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Serious preparation for vacation now. Packing and to do lists for both of us are constant companions. Here’s the one I love best:
Lindy: empty accord of all extraneous junk
Creighton: panic, drink coffee and refocus
Lindy: get doggies bathed
Creighton: drink more coffee, last minute shopping and gas
Lindy: pack, stay mellow (ho, ho, ho)
Creighton: obsess, pack, try to remember what you forgot
Lindy: wake up, jump in car and drive north knowing the next two weeks will be better
Creighton: panic, drink coffee and sleep!
The doggies and I have our last romp at the park, and they get their bath (this time I’m not as wet as they are!) Jacques knows we’re leaving so begins to mope and cling. I pick fresh herbs, basil, rosemary and bay to infuse olive oil, and decide to take a bouquet of lily, foxglove, delphinium and coral bells. Tomorrow morning I’ll gather them.
Beach Haven management offered to show my note cards in the office for sale, which prompts me to update my website, add new designs, including postcards, and to package the note cards to sell individually.
By 11:00 the ferry cams show all lanes jam packed and the line of cars strung out on the access road as far as the cams can view. To be expected on this holiday weekend, and we’re especially satisfied that we’d thought it through and decided to depart in the wee small hours of the morning to be in line to board the 10:00 ferry tomorrow.
Though not a morning person, the trip to Orcas is the one event that will launch Creighton out of bed early. All our “training” and “practice” has paid off. Ready, set, go!
Up at 3:30 a.m., on the road at 4:15 a.m., through Seattle by 7:15, in Anacortes by 8:15, in line for the ferry before 8:30, and Ivar’s clam chowder for breakfast at 9:00. We giggle at ourselves, but it tastes soo good, and since we were too early to get Starbuck’s Frappuccino’s when we departed, hot chowder is a treat we relish upon arriving.
In Eastsound before noon and the farmer’s market’s in full swing. We purchase potatoes, carrots, greens, then head to Rose’s deli for bread, olives, and wine. La vie est belle.
Like clockwork, well oiled, finely tuned, our arrival at Beach Haven went as smoothly as the entire trip. We drove into the office just as our cabin was ready, While I trekked boxes and bags down the pathway to our cabin, Creighton began unpacking and putting supplies away. Two showers later we had Gin & Tonic’s in hand as the sunlight flooded over our deck.
Although I’ve had two weeks off work, I still notice the tension outflow as I lean back in my outdoor lounge chair and feel the sun warm me, the waves rock me, the breeze soothe me.
I never knew that when you divide reality by expectation, you get a happiness quotient; H=R/E. Nor did I guess that you don’t get the opposite of happiness when you divide expectation by reality; you get hope.
, Jodi Picoult succinctly describes this theory so it makes sense to me.
In a life where my reality is mostly constant, my expectation is greater than reality which makes me an optimist. Pessimists have expectations lower than reality; but there’s
hope. Or is there? Picoult asks. What of those who no longer expect things will get better?
When I was a young girl, one could purchase sets of girls panties with the seven days of the week embroidered on the front. I coveted them, even suggested I wanted some to my mom, who dismissed the sets as a ploy to convince folks to pay more for cheap goods.
Though I’m sure she was right, I still yearned for that set whenever I saw them in the catalogues. Now as I pull on my
and strap on my
, I imagine my mom wondering what I’d have done when my Monday undies weren’t clean on Monday morning!
She steadied herself with a cane, as she tottered down the narrow road. A burgundy beret was neatly nestled into her salt and pepper hair. Her traveling companion, a strapping young man with a dark, trim beard, shifted his backpack from one shoulder to the other as our car approached. Slowing out of courtesy, we were surprised when two thumbs appeared, and two smiling, hopeful faces turned toward us.
Thanking us profusely, they settled into the back seat. Barbara and son, Sean, were going to Deer Harbor. We dropped them off at the crossroads where they’d easily hitch another ride.
As I stepped out of the cabin, I knew immediately it was Linnea I saw lingering to pick up a pebble at the shoreline. Her thin strawblonde hair pulled back in the usual ponytail, she looked up happily startled when I called out to her. We embraced in a bear hug, and I patted her head as it rested on my heart.
At twenty-eight she is a woman child. Down syndrome has shaped her features and life, but hasn’t kept her from pursuing goals and dreams. Since childhood, she’s displayed the tenacity and spirit needed to be her very best.
Instead of “what’s your plan” for today, I’ve been asking “what’s your pleasure.” The rhythm and pattern of our daily life is easy as we share the little chores of the cabin. Reading, drawing, writing, walking, and enjoying the view have been interspersed with pottery shopping and a trip to town for groceries. A week here, and a week to go. Time slips by too quickly. I want to stay in this paradise, in this insular cocoon of illusive simplicity to draw, read, write forever. Perhaps that’s the sign of a good vacation; when one doesn’t want it to end.
