Abode {W}

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My beautiful valley!

 I picked up the current issue of a popular travel/food/gardening/lifestyle magazine this week, and just had a chance to flip through it yesterday. One of the articles was about 5 great towns to move to if you want to start over. I was pleased to see that a charming town about 25 miles away from me was one of the five on their list. This is a really neat little town with a wonderful old downtown area. We go there from time to time and browse the fun stores, have ice cream at an ice cream parlor, and play on a really cool wooden play structure.
 After looking at the pictures, I read the text of the article, and was taken aback by what I read. The second line said "....but the towns along the highway are, well, less than picturesque!" I was aghast! What snobbery! How untrue! And, does it really matter? After all, these "less that picturesque" towns are where people are raising their families, earning a living, trying to make the best of what they have been given. Isn't that enough? Does every town have to be storybook perfect, with only upscale new stores and trendy boutiques? Perfectly groomed yards and shiny new (or perfectly restored old) houses? No signs of struggle or decay?
 I beg to differ. I think every town is picturesque, and there are fascinating and lovely and picture worthy sights everywhere you go. The pictures in the magazine were all taken on sunny days, by professional photographers in a carefully arranged photo shoot. Real life is often sunny, but sometimes gray and rainy and messy. Reality is not the one cute little street of old buildings holding fantastic new stores.
Reality is people living out their lives, following their dreams, putting their passions on display for the world to see.  In towns that may not be deemed worthy to authors of article is snooty, trendy magazines. I would challenge them to do more than drive by, windows rolled up with air conditioners blasting. Stop the car, walk around and really look. Snap pictures of things that interest you, the unusual or beautiful, the unscripted.
 Truth is, you might be surprised by what you find. You might find that even the most neglected, run down towns have beauty spots or old buildings with unusual details.
You might find a cool little gelateria tucked in between a  hair salon and an empty storefront. I am proud to live in the Willamette Valley, proud to call it home. I take exception to someone flying in, snapping a few pictures, and pronouncing the towns "less that picturesque".  I am sure the photographer and author of the article will never find my blog. However, the fact remains that our towns are picturesque, and we are quite happy in our valley, thank you very much! Beauty is where you find it, not where the folks at a "following the latest trends" type of magazine tell you it is!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

{phfr} in January

 Pretty-Seed pods in a wintry garden. We had a few days of very cold but sunny weather before the heavy rains began. It was lovely!
 Happy- Estelle enjoying birthday tea on her eighth birthday.
 Funny- Stuart really does seem to be able to sleep anywhere. He can also sleep even with the most incredible din going on around him!
Real- Sometimes those shots you think will be good pictures capture little moments of terror, like Stuart thinking he was caught in the hedge. He emerged unscathed a second after I snapped the picture, much to everyone's relief!

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for another week of {phfr}, finding the contentment in the ordinary days which make up our rich, full lives!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My mother

Today is my mother's 78th birthday. I have always, after hearing her story, marveled at her. I am amazed that she lived through her childhood, and in awe of her cheerful, forgiving spirit. My mother was born to missionary parents in China. The little village where my grandparents lived was high up in the mountains, a three day journey by buggy to the city where my mother was born. When she was two weeks old, her parents took her home from the hospital the same way-by buggy. On the second day of their journey, they were robbed by Chinese bandits who held a gun to my little two week old mother's head and demanded my grandparent's watches and wedding bands. She routinely found scorpions in her bed and shoes, was almost bitten by a green mamba in India, found a live hand grenade and picked it up, and when she was walking to a swimming pool with her brother (in Calcutta after the war), walked right past a cobra which was coiled and ready to strike.  I am truly amazed she is alive. But the most amazing thing about my mother is the fact that after being held as a little girl in a concentration camp for 5 years, she has totally forgiven her captors and bears no ill will for her experience. She was sent to a boarding school for missionary's children at the age of 6, and just a few months later, the Japanese invaded their school, moved them out, and after holding them in a camp for a few weeks, loaded them in trains and hauled them in to the mountains where they spent the next five years. In 1961, she moved to Japan to teach in a school for missionary children, and still, to this day, has a real love for Japan and the Japanese people. My mother has a great sense of fun. I often came home from school to find she had made my bed, only to discover at bedtime that it has been short-sheeted and I could not get in to bed! She would rig cups of water over doorways so that they would fall on us when we opened the doors, put plastic wrap in between the toilet bowl and the seat, and put salt in our coffee if we did not guard it carefully. She wrote me every week when I was in college, even though I was only 40 miles away. I don't often give flowery speeches about the ones I love, or write stirring, emotional tributes, or write love letters. I don't give those cards with gushing prose in them, just a blank card will suffice, thank you! However, let it be known far and wide that my mother is a wonderful person, an excellent mother, and a pleasure to be around. I love her dearly, and want to be just like her when I grow up. Although, I have taken a solemn pledge that I will never, ever make my family tuna noodle casserole with crushed chips on top for dinner. Other than that, she is worthy of emulating in every way!

Friday, January 20, 2012


My little blog has been silent these last three weeks. Plenty has been happening, but for some reason, I feel quiet. Perhaps it is because I am suddenly faced with my mother's sharp decline over the last few
 weeks, and my mind is awash with questions about what to do for her. Assisted living? Memory care? Here or there? Move her without telling her about it first, without getting her input? These are uncharted waters, and the going is rough. In some ways, even though she is in great physical shape, I feel as if I have already lost my mother. However, after touring lots of assisted living and memory care facilities, and having lots of conversations (and dreams!) about the whole situation, I think we have found a good solution for her. The hardest part will be just waltzing in and telling her we are moving her. I am dreading this. I do know that once she is closer to us and settled in, we will all breath easier knowing we can keep a closer eye on her. I look forward to being able to see her more often, and hope she will retain a certain amount of lucidity for a while yet. January has been a lovely month, with barn dances and epiphany parties and birthday parties and big bowls of hot soup to warm us after playing in the powdered sugar dusting of snow we received. Homemade ricotta cheese is draining right now, and we will eat it slathered on top of hot bread with dinner tonight. My intent is to be a bit better about keeping up my blog. On the other hand, sometimes silence is golden!