Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Countdown

Most memorable from 2013:

1. I was able to spend my dad's last day with him, before he passed away on March 29, 2013.
In some ways it doesn't seem like he's gone at all. Other times I ache for one of his tight strong hugs.

2. My mom moved in with Mark and me in May.
"…and Nana makes three!" Not sure what you call it when empty nesters welcome an aging parent back into the nest. Whatever you call it, we like it.

3. My mom decided to be baptized into the Mormon church.
This was a sweet blessing I've waited 40 years to see.
She has a calling as the "greeter" to sacrament meeting.

4. We added three new grand babies to our growing clan.
Welcome to Avalon, Luke, and Emma! Mark and I now claim 24 grandchildren.
Stay tuned…#25 will be arriving in Ohio next month.

5. Almost half of our children went through major relocations in 2013.
Josh and Hillary moved from Utah to Arizona (new job, major choir for Hillary).
David and Holly moved from Wisconsin to southern California (new job for David).
Kendra and Chris moved from Kansas to Washington (new jobs and a separation.)
Julia and Scott moved from Oregon to Alaska (return to university for both).

6. Katie published her book!
This isn't really "my" event, but it's still pretty exciting to this wanna-be-author mama.
A couple of days ago her sewing book was ranked #8 at amazon.com in its category.

Thank you for the memories, 2013! Looking forward to what the new year will bring.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Laurel Lane Christmas 2013

 Merry Christmas!
The tree is loaded this year - with ornaments from our stash + Nana's

 Nana's fun Christmas collections

 New to the decorations this year - 

And a beautiful quilt made from Granddad's shirts.
What a treasure. Thank you, Polly!
It was fun to have Dad be a part of the day.

Christmas day
We went for a beautiful afternoon walk along the Willamette River Esplanade in Portland.

 Mom and I waved to the Amtrak passengers.
Some of them waved back.
One guy blew a kiss. :)

 Christmas Eve - time with the Palshikar grandchildren
Nana and Sarah

 Sarah with her new "pet rat." 
This one won't die in a few months.

 Kat hugging a new "pet rat" with Josh

 Sarah and Kat with the stuffed pink unicorn…I couldn't resist!
Sometimes a grandma's gotta do what a grandma's gotta do.
They promised they'd share.

 Week before Christmas - Hunter brought his mom and dad over for dinner.

Nana setting up a nativity scene.
She had so much fun decorating this year!

We loved skyping and texting and talking with dear family today. 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Mark and I took our ukuleles to school on Thursday, the last day of school before Christmas break. We played two Christmas songs for our students.

I used to think I had to be more "perfect" around my students, but I've learned to just be myself, and sometimes that means being a little silly. We wore our tacky Christmas sweaters (a school-wide effort). We wore our silly Santa hat & reindeer antlers. We put the words to the songs on the board, and invited the kids to sing along. Some of them did. Most of them enjoyed the performance (I think); at least all of them tolerated it, and Mark and I had a lot of fun.

Our 2013 Christmas ukulele repertoire includes:

"Feliz Navidad"
Of course you know this one. So do the teenagers. The chords are super simple so we sang it first. It was a good warmup for everyone.

"Mary's Boy Child"
This one was a little more complicated. The chords are more difficult, and not everyone knows it. I loved sharing it with our students because it has a fun, upbeat rhythm and a sweet message about Christ.

You don't know it yet? Well, here you go!

I tried to talk Mark into getting me a furry white cape - and he could wear the skinny white pants - but he wasn't going for it.

Oh, well. It's still a good tune for the sweet and cheerful plinky-plink of a ukulele.
Until this morning, the only version I knew was the Boney-M version (above).

Then when I looked on You Tube this morning I found this link to a calmer version sung by Harry Belafonte. I like the violin accompaniment, but I can't say that we sounded that refined.

And then I found the Glee version. Hmmm. Maybe this was what Mark worried about if he got me that white cape? Maybe this was what my students were picturing as they sang along? I don't think I'll ask.

