsumoto Castle

When we visited Matsumoto Castle, we noticed a group advertising free English-speaking tours. Our volunteer guide, Horoshi, led us on a wonderful tour, explaining the history and purpose of the castle and its various parts. He used our camera to take pictures of the two of us at different points in the tour. At the end, it was lunchtime, so we asked if he could recommend a nearby restaurant. Instead of giving directions, Horoshi led us several blocks to his favorite soba noodle café. When we offered to donate some money to his organization, he refused, although he did laughingly suggest that if we had a million dollars, we could donate that!

Bus Travel

Another time we needed to take a bus to the hotel near Kamikochi where we had reservations. We apparently looked confused at the station, as two different workers came out to tell us where to wait and which bus to take. When it arrived, they put our luggage aboard and talked to the driver. Later we realized that they had told the driver our destination—and that we had luggage to unload. The driver looked back and smiled at us when we arrived at our stop, as well as making sure we got our bags. The worker at the stop pointed out our hotel to us. And always, whether or not they spoke English, they offered help with a smile.

Tokyo train station

There were many other instances of kindness: Toshiro, an associate professor of civil engineering whom I met on the train, who offered to give us a ride from his stop to our destination a few miles away; the restaurant workers who patiently explained the menu to us as best they could, given their lack of English; those who pointed out where to wait for a train or where to find an elevator before we even asked; the friendly elderly couple who tried to talk with us as we all waited for the bus; the three giggly junior high girls who thought it was exciting—and apparently funny—to talk with visitors from America.

Power rangers at Karuizawa Half-Marathon

All of these people helped to make our trip to Japan a very pleasant memory.

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The plane rises into the sky, lifted by forces I can explain but will never comprehend. Slicing through the clouds it disappears. Like magic. Like today turning into tomorrow, and present experiences becoming memories. For a moment, my heart flies with the plane as child of my flesh, child of my soul, you leave again.

Was it really a week ago you arrived? Why does now become yesterday so quickly? Christmas trees with glittering lights. Scones and fudge and decorated cookies. Cold sunshine and Oregon rain. Laughter amidst the warmth of family. Learning a new game where you are the master and we, your parents, mere apprentices. Chicken katsu with curry, artistically presented. You have grown into a strong and confident man, and our hearts glow with pride.

I drive slowly home, to be greeted by empty Christmas stockings and a quiet house. To embrace a husband whose heart also aches. Sweet memories have been added to my storehouse, and I will rejoice in those. Rejoice in love and family and faith—and all the blessings you have given me, often without even knowing. One day soon, those tomorrows will bring us together again. And that will be a wonderful day.

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Daisies—little yellow suns surrounded by purest white petals. Whenever I see daisies, I think of my mother. I don’t know why, but she loved daisies. As a little girl, I had more than one dress with a daisy pattern on it, stitched together on the old sewing machine in her bedroom. Because of her, my wedding cake had sugar daisies spiraling to the top.

 What is it about daisies? They are simple flowers found in abundance in open meadows, as well as gardens, shaped like the sun that children draw: a circle with lines radiating out from it. Little girls pull off the petals, one by one, chanting, He loves me, he loves me not—or make bright garlands for their hair. Little boys present fistfuls proudly to their mommies.

 A member of the composite or Asteraceae family, the daisy is, in some areas, considered a noxious weed. A European immigrant, it apparently adapted well to its new land—too well, in places. It becomes a nuisance in rangeland, reducing foraging land for cattle. I guess it’s a little like the starling, but much prettier.

 Still, I like daisies. They make me smile…and sometimes cry just a bit. After my mother died, much too young I think, a large painting of daisies was hung by the office that had been hers. June’s Daisies, it was called. She would have loved it.

 Daisies will never be weeds to me.

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Children at Play

Children playing in Blue Lake

Children playing in Blue Lake

Yesterday I sat on the grass by a lake, watching the children play. Two girls covered a friend with sand, as she grinned up at them. Their hair gleamed in the sun, and their eyes sparkled just as brightly. Waist-deep in the lake, a group of preteen boys waged war with their water guns, laughing in glee. Other children splashed about or built sand castles at the water’s edge. They seemed so carefree and alive in the moment. Ah, to be a child again!

Farther out in the water the child I brought here splashed in the roped-off area between the shallow play area and the deep lake beyond. She, too, seemed carefree, and yet I knew better. Her swim area could have been a metaphor for her life, as she teetered between childhood and the challenging teen years. Soon she would start middle school in a new school, her fourth school in the past two years. She worried about it. Would the other kids tease her? Would she have to shower after P.E.? Would she make any friends?

When I think of my childhood, I remember lazy summer days reading on the grass, family card games, birdwatching in the backyard. Yet, if I think a little more, I can also remember fights with my brothers, anger at a friend who broke her word, fears of not fitting in. The idyllic moments of childhood are interspersed with fears and disappointments, not so very different from adulthood.

Perhaps the advantage children have is that they are able to forget the bad when in the midst of the good. They can fully experience the joy of a sunny day at the lake without the bittersweet ache that it gives me, knowing that September is here, and a chill hides at the edge of the sunshine. I don’t regret the perspective the years have given me, but I am happy for the children, too, as they bask in the joy of the moment. May this gift not be taken from them.

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