Once upon a time, Creighton’s and my voice would have commingled with the laughter and joviality I hear down the beach. From it, three intonations ring in my ear; people I have considered friends for most of the twenty-five years we’ve vacationed here.
Tonight tears stream and I must remove myself from the deck so that their mirth doesn’t pierce my heart further.
How can I consider them friends when they so thoughtfully exclude us; so thoroughly discount us? It feels intentionally cruel.
I know it’s time to surrender. No more will I play the game. C’est tout. C’est fini.
It’s that sensation of being excluded; and when it’s so near, when I hear laughter and wonder could it be me/we they laugh at, reason dissolves. Humiliation, ridicule, scorn, the hot flush of embarrassment from being rejected are familiar emotions from deep, lasting wounds. Had I not been a sensitive child, or prone to see intention where perhaps none was meant in my youth, my reaction might be less severe.
Last night’s tears and passive-aggressive resolutions evaporate with today’s light. At sixty, I ought to be able to handle my neighbors having a party with friends; mutual or not.
Carol Sweet’s analysis that writers often take on the voice of the authors we’re reading (writeherepdx.com) prompts me to contemplate once more the grievous circumstances that determined my hysteria.
Jane Austin’s soft syntax and reasoned insight urge me to dispel the agitation of it altogether. He, a Doctor, well read and highly regarded, protects this character assiduously. He will not suffer fools, and to that sorry condition it appears I am ascribed. In consequence, I make no application to visit or be visited; leave no calling card. Quite content to be entertained in other happy occupations, I attend them completely.
A certain ease, a cadence of harmony has returned to our relationship that was missing for a long time. I grieved over the loss of that amity and now feel warmed by the contentment it brings. People marvel when they learn I was married at age twenty (almost unheard of in the new generation), and that we have been a couple 42 years (almost unheard of in our generation).
Maintaining a friendship within a marriage is an even rarer accomplishment, requiring forbearance from both partners. Open communication, unswerving devotion, and a certain blind perseverance are keys. Then too, there’s love.
An act of kindness from one boater to another has Creighton ambling down the beach to compliment them. Before reaching shore however, the rescue boat releases the rescued boat, now close enough to shore to manage. As he rose to leave, I gave Creighton my approbation
on the condition that
, no matter what happens, he won’t flog himself about it tomorrow.
He has been beating himself up all day for having repeated some tired old joke to friends. His brain is wired to inflict severe mental self-flagellation at the slightest provocation. It is indiscriminate, irrational, and devoid of time frame.
Standing here inside these four walls with the sensation of absolute acceptance and an awareness of the heavy burden of total rejection, I watch the water of the bay bring to it’s shore the yellowpinkpurpleblue hue of sunset, now long down. I wonder at our friendships; the appearance that we want to remain connected, part of a whole that, though metamorphosing, still clings to it’s beginnings.
How much we gain from our collective insight, how much we lose when it is withdrawn or lost. How to draw this last lingering light is as hard as describing it’s subtlety in words.
Being mindful of this being his 65th birthday, and loving the guy regardless of his officious positions, we joined him for early morning coffee at the bookstore bistro. Unlike the other two times we’d met him in the small, coffee fragranced antechamber, this time it was just him, his wife and daughter, the barista, and us.
Finally I was glad to be one who was there, because for him to have his birthday coffee with no one else in attendance would have felt empty I think. The rest of their day and the rest of ours took necessarily different paths.
He was contemplating the horizon and I was tending our dinner on the Smokey Joe. Sitting on the steps of the deck, sifting through the pebbles at my feet, I revealed a secret to him. “For the last ten years I have tossed a wish rock into this bay asking that we be able to return to Beach Haven the next year, and that your health would improve,” I smiled his way, “and we have, and you have.” Spontaneously he came over to me, brought his face into mine, his bright blue eyes smiling, and gave me a sweet kiss.
If a mark of a good vacation is the desire to have it go on and on, then a mark of a good homecoming is arriving back from a pleasant vacation, and being happy and satisfied to be home.
Dearest Kate has kept the deck, house, grounds, and sweet beagles in wonderful order and freshness. After only twenty-four hours, I am calm enough to sip a bubbly early in the afternoon, and relax. I’m reading
The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood
again. It’s been years since I last read it, and it’s as funny and poignant this time.
He’s stressed and stretched; still angry at having been blind-sided by back-to-back spontaneous visits; one from my younger sister and her entourage who flew in from San Diego, for a weekend jaunt to the mountain, and the other from my older brother and his lady who arrived at Dad’s doorstep minutes after he returned from the mountain trip.
They needed to see Dad. They made their plans at the last minute and Dad was expected to be happy to receive them. Outwardly he was, except he stuffed his real sense of outrage.
What of his plans? What of his needs?
“My parents hauled slate like this out of the Wenatchee River back in the early ‘50’s to make a retaining wall,” she reflected, fingering the golden mica surface of the stone.
