Friday, December 29, 2017

New Traditions In The Making

So many of you shared your lovely Christmas decorations on your blogs and I was inspired! Inspired, yes.  Motivated to do more than I did, no. This Christmas was different - far different - than planned. It came quietly and here we are facing the end of the year and looking forward to turning our calendars to another new year.

This Christmas was the first one without my dear, little mother and, even though I knew it wouldn't be easy, I had no idea how very hard it would be! I had plans - oh, how I had plans - but we didn't do any of them. Instead we did some other things. New traditions, perhaps.  Good things with family that helped all of us celebrate time together. 

 Mid-December found my sweetheart and I traveling to the South Coast of Oregon to visit my dear cousin and her hubby. We visited them early in December last year and had such a good time. During that visit she and I became aware of an annual event in their community that we wanted to do. We missed it last year so we started planning to do it this year. And we did! A gorgeous, old silent movie theater in her town has been restored. The original pipe organ that was played during the silent movies era is still there! It was in need of restoration and many long hours have gone into restoring the pipes and bellows, the miles and miles of connections and cables. One Saturday afternoon each December a free Christmas concert is presented to the community by two organists who know the old organ very well. And that's where we wanted to be on that Saturday this December!  We arrived early enough to choose good seats. I played some pipe organ in my college years and I knew I wanted to be where I could see the organists hands and feet and watch as keys were played that made the music resound through the pipes high overhead. There is nothing quite like the sound of a pipe organ - unless it is the opportunity to play one!  There is was. The Mighty Wurlitzer!

Photos taken inside the old theater with my cell phone don't do the organ or the theater justice. I  walked over to get a closer look and the anticipation of what we were about to experience began to seem real.
It wasn't long before the first organist - a very talented lady - stepped up and began to play. She has a special history with this old organ. She grew up in the area and spent many hours at the theater during her high school years so she could play the organ. She went away to college to study music and then returned to teach music in her hometown. She is part of this special concert every December and has been for many years.  The music she played filled the theater with such happy sounds.
The next organist was introduced. Not only is he an organist - he's the man who has done the restorations so he knows this old organ better than anyone else.  His style was very different than that of the first organist and such a complement to what we had already heard. He had an amazing sense of humor that rang out loud and clear through his music.
After a brief intermission we joined him for a Christmas sing-a-long. The sound of our voices and the mighty organ filled the theater.
As we shared the rest of the day with my cousin and her hubby, we four decided this just may have to be a new tradition for our holiday season for years to come.

Soon after our return home we began to prepare for more travels out of town.  Our son and daughter-in-law had invited her parents and the two of us to share a vacation rental home in the central part of our state. What fun we had for three days with our dear ones, including four of our grandkids plus our oldest grandson's best friend.  The home was wonderful and just perfect for us.  Five bedrooms. Four bathrooms. A living room. A game room. Huge kitchen. Something for everyone. Room to spread out and relax. We stayed in the room with the bay window on the left.
The house had been decorated for the holidays and Christmas music filled all the rooms when we arrived.
This vacation rental home is part of a large resort. This home sits along the golf course and nearby are other activities - swimming, racquetball, a full-sized gym, fitness rooms and more. The teen grands spent a lot of time in those activities and the younger grands enjoyed swimming and a short game of golf on a smaller course. 
When the older grands weren't out and about they were busy finding things to do back at the house. There were board games and card games and memory games and ideas thought up from below and above.
And in the family room - a pool table. Hours and hours of pool games. Games perfected. Some not so much. While the younger set was out and about the grandpas ruled the pool room.
And in the kitchen - food.  And more food. Christmas goodies galore. Snacks and nutritious meals. A walk-in pantry temporarily filled during our stay.  In the evenings it was interesting to see the grands and some of the adults retreat to the living room for quiet activity. Adult coloring books took center stage. Some handcrafts were on the docket and, of course, a silly game or two. There were treasured conversations sprinkled throughout our time together and the bonds of relationships secured tighter than before. The evening before we left a light dusting of snow began to fall. I will never forget the excitement in our youngest granddaughter's voice when she looked out the window and then turned and squealed, 'Grandma - it's SNOWING!!!'  Early the next morning the sun began to shine as preparations were made to head home.

