Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Magical Place

A year ago my sweetheart and I spent a few days with my cousin and her hubby who live on the South Oregon Coast. They had discovered a few Christmas activities they wanted to share with us. They had never been to this train show and didn't know what to expect - but I knew all about train shows!  When our son was young he had a pretty incredible model train collection. Because of his love for trains we had attended a model train show or two in the past.  Model trains come in all sizes from very small to large pieces and all the accessories that add to the fun. I had this one figured out. Or, at least I thought I did!

We arrived at the building where the train show was held. It was an old school gym and we all wondered what could possibly wait behind the doors of that old building.  But, oh, my! When we opened those doors and stepped inside we were transported to a magical world.

This wasn't just trains - it was villages and communities and action and twinkle lights. My photos can't possibly do it justice.
There was a huge 'table' in the middle of the big room. We could walk around and look at each piece, watch the trains go round and round, in and out of tunnels, over bridges and turn corners.
Village displays filled multi-layer shelves all around the outside walls.  It was hard to know where to look next.
There were lighthouses. . .
And mansions and people and animals. . .
And places real and imagined.
There were Santas coming and going.
Lights had been strung on houses that were decorated for Christmas. Snow and snowmen and children playing everywhere. . .
And ballet dancers twirling and dancing at The Nutcracker Theater.
This was the collection of one man and his wife!  He has collected the trains and she has collected the villages and all the pieces that make it come together. Many of the pieces were found at thrift stores and garage sales and some were gifts to her. They present this to their community every holiday season for a small admission fee.  It's a fundraiser for a local community organization they support. It's their way to give back to their community.

It was a special evening.  Time spent together with our dear ones in a place that made us forget the outside world for a time.  Time in a magical place. From the heart of two people who are willing to work long and hard to share what they love to help others.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Past

Thank you for your kind comments on my blog posts while I was away recovering from oral surgery last week. Things are progressing in a very normal way. Last evening I was able to eat a 'soft' meal without having a plastic guard over my upper teeth to protect the roof of my mouth that was affected by part of the surgery. I will spare you the details!  Even though I have chewing limitations for a few more days I was able to venture out to eat something a bit more interesting than the same-old-boring soft foods.  My pain level was less than the surgeon predicted although I did have some 'happy' pain meds for the first few days.  It's amazing how much I craved things that were forbidden during this initial healing process!  And every advertisement on television was food! Food and holiday goodies galore.  But I survived and probably am a bit healthier for it.

Two weeks ago I traveled a few hours from our home to visit my dear cousin on the southern Oregon Coast. Just me! Time away while I sweetheart tended the home fires and was here for my dear, little mother. My cousin and I have always been very close - like very close sisters. We usually gather and collect things to give to each other when we get together and this time was no different. She had gathered some magazines she knew I would enjoy and I took a few well-loved magazines to her. One of the magazines she gave me was a real treasure! Just what I needed to kick off the Christmas season. It was inspiration on each page - a December nineteen-sixty-six Family Circle magazine. The art on the front cover always makes me smile when I look at it.
Every page is filled with memories of Christmas Past and things once thought so 'cool'. I could have ordered the 'Troll Cookie Cutter' for fifty cents to make a cookie tray like this one.
My home was built just three years after this magazine was published and - if I wanted to decorate my home in vintage mid-century style - I could make one of these to hang from my chandelier in the dining room.  Of course I could decorate my table like this, too!
But, since I'm not inclined to do that, I think I'll just keep dreaming of a much more simple Christmas this year.
Oh, wait - there's no time to dream! I've got work to do!  I have to get busy and decorate and finish plans for the big day that's only thirteen days away!  Time to stop thinking of Christmas Past and get ready for Christmas Present!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Advice From A Young Grandson

