Thursday, June 27, 2013

Road Trip: California Central Coast

Road trip: first stop, central coast of California. This is where Mark and I grew up. My mom grew up here, too. We spent four days visiting Mark's mom, LaVerne, and renewing old memories.
Places live deep in our souls. The Morro Bay waterfront always takes me back to my earliest sense of self. While we were here, we at lunch at Giannini's and poked around in The Shell Shop. My brother and I used to collect sand dollars from the beach and sell them to The Shell Shop for 5¢. The guy who owned The Shell Shop would let us buy exotic shells from him in exchange. I wrote about one of my earliest memories in Morro Bay here.

We also visited the home in San Luis Obispo where Mom grew up.

It is on the corner of High and Price streets in San Luis Obispo. My grandfather used to always joke about how they were "high price" people. It looks much the same on the outside, although I noticed that the front porch seems much smaller to me now than it did when I was a child.

There was a man on the front porch, and Mom introduced herself to him, explaining that she had grown up in the house back in the 30s and 40s. He invited us inside. The house has been divided into two separate residences, both small. They each have a kitchen/living room, a bathroom, and a bedroom. The property is now owned by an agency that provides housing for terminally ill AIDS patients. We were only able to see one of the kitchen/living rooms - it was the area of the former living room of the house. Although we didn't see very much inside the home, it was an emotional experience for Mom to be back in that place where she lived all of her childhood.

This home was a significant place in my childhood, too. I dearly loved my maternal grandparents, who were consistently kind and loving to my brother and me, and our cousins, too. I have so many memories of spending the night there when our cousins came to visit from out of town (we lived only 12 miles away). My grandfather would pull out his harmonica and play old tunes--"Redwing," "Yellow Rose of Texas," "Red River Valley," and some Civil War-era tunes--"Dolly Day," "Soldier's Lullaby." After he had played each song on his harmonica, he would sing the words to us in his quavery old grandfather voice. Then he would play the tune again. Then a different one, the words, the tune. Then another...

The home has a peaceful, healing feeling, and we all agreed that we were glad it could be a place of peace and kindness.

Mom also took us to the place where she and Dad met when she was 15 and he was not quite 18. He was a new student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and she was a sophomore in high school going to dances at the Teen Center. This was in 1950. There were no female students at Cal Poly at the time. The Teen Center dances were only open to teens up to 18 years old, but Dad didn't turn 18 until October of that year, so he went to a Teen Center dance early in the school year to see who he could meet. He always said that he knew that night, during their first dance, that this was the girl he wanted to marry. They were married two years later, in July 1952, when he was 19 and Mom was "almost 17" (it was only 3 weeks until her birthday). Mom went on to graduate from high school before they started their family. They were married for over 60 years and had a life full of adventures.

 Mom, Maria Barrows, me
We also connected with two dear friends while we were visiting the central coast. First was Maria Barrows, mother of one of my very close high school friends. She lives in a lovely retirement home, where she graciously treated us to lunch and showed us all over the grounds. It has been many years since I've seen her, and it was a treat to enjoy her lively conversation again. Sad irony...her daughter, Ann, who lives and works in Japan, will be visiting Oregon while we are out of town! Ah, well, we will have to reconnect with Ann another time.

Mark, me, Jill Barnier
We spent a very happy evening with another close high school friend, Jill. She has an extremely busy schedule, but when she heard we were coming to the central coast, she arranged her schedule to make a weekend trip from where she lives in the central valley to spend some time with us on the coast. It was hard to say goodbye at the end of our visit. Jill made the very astute observation that friends who have known us since we were very young--before we found ourselves in our adult lives--hold memory of us that no one else does, which makes these long-time friends especially precious. So true! It was a delight to pick up where we left off, which was quite a few years ago. Jill was my matron of honor at Mark's and my wedding, and we've only seen her once since then. Except for occasional emails, (and Jill stalks my blog - Hi Jill! I know you're reading this!), our only contact is these rare visits, which makes them all the more cherished.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I don't even know what to call this post...

