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March 24, 2010


I just got home from five days in California. I flew into Orange County airport, met Donel's niece Connie, and we drove down to Carlsbad after having lunch in my favorite restaurant Gulfstream. I haven't quite forgiven Dani and Charles for leaving Orange County. I enjoy having them in Bellingham, but I feel like they sold my vacation home. I loved going down and playing with Dani - everything from traipsing down into Crystal Cove beach and walking around Balboa Island to eating at our favorite restaurants and shopping at places like Rogers' Gardens. I didn't have time to do more than go to lunch, but just wandering around in the golden sun again was lovely.

Connie has been wanting to take this trip to see all her cousins. We stayed with Donel's sister and brother-in-law, Pat and Bill. The first morning, niece Sharon went with us to breakfast at the newly refurbished McClellan Palomar airport named after Donel's brother (Sharon's dad). Then Pat's daughter Mary came down from Brea and stayed a few days. Two of her kids came for dinner on Friday. On Saturday, 16 family and friends came by for lunch and to say hi. Connie got her wish. Pat's sons were in Vegas, but their wives came and Sharon's two boys, a daughter-in-law, and her two darling grandchildren. We just sat around, ate, and talked for four days straight!

Following the hosts schedule, we went to bed at 9:00 o'clock each night. It was lovely to relax, read and do crosswords, drift off to sleep and not hit the morning routine until around 9:00 a.m. Sleep and sun were the order of each day - and not just sun but actual warmth. Eating outside on the patio was such a treat. On Sunday most relatives were gone and Connie and I took Pat to the flower fields and then to high tea in the lounge at the local Four Seasons restaurant which was absolutely gorgeous. I love to find tea rooms, and this was absolutely smashing!

Everywhere you go in Carlsbad, one is reminded of the family history. Donel's father was the first Mayor and his brother, brother-in-law and nephew were in city politics having owned the South Coast Land Company which was responsible for the early growth of the city. The airport is named for Jerry, and many of the early buildings in town, including the theatre, were built by Donel's grandfather. The baseball fields were built in honor of cousin, Lou Chase. There are acknowledgements of the family in many places including recent articles about Pat and Bill and another one of Jerry's son, Jayce, in the local press. It is not difficult to feel at home although the city has grown immensely since I was a new bride in 1960. The end of town where Donel rode horses is unrecognizably populated by beautiful homes and a variety of corporations that have turned the countryside into a booming financial center. Fortunately the beach still looks the same although Pat tells me that it has eroded greatly over the years.

Connie and I headed back to the John Wayne airport in Orange County at noon on Monday. It was hard to leave Pat because Bill is not well and we may not see him again. They have had to make some important medical decisions this week. But, the nice thing about Carlsbad is that they are surrounded by their kids and lots of caring relative. Pat and Bill are in good hands. It was a lovely, lovely visit and a fun trip with Connie. I waved goodbye to her as I boarded my Alaska flight and left her to wait for her Southwest flights back to Portland. In a few hours I was having dinner with Martin and Christine at University Village. Trip over until the next time.

Mary, Pat, Connie and Sharon

Connie and Sharon at Breakfast at McClellan Palomar Airport

Road Sign to the Airport

Tecolote Renunculas developed by Uncle Luther in the Flower Fields

Tea at the Four Seasons' Hotel

Posted by Marilyn at 4:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2010

Recycling Again

I love to walk around our neighborhood. My dog, Kinsey, likes to walk even more than I do. If I just say the word walk, he has a hissy fit. If he sees me grab the leash next to the front door, he cannot sit still. He is normally a slug, lying around all day and moving slowly. But, he becomes a little puppy when he thinks we are going out. He explores every yard and marks every other tree. I honestly do not know where all the liquid comes from.

It was on one of these jaunts yesterday that I was admiring my neighbor's brick walkway. You may remember that I had two chimneys in the house. One went to my fireplace and the other went through the center of the house, through two bathrooms, the kitchen and into the basement to a rusted wood burning iron potbellied stove. When we first moved here, we burnt all our paper. But, that became illegal. It was that chimney that we removed down to the basement level during the remodel to make more room in the new kitchen. Two neighbors hauled away the brick from my front yard and Shannon built a walkway.

I love looking at our old pool wood in my friend's yard, and I love looking at my old chimney in Shannon's walkway. It delights me to no end. Isn't it wonderful that items that have outworn their use in one home find a new use in another? To see old materials come back to life is so satisfying. My ugly old pool wood is resurrected into a beautiful fence. My unused chimney becomes a walkway that enhances a home.

My neighbor AmySue is remodeling her house by enlarging the living room. I have been taking pictures of her journey since Eric is usually not home during the day and AmySue is so busy with her two little guys. It is fun seeing the changes daily and watching the children in the neighborhood have parties on the large dunes that will soon be transformed into a new front yard. I can recapture some of the excitement of my own remodel - a transformation of the old into a new space.

As I walk around our neighborhood, I am constantly surprised by new life - especially in the spring. Dani and I were just looking out my side window at all the parsley growing wild in my beds, at some beets that have pushed through the earth and the weeds that are loving the early spring. In the front yard my camellia is absolutely bursting with huge buds and the tulips are getting ready to bloom. There is new life everywhere you look on walks through the neighborhood.