“This here comes from Arizona, that over there from Montana, and this other’s from Arkansas,” the stocky young quarry keeper replied.
She lifted a six inch square piece out of the bale and with a wink asked to take it home to see how it would look. “Sure,” he said, his smooth apple-red cheeks smiling under a hot sunny sky. “One ton will cover 175-200 square feet.”
Our back yard butted into a slope that abruptly rose six feet to the apple orchard beyond. After a nasty spring flood sent mud sliding dangerously close to our house, my parents decided it was time to build a retaining wall. With the sweat of their brow and the creative spirit of their young selves, they hand-picked slate from the banks of the Wenatchee near Rocky Reach Dam. All summer they hauled the rock from shore to home and built, one slab at a time, a gorgeous slate retaining wall that they then terraced up to become a lovely garden.
They were in their mid-thirties then, full of vigor and vitality. I can still see them sitting in the little bit of shade offered by a small Sugar Maple tree in the front yard, both sipping a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon, the sweat shining on Dad’s bare chest. They loved making things together, and doing things as a family. I’m blessed to have been sheltered and shaped by their values, creative spirit, and regard for the natural world. A teacher and a homemaker with three school aged children, they provided a loving place to grow and explore our world.
Another launch, this time to meet my Dad in Corvallis and follow him as he drives his truck and boat past Eugene and over Willamette Pass to Crescent Lake where we’ll spend a few days fishing and camping with sister Diana and her hubby Les. There was a time when I’d have just driven up and met him there, but at 87, Dad no longer feels confident that he’ll be able to manage on his own if something goes wrong, so he wants/needs to have a back up. I’ll do whatever is helpful to keep our fishing tradition going.
After Ruth met John, which was after both of their first spouses had died and their children were having children, they did the RV circuit; summers at Lake Merwin, winters in Baja and other sites around California. She loved meeting new people, and returning to the same sites, at the same time of year to renew those friendships.
Diana and Les have a similar routine in their two month summer camp near Crescent Lake. The same couples come and go during the time Diana and Les stay. They have a lot of social time, and seem to thrive on it.
In the high desert afternoon, my father rests in a folding lawn chair I’d set out for him in the shade of the tall pines. He dozes in a relaxed abandon we grant the very young and very old.
While neighbor campers go about their daily chores and conversations, I walk through the meadow toward the low bank of Crescent Creek to wade in its coolness. Though brisk, the current, isn’t threatening, and is no deeper than I am tall.
Slowly I sit into the sand and pebbles, then stretching toward the center, immerse my whole body in this freshness.
Fishing as a competitive sport: the relief of catching at least one fish.
Our first day on the water is the hardest. It’s been a year since we’ve done this samba, so there’s gear to set up: poles, tackle, fish finder, and more. From ignition of the big motor that powers us to hopefully happy fishing grounds, to a cordpull on the smaller motor that trolls us through an aquatic underworld, many steps must be remembered, relearned, and performed. It all comes back. There’s hope in our spirits and quickness in our beings as we plunge downriggers into the lake.
Fishing as a competitive sport: the joy of limiting.
Having hauled our sorry asses back to camp with one lonely fish yesterday, today’s samba started a bit earlier, and was velvety smooth. Fresh fishing grounds, gear ready, lines down just after the sun rose, and magic juju that kept the fish snapping at our lures so quickly that we limited before our companion family/friend fishers.
This is when I remembered how truly competitive my Dad and I are about fishing. He hooted, we high fived and shared a pooty samba smooch, our Scottish eyes sparkling in the morning light.
Dad built his boat before he and mom moved to Corvallis. It’s sixteen feet, with a broad bow, crafted of marine mahogany. It’s beautiful. As Dad has aged so has his boat, and since Mom died it hasn’t received its regular spring cleanup.
After our ten, 15” Kokanee were on ice, Dad searched the underwater for future fishing sites, while I took rag and soap in hand to scrub his boat. Leaning into this task with pleasure, my mother’s spirit whispered over my shoulder; sensations of love, warmth, thanks shimmered within as the sun sparkled on the water around me.
Coming down from the mountain; Sister blessings and wishes.
Worry comes easily, slips into the stream of soul and mind like a snake sliding down a slick bank to swampland. Fear rides on worry’s back, needing no saddle, wanting no bridle. Both slither into us, like they belong here, are part of us, necessary for our existence.
Still life flows, as clearly as the creek coming from the lake; and as freely as our bodies float. We toss wish rocks to the current, and sit into the water, merge, submerge. Sisters always, in the cool freshness of this absolute waterness.
in this region were recorded over the four days I was gone. My little family of husband and two beagles survived nicely due to having a heat pump cooling system, and not being affected by power outages that occurred in many areas.
All are happy to have me home, as I am. I love this house, my gardens, my little family, and with two more weeks to go before returning to work, I’m relishing every minute of this freedom. Freedom to awaken when I’m ready, to read, write, and play when I want; the luxury of leisure.
The Tip Jar