...I thought about "Bloggorhea," but that sounds kind of negative and self-deprecating. Not my intent. Then I thought about "Ketchup" - you know, as in "Catch up" - but when you have to explain the punchline the joke's not funny any more, right?

In any case, May and June have been crazy-busy, and I'm way behind on posting. I've been working on this post for about 4 days now, and it's not finished. I promise I'll post before I go to bed tonight, finished or not!

Where to start? 

School is out
The end of school is always a crazy time for teachers. This year was even more so because Mark has been working on his National Board Teacher Certification, and the deadline for his humongous portfolio was May 30. He had intended to work on it over spring break, but then family needs took over everything else with Dad's death, moving Mom, etc. was out last week week before last. We had finals on Tuesday and Wednesday, teacher grading day on Thursday, and then...done for the summer! The longer I teach, the more I appreciate our 10 weeks of summer vacation. 

Kendra and family - in the Northwest
Kendra and her three darling children flew in from Kansas at the end of May. They stayed for a week while husband Chris and his brother drove to Woodinville, near Seattle, where Chris' parents live. Kendra and Chris are settling in the Seattle area. He is looking for work and plans to finish his nursing degree in Washington, instead of Kansas. Their Kansas foster kids are settled into new homes. 
Kendra has the camera.
Chris, Lilly, me, Charlie, Abbi, Mark, Mom

We are looking forward to seeing this dear family a lot more often. 

Mom getting settled in
Mom is pretty well settled in to her bedroom/sitting room. Her pantries and her refrigerator are installed. The kitchenette is almost finished. 

Mom is a cheerful, positive person. She goes to water aerobics and the Curves gym almost every day. She has joined the Church choir and reading group. She has been busily meeting with her new doctors, dentist, audiologist financial advisor, etc. Most of the financial/legal dust is settled following Dad's death in March. 

She and Mark and I are getting along happily as a family of three. I am so grateful for our home - the 100-year-old farmhouse with the funky floor plan is adapting well to a new apartment within the house. I'll post some pictures soon!

Meanwhile, the fun never stops...
I've been doing some fun activities with the Young Women. We hosted a fancy dinner for the bishopric & wives at the house. We've taken a couple of pre-camp hikes. 

In my spare time I've been building Mom's kitchen cabinets (purchased at Ikea). Love them! I am a pro at putting Ikea cabinets together now. 

We left last week on "vacation." Yes, I know, we're teachers and we get 10 weeks of vacation. And yes, I know that road trips involving seven states, 3 weeks, and oodles of grandkids are not necessarily restful. But yes, we are calling this a vacation! We left last week and spent several days in central California with Mark's mom. Now we're in the L.A. area with David and Holly, and next we'll drive to the Las Vegas Area to spend some time with Angela and family. Then we hop a flight to Ohio to visit Katie and Bryan, swing home through Utah and Idaho. We'll pull into the driveway just before the 4th of July. 

Mom is traveling with us. She's such a good sport! She'll leave Ohio a day early to fly back to California on her own and catch her high school's 60-year reunion (!), and she'll return to Oregon a couple of days before us.

Here are a few photos from our spring / summer so far. Stay tuned - more vacation photos coming soon!

Dinner for the bishopric:
We turned our living room into "Ch├ęz Haynie."

We surprised the bishopric with the location by having a chauffeur pick them up. 
Mark impersonated The Fonz.

YW Hikes:
Triple Falls (near the Columbia River Gorge)

Mirror Lake and Tom-Dick-and-Harry Mountain (near Mt. Hood)
 Mom hiked with the group as far as Mirror Lake

 About a third of the group hiked to the top of Tom-Dick-and-Harry Mountain, overlooking the lake. The others stayed back and played at the lake.

Lemon Meringue Pie for Mother's Day: Mom used her mother's recipe

Building Ikea cabinets. Believe it or not, I'm having fun. (Really! I am!)

More vacation photos coming soon.