Category Archives: Mom

The Butterfly Garden

This is the shady part of our butterfly garden…

While we spent the last three weeks with my mother, our daughter watered our gardens and kept everything alive despite the 90-100 degree temperatures. It was a huge job, but we were delighted upon our return home to find our butterfly garden in full bloom and full of bees and butterflies!

I want to share with you a poster I saw and just loved at Red Butte Garden, in Salt Lake City, where we have my father’s memorial bench, and where we will soon hold my mother’s Celebration of Life and add a plaque to the bench in memory of her.

My Reading Hour

What to do with that hour each day that was set aside for wonderful long phones conversations with my Mom?  I’ve decided that for the next little while I will take that same hour (mid-afternoon) and call it my reading hour. Seems so right to fill that emptiness with books in memory of my loving Reading Buddy. She’d like that, I’m sure. And so will I!!

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My Reading Buddy

When I started this blog in 2007, I dedicated it to my father “who would have loved this new way of communicating,” but wrote my posts with my mother in mind as my primary audience. Both my parents were avid readers, especially of history, and they instilled in me a deep love of reading. They supported my book obsessions from very early on — we made weekly trips to the library; my father would buy me a new book when I finished another book in a series; gifts were almost always books; and there was always book talk happening in our household.

I was living 800 miles away when my father passed away twenty-four years ago, so it was at that time that my mother and I began to talk with each other on the phone every day. Our talks became our afternoon ritual, and over the years and despite the distance, our relationship grew closer and closer. Yes, we talked about the daily happenings of our lives, but we also shared long conversations about the books we were reading or had heard about. I called her my “reading buddy.”

So as my blog became an important part of my life, my mother joined in with me to write posts and share what she was reading. The blog became another way to communicate with each other about our shared love of reading.

Six days ago, my mother passed away. She was three weeks short of her 99th birthday and had lived a full and wonderful life. Her decline was swift and timed almost to perfection — my family had gathered together for our yearly reunion. She was thrilled that we were all together again, and we filled the first few days with our lively conversations and good food. When she became ill suddenly, we all took turns staying with her at night, and we worked together to make her as comfortable as possible during the day. She didn’t linger, and although none of us was with her at the moment of her death, she knew that she was surrounded by loving family.

My husband and I drove back home yesterday, and brought with us some of her books, paintings, and special treasures to remember her. All afternoon, I kept having these habit-urges to pick up the phone and call her to let her know we were home safe, to tell her what book arrived in the mail while we were gone. It’s going to be so different without her.

But, I know that I have been the most fortunate person on the planet to have such a loving mother/friend/reading buddy. And there are so many fun and wonderful memories to keep her alive in my heart, forever.

She loved the book blogging community, visited many of your blogs, and knew many of you by your first name. So as you write your posts and share your love of reading with all of us, please remember for a moment that you touch hearts in ways you might not be aware of…that your passion for reading brings joy to young and old…and that sharing a book is an act of love.

Blogging, Friends, and Lots of Life

Book blogging buddies

There has been a lot of LIFE happening in the last few months, some of it difficult and some of it absolutely lovely but also time-consuming. As a result I have gone missing from my blog once again! But  I have continued with my reading, just not with writing about it, and have quietly visited many of your blogs when time allowed.  But after meeting two lovely blogging friends for lunch yesterday, Les @Coastal Horizons, and Kay @Kay’s Reading LIfe, I am inspired again to return to my writing and sharing about books and life. Thank you, Les and Kay!  But before I tell you what books I’ve been enjoying (I promise another post devoted to the books I’ve read since April), I must tell you what LIFE has been like around here recently.

The major focus for me in the last few months has been my mother’s health. Those of you who have followed me over the years, know that my mother is a great reader, my mentor and best friend, and my reading buddy. Since we live in different states, this blog was started as another way to communicate with her and share what we are reading. My amazing and resilient mother is turning 99 years old in August! And she continues to be an avid reader. We always talk about books  during our daily phone conversations, but recently she has begun to have some more serious health problems, so we fully realize that these days and our daily conversations are precious.

