Monday, January 26, 2009

Reliving History

Today I went on a trip down memory lane. That's what folks who keep stuff around and get sidetracked when they sort through it call de-cluttering.

Goddy recently cleared out our storage unit and brought home several boxes of our life history. I've tried to keep it minimal, but at one time I actually had a box labeled "things we never use but won't throw away." That tells you how wide my sentimental streak is. After six moves in eight years, you'd think I'd have it under control. Having it thinned down to four boxes (in storage) is pretty good. I won't mention the ones happily staying put out in the garage.

This is how it looks part way through the project. It's a mess, there's still so much to go through and my brain is starting to fry. All I want to do at this stage is curl up like Murphy is in her bed and turn my aching back to the whole thing.

It turned out that one of today's boxes is Logan's. The last time it was looked through he lived in a barracks, so we kept it. Not any more. It's all ready to go take up space in his garage. Same thing for Evan's boxes. (They didn't come home this trip, but will be delivered to his home next week. It's a rite of passage when you buy your own place that the parents clear out your stuff.)

Goddy's box was little - a squished up shoebox. It took him about ten minutes to sort through. Mine, well, there were a couple and one had a U-haul label on it, so that tells you what size it was. I woke up this morning determined to get through them all and was going to be ruthless and not get sidetracked. Ha! My diary from 1978 is sitting open beside me as I write...

That's Goddy's wee box on the right. The one in front is full of photos. The things arranged on the big carton sum up my life. There are pictures from the New Zealand farms, memories of happy times there. A photo of Evan and Logan in their boarding school uniforms. My scrapbook from high school. And a rendering of Rockwells "Spooners", given to us before we were married.

There were many photographs to go through, and of course each one had to be looked at. A large pile of toss-outs accumulated, which is a very freeing thing. Especially when you realize there are still several hundred left so you couldn't possibly be throwing out any vital ones.

I get torn every time I go through these boxes, agonizing over which of the photos and keepsakes really have the sentimental value that'll get them repacked. The pile gets smaller each time, making me wonder if future moves will end up erasing our past altogether.

Somehow I don't think so. There will always be some photos that bring a tear or smile or both and have to stay in the collection. Then there's the thrill of discovering a hidden gem, something that takes you back so sharply you forget what moment you're in. Like this set of jacks that I've had since grade school. The ball still bounces, which I'm sure has some sort of life application.

Then there's the amazement of finding that an old piece of clothing still fits...(That's my Campfire Girls ceremonial gown. I keep it around in case I have granddaughters. And to try on every 20 years or so.)

I think about our boys and the lives they're starting with their sweet wives and fiancee. They're living fully, and their future boxes will be proof. Everyone starts their grownup lives with pieces of childhood hidden in the garage or a closet and the things they add to that create a panorama of life. And we all know that life, whether in a box or in reality, needs clearing out occasionally.

Just make sure you have plenty of time, or lots of storage space.

Friday, January 23, 2009


This one's for you, Ty...

He and our dog, Murphy, have a love-love relationship that began the day we acquired our funny little misfit.

We've always had dogs, both working and pets, and Ty has been the one who bonds with them. For some reason, he was enamored with bulldogs during his entire childhood, and may be still for all I know. I'll admit I looked into bulldogs as pets and quickly crossed them off the list after learning of their narrow comfort zone and outrageous price.

A compromise came along in Murphy, a brindle Boston Terrier. Her ears don't stick up like other Boston's and she doesn't have any black in her coat. And since Boston Terriers were derived from a cross between bulldogs and a now extinct terrier breed, you could sort of imagine she was a small bulldog, if you had a good imagination, which Ty and I do.

Ok, a really, really good imagination.

She'd lived her previous four years as a breeding dog, until an attack by another female (in heat, surprise, surprise) damaged her left hind leg and disrupted her breeding schedule. The owners didn't want her any more, and I was looking for a mature, house trained female. A match made in heaven!

Murphy hadn't ever traveled in a car, had never gone for walks, and hadn't been part of a boisterous family. The day Ty and I got her, she rode on his lap from Terrebonne to Sisters, a stinky, shedding, long-toenailed bundle of cuteness. Ty endured her BO, and the first thing we did when we got home was give her a bath. She raced out of the tub and into our living room, bouncing onto the couch like she'd been there forever. She jumped into our hearts that day and we haven't been the same since.

We now plan our trips around places that welcome pets, have a basket of Murphy toys, always keep baby carrots in the fridge for treats, and allow the dog onto our bed. We've become fans of small dogs and put up with minor annoyances such as constantly losing sight of her (18 pounds of dog disappears into the tall and uncut a lot faster than 45 pounds!)