Merry Christmas to all of you! I'm going to play a few more chords on my ukulele now...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Family Photo

Thank you, Dorothy Jenson, for taking our beautiful new family photo!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Moth

I attended a live performance of The Moth last night!

I've listened to the program a few times on Oregon Public Broadcasting, and the stories have intrigued me. When I saw that Oregon Literary Arts was hosting the show, I talked it up with the family and we bought tickets way back in August!

The venue was beautiful: the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland.

Mark, Mom and I sat up in the balcony and looked waaaaay down to the stage. Julia and Scott were seated on the main floor.

The stories were powerful and moving.

When was the last time you listened to a story on the radio? Music and ads, sure, but very little human story. We do so little oral sharing. More and more, our culture is moving into a culture of text--mostly digital, but still print, too. Listening to the storytellers tell their very personal stories drew me in and held my attention for over an hour.

I got to thinking about the roots of oral storytelling.

The Odyssey is part of the curriculum for our high school freshmen. I always try to describe the oral setting of the ancient stories when I am sharing the epic poem with the ninth graders. I do my best to set the scene of the big hall, the wandering storyteller, the flickering firelight, the spell of the story.

In fact, I used to dress up as Homer and try to get the kids in the mood.

This is me in my Homer costume. He was reputedly blind, so I use dark sunglasses and tap with a stick. I tell the kids that their teacher is down in the office for a while and I am the guest speaker. Cheesy! They know it's me, of course, but they seem to find it entertaining, so they play along.

Stories are so powerful. Brain studies have shown that our brains are wired for story. We try to make sense out of our daily experiences by composing them into stories.

If you haven't heard The Moth yet, I recommend checking it out. Good stories.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Big sale on original art!

My wonderful friend Dorothy is an accomplished artist. She has been honing her skills in pastels for the last couple of years. Here are some of my favorite paintings by Dorothy. She has sooooo many more!

"Looking Back" (Sparks Lake) 

"Jefferson's Glory" (my favorite fall tree in O.C.) 

"Presume Welcome" (hmmm…that front door looks mighty familiar!) 

Here's the amazing thing:
Between now and Christmas, her originals are on 1/2 price sale!!

Like her on Facebook and you'll get regular updates.

Click here to go to her art blog - so many wonderful paintings.

This is her specific post about her holiday sale.

This is the link to her Etsy shop with her art on notecards.

And here you can order prints of her most popular originals.

This is your chance to own a fine art original at a very reasonable price!

Disclaimer: Dorothy Jenson and I have been friends for over 30 years. I love her artwork and have one of her originals in my own home. I asked her permission to post about it on my blog. She did not ask me to do so; all opinions about her art are my own.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gone by this weekend

My next-door neighbor is dying. She has been on dialysis for some time, along with numerous other health problems. She had a heart attack last week, and the doctors have come to the conclusion that there's not much more they can do.

Her husband came by to tell us. We have been neighbors for 34 years. I don't know how it ever gets easy to give (or receive) that kind of news.

She told the doctors that she's tired. Tired of treatments, tired of bandaids, tired of dialysis. She's done. She wants to go home to Jesus. Today was her last dialysis treatment. She will surely be gone by this weekend.

She won't have Christmas. No more birthdays. Thanksgiving was her last holiday. Last night there were over a dozen cars parked out in front of their house--which made Mark and I suspect that things weren't going well for her. Her husband told us that their kids surprised them with a big gathering - a party! - of family and friends. "Everyone you could think of was there," he said.

We asked if she was up for a short visit from us. Yes, he said, but make it soon. She won't be here much longer.

Last year another elderly friend of ours died after he decided to stop dialysis. He was blind and confined to a wheel chair in a nursing home because his wife was frail and couldn't care for him on her own. After several years of living in those circumstances, he said, "Enough." He died peacefully a few days later, surrounded by his family.

I hope my neighbor's passing is that easy, that rich, for her and her family.

We gave her husband a hug and thanked him for including us in the news, and we sent him home to his wife. Every moment is so precious for them now. We'll make a short visit later this evening.

It just makes you think. About moments. And how precious they are. Every last one of them.