In the last six months, I have made a number of special trips to see her. On one trip, I took my daughter, and then a few months later, I took my son and grandson to see her. Each trip was wonderful and full of special memories. My husband and I visited her in May, and we are heading out next week for another, longer, visit with her. My brothers and their wives will all be there as well, so it will truly be a celebration of family and an early birthday celebration for her. She and I will definitely be talking about books during that visit and I will treasure those moments.

The other focus in the last few months has been on my garden! Yes, gardening is definitely therapy for anxiety and anticipated loss, but it is also my new passion. My husband, my daughter, and I all share in the work on these garden projects, and it’s been a delightful way to spend our time!

The garden project we’ve been working on (started last Fall) is my “Butterfly Garden,” a project inspired by the butterfly garden built by the 2nd graders in my school before I retired. We have turned a narrow piece of our property, on the south side of the garage and along the alley way, into a beautiful garden! We can’t see it from the house, so we’ve put chairs out there so we can sit and watch the flowers grow, the bees do their thing, and a few butterflies that are finding their way to a place designed specifically for them. I hope you enjoy this slideshow of the butterfly garden as it has progressed!

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Dreams From my Father

My book blogging friend, Andi, at Estella’s Revenge, recently listened to the audiobook of Dreams From my Father, by Barack Obama (narrated by the author). She rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, and talked about how much she enjoyed listening to it. She inspired me to follow suit, so I downloaded the audiobook from Audible and am just starting it. My mother (age 98) is also going to listen to it so that we can share our thoughts about it on the phone in our daily conversations. We both miss the Obamas greatly and thought that listening to Barack Obama tell stories about his life and family would be very enjoyable. Thanks, Andi, for the idea! This little shared project is going to brighten our days!

Mom and I have been sharing books and reading experiences for a lot of years!

 

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

When my grandmother died, we found that she had prepared well for the distribution of her belongings. On the bottom or on the back of her most important items, we found a small strip of masking tape with a family member’s name on it. We’ve remembered that over the years with humor and affection, and appreciation. Many years after her death, I turned over one of two kitchen chairs she had given me, and felt a rush of warmth and remembering when I saw the slightly curled piece of masking tape with my name on it.

Much like the planning ahead my grandmother did at the end of her life, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, by Margareta Magnusson, is a book chock full of ideas on getting rid of the clutter in our lives. It is a book that would be helpful to read at any age! Her ideas are very practical and encouraging, and she addresses many of the roadblocks we run into when we are trying find the courage to let things go that we have spent a lifetime collecting.

“Sometimes you just have to give cherished things away with the hope that they end up with someone who will create new memories of their own.”

I will be putting many of her suggestions into gear immediately because I’m already in the purging mode this January. When I spend more time indoors, out of the cold weather, I realize how much stuff we have that we really don’t need anymore. And we are getting on in years, as well, and I definitely don’t want my children to have to deal with all our stuff.  It’s really an act of kindness and love to go through the process of letting go of the clutter now instead of leaving it for them to deal with after we are gone.

My Mom, who is 98 years old, is also reading this book and we are talking about the ideas and the process from both our perspectives. It’s a wonderful ongoing conversation right now, and an important one.

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August Reflections

I had a wonderful August this year!  August is usually one of my least favorite months because of the intense and constant heat. But despite record-breaking heat in our area, I loved the month!  It was full of family — extended time with our grandson, and a family reunion in celebration of my mother’s 98th birthday. We enjoyed travel, gardening projects, 5K races, and watching the awesome total eclipse of the sun! And when it wasn’t too smoky in our area (due to the many wildfires!), I loved the daily views on my walks and drives through this gorgeous part of Oregon.

My reading time was limited, but I did enjoy 4 different books during the month. My favorite book of the month was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I am rereading the series just for fun and as an antidote to the misery of the daily news. I also reread Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which is my least favorite of her books…still. A refreshing and delightful read was of Philippa Pearce’s The Way to Sattin Shore. And a fascinating library book was The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures. It was a fun book and brought back many memories, including a memory of volunteering in the school library at my junior high school –typing cards for the catalog!

