Monday, May 29, 2017

Dad's Camera

I have a few possessions that belonged to my parents.  Items that hold special memories for me are displayed in my home.  My mom’s glass bell collection and my dad’s acoustic guitar are all in my living room.  People that come to our home sometimes notice them, and I like to mention that they belonged to my parents.  There is one item that I don’t display, it’s too precious and for me acts as a pathway to the past.  A touchstone that when I concentrate can take me to a time when my parents were alive.  My Dad’s camera, a 1978 Mamiya NC-1000 35 MM camera, for me is a talisman of my parents, and my history. 
My Mom died from brain cancer when I was sixteen years old.  My Dad died, unexpectedly, when I was thirty-five.  The loss of my parents are the two experiences that have had the biggest impact on who I am.  They were both good, honest and loving human beings that lived their lives with grace and courage.  I know that I was lucky to have had the parents I did, even for the short time that they were here on Earth.  But somedays are harder than others, and somedays I need to go to a place in my mind where they are with me.
My parents were not wealthy.  They both worked blue collar jobs.  Dad drove a local delivery truck and mom was a custodian at the local middle school.  Our house was small, but owned and not rented.  We were very fortunate that each of them earned a fair wage and benefits.  But working class would be the best description of our economic situation.  Anything extra that my brother and I had or got to do, came to us by our parents sacrificing.  They didn’t buy themselves new stylish clothes, but I had plenty.  They both had old bicycles, while my brother and I had nice Schwinns. 
I remember my parents talking about buying a good camera.  Pictures were important to both.  Mom would add them all to albums, recording the dates on the back.  I have those albums and they are precious to me.  I remember all of us stopping at garage sales and flea markets, looking for a good deal on a used camera.  When my folks weren’t successful at finding one, they decided to invest in a new camera.  Dad was the one who did all the research into what to buy and how much it would cost.  Mom loved the output of a camera but didn’t enjoy taking the pictures. 
The only way he could afford it was to put it on lay-away and pay every two weeks, on his paydays.  My Dad would drive up to the store and I would hop out and go in and make the payment, bringing the updated receipt back to him.  He completed the purchase in time for my seventh birthday, in May of 1979.  I still have the pictures he took of me on my brand new yellow Schwinn, complete with bell and basket.   
The camera is small, black and silver, all manual.  Even now, nearly forty years old, it is still a beautiful piece of craftmanship.  It still has the original leather case and strap.  Dad would oil the leather at regular intervals.  Now the leather is showing some wear, but still smells of leather shoe polish.  The battery, that my Dad removed after each use, is stored in a film tube that he mounted to the camera strap with two notched holes in each side.  Underneath the lens cap is the exposure limit of the last film he loaded, so he would never forget how many shots he had available.  The film was usually Fuji brand, which became his favorite brand.  He would clip coupons and stockpile film.  He never wanted to be without a roll.
Like mom I love pictures and like dad I love taking pictures.  Even though I begged to hold it from the time he bought the camera I wasn’t allowed to learn to use his camera until I was eight.  I remember the hours of time that I would spend watching and listening as he explained the new things he was learning.  Details about aperture and focal length.  It was hard to learn, I was young.  But the process of capturing a moment in time was and still is fascinating to me. I supplemented his lessons by reading library books and looking at picture books at the thrift store.  He allowed me to use the camera with his permission, if I always had the strap around my neck, and never rode my bike while using it.  Those were very minor requests and I can remember how proud I was of myself.  I would plan and ponder on what to photograph and wait for the light to be just right.  After the rolls would get developed my dad and I would sit and review the snaps.  Dad was constructive with any criticism and we would both proudly show mom.
My dad continued to use the camera until his death in 2008.  After my Dad’s death, his camera came to me.  It lives on a shelf in our spare bedroom.  That’s where I visit it.  I don’t display it to people.  It’s too special to me to allow others to touch it.  When I hold the camera, I can feel the same pride I felt as an eight-year-old.   As I open the leather case I can hear his voice talking me through the steps.  I can feel his calloused and warm hands on the back of my neck, guiding me to look at a specific angle.  The smell of the leather from the bottom case is strong when I raise the camera to focus.  The click of the shutter is strong and clear.  Much crisper in sound than my DSLR Canon. 
Currently I use a digital SLR 35 mm camera.  To me it was the natural progression of my photography love.  That love of photography was given to me by my dad.  It was nurtured during hours of walking around outside, looking at shadows thrown by fences and trees.  Shortly after dad’s death I would go to the same park, walking and snapping, trying to come to grips with being without both. 
When I’m holding his camera, I can believe for a moment that my parents are alive.  They are at work, or maybe in the next room.  I can smell the green disinfectant my mom uses on the counters and the special way she says “Frank” when calling my Dad.  The loveseat has clean laundry folded on it, waiting for each of us to put it away.  There is a pressure cooker on the stove steaming artichokes.  I’m safe and loved.  I’m the baby of the family, the little girl.  If I stay in the quiet long enough I can start to smell my mom, the Paul Mitchell Awapuii shampoo that lingers on her hair.  As soon as I’m interrupted or my mind wanders back to the now, it’s gone.  I am not a little girl anymore; my parents are gone and I feel the cold harsh pain that is being an orphan.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good reader