I want to share one more football-playing grandson with you before I move on to things Christmas. Thank you for indulging this grandma. Hudson is our youngest grandson and a real joy to our hearts. He recently turned nine years old, a fact that's hard to believe.This was his first year to play football and we were able to be there for some of his games. He attends Salem Academy, a private Christian school, where his older brothers play upper level football.
At the beginning of the season he was a bit uncertain but his confidence grew with each game. His two big brothers - Rylan and Gavin - spent time with him to discuss the games, the intricate rules of football and showed him ways to improve his skills on the field.
Hudson's games were usually played during the day but one game that was special was near the end of the season. His team had a chance to play a nighttime game under the lights - just like his big brother, Rylan, and the high school varsity team.
The last game of the season was special. He and his team had come so far! They had learned many  new skills and had gained more confidence along the way. As we sat in the stadium with his dad we learned that Hudson had insisted on wearing yellow socks - a good thing because we could always find him on and off the field! After the game ended each team lined up to receive metals for completing the season. It was special to be there and watch as his metal was placed around his neck.
We've been so blessed to be able to watch our youngest grandson grow and develop skills. More than that, it's been an added blessing that he is strong in his young faith and has a loving, kind heart.
Hudson is a smart young man. He cares deeply about things but he never fails to tell it like it is! He speaks the truth and, at times, his wisdom amazes us.  He sat beside me during the second half of Rylan's state championship game. He explained a lot of things - football rules, what was happening on the field and why things were being played out the way they were.  He did a good job being my personal commentator - perhaps he has a future on TV!  As the game went on there was a very bad call against our team and I had trouble understanding and dealing with it. Hudson leaned over to me and said something that hasn't left my heart since then. He said, 'Grandma, you need to let it go! And you need to learn to be patient!' That's our Hudson. Nothing unkind - just true.  His words have stayed with me through the past weeks and I've sensed he was right. This grandma took the advice of a young grandson. I've asked Hudson to sit next to me during his older brothers' basketball games - because I learned so much from him. Perhaps I'll understand more about basketball before the end of the season!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

An Unsung Hero

In the middle of the excitement of our oldest grandson's football season there is another grandson who has been an unsung hero.  I've been amazed as I sat at games and watched him in action. Rylan's middle brother, Gavin, has been a ball boy for the high school varsity football team.  That means he's one of two boys who took the balls in and out of Rylan's games. He also took the kicking tee to the center of the field whenever the ball was punted. (He wore his brother's number - #3)
He worked closely with the referees. 
He had to pay attention to every play on the field and be ready at a moment's notice to get in and out with the balls.
I told him he should wear a pedometer so he would know how far he ran during each game. He was in and out of the game and he was in charge of keeping our team's footballs ready to go into a game quickly. Every time it rained during a game he carried a towel to dry the football each time it came off the field after play and he wrapped a 'new' ball in the towel to keep it dry and ready to go for the next time it was needed in the game. He had an important role with the team. 

Gavin is a sportsman like his big brother - and he's a good football player, too. He played on the seventh and eighth grade team for his school this year.  He's small in stature but big in spirit and motivation. He could get into places where the other team didn't expect him to be and he could run fast when he had the ball.  He was definitely an asset to his team.
 Gavin displayed the same good character as his big brother - he was a good sport, he was compassionate and caring for others no matter what team they were on.
Gavin won't be the varsity ball boy next year. His 'career' is finished and he will move on to more football adventures.  We find it hard to believe that we will be in stadium at the high school again next year but this time he will be part of the high school football team.  We will be there to cheer him on and share our pride as we watch him play.  We're so proud of Gavin and we've loved watching him grow and mature and get involved in his world.  He brings such joy to our hearts!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Real Champion

I shared about our oldest grandson's football team and about his skills here.  I told you that his team was heading to the State Football Championship game but I never told you the outcome of the game.  We were pretty proud as we parked and walked to the stadium that day over a week ago.  It was a day that promised rain but this grandma's prayers were answered and we had a dry morning and some peeks of the sun here and there. It was exciting to see the big stadium and the sign that announced the event of the day.
We found our seats next to Rylan's other grandparents and near our son and his family. Excitement filled the air as we watched the team warm up on the field below us.
Before each game the captains from each team meet at center field.  I captured this photo of Rylan (#3) and the other three captains after the coin toss by the head referee that determines who would kick the ball off to start the game.
Rylan is a wide receiver. That means he's usually in the backfield ready to catch the ball when it's kicked off to start the game.
 The game began and within a few minutes Rylan caught a pass and made the first touchdown. We were elated!  On our feet, yelling and clapping. Our team took an early lead but by half-time the score was tied. The second half started and the lead changed a few times - back and forth - but when the final buzzer sounded our team lost by one touchdown.
We were disappointed but we were all proud of the way our boys had played. It was an intense game and we could hold our heads high. They had played their hearts out. After the game each of the teams went to different areas on the sidelines to celebrate and greet parents and friends - just time to be together and express our pride and love. Rylan's team always prays together at the end of the post-game time. They gather in a circle, join arms and one of the team members offers a prayer of thanks and gratitude. It was different this time! We were so proud of our boys when they walked past the barricades between our team and the winning team. We all stood behind the barricades and watched as they hugged and congratulated the other team. And then our team asked if the members of the other team would like to join our boys in prayer. It was pretty moving to see and there were many tears on our side of the barricades.
We had a bit of time with Rylan and our son's family. Emotions were tender, hugs abundant, words of pride and encouragement expressed. Time for photos to help keep the memories fresh through years to come. Rylan posed with his mom and dad and one of his two brothers.. .
And then with his little sister - our youngest granddaughter.
It was soon time to say goodbye and head home. More  hugs and words of love and we turned to go.  It was a hard goodbye - this was the last game Rylan would play with his teammates.  Last high school football game. The end of an era! Time has gone so fast and our hearts couldn't help but wonder how it all happened.  Wasn't it just yesterday we were on the sidelines watching 'little' Rylan playing flag football for the first time?  Soon we will be in the bleachers to watch him in action again. This time it will a basketball in his hands.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Not What I Had Planned

