Is it one big puzzle?

Have you ever wondered where you fit in this world? Have you wondered what the BIG picture is? I sometimes think my world is a 200 piece puzzle and I am just one piece of it. In reality though, I think maybe we are all part of a bazillion piece puzzle and we are several pieces at the same time, in a never-ending puzzle. Sometimes our piece fits, sometimes it’s not quite right. Sometimes it is downright wrong. In the end, we find our matches and the picture becomes clear.

Where do you fit? What is your picture? Do you ever find tha t you get so involved in your 200 piece puzzle that you don’t see the big picture until you step back and look at it? Kind of like the forest for the trees?

Milestones

How do we define milestones in life? What makes one event more noteworthy than another?  I was recently looking on that famous greeting card website for an anniversary year designation, and noticed that there comes a time, after about 15 years, that the designation is rather ho hum.  As if those years don’t really deserve much mention.  Seriously- it said for year 23, the “theme” is air.  Air?  Am I to assume, then,  that I can put a lid on a mason jar and hand it over, for a gift of air?

I have been pondering this because today is my 24th anniversary.  A rather ho hum year according to that famous card company web site.  This years theme is stone.  I wonder, how did we go from a Diamond at year 10 to stone at year 24? Have these past 14 years not amounted to more than a rock?

Let me tell you – 24 years is nothing to sneeze at.  Marriage is so much more than the ceremony and reception.  It is all those small things, those ho hum days and events that never get the recognition they deserve.

The  day he clips a rose from the garden and puts it on the table because it’s pretty.

When she brings him Vernors because he’s been sick, and she knows it will make him feel better.

It’s laughing at your silly jokes, a hug just because, dancing in the kitchen to annoy the children.  Being able to disagree, but know, no matter what, you love them.  It’s laundry and shopping and cooking and cleaning.  Dealing with being sick, aging family and bills.

Marriage is hard, it’s fraught with pitfalls that devour many and  leave many more with bruises unseen.   It’s messy, and stressful and there are three sides to it-his, hers and the truth.

So when I look at that greeting card website that says year 24 is stone- and the big milestone of  year 25 is silver, I can’t help but shake my head and disagree.  Each of these 24 years has been a milestone to celebrate, to shout to all that those ho hum events and days have had as much meaning as that year 25.

So today, on this day of stone for my husband I , I want to publicly shout out to all, that we have persevered through all those ho hum moments.  We have fought and made up, laughed and cried, supported and cheered, and most of all loved each other as we promised we would.  You see, we made a choice, those many years ago, and though it’s been hard at times, I can’t imagine another I would have loved the way I love him.

Happy 24th anniversary my dear love.

Liquid Gold

It’s no secret that I LOVE coffee.  When I was younger I tried it and thought it tasted awful, bitter and just not something I would ever have again.  One night, in my early 20’s , friends and I had spent the evening having dinner and visiting, when the host asked ” who would like some coffee”?  I guess my eye roll was evident that I was a non coffee drinker and the outcast of the evening.  Being the good host, my friend assured me that he made the best coffee and I should have some.  Reluctantly I agreed; he was right, and I was hooked.

After that night I found that a really good cup of coffee is an art. I proceeded to try new blends, grind my own beans, and experiment with different types of brewing styles.  I enjoyed my time learning all things coffee, and then life got busy. Getting married and having kids, the fancy coffee gave way to name brand, regular old run of the mill stuff. No longer having the luxury of time or money to fritter on lavish fanciness.

Over the years, I have consumed mass amounts of coffee.  The large cup as I headed out at 2 a.m. for a work related trouble. The first cup in the morning as I began the long day getting kids to school and me to work.  My favorite – the large gas station cup, too hot to drink at first, then after 5 miles down the road you take a sip and realize it’s the WORST coffee ever, but you have 300 miles to go and you drink it anyway.

Last summer, while on vacation, I was surprised by an old high school friend. We were spending time on the Oregon coast and he lives nearby. Not only did he take the time to come say hello, he brought coffee mugs that he made!  The most thoughtful gesture and so unexpected.

I use one of these mugs now every day. I love it. Funny thing is, it’s big!  The first time I poured coffee into it and returned the carafe to the coffee maker I thought I spilled it- it was about 1/3 empty.  I can read my paper, or a good book, and not worry about being interrupted because my cup is empty.

So, thank you Randy for one of the little things that bring a smile to me. The gift of your mug and the time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. img_3345

Flat Anthony

Funny thing about kids, they grow up. We have 2 sons that are growing into such fine young men, we  are so proud of both of them. For Mother’s day a few years ago,our oldest gave me a pillowcase with his picture on it. Seems kind of funny, but I love it. I bring it with us when we travel.

We have been an RV family for about 6 years, and in that time we have traveled thousands of miles around the country. We have been from the Pacific to the Atlantic, summer and winter. Some of our favorite memories happened because of a chance to buy an old RV..As a parent, it has been rewarding to know that we have been able to give the gift of travel and love for our country to our boys.