What a lovely thing to see during Lent - the promise of new life. I don't have a clue what happened to make those first Christians believe that Jesus had actually been resurrected. Was it a hoax? Was it real? Is it ridiculous to contemplate? But, I can believe in new life. I can believe in the cycle of life and the advent of spring. I can believe in second chances. I can believe in new discoveries. I can believe in turning one's life around. I can believe in resurrection.

Shannon's New Walk

Nico playing in AmySue's yard

Posted by Marilyn at 4:44 PM | Comments (0)

March 9, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am way too busy lately. Somehow, I have taken on more than I should at church. As a member of the Board of Adult Ministries, I have been very involved in organizing the Lenten series with our new pastor. It has been a smashing success so far, but it comes at a time that my interns from City University are finishing their work and need to be supervised. It is also a time that I'm reorganizing my Skagit College class to teach next quarter. And, friends have just come to visit (which was the fun part).

When my calendar fills up daily, it leaves little time for me to fiddle around doing little chores at home or finding time for any creative endeavors - writing, trying new recipes, doing a jigsaw puzzle, playing the piano, walking, etc. These are the things that feed me. When I need renewal, I need to retreat. I need to be by myself and contemplate the world. Dani says that is why I am basically an introvert even though I am social and enjoy people -- but it is not people who restore my energy -- it is quietness and relaxation and contemplation and solo activities. She is an extrovert who gets energy from interacting with others. She agrees that I have been too busy lately.

I probably need a vacation, but I miss taking vacations with Don and I'm not so crazy about going alone. I guess I'll have to work on that. My friends Patti and Ralph just visited from California. We did some vacation like things - out to eat (they love Anthony's), down to La Conner and looking at the daffodils in bloom, driving up to Vancouver for the day -- lots of visiting and good food. We took a trip down to Taylor's Shellfish Farm and bought oysters that Ralph and I enjoyed. Fortunately, they were too slithery for Patti which left more for the two of us. They left on Monday morning and I spent the entire day in one meeting after another. Now I am looking at another busy week ahead and yearning for clear spaces in my calendar.

It's not that I don't enjoy the things I do. It is that I need spaces between them. I need to avoid letting them pile up in a short space of time. I guess I'm not so good at that - protecting myself from myself. Oh well, I wonder if I will ever learn. You would think that I would have perfected that by now. Wouldn't it be nice if you lived half your life learning and the other half in blissful perfection? Maybe that would be rather boring. At least I have my work cut out for me - trying yet again to learn from my mistakes.

Patti and Ralph enjoying the daffodils of Skagit County

Ralph buying oysters at Taylor's Farm

All ready to eat and enjoy!

Posted by Marilyn at 4:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 1, 2010

Goodbye Alice

My sister-in-law, Alice, died yesterday. She was 88 according to her step-son, Doug. That was the first time I knew her age. She was about 5 years older than Don's brother Lloyd so age was never mentioned. They met in New Mexico after a not-so-happy divorce from his wife of many years. He had moved his family to White Sands when he was put in charge of the facility for Hughes Aircraft Co. I don't know if the move was hard on their family, or if it just exacerbated the problems.

Don's parents were devastated by the divorce because it was not expected. But, I have told the story often about how Don's mom would admonish us for buying her anything of any value while consistently showing off lavish gifts from the more stylish Alice. I think she was in awe of Alice and her sophistication.

Don and I had spent many a fun evening in our early years (especially several New Year's Eves) with Lloyd and Jinx. I will always remember her as an intellectual and very humorous, but droll and often sarcastic. She introduced me to my first Agatha Christie murder mystery, (which I found in her bathroom one evening and read for an hour before I emerged). We loved their kids, Connie, Amy and Douglas. Our first trip to New Mexico was to visit Jinx and the children in Alamogordo, and then we traveled up to Cloudcroft to meet Alice for the first tme. We loved Jinx, but we also came to love Alice.

Lloyd and Alice were fun to be with. They moved to Las Cruces and kept Alice's mountain home to retreat to every summer. Alice was a fantastic chef and beautiful weaver. Both she and Lloyd were witty and entertaining, moving comfortably in the New Mexico political circles and entertaining in their beautiful home. Everyone who met them, loved them. They had wonderful years together. The kids grew up and got to know Alice as adults. Jinx died many years ago. Lloyd died the year before Don. His kids continued to be close to Alice and have been very attentive to her since their father's death.

Don's sister, Pat, and I visited Alice a few years ago. We had a great time wandering around town and eating and talking -- sharing family stories and walking her block every morning. She tried to give me her loom - which took almost an entire room. I was flattered but knew I would never ever use it. I think she was trying to divest herself of things she knew she wouldn't ever use again.

So, I'm saying goodbye to Alice. She made Don's brother very happy. She became good friends with his kids. I think she had no other family. She leaves a great many friends. She was multitalented and a great schmoozer - she and Lloyd both. They could walk into a room and light it up. Maybe there is a new twinkle in the heavens celebrating their reunion.

Posted by Marilyn at 5:17 PM | Comments (2)