And just after daybreak, a familiar sight outside our winter retreat home. Deer! Two, at first, and then many. All watching us and not afraid as long as we kept our distance.
Our belongings were packed away in our cars. Hugs were given and promises to return again. Perhaps this, too, will become a new tradition for our family. That seems to be a good plan. Time away - time together - time to share old memories and make new. Time to step away from the busy-ness of the season for quiet time together.

Friday, December 8, 2017

My Childhood Home - Now

Before my blog break I shared my memories and photos of my childhood home. You can click here to see that post. I promised to show you what it looks like today and I gave you a sneak peek at the front of the house that showed the wonderful restoration that has been done.  This home is a vacation rental now and their website describes it like this:

Accommodating up to 8 people Lava Flo is a large three bedroom, two bath, Craftsman Bungalow located on Lava Road. The neighbors are McMenamins Old St. Francis school, a rectory, and a church! Flo also has a large, tiered yard full of lava rock and a hot tub. The front bedroom has a king-sized bed, the master at the back of the house has a queen sized bed, and the middle bedroom is furnished with two twin beds and a Smart TV. The house can easily accommodate six people but comes equipped with aerobeds upon request for an additional two houseguests. There is an attached laundry room at the back of the house with a washer/dryer, and off-street parking for up to three cars.

Now, let me take you inside.  So you don't get confused, I've used photos from two versions of their website. Some photos are older than others but they provide a good view of the house.  As you enter the house you step right into the living room.  The original front door was an old craftsman style door that was replaced with a different style but I love what they chose.  All of the windows in the house are the original windows.  They were in pretty bad shape when restoration began so the windows were sent out for reconditioning.  To think that these are the very windows my childish eyes looked through back in the day brings such pleasure to my heart.  The floors are all original and have been refinished.

Our floor-to-ceiling ‘natural’ from-the-forest Christmas tree stood between the corner windows every year.  It was decorated with strings of those old lights that got hot and burned your hand if you touched them.  And tinsel!  It was amazing how much tinsel those big trees took, and my mother insisted that each piece be put on the branches with precision.  Oh, how I would love to rent this house for the Christmas holidays and have a giant tree right there again. 

