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November 28, 2010


When I was leaving the church on the day of Patti's memorial service, a woman came up to me and said, "Marilyn, I'm Ann Cameron." Talk about a name from my past!!! Ann's daughter, Amy, had gone to pre-school at the church with Martin. She and I spent lots of time together and were in a couple's group with other church folk. After the group ended and after our kids went to separate elementary schools for kindergarten, my attention turned to teaching and we drifted apart. I haven't seen Ann for over 35 years. But, I have thought of her often. She was an avid hobby gardener and she introduced me to a variety of new plants. One of them was a pregnant onion, a big bulb with long, narrow leaves. She had one that was several years old. I was so impressed that I bought a little one and nurtured it over the years. I have now had it for probably 35 years and the bulb is a foot in diameter and the leaves over 5 feet tall. Every single time I look at that plant (which is in a pot, upstairs next to a bedroom window), my thoughts drift momentarily to Ann Cameron. This is a phenomena that happens to me often.

Our family recipes are completely nostalgic. I know which friends made them and gave them to me. Our family cookbook, made for our children years ago, indicates who gave me each recipe and the setting in which is was first enjoyed. My friend, Patti, must have five recipes in our cookbook along with relatives and other friends. When I get out my Christmas ornaments, as I will during December, it brings the past into the present. I can see many, many old friends march right through my home as I display their ornaments and nativity sets. Christmas cookies transport me back into the Woods' Santa Barbara kitchen just as Christmas breakfast takes me back into the home in which I was born. And, it is not just material things that evoke memories. Certain movies, music, art, theatre all have a way of eliciting emotional reactions and often transport me into other times with old friends.

People who have marched through my life are simply still there. I am happy to think about them. Although I am nostalgic, I do not grieve the fact that I am in another place in my life. It is pleasant to think about those who have helped to make my life so very, very rich. I saw many other former friends and parishoners at Patti's service. I was afraid that I might see someone and not recognize them, but that didn't happen. Perhaps meeting again does not have to bridge a gap because people we have known have never ever really gone away. The people I have known have helped to make me who I am today.

I just had a telephone call from Peggy Alexander. She was our daughters' Kindergarten teacher and she and her husband are coming to Bellingham next Tuesday and have invited me to lunch. Peggy and Bill lived in an apartment building in Santa Barbara that had no trick or treaters on Halloween. So, she would come to my house and answer the door for me. We would laugh at all the little tiny witches and ghosts whose eyes would get huge as they would utter, "Mrs. Alexander! Do you liver here?" Yes, Peggy, I am definitely free for lunch. Beyond the fact that you were the very best Kindergarten teacher, I haven't answered a door on Halloween for forty five years without having you virtually by my side!

Posted by Marilyn at 5:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2010

A Snowy Day in Bellingham

I'm never quite ready for snow. After living here for 30 years, I still can be caught off guard when winter hits full blast. I'm still running around with cotton sweaters and suddenly realize that it is very, very cold. I usually have this epiphany while running out to the car to go somewhere. So, I turn the heat way up and dread getting out of the car at my destination. Then, I go home and drag out my turtlenecks and woolen clothing. I have to search for better shoes than my sneakers and sandals. Oh, yes, and gloves! I do think it is easier to remember all the stuff you need in the snow when you have grown up with four seasons. I waited lots of years to live in the snow, and I do love it when it falls -- so silent and beautiful. But, I like it best from inside my cozy house.

However, It is quite a contrast to go from sunny California to frigid Washington. I arrived home from my trip on Tuesday evening (after staying the night at Jeni's) and was busy the next two days with my City University interns. I was pooped by Friday, so I declared a day of relaxation until 8:30 that evening when I told Dani I would pick up James from his gig at the retirement home. There were a few snow flurries in the air but they were not sticking. By the time I got across town, there was over an inch on the ground and wild flurries with high winds. I dropped James at the gates to his house (I wasn't going to attempt the driveway), and practically crawled home to find over three inches of snow had fallen in the past hour. Since then, we've had below freezing temperatures, icy streets and high winds. Yesterday, my neighbor was trying to clear my sidewalks of all the ice. She worked for over an hour and just made a small pathway to my car.

Dani decided to bring the boys over and spend the night. Her heater wasn't efficiently keeping up with the temperatures and high winds. So, we had dinner and a sleepover. It would be really fun if our two dogs weren't a pain in the behind. They set each other off and bark incessantly. I think she'll stay a second night. It is easier for James to get to school from my house because the main streets are sanded. At this moment, Nico is playing across the street and Dani is working on her editing. I'm writing this blog and the two dogs are on the sofas sleeping (until the next round of barking). The winds are howling outside, and I'm enjoying the warmth. The tea kettle has lots of use on days such as this.

Speaking of winds, my plane trip home from California was pretty exciting. I wondered when the pilot warned us several times to keep our seatbelt on. We did have turbulence on and off. But, he also warned of high winds in Seattle, and we flew into them as we landed. It was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for sure! Fortunately, it didn't last more than a couple of minutes -- but we were up and down and all over until our wheels hit the tarmac and the entire plane broke out in loud clapping. It is rather shocking the high winds can make such a heavy object feel like a piece of Kleenex wafting about in the atmosphere. I can live without that experience again.

I guess this is all for now. My trip was great. The memorial service was lovely and I enjoyed seeing many old friends. I loved spending time with my sister and my sister-in-law. I could have made it much longer and done much more, but I came home fulfilled. Now, with this weather, I think I'm ready to go back. Isn't that just life for you? I remember warm Christmas Days as I was growing up when I dreamed of living in a place that snowed. Now I'm in the snow and I'm thinking of those moments last week when I walked on the beach in the golden California sun. We are such strange creatures!

Posted by Marilyn at 2:53 PM | Comments (0)