Since I mastered the skill of reading and comprehension I've been blessed with a very strong ability and drive to read.  I read everything.  If I'm caught on the toilet without a device that has an e-book on it, or a magazine, I read the backs of bottles, the inserts in medication, whatever I can reach while ensconced on the throne. 

Growing up my Dad had his collection of Reader's Digest stored in the bathroom, along with the collection of coupon toilet paper that was purchased by pimping me out to go buy the limited 2 rolls with the coupon. 

Before my first kindle ( I have 4, don't judge) I kept a book on the tank at all times.  I also carried a book in my purse, car or gym bag.  It's a sickness, I know. 

I love the weight and smell of a real printed book.  I love the portability of an e-book.  Having a Kindle has not ended my purchasing of printed material.

In fact I was humiliated by my own cheapness at the Wilsonville Goodwill.  I'd buy a book at Goodwill, than return it in a week, and so on and so forth.  Until they changed their policy that books are not returnable.  I was notified by a very kind woman who did a very good job of not giggling when she gave me a knowing yet sympathetic look.

G-Mama, Mama, aka Mother in law sent me the book "Fervent"

It's the first book other than the bible that has actually taken me two weeks to read.  It's like taffy or Sugar Daddy, you really have to gnaw on it and think. 

It's got prayer cards included in the back.  Blank, for your own use. 

My copy has the spine broken, which is a sign I love a book so much that it's bugging me that it won't stay flat, so I bend it backwards until it behaves.  Ya, by the way, I'm not a good person to loan a book from.  And if I loan you a book, it's probably a gift, because it's been beaten down and has diet coke rings on it. 

I can't say enough about what this book is doing in my life.  It's not tritely funny.  The author is very clear that it's meant to stir up a desire for prayer in your life.  Always have a prayer strategy.  Always have a prayer.  Be grateful and be brave in your prayers.  Be precise as you can be, and never ever stop.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Today is my birthday

Today I am 44 years old.  I don't know what 44 is supposed to feel like, but I don't think I feel like what I thought 44 felt like when I was 22.

I feel good.  I'm not in the same shape I was at 35, time seems to give less results for the same output.  But I can still do everything I want to.

For my birthday this year I am giving myself a gift.

I'm giving myself permission.

Permission to have people in my life that I trust

Permission to remove people from my life that hurt me, mistreat me, ignore my feelings or in any way directly make me feel less than who I am.
Fortunately for me, there aren't very many people that fall into the category, I can think of 4 right now.

Permission to laugh as loud as I want.

Permission to wear what I want, even if I don't like my upper arms. (don't panic I'm not talking hot pants and crop tops )

Permission to live my life, with Riddick, as we see fit.  No one else really needs to like it.

Bacongal out

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hello, Hello is anybody there?

Wow it doesn’t seem like it’s been September since I uploaded something to my blog.  I write all the time, and I think of uploading but I guess I forget the last part. 
Last summer started smoothly, or as smoothly as it can be when you are remodeling your home.  Most of the labor was done by Riddick.  I’m the planner, accountant and sandwich maker. It was a huge job replacing flooring, windows, doors, siding and painting.  I’m grateful for Riddick but I’m even more grateful that we are done.

