Thursday, November 28, 2013

thanksgiving 2013

I love Thanksgiving. It's such a necessary reminder to reflect on all I've been blessed with. And because I'd rather spend this lovely sunny Oregon day outside with my husband & his family, I shan't keep you too long here: I will leave you with some parting shots of my "thanksgiving tree" & an assurance that, yes, I am so very thankful. Have a lovely one with those you love! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

wes + kinsey

Wes: he is the most irritatingly lovable person I know. I can simultaneously want to hug him and smack him. Growing up right under him, I was frequently his patsy  & occasionally (when he was feeling gracious), his partner in crime. I can't recall a single instance where Evan & I managed to gang up on him; Wes made sure he was always on the winning side, pitting the remaining two of us against the other while somehow contriving to appear purely innocent. Ev & I both adored him & were gluttons for punishment. It didn't matter how many times we got burned by his antics; we kept coming back for more. Manipulative is an understatement. But he didn't do it meanly. He did it simply for sport & pure enjoyment. And he has never lost an least in his mind. Though there was his crowning debate in that instance of the great North Pole argument. He was right. And boy, does he have a quick wit. He is the king of comebacks & pranks. I will never forget the night I came into my bedroom after another lengthy grooming session on the bathroom. Wes had inevitably needed the bathroom as soon as I entered & locked the door. He banged on the door for a while, vainly attempting to rush my 16 year old self. Nothing doing. But he got his revenge when I came blissfully unaware into my bedroom, completed the last minutes of my night time routine & turned to climb into bed only to find him in my bed, shaking with silent laughter as I shrieked to find a person in my bed who'd obviously been there for the whole routine! That's Wes. Quick in his feet. I could never get any sort of revenge worthy of his pranks. When we got into high school, he continued to slide out of trouble & get me in it: I served a Saturday detention due to tardies that were the result of his sleeping-in habits while he slipped through his senior year with nary a tardy to his spotless reputation. After high school, we both attended Ohio colleges, giving us a special bond none of the other siblings shared. And then we both moved back home. The pranks were fewer then, & we had some good late night chats over our shared Christianity. Those are some of my favorite memories of my closest (in age) brother. We haven't lived in the same state for over a year now, with me in California & now married in Oregon. But he tells me we'll probably be seeing a little more of each other now than expected. Because, you see, he's getting married to a girl with some Oregon roots of her own. And I am so happy for both of them:) Wes, I wish you & Kinsey the best. May God bless you both & give Kinsey patience & a good sense of humor to deal with your antics!! On a more serious note (to which I can just hear your biting sarcastic retort about the extent of my cheesiness & sappy marriedness), I love you dearly & hope life from here on out continues to be as interesting & enjoyable as it has been so far. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a wee bit lonesome

This was what I got in the mail yesterday. A delightful care package full of goodies from my sister and a few hilarious letters from the oldest nephews. They were my first and will always hold a special place in my heart. Not that more isn't better (oh, yeah!). I do have to confess though, I might have got a little teary-eyed reading their letters. When one of them asked if I liked him or Riley better, Illinois or Oregon better, my heart broke just a little. He didn't mean anything by it, just 9 year old boy curiosity, I'm sure. With all that's going on back in Illinois, I do feel a little left out. I guess you could call it homesick. But, to  quote Grammy, "There would've been something wrong at home if you didn't get a little homesick now and then." And so I might cry a little, but it's only because I've got some stinkin' cute niblings & equally awesome siblings. And FYI, care packages are pretty great. Hint hint.

Friday, November 15, 2013

the valley, the hills, & the mountain

One of the things I like most about Oregon is a variety of landscape. That and how proud the residents are of it. They appreciate the beauty around them, they really do. We live and "the valley", which everyone knows to be the Willamette. (will-LAM-ette, not WILL-a-mette.) It's relatively flat and mostly farm ground, dotted with fir groves and small ferny forests. Not too far to the east, the land starts to gently climb into "the Hills". The landscape shifts to more pines and evergreens, with the only openness wide ribbons of grass seed fields. It isn't good farm ground, but one understands immediately by the German settlers chose to make "the Hills" their home: it feels a little dark and dense, like the black forest where they came from. Further yet beyond the hills lie the start of the Cascades. It grows even wilder and less inhabitable, with patches of harsh lava beds, miles of pines made bare and skeletal by ravages of fires, foggy mountain lakes tucked in crevices, rough towns of loggers and lumberjacks. Then the Cascades start to dwindle back down and the climate becomes a little more arid and ranches and miles of split rail fences replace the tangle of forest and rushing rivers of the mountain pass. The forest are all Lodgepole and Loblolly with nary a fern to speak of. Instead of green, one sees golden carpets of dry grass and sage. It's a whole 'nother world on the other side of the mountains.

