On The Road Again

The word SO is the beginning word of almost every sentence by people uttered ’round these parts.

“Soooo… you go down to end of the road and make a right”

“Soooo… do you want pickles on your burger?”

Soooo…. where am I?

Well, I am on the road writing this from the spectacular country of Canada. Unlike California, it is green, fresh smelling, and water is everywhere. Barns outnumber people, roadkill is abundant, and sole proprietorships like JOE’S GAS STATION abound. I love it here.

This is an interesting trip for me. I am traveling with my 81 yo father who is starting to have memory problems. Makes for some interesting repeated conversations that start with “I didn’t know that!.” (He did) and end with “What did you say???? ” (Said at the top of his voice because his hearing is also going.) Getting old isn’t for sissies (or for their daughters.)

This expedition is special. My father is beginning to mellow a little in his old age. It makes for a closer relationship with him being a much better listener than when I was growing up. He chooses his words more carefully these days too. These are nice changes that I appreciate at my age. I also realize that he may not be around much longer so I am trying to make this a happy experience for the two of us and cram my head with memories that will sustain me when he is gone.

Two months ago, I decided I wanted to take this trip to Canada when I became genealogically frustrated. For years I have searched for information about where GG Grandfather was born, who his parents were, etc. I finally got tired of barking up the wrong trees and decided to come to the source to see if I could glean any new information. I am not hopeful as record keeping was done as an afterthought in these parts until the later decades of the 1800’s.  But I also know that information can often be found where you least expect it so I am going with that mindset for the next few days believing if I wish it hard enough that it will come true. Tomorrow we head further north to the place where my GG Grandmother was born in 1835.  It is hard to believe that I will be standing in the same miniscule town where she lived in a log cabin all those years ago. It must have been hard eking out a living as a farmer or miner in these parts of the country. I often wonder if people today could do the back-breaking work that are relations did before we all went soft.

This afternoon Dad and I spent our time together doing research at the local  public library but came up short. We searched through books, family histories and microfiche and found nothing. But it was enjoyable because I can say with good authority that there is nothing like the smell of old books. There is something about that odor that is comforting and takes you back to places that smell like cobwebbed attics or ancient barns. Old, yet, familiar smells. Like the scent of your grandmothers old wool coat or your grandfathers well-worn boots which smelled of pipe tobacco and stood up by themselves over on the back porch. The funny thing is, while I found nothing about my family, I did find something about B’s purely by chance. The information was contained within a book about the Donnelly family. I first found out about this saga several years ago when I was researching B’s family. To my surprise and horror I learned that one of B’s relatives had probably been involved in a mob killing of several members of the Donnelly family. It was interesting to read about it today from a fresh perspective and learn more about the movie that was made about this small town tragedy.

Tomorrow we will head out early as Dad likes to get a jump on the day. I think he believes that he has a limited amount of hours left on this earth and he doesn’t want to spend them laying in bed. No, by golly,  he wants adventure.  He wants to see new places before he passes. And he wants to find THE BEST chicken sandwich that has ever graced a hungry customers plate. This new attitude of his inspires me to want the same for myself.

So here I am on the road again. Just me, my old man and some new memories that the two of us are collecting along the way. Today, I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about myself, my father, and my past. It truly doesn’t get much better than this!

BTW, you know you are in Canada when…

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Been There…Not Done That

This is my sixth trip to South Korea. The first three were blinded by tears as we picked up our children when they were infants. Those days were short but sweet after waiting a half-a-year to finally meet them.

The last time we came to Korea as a family was seven years ago. Those were trying times. The boys were in the midst of autism and there was a real fear we would lose them on the subway. In fact, I remember that Paul decided to play hide-and-seek in the subway and scooted away into a telephone booth while we were racked with panic trying to find him. He was one of those kids who really needed to be on a leash because he would take off if given the chance. It is wonderful to see him this time…so excited to be discovering his culture. I have never seen him as happy as he was today.

On the other hand, Andre was struggling. All the walking. All the newness. All the change wasn’t doing him any favors. He didn’t want to come because change is so difficult for him. But to our credit we make him vacation with our family even though at times it would be easier for him just to stay home. There are just some memories that must be made and I will confess serenity was easy to come by in The Secret Garden.