My dear little mother used to remind me often of the old Scottish quote: 'The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.' So true! There's no Christmas decor to share yet. The tree is up, the wreath is hung beside the front door, the outside lights shine in the night - but the rest will have to wait for a few days.

I'm having oral surgery today and I'll be sidelined for a few days. My surgeon told me I won't feel anything during 'the procedure' but the level of discomfort will be pretty high for a few days afterwards! That's not something I really wanted to hear but I'm determined to survive. I'll have 'drugs' to help me make it through the first few days.  He recommended that I 'take it easy' for a few days. Of course I would love to have a week off but this isn't what I had in mind. And not at this busy time of the year. Our home and pantry are prepared for the days ahead. My sweetheart will take good care of me and I'll be able to resume my regular activities soon.  Until then, I would appreciate your prayers for the days ahead.
I first visited the oral surgeon on a gorgeous Fall day. His office is located on the banks of the beautiful Willamette River not far from downtown Portland, Oregon.  The exam rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with breathtaking views. When I laid back in the chair I could see the tops of the huge trees along the river bank.
I loved the fantastic view of the river when I was sitting in the chair.
The view has changed with the season but it's still pretty amazing. I won't see the views at all today. Not when I'm sitting up and not when I'm lying down.  I'll be quite sleepy when I arrive and even more when it's time to head home. I'll have to wait to enjoy the view again when I return for my followup appointment - but not today!

I didn't share the results of our oldest grandson's state championship football game. More on that another day. A few more posts are ready to go while I'm recovering. In no time at all I'll be back and ready to show you what Christmas looks like at our home.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

I'm home again after a few days away with my dear cousin and her hubby.  It was a much-needed break.  I was pampered, spoiled, toured, bed and breakfasted.  My sweet cousin wouldn't let me lift a finger to help with meal prep, cleanup, dishes or snacks.  Nothing! Just relaxing and resting and having a great time together.  We thrifted and antiqued and shopped (just a bit!), talked and reminisced and laughed.  It was just what we had hoped for.  On the way to her house - and on the way home again - I stopped along the way to have lunch with a very dear camping girlfriend. There may have been a bit of antiquing with her, too. 

The photo above was taken through the window where I stayed in my cousin's guestroom.  The day had been rainy with bits of sun breaks. As sunset began we were treated to this bit of color above the nearby bay.
I came home to some very busy days and I'm back in the swing of things.  Rested and ready to go.  This trip will be part of the memories I hold dear to my heart. Such a treasured time with family who is so dear to my heart.

Monday, November 28, 2016

All My Bags Are Packed - I'm Ready To Go

Grandkid football season is over. 

Remnants of Thanksgiving dinner are put away. 

Christmas plans put on hold. 

Bags packed. 

I'm getting out of town!  

For a few days. 

Just me. 

Traveling to visit a very dear cousin. 

She lives near a beach!

My sweetheart is holding the fort at home.