Yesterday, Dar and I took a little trip over there. It was raining in the Valley and not much for a farmer to do. I love the drive over to Eastern Oregon. After winding through the hills, we saw a little snow on the mountains, then dropped back down into Sisters where the sun was shining. We got a pretty intense hike in at Smith Rock. Do go there if you ever get a chance. It was beautiful in a rugged, dry, Louis L'Amour kind of way. The golds and browns were a change of pace from all the green we see in the valley. And did I mention it wasn't raining? It's pretty awesome that I have all this and less than a three-hour drive. So different than the Midwest! Though to be honest, when we got back to our little, semi flat valley, with all the neat rows of berries and orchards of filberts, and charming red barns dotting the sod fields like knots on a green patchwork quilt, I was glad this is where we call home.  There must be more of the farmer's daughter in me then I thought! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

an ode to coffee

Coffee. It’s more than just a drink. Let me explain: it’s a chance to pause. It’s an experience. It’s a tension soother. It’s a conversation aid. It’s a date. Has anyone ever said, “Hey, are you busy tomorrow afternoon? Want to get together to chat over a glass of water?” Of course not. But there’s something about coffee. I can still remember the satisfied, “Ahhh,” accompanied by a smack of the lips my dad would make every morning after his first sip. Of course then, I was too young to enjoy it, but I knew there was something to it. Now, Darwin & I both thoroughly enjoy our coffee. And thank God for small mercies, we both like it black & strong. Other than that, we aren’t hard to please. It’s such a seemingly insignificant thing, coffee, but it makes life just a little more enjoyable. For a pittance, it turns a regular mundane day into a treat. It seems such a luxury when Darwin says, “Want to stop for some coffee?” It never gets old or feels boring. We did just that yesterday, to counteract a rather frustrating visit to the bank. And even better, we got both our drinks for free because our cups had stickers on the bottom! So even if it has been gray for a few days here (and Dar’s gloomily told me this is it, winter’s here), at least I have coffee to get me through.*
*as a disclaimer, I need Christ more than coffee to really get me through, but I hope that's a given. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm not Anne, sigh

A few of my friends have been reading Anne of Green Gables lately--which is one of my all-time favorite series, by the way--and so I've been in "Anne" mode just a little bit. Everything around me in nature seems just a hint more lovely and magical. I want to tack the words, "dear", "lithe", "sweet", & "willowy" onto all my descriptions from bare tree limbs to young girls. The view from my living room window at sunrise (which I saw before the time change, not anymore) sent me into "absolute raptures". I use italics waaaay too much. I got itchy feet to go traipse around the countryside gathering ferns and golden leaves for my own little house of dreams. But, like my best friend told me years ago when I was on another such "Anne" kick, "Jenna, you're not Anne."

And, sigh, she was right. And sometimes I think it's so hard being me. NOT that it's actually hard to be me, I mean, I don't even have a job.  And I'm perfectly healthy, my husband sweet, my family's wonderful, we don't lack for anything. No, what I mean is, it's hard being… Me. Because sometimes I'm not sure who "me" really is, and who is the one trying to be like someone else, no matter how beautiful their descriptions of cherry trees are. Savvy?

I try to be myself on this blog. (Whoever that is…) I think most of the time I am, if a little edited and bland. And for aesthetic and personal reasons, I don't always share the nitty-gritty of everything (trust me, you wouldn't want to know.) But I hope I'm real. I hope I'm genuine. I hope you don't think I'm nicer\smarter\better\glamorouser than I am. And grrr, if this sentiment isn't something cropping up on blogs all over the country, but I mean it! 

So here are some snapshots of the real me, unedited & real. (I can be serious though too.)