The end of summer wasn’t nearly as smooth and definitely wasn’t planned.  Late August my step-son Ironman decided to move in with us and finish his senior year.  Without going into gory detail that combination of having my in-laws (whom I adore) and my 18 year old red headed step child (yes he really is) was beautiful chaos.  I don’t know how we all did it, but we did. 

As Mama and Papa ventured south in the fall and Ironman started school there was a peaceful lull where it was just the 3 of us in the house.  But it was short lived.  Very quickly things were amiss with Ironman.  I don’t want to violate his privacy nor do I want to blog about his mom.  I am comfortable saying that his exodus to our house brought many other issues to light, namely depression. 

I think it was there before he moved, simmering, but once his whole world changed, it was more than he could handle all alone. 

The next 6 months were a wild ride that I thought would never, ever, ever end.  Weekly appointments, lots of checking in, dropping whatever you are doing to listen when he’s ready to talk.  Worry and prayer, more praying to stop the worrying.  Praying for any sign that there is going to be light at the end of a tunnel and that tunnel won’t be the end. 
And then in a very short time, the fog lifted and out came the Ironman we all knew. 

Is he perfect now, oh hell no, but nobody is.  I tell my kids I’d rather know exactly who you really are and maybe not like everything you choose than have you pretend to be something you are not, just to please me. 

All of that coupled with some job changes and the holidays and poof….it’s April already. 

I’ll have more later, for the maybe 1 human being that reads this


Friday, September 11, 2015

My 9 11

I wrote this 7 years ago.  It seems so long ago. Before I met Robbie and learned what marriage and life can be. So grateful. This day is about remembering those fallen and sacrifices. This is just my little story.

9-11-01 is a date that none of us could forget, nor should we. It was like a wake up call in the most horrific painful way, for the whole country. For me it was a wake up call on a completely different level. I didn’t know it was a wake up call for another 8 years, and those 8 years will be something that I can never regain.

On September 11, 2001 my husband was spending a long weekend with another woman. His mistress. His first mistress, that I know about. Her name was Dora. Dora Elise Perez to be exact.

I just said that out loud as I typed it. Because for years and years I was afraid to say it out loud, to think it even. Because if I thought it, than I would be accusing the man I love of something horrible.

Dora was just the first, or at least he said she was the first, but that’s a different story for a different page. Dora was from Honduras. He flew her up here for a visit.

He said he was going fishing. Fishing at Billy Chinook. I even bought him a new anchor and float. He took his boat, but forgot the anchor. I felt something was up, something wasn’t right. So I did what any sane, hard working, healthy 29 year old would do…I tore everything out of my bedroom and painted the walls. Of course I picked a color, Columbine Pink, which was so close to the original you never would have known. I didn’t want to upset him after all.

I had painted all night long, into the early morning hours. I had taken the day off of work just to finish it. When I woke from my paint fume induced nap at 9 AM, the world was different. I watched the playback of that huge jet and all the destruction and I immediately called Tim. Wanting him to know we were ok. I left a message, upbeat that we were all fine and he didn’t need to worry.

He came home on September 14. Quiet, I thought it was because of what had happened in NYC. I even reassured him that I wasn’t hurt that he didn’t cut his fishing trip short, and believed in him.

I don’t know why I never left him. I can think of several very good reasons to leave him long before I ever suspected he was cheating. But I didn’t want to admit a failure. To broadcast to the world that I had chosen wrong. That a 20 year age difference might matter. That if he was cheater on his first wife, and than again on his second, that I being his third had no reason to be surprised that he was still…a cheater. All those reasons seem like the right ones. But there are more. I didn’t want to leave his kids, kids I loved, kids I would miss. I didn’t want to not be a wife. To be alone out in the world that scares me still. And who would want me? I was chubby, freckled and prone to crying jags. I can see now that the crying and the chubby were directly influenced by my misery, I can’t blame him for freckles, God gets that one.