So, I just have to say that August turned out to be a delightful month for me overall. I am now 5 books “behind schedule” with my Goodreads goal for the year, but that’s totally okay. The special memories from this delightful month of August will warm me through many cold winter months ahead.

Victoria

victoria

Hubby and I are enjoying watching  the new Masterpiece Theater series, Victoria. I gave my mother the book for Christmas, and she liked it a lot. After watching the first episode of the series, I decided I needed to read the book, also. Daisy Goodwin‘s story of the young Queen Victoria is a lot of fun. Definitely recommended! If you are enjoying the series, you will also find this book to be a very enjoyable read!

victoria-book

A Day in My Life: A Blogging Event

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My blogging friend, Trish, (Love, Laughter & a Touch of Insanity) is hosting this 2nd annual blogging event. Last year, I so enjoyed reading about people’s lives, but didn’t post about my own. This year, I’m sharing a day in my own life, and will once again enjoy reading about yours!

Two and a half years ago, I retired after teaching for 27 years, and my husband and I moved to a small town in Oregon. The following is my account of a pretty typical day in this retired teacher’s new life.

THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2016

5:00am:  I wake up at this time no matter what. Inner clocks are incredibly difficult to reset, and even though I’m retired and could sleep-in as long as I want, this is the time my body says to get moving, so I get moving!

5:00-5:45am:  Wake, make a big pot of tea, and read (currently reading my first book by Ann Cleeves, A Bird in the Hand).

tea pot

5:45-6:15am:  Work on my Bullet Journal. One of the joys of retirement is getting up each morning and being able to set my own agenda! Our first year of retirement was pretty unscheduled — footloose and fancy free! Recently, I decided that I needed a little more structure to my day, so I set up my bullet journal and spend time each morning and each evening planning my day and then reflecting on each day. I love this! I’m much more efficient with my time, so I’m getting more reading done, more knitting, taking more long walks, remembering to send birthday cards on time, etc. I’m still setting my own agenda and enjoying my days even more! Delightful!

6:15-7:00am:  This is time usually spent on the computer reading, answering, and sending emails, and catching up on social media. I do a lot on Facebook, which is a nice way to communicate with my Mom and family, and friends and relatives that live near and far.

7:00-9:00am:  I ate breakfast and then got ready for my morning exercise activity. On Mon/Wed/Fri, I go to exercise class at the gym 3 blocks from my house. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I meet a very special exercise buddy. My new friend, Gloria, is an 81-year-old runner! I meet her twice a week to walk/run on the hills near her home. I walk, she runs! Because my legs are long and I have a long walking stride, I can keep up with her (most of the time) while she runs. She’s been running for 40 years, and she has become my mentor as I learn to challenge myself and my body more and more. With her encouragement, I have signed up for a summer’s worth of 5k challenges. Portland Parks and Recreation sponsors 6 summer 5k walk/run events, each one at a different local park. My first ever 5k walk will be on May 15th. Gloria will run and I will walk. What fun! Can’t wait!

9:00am:  Back home, shower, get ready for the rest of the day!

9:15-10:30am:  Housecleaning, laundry, menu-planning. It’s been so rainy recently that I haven’t been out in the yard doing some of those morning tasks, but that will change very soon. Today, I swept the front porch to get ready to put out some potted plants soon.

10:30-11:30am:  I signed up for a Craftsy class on “Designing Edible Gardens,” so this morning I spent an hour working on that class. I take notes in my Bullet Journal, where I keep track of all  the planning I’m doing for our 2016 vegetable garden.