 Back soon to haul out the Christmas stuff.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Prayer

Thou hast given so much to me,
give one thing more, – a grateful heart;
not thankful when it pleaseth me,
as if Thy blessings had spare days,
but such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~ George Herbert, Welsh-born English poet

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Proud Grandma

Today my sweetheart and I will be on the road again. We are heading to a town two hours south of our home together with other fans cheering for our oldest grandson's football game.  Rylan is a senior this year so his football career is coming to an end.  He's a star player for his high school team, The Crusaders, from Salem Academy in Salem, Oregon.  He has been a very important part of the team through all of his high school years and this year has been no exception.  Today he and his teammates will play in the Oregon State Football Championship Semi-Finals!  The winner of this game will go on to play in the final game.
When we attend the football games our eyes are always on #3!  We join his other grandparents and cheer and clap and hold our breath at times.  We are always proud of him - on and off the field - but at last week's quarter-finals game we thought we would burst with pride at his skill and attitude and faith.  The game was evenly played - the scores stayed very close.  There was less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter.  Our team was behind by a few points. Then we got the ball!  We knew it would take something very special to pull this one off and win.  Rylan is a wide receiver which means many of the passes are thrown to him.  He's in good shape and fast and has been dependable in some tough situations.  And that's what happened last week! 
With less than half a minute to go in the game, the quarterback threw a long pass to Rylan.  We held our breath because it seemed impossible - it was a risk.  But suddenly, the ball was in Rylan's hands on the two-yard line! He avoided the challenges of the other team and ran into the end zone - scoring the winning touchdown!
We were thrilled!  His other grandma and I were hugged and cried and laughed and clapped.  But what happened next brought more tears.  Rylan dropped to his knees and gave thanks to God.  His faith is strong and he knows the glory belongs to God.
And then his teammates were there to congratulate him and start celebrating.
It didn't take long for the team to share their joy about winning and moving on toward the championship game. (That's Rylan airborne on the left!)
So, you ask if I'm proud of my grandson? You bet I am.  He is a neat young man - very caring and kind. Motivated and disciplined. But most of all with a big, big heart!  He's a good sport on and off the field.
After the game - Rylan with his mom (our daughter-in-law), his dad (our son) and his little sister (our youngest grandchild). His two brothers were somewhere nearby.

(Photos courtesy of the press and our dear daughter-in-law)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pearls In The Sun

I told you that my sweetheart and I recently made a quick day trip to Central Oregon and I told you about the old school where I attended back in the day.  It was a day made for us - a much-needed break.  We live in Western Oregon, which I love.  We have a lot of trees and fields of agriculture and the Oregon Coast not far from our home to the west.  The Cascade Mountains are not far to the east.   But, I grew up in Central Oregon - and I went back to visit many years later and met my sweetheart there - so that part of the state has a special meaning to both of us.  We love the beauty of that part of the state and it keeps calling us back.  The mountains between here and there are part of that beauty.  The day started out rainy and gray here in the valley but it changed as we crossed the Cascade Mountains that divide the valley from the Central Oregon desert.  Inspite of the weather, there was beauty on this side of the mountains.  We drove past neatly laid out green fields. . .
Past a vintage church in a small town. . .
 And on roads that wound through towering evergreen trees on the western slopes of Mt. Hood. . .
I was excited as we climbed the western slopes of the mountain and I couldn't wait to see Mt. Hood -  my favorite mountain - up ahead.  But it was not to be!  The clouds hung low and covered most of the mountain.  All that could be seen was the snow-covered base of the mountain.  The arrow in the photo shows where we should have seen the top of the mountain.
We drove on - up and around and over the mountains. The weather began to change on the east side of the mountain.  It wasn't long before we were on a big plateau and then 'dropped down' into  a valley that's surrounded by huge basalt cliffs.  In the valley, the Native American community of Warm Springs was ablaze with Fall color like I had never seen before. It was gorgeous!
The road slowly made its way up the sides of the cliffs.  Once we were at the top we were on the flat plateau again.  We felt like we were on top of the world.  Soon Mt. Washington came into view. . .
And then Mt. Jefferson rose above the horizon in the distance.
We drove on through farmland with the mountain looming large in the background.
And then, continuing on to the south, mountains affectionately named The Three Sisters (Faith, Hope and Charity) and Broken Top came into view.
We enjoyed our day in Bend, the major city in Central Oregon - the town where I spent my young years, where I returned and met my sweetheart and where I moved as a new bride.  We decided to return home on a southern route through the mountains. That route took us through the small town of Sisters, at the base of The Three Sisters. Views from that town are breathtaking!
Our day ended with such sweet memories of the beauty of God's creation in the center of our state, memories of days long ago and memories of a day away where the mountains seemed to sit like a string of pearls in the sun.

(photos were taken on my cell phone through the windows of our car as we drove along - they don't begin to capture the beauty our eyes can see)