She likes to imagine she's a mighty hunter but we know better (though she has snagged a couple of squirrels that ran in front of her!)

The problem of her snoring was solved when we moved into our present home, which has a large closet far away from our bed. We've dubbed it Murphy's bedroom and it's the best feature of the house!

Murphy enjoys life as a ranch dog, except on very cold or hot days. Then she's content to snooze the day away, unless someone offers a carrot or a toy.

She can't come with me when I ride, but she's good at waiting in the car or in a stall while I'm out and about. She won't go near the alpacas or the cows but waits a safe distance away until we're done with whatever we need to do.

And whenever we're at the table, she's sitting with her back against our feet. She's my constant companion while I'm at my desk, an extension of the joy that lurks within, just waiting for the chance to do something, anything...

Not bad for a dog without a lick of training.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

International Thoughts

Yes, I know today was a big day here at home, and I did watch the inauguration (we now have free-to-air TV channels!) But I'm going to say that I felt a bit like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady when a suiter was confessing his love to her. Her response..."Words, words, I'm so sick of words. If you're in love, SHOW ME."

I'll believe the hoopla when I see something come of the pretty and powerful words Obama speaks.

Right now I'm thinking about another international accomplishment. That is, the formation of the Jamaica Dogsled Team. I brought home a documentary about it called Sun Dogs. (It was in the Sisters library but I'll bet Netflix has it too.) It is a story of a people and an idea and the perception that the world has of Jamaica. Plus its fun. And there's lots of good Jamaican-style music.

The team launched in 2005, and as you read this, one of the mushers is recovering after a race in Canada.

Back home, they train dogs from the streets and the local shelter and give tourists rides around a resort. And they've become national heroes.

The thing that lit my wick is the inspiration of people who don't just venture outside their comfort zone - they cartwheel out of it, laughing and sweating at the effort, determined to find fun and growth among the discomfort.

Now that's putting action into life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Picture Project

My scrapbooking daughter-in-law, Crystal, gave me a really cool Christmas present. She'd heard of a kit available called Project 365, where a photo is taken every day and put into a prepared scrapbook. When she went to order the kit, they were unavailable, but she decided that we (that would be Crystal, her mother, Cindy, and myself) didn't need some stinkin' kit and we could do it ourselves.

I was quite relieved when Crystal came up with her own kit idea for me, since I'm not too skilled at the scrapbooking thing. My part of the project is to take the pictures.

The first step is remembering to take the camera when I go places. I did ok when I was at my folks because I had all my stuff in one place. Here at home it's a bit more hit and miss as to where my things are. I've found myself halfway to where I'm going, realizing that the camera is...somewhere else. I shall endeavor to get over that real soon.

Here's a sample of the photos so far. I'm really looking forward to this project; already I'm thankful for the pictures I've got. It will be a precious book, chronicling a year that is sure to be eventful.

...On New Year's Day, my mom and I went shopping for some household accessories.

I'm not too sure about this home handyman stuff, but I gave it a go on Jan. 2.

By the 9th, I was hitting Dad's den, trying to figure out his filing system. Had to call in reinforcements...

But then, back home on the 13th, to my knight in plaid flannel.

And finally, on Friday, the 16th, Shawn and I trying to figure out how to make rude gestures.

Like I said, it looks like an eventful year ahead.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sweet home, Sisters

I'm back on home turf after seeing my dad safely back to his home and into the care of my mom and a host of caregivers. Bless those people who are committed to caring for others in their homes. They have to deal with unfamiliar layouts, crotchety clients and overwhelmed family members. So far, the five women and one man who rotate daily through Mom and Dad's lives have been kind and gentle. The worst part of any new routine is actually getting it to be the routine, so I feel a bit like a broken record, reminding Mom and Dad (and myself) to have patience.

Here's a picture of Dad and Henry. Dad, though very weak, has a mischievous twinkle in his eye that you can't really see because of his glasses. It shows up particularly when he promises to do what he's told.

Before Dad came home, Mom went shopping with Evan's wife, Crystal, to buy Dad a new chair. Here she is, trying it out and getting Henry's approval. Not much happens in this house without Henry's involvement.

Henry is a comfort and a soothing presence, except when he's letting the neighborhood know that someone's at the door. But we all feel better knowing he's on duty. No one is going to sneak into the house when Henry's at home. No one barges into the house either. Dad's got a good team around him.