 

11:30-Noon:  Prepare lunch. Today’s lunch was a “rice bowl”… brown rice, stir fry veggies (no oil!), cubed tofu, mandarin orange slices, some slivered raw almonds, and 1/4 cup orange sauce. (Warmed it all up in the microwave.) A simple, but very healthy and satisfying lunch. Two years ago I was overweight, pre-diabetic, and taking 2 blood pressure medications as well as a cholesterol-lowering medication. My new doctor referred me to the Healthy Living department at Kaiser Permanente where I met with a doctor and his nurse who have changed my life! They gave me the information and support needed to change the way I eat.  I have worked hard to change old bad habits and establish a new and healthier lifestyle by eating a completely plant-based diet. The health benefits for me have been enormous. I’ve lost 25 pounds and Kaiser no longer classifies me as obese or pre-diabetic. I no longer take blood pressure medications or cholesterol-lowering medication. “Food is my medicine.” And along with losing weight, I have become much more physically active. I go to exercise class three mornings a week, and meet with my running friend twice a week, so I have a good 1-hour/5 days a week exercise routine. I also go for long walks with my hubby, and ride my bicycle and go hiking when the weather permits.  Simply put, I am feeling better than I have felt in years!

orangericebowl

 

AFTERNOON:

12:30-2:00pm:  Running errands. Fred Meyer, car wash, JoAnn’s for some crafting supplies, and Best Buy to pick up a new exercise tracker to help me do some serious training for my summer of 5k races!

2:15-3:00pm:  Home again. I sat in the recliner, put my feet up, and called my Mom on the phone. I talk with my 96-1/2 year old Mom every day. She lives 800 miles away, but we bridge the distance by having long conversations about health, happenings at her retirement home, and about what we are currently reading. We never get tired of talking about books!

3:00-3:45pm:  Stayed sitting in that recliner and worked on my current knitting project while listening to my current audiobook, In the Wet, by Nevil Shute.

3:45pm:  Stood in the kitchen looking out the greenhouse window at the flock of little birds, the Scrub Jays, and the Acorn Woodpeckers that frequent our bird feeders. I could never get bored looking out that window. There’s a lot of bird (and squirrel and cat) drama to enjoy!

 

4:00-5:00pm:  The Grandboy and his daddy arrived. I was honored with an invitation to join his Minecraft world for awhile!

 

5:00-6:00pm:  I set the table while hubby cooked dinner tonight. He cooked a totally whole foods, plant-based meal for us — Cuban Black Beans. No, he hasn’t given up his meat or cheese (or pastries), but he has been very supportive of my plant-based needs. He likes to cook and bake, so he usually fixes 2 or 3 meals a week (yes, I’m spoiled!). Today, he fixed this one, which is one of our favorites!

6:00-6:30pm:  Dinner.

7:00-8:30pm:  We cleaned the kitchen, and then sat down to watch some TV. We chose a new Nature episode with David Attenborough. Love, love, love David Attenborough!

 

8:30-9:00pm:  Planning and reflection time with my Bullet Journal.

9:00-10:00pm (or so):  Reading in bed until too tired to read anymore. I love this!

Goodnight!

Notes:

** My “retired” days are busy and I love that. Although this has been a day where I mostly described my solo activities, my husband and I do many things together.  When we retired, we started a wonderful tradition of going “exploring” on Wednesdays. We call it our “Wandering Wednesday,” and it started as a way to get to know this new area we moved to. We visit historical sites, botanical gardens, libraries and bookstores, wetlands and forests. We post photos on Facebook for our family and friends to enjoy, and it’s become a delightful highlight of our week.

** I love my new focus on physical activity and healthy living. It just feels so darn good!  A number of years ago I read Reeve Lindbergh’s book, Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age — and Other Unexpected Adventures. In that book, she said that 60 is the “youth of old age.” I am closer to 70 now than to 60, but I feel more youthful today than I did when I turned 60. Although I haven’t always been good about this, I know how important it is, at any age, to take good care of yourself. My mother is a wonderful role model for aging gracefully and healthfully, and I hope I can do as good a job of moving into my elder years as my mother!

**  This is a new stage of life for me that comes with many, many changes, but the one thing that has remained constant is my passion for reading! With retirement, comes much more time to enjoy my books. What a luxury to be able to sit down and read on the front porch or in my favorite indoor spot at any time I want!

porch_photo

My favorite reading spot…

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read about “my day in the life.”  Although I don’t post or comment as often as I used to, I still love the blogging community and enjoy visiting your blogs. I love to hear about what you are reading and what is happening in your lives.

Thank you, Trish, for hosting this annual event!