But most stories of marriages that end in heartbreak don’t start out bad, and neither did ours. I can’t claim he was a bad husband all the time, he wasn’t. When he was good he protected me and cherished me until that moment in our marriage when he gave up but didn’t want to tell me. I know that moment too. I felt it. I didn’t know what it was, but it was like a change in the weather, everything got a little cooler. I wonder if I drove him to that point. If I was and just am too much of a person for one man to handle. He said once that he could always see this bright shining light in me, a light that was good, and pure, completely hokey. It’s what attracted him, this idea of someone being pure and loving and wanting to be with him. It made him want to be a better man, a better father, just better. But I think it burned him. That trying to be something he wasn’t because of an idea of what he thought I was, it’s too much for any of us to handle.

I’m not that person. I don’t have that light in me. That’s a burden that isn’t right to put on another. What he saw in me, what is in me, is an ability to love. An ability to feel. It’s a blessing and a curse in one. A gift that hurts me as much as it comforts others.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

42 Years, 11 months and 15 days

That's how old my Mom was on the day she died.

Mom was born October 13, 1945 and died September 28, 1988.

Today, I am 42 Years, 11 months and 7 days old.

The idea that in 8 days I will be as old as my Mom ever was is kinda freaking me out.

When she died, I was 16, and of course she seemed old even though I knew she wasn't.
But now I am her age, and unless I get hit by a truck or the rapture happens, I will grow older than she did.

Thinking of that is a huge dose of her reality versus what mine is.

She was dying when she was my age, and had been for a couple years.  Me, I don't think I'm dying, not any faster than any other healthy person.  I should be very grateful for my reality.  I am a slow runner, but can run 5 miles and at worst have a sore big toe on my left food (true story).

Be thankful for all you have, grateful that you are healthy enough to know what you don't have, and humble enough to remember there are those that see the end of their life coming towards them way too soon.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas memories

My Mom loved Christmas.  She loved Halloween and Easter too, but not for any religious reason.  Halloween because it was the same month as her birthday and of the cool decoration possibilities, and Easter because of the get together s with family and the baskets.

But today I'm talking of Christmas.

I did not understand, as a child of the 80's when on the news people would speak of not being able to afford a Christams tree.  I lived and live in Oregon.  When I was little, trees were as little as $5 or free.  My parents, loving the Grand Nobles, spent more in the area of $15.  But until my Dad explained to me that Christmas trees in other parts of our country were actually expensive did I grasp my fortune.

We would get our tree.  And than the waiting and whining would start.  My Mom would take what felt like forever but was probably no more than a day, do put on the lights.  Plastic flower petaled ensconced plastic lights that she meticulously put on, making sure each branch was represented.

Once that was done, the decorating would begin. Supervised by Mom. Making sure we didn't put all the ornaments on the front and equally distributed the bling.  There would also me the the cardboard Christmas village set up on white glittered batting to give the effect of snow.

We opened our presents from Mom and Dad on Christmas Eve, saving the Santa gifts for Christmas morning.  Christmas Eve was the big haul.   I don't actually remember believe in Santa.  Maybe it was because I was deathly afraid of Santa.  That carries forward to today.  I still do not understand why we ask our kids to go and ask a perfect stranger in a stupid costume for presents for Jesus's birthday??  Why?

But of course I digress, because this wouldn't be my blog if I didn't get off track.

Now where was I...oh ya presents!

Now as an adult, and after reviewing all the financial records from my parents, I have no bloody idea how they afforded the Christmas gifts they gave us, as well as the rest of the year.  It wasn't on credit cards, so I can only assume they sacrificed all y ear long.  Which makes sense because I don't remember either of the parents ever buying themselves much if anything.  They gave Steve and I their all.   Looking back we were both dressed and afforded a lifestyle that only our more wealthy friends had, even though our parents, a truck driver and custodian worked dearly for it.  I think that's why now I am willing to sacrifice so much for Iron Man and Pinky.

Aaaand now again back to my point.  What was my point ??????

Oh ya it was Christmas memories.  After the Christmas Eve dinner and present opening we would go to sleep.  Hoping that on Christmas morning whatever Christmas wish we had, that hadn't been satisfied would be filled.  And usually it was.

Than after Christmas morning presents we would load in the car and head to Centralia for the extended family celebration.  Where food would abound and more presents would appear.  Essentially it was a cousin fillled mad house.

For all of us cousins to be together, was and still is a case of beautiful chaos.  Lots of love, tiny bit of rule and a whole lot of fun.  Not so different from now.  Except now, it seems we only see each other and funerals and weddings.  Which frankly sucks!