Looking toward the back of the house from here you can see more of the living room and the wonderful dining room where many special meals were shared with friends old and new.  There was a French door between the windows out onto a side porch and yard.  That door was replaced with this one that matches the front door.  The ceiling was flat when I lived there but I really love the way they opened it up.  My mother had a chair and a small table that held our phone where the little table sits beside the side door.  I spent so many, many hours in the corner when I was old enough to call my girlfriends and chat.  I love the French doors into the kitchen.  Remember them from the photo I shared from my childhood Christmas?  Yep, same doors!  To the right of those doors sat my dear, little mother’s desk and that ‘naughty-corner’ chair I showed you.
Let’s go through those French doors into the kitchen.  It’s exactly as it was when I lived there with a few updates!  I was thrilled that they didn’t change it.  I shed a few tears when I peeked through the back windows and saw that the kitchen was just as it was.  This is where my mother and I spent so much time – time together learning how to do household tasks, cooking, baking, cleaning and doing dishes.  There was no dishwasher back in those days, so we stood at the old sink below these very windows each evening to do the supper dishes together – she washed, I dried.  And as we worked together we played a Bible character game.  She was teaching more than ‘mundane’ household tasks.  She was teaching me about the lives and character of people in the Bible.  The window you see looks out onto the old, enclosed back porch that is now a new, modern laundry room.  Someday I’ll have to share more of my memories about that laundry room.  The little shelves between the window and door were there when I was a little girl.  My sweet mother had such pretty things on display there.  The door appears to be the same door that was there in those days.  I ran through that door, in and out to the back yard more times than I could possibly count.  The refrigerator was in a recessed area behind where the open door is in this photo when we first moved in.  A few years later the church board purchased a new, bigger refrigerator that stood exactly where this one is today.  The recessed area in the wall was sealed up, allowing a larger closet in the guestroom that you enter on the other side of the refrigerator.
Here’s a view of the kitchen from the back door.  When we first moved into the house a big, old wood cook stove stood in this corner.  I remember the curved, black stovepipe that went to the chimney appears to still be in that corner.  My little mother had more escapades with that wood stove but the heat it produced was wonderful on snowy, cold winter mornings when I ate breakfast at the kitchen table before I left for school.  An electric range replaced the wood stove and we thought we had really come up in the world!
If we step through the back door of the kitchen you can see the laundry porch.  My dear mother started out with a wringer washer and big, double cement laundry tubs out here.  No insulation in those outside walls and it got c-o-l-d in the winter.  No dryer – she hung the sheets outside as I shared in my childhood memory photos. Here’s what it’s like today.  Do you see shiplap?  She would have loved this. The original door was like the door from the kitchen into the porch but the new door provides more security.  The rock walls outside the windows were there and I spent a lot of time playing on and around those walls.  In my imagination, they became all kinds of things.  At the top of the terrace you can see an iron fence.  No fence in those days.  You’ll see more of this in a bit.
The website for this home indicates that our guestroom off the kitchen is now the master bedroom.  I peeked through the windows when I was there and it brought back such memories.  Memories of lying on the ‘big’ bed in the afternoon sun - daydreaming of adventures and making plans.  Memories of guests who came and were part of our family for a time.  And special memories of a very dear friend who became like a big sister to me when she lived with us for two years.
The guestroom had a small closet behind the kitchen wall.  From the vacation rental's description of this room and after looking at photos of the side of the house I think I've figured out where they added the master bathroom.  The guestroom shared a wall with the big walk-in closet in my bedroom.  Seeing a small window that's been added to the side of the house and from the photos from the website,my guess it that the big walk-in closet in my bedroom became the master bath.  That's a pretty wise choice, I'd say. Here's the glimpse of the master bathroom.
Let’s go back through the kitchen and into the living room-dining room area so I can show you the bedrooms. 
See that door on the inside wall between the living room and dining room?  When we go through that door we are in the hallway.  Before we do, I'd like to tell you about a door you can see in the hallway.  That door was there when I lived in this house but I don't know what's behind it now. I'm pretty sure it doesn't go where it led when I was a little girl.  The door opened to stairs that took us down to the huge, sometimes creepy, big basement. A monstrous wood furnace that heated our home stood in the middle of the basement.  My dear father got up more than once a night through the cold winter months to go down those stairs and add wood to the furnace to keep us snug and warm upstairs. I'm not sure if that door leads to the basement anymore - it could be that a coat closet was added during the renovations. It's obvious that a new source of heat was added because I see a thermostat on the living room wall.
Once we're in the hallway we'll turn to our right, toward the front of the house and enter what was my parents’ room.  It was not furnished like this at all.  It was cozy with a big brass headboard and foot-board that my dear mother found in the corner of the basement!  A bit of polish and elbow grease and it was a beauty.  If you look back into the hall you can see a bit of the doorway we came through from the living and dining area.
The front corner of my mother and father’s room had corner windows like those in the living room.
Back into the hall and just to our right we come to the bathroom.  This was the only bathroom when I lived here. They have kept much of the character of the room but have updated to accommodate modern conveniences.  The floor was like this and this HAS to be the original doorknob!  We locked the door with a skeleton key – very convenient if someone locked themselves in and couldn’t get out.  Someone like a small child.  My father had several skeleton keys because, for a long time, that’s how all the exterior door were locked!
Just inside the door, to the left, is the sink.  We had a free-standing sink with no counter but I like the way they've continued the vintage-style tile.