We have never visited Seoul in the fall before. That was a mistake because the beauty of the place, the slow cool breezes make this experience memorable. The colors are vivid and more intense than I have ever seen. The scenery is amazing. But instead of telling you I will just show you…Korea in her glory.

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Holidays

I love a good holiday. A four day one is especially appreciated. I love the time spent relaxing, the time used to connect with those I love and those special moments that the holidays give me to appreciate all the little things that make life precious. As I have reached middle age, I recognize more than ever, that these moments are fleeting… they come and then they are gone…in a flash. The time spent with the four youngest is quickly counting down like the number of  jumps I am successful at completing as I jump rope at my age .

This sense of time moving ahead quickly is apparent as I contemplate my older children. These days Nicole lives on the East Coast and West will be moving to New York City in the coming month. How did this happen? How did my babies grow up and away from us? Grandchildren living in different cities too! I talk to my daughter almost daily but it is not the same as being a short drive away. It makes me wonder where will the youngest be in 10 years? But more importantly, what will they remember about me and our time together as they find their place in the world?

That is one of the reasons I love holidays. It gives us a chance to make lasting memories. The kind of memories that are important. Kayaking, puzzle building, and walks along the beach together. These are the things that matter and with the chaos that is everyday normal life; these types of memory makers seem to get pushed to the back burner to be done “some other day.” But they rarely do. Life intrudes and sweeps away the moments that might make an imprint on our minds. That is why I treasure our time away from our “normal” so that we might spend time as a family away from life’s distractions.

And I hope that these pictures I share with you, will, for a few minutes distract you from your “normal” allowing you to remember all that is good in your life too. May they bring to mind the things you value most and may they spur you on to find time to create the memories that will bring your kids home later on in life.

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Bats getting some “fast food”

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My Garden

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Going Away

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As you have probably figured out my birthday is coming up this week. I find as I get older they are harder to swallow. On the one hand they mean I am creeping closer to death with many goals unfulfilled but on the other hand the alternative is not attractive. Frankly,  I am so grateful to be alive after all my body has been through. I realize that had I lived in other places that lack the type of health care I receive that I would died long ago. That is a sobering thought.

This year I seem to be doing a lot for myself for this birthday. I blame this on my therapist who keeps telling me that I need to take time for myself and do some self care with all that is going on in my life and that maybe divorce looming deep and dark everyday. I need a lot more sitting quietly with myself and a touch of zen. Getting to this point is somewhat of a miracle considering I have been a mother for over 33 years and doing things for everyone else. If I am honest sometimes I would just like a break from all the challenges that accompany motherhood and autism. So later this week I am going to take a well earned one. I am going to the ocean later in the week and B will be working part time so that I can do this. (Bless him)

I love the ocean. It makes me feel renewed, fresh, inventive and intuitive. It sharpens my pen and my mind. While there I plan to:

Read several books

Sit on the sand and watch the sunset

Sleep as late as I wish

Go watch the baby seals

Sit cliffside and watch for whales

Hike along the cliffs

Go swimming

Take naps

Meditate

Tend to the garden

Work on my novel

Sleep in the nude

Listen to actual records from my collection

Maybe put together the outdoor furniture if it comes

Take myself to dinner every night

I might even sit at a bar and flirt a little (if I can even figure out how to do it since it has been a lost art form for the past 30 years)

 

I have to confess that I am a little nervous about this. I have not been alone for an extended period of time since…well, I don’t know when. I can’t even tell you if I have ever been and I am concerned I will either go stir crazy or I will discover that I drive myself to distraction. Can you get sick of yourself? I guess I will find out.

I am also looking at this time as precious and nourishing to my soul which makes me excited about the possible discoveries I may make. I hope ideas percolate to the top giving me greater clarity about the things I need at this point in my life. I hope that I feel a sense of peace and tranquility that is often lacking in my life as I run to schools, doctor appointments and the like. And I hope to tap into those parts of me that have laid dormant for way to long.

This is my time and I plan on taking full advantage of it!