Our oldest son is now 22 and, as a young man starting out, no longer has the time to take off for weeks or months at a time. When we travel now, I feel a sadness that he isn’t able to continue to share in our adventures. Our remedy? We call it Flat Anthony- the pillow with his picture on it.

Flat Anthony comes along with us whenever we travel, and this last trip, well, let’s just say he had some adventures.  How could we not take him along?

We didn’t want him to miss beach combing, or climbing on the rocks, the dune buggy ride, whale watching, 4th of July or the evening campfire watching the ships on the river.

It clearly isn’t the same as having him along with us, and I sometimes feel guilty having fun without him. We are so proud of all his accomplishments, and maybe some day, when he is older with a family of his own, he will remember his youthful trips and want to do the same with his family.

For Love of Trains part 2

 

As we travel in our Rv, our trips always include some sort of train activity.  It is a given, a necessity for survival when your autistic son lives for all things train.  As we plan our trips we include train rides or visits to train museums to ensure  harmony along the way.  These plans give us locations to see, and something for our son to look forward to, as he puts up with activities he might not otherwise enjoy.

In the small Northern California town of Dunsmuir, there is a small Amtrak stop, and the Union Pacific yard.  We happened to be camping in the area and decided to go to Dunsmuir for lunch and to watch for whatever train might arrive. Andrew brought his small video camera so  he could film the trains.

We parked nearby and headed toward the Amtrak stop. Looking at the schedule, we found that we would not be seeing Amtrak – it makes its pass through town very early morning.  Andrew knew, however, that other trains travel this route all during the day so it was only a matter of time.  As he set up his video camera  we noticed some workers on the other side of the track.  We didn’t have long to wait before the horn of a train could be heard, and the shout from Andrew “here it comes!”

Pulling in to the station was a Union Pacific train.  The train pulled in slowly and stopped at the small station.  As we watched, the 2 workers we had seen on the other side of the track  picked up their bags and headed to the cab. At the same time, the 2 workers that had just arrived on the train, grabbed their bags and climbed out. This  was a simple crew change,  exchange in a normal workday of some train employees. We didn’t speak to the workers but what came next was so kind- an act of generosity that  reminds me there are great people out there.

The new crew climbed in the cab and suddenly one of them leaned out of the cab and called to Andrew to come closer. Andrew walked  closer, and the employee  opened the side cab door and leaned out, handed him a  lantern!  As he handed it to Andrew, he claimed he didn’t need it anymore.   Just like that, this man gave a boy something he always wanted. As quickly as he came out of the cab he went back in, told Andrew to cover his ears, blew the train horn and they were off. Andrew calling for them to drive safely.

We watched as the train disappeared down the track, another day in the life of a train lover..

 

 

 

 

For Love of Trains part 1

Andrew LOVES trains. That is a fact that is obvious the moment you meet him, almost as obvious as the fact that he is autistic. For us, this love affair is part of our family experience, it is a daily staple. It is woven in our conversation,our travels and yes our home decor. The love he has for trains however, has brought opportunities and has brought out the kindness of people that is so incredibly heartwarming. Two recent incidents, with regard to trains, have touched our family in such a warm way.

We travel in our RV as often as we can, summer being the longest trips for obvious reasons. This year we had a few trips already so our summer trip was not as far or long. It was however, one of the best we have had.

Part of our trip took us back to Portland and the Oregon Rail Historic Foundation (http://www.orhf.org/), home of Andrew’s favorite train, the 4449.  Visiting this museum and seeing his favorite train, was all he talked about for most of our trip. The day came to visit the train and you would have thought it was Christmas.  We had been to the museum before so Andrew knew just what he wanted to see. As he walked around, you could see the excitement in his eyes, his love for these big machines just radiating from his every pore.

While speaking with the gentleman in charge that day, I commented about Andrew being autistic- he said he knew- has a son on the spectrum as well.  We finished our conversation and then he looked at Andrew and told him to follow him. They walked over to the 4449 train and he told Andrew to go ahead and climb up in the cab, ignoring the please keep off sign, then he called over one of the workers to climb up with him.  Here was a sudden kindness to a young boy from a man who could see the thrill this small act provided.  The thrill that he was IN the cab of his favorite train, the thrill to “drive” that train-if only for a moment even if it never actually moved. We can’t thank him enough.

 

 

 

 

It’s The Small Stuff

We all have those days, the kind that seem to go awry from the beginning. Stress inducing, blood pressure raising rotten days. During those times it can feel impossible to see the positive side. There is always a positive side. Sometimes it is just the smallest of things that can turn around a bad day.

Recently, I came down with a nasty flu bug that had me feeling pretty bad for a week. I did my fair share of whining and wallowing in my misery. Thankfully, my family endured my complaining and I now feel better.

It’