And above the sink is a cabinet like the original medicine cabinet.  I don’t know if they were able to refurbish what was there or if this is new.  The lights are similar to what I remember.
I must say that I was very disappointed that the old claw foot tub where I took my ‘Saturday night’ baths is not gone.  I believe the bathroom was remodeled and updated in the nineteen-seventies and this wall and tub were added.  At least the original window is there!
Let's go back out into the hall, to the right.  At the opposite end of the hall from my parents’ bedroom – was my room.  Oh, the stories those walls could tell!  So much play and imagination and dreaming and some tears along the way in this room.  Giggles and secrets shared when my girlfriends spent the night. This is my room! Don’t you think it’s appropriate that they chose to paint it yellow?
Now, I have to tell you a piece of history, trivia perhaps.  We did not have a second bathroom back in the day but there was a bathroom on the other side of my bedroom wall - the  wall you can't see in this photo.  Back then, that bathroom couldn’t be accessed from the house.  It was the ‘church’ bathroom and was only accessible from the driveway between our house and the church.  There was no plumbing in the church building in those days and since winters were harsh in that mountain town, a bathroom had been added to the house.  We moved into the house on a Saturday.  The next morning - Sunday - my mother heard voices 'in the wall' and she about freaked out.  After asking a few questions of someone in the church we found out about the 'church' bathroom.

Now, let’s go outside and see the yard and surrounding area.

Out through the front door and onto the front porch you could have seen the wonderful homes that were across the street.  ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ Duckworth lived in the house on the right.  They were such a dear couple and they became like grandparents since mine were all in California and I didn’t see them often.  On the left is the home of the owner of the ‘Piggly Wiggly’ grocery store around the corner.  These homes are no longer here.  They were moved across town and restored for vacation rentals.  A three-story hotel complex is across from ‘my’ house.  McMenamins bought the entire block where there are some historical buildings they have restored.  Their hotel is rustic and very much in keeping with the area.  
If we walk to the sidewalk and turn left to the driveway you can see the side of the parsonage and the church.  See the little house up straight ahead and up the stairs?  That’s where ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ Morgan lived.  They were an older couple in our church.  They didn’t have a car – they walked everywhere and they used our driveway to go back and forth even though their address was technically on the street above ours.  I spent many, long hours in their home.  They had the most wonderful toy box and she baked the best cookies!  They had raised two sons and were thrilled when a little girl moved into the parsonage!  Their little house is also a vacation rental now.
OK, let’s go around to the other side of the house.  We’ll go through the gate that wasn’t there when I was a child. 
And into the side yard where we spent so much time living outside.  It didn’t look like this but I do love what they’ve done.  The side yard was all grass except for the concrete steps you see that lead from the dining room door to the yard.
This photo gives you a look at the side of the house and the door to the side yard.  Of course, there was no deck, no rock patio, no hot tub!  But lots of birthday parties and gatherings and a lot of play and games and fun!
An updated photo from the website gives another view of the side yard.
Here are a few more photos that show you the size of the yard.  I loved being out here, no matter the weather.  I rolled over and over down the hill in the summer and made snow angels and tried to sled down the hill in the winter.  

If you saw the photos from my post about my childhood home back then, my dear mother’s clothesline was where the table and chairs are in the photo below.  Again, there was no iron fence around the yard and no wood fence at the top of the terrace.  The wood fence on the side of the terrace was built while we lived here.  The Catholic Church and Rectory were next door to us. The side fence was added to give privacy to the priests, to give them a quiet place to walk and meditate and pray.  When the fence was first built somehow I got my little self up high enough to hang on the top of the fence with my face peering over - and I hung there and watched the priests as they walked and prayed.  Well, I did that until my mother found out!  It never happened again.
The upper terrace is completely different than it was.  I was pleased to see what they’ve done with it.  It had never been landscaped and wasn’t used for anything except for playing in the dirt!
Another view from the terrace.
This is my childhood home! Five-thirty Lava Road in Bend, Oregon.
I loved it back then – and I love it now.  I would love to design a sweet, little bungalow home with the same footprint – and perhaps an update and change or two.  Someday I hope to return and take a tour of the house. Or, better yet, rent it and snoop through every single corner and nook and cranny.  This was the parsonage and I must show you the church.  It’s been restored, too.  I’ll save that for another time. Soon.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Long Break and Busy Doings

In my last post I said I was going to take a short break. Well, that short break became a l-o-n-g break.  And then it got even longer! That wasn't my plan but life got terribly busy out of necessity so I've not been able to come back sooner. I'll share a bit about what I've been up to during this break time so you'll know some of the things that I've been doing. It's been super crazy busy around here and it seems I'll never catch up. But, someday I think it's possible!

The reason I took a break was because I went away. Out of town! With my sweetheart and two of my teenage grandkids.  For the first time in a long time I was able to go to deer hunting camp in Eastern Oregon with my sweetheart. It was a different experience than the last time I went. Back then we had our first, little fully self-contained trailer.  This time, because we still don't have a big trailer since the trailer fire last August, we took my sweet, little vintage trailer - Miss Daffodil.  She didn't fare as well as I had hoped.  A few broken dishes, things that bounced on gravel roads more than on pavement and a few nicks and dings as things moved around inside. It's nothing that can't be fixed or replaced but, in the end, she was such a blessing. We had rain and cold temps, sunshine and clouds.  Our oldest granddaughter and her sixteen-year-old brother slept in a tent.  Those two were such troopers - not a word of complaint or grumbles.
 We had a great time together and saw some beautiful country.
Our grandson was successful in the hunt but deer were more sparse in our favorite area than before so he was the only one to come home with meat for the winter, which he shared with us. 

When we returned from hunting we got busy with preparations for an estate sale for my dear, little mother's things.  Oh, my! What a big job!!  But, in the end the sale was successful and many treasures found new homes.
I couldn't have done the sale without the help of two antique dealer friends who spent hours helping get ready and many hours during the sale.  Another dealer friend joined us at the end and she so sweetly pitched in to help deal with things that were left when the sale was over.  All three dealer friends have taken things on consignment so the sale goes on. 

My mother collected, read and loved old books.  She had quite a collection and one room of her home was a library/office.  In addition to that she still had most of my father's ministerial library.  So, we needed to deal with these old books and handle them in a way that would preserve them - and we had to decide which books we would keep and what we would pass along to others.  In that process I decided to have one of my dealer friends who specializes in old books sell them online for me.  That will happen after the holidays are over so we rented a very small climate controlled storage unit for a short time.  Twenty seven boxes!  That's right - twenty seven boxes of old books carefully stored by author and labeled went to our storage unit.  Here's a photo of my sweetheart taking the first load of boxes to storage.
Once the estate sale was finished my sweetheart and I worked day and night - literally - to finish cleaning and repairing and painting in preparation for the sweet young couple who moved into my mother's home last Saturday.  They are friends from church and we are thrilled that they are there. Their five-year-old girl is a darling and my mother absolutely adored them.  She would be thrilled that the home my father built when I was in high school will continue to be filled with love and laughter and prayer and faith.  I have to admit that it was hard to drive away late Friday night for the last time as the 'owner'.  My emotions hit hard on Saturday and I realized two things: I was exhausted, and letting go of my parents' home was another step in the loss and grief that is part of the process.

A couple of days ago I drove by to see my mother's home again.  As I approached I felt such joy!  The home that sat empty over these last months was filled with life.  Seeing window coverings and furnishings that could be seen through the big front window made my heart explode with joy!  Late yesterday afternoon we went to 'their' new home to give them something and we were blessed with an invitation to stay for dinner.  Seeing their things in their new home was such a blessing.  The house feels homey and cozy and so well decorated already - and loved.  It wasn't a sad thing at all and I left thanking God for the chance to sit at their table in the dining room where I often sat at my dear mother's table.  Their piano is exactly where my piano sat through the years until I was married, before I took it to my new home.  They asked me to sit at their piano and play some old hymns and Christmas Carols.  I felt so at home as I sat in that place where I sat and played so long ago.  And my heart was filled with gratitude and joy - and satisfaction that God had brought us to this place in our journey.

My sweetheart and I are in a 'strange' new place right now.  We've told a few people that we don't know what normal is.  We are transitioning from one season of our life to another.  We have plans and dreams but we must be diligent at home because it's been a long time since we've been able to focus on keeping the home fires burning. Many things have had to wait while we worked on my mother's home.  Christmas decorations are still in the attic (they may come down today) and some things that belonged to my sweet mother still need to find their place in our home.

That's why my blog break lasted longer than planned.  We will adjust to this new season we've begun and life will be busy and fulfilling and full of more joy and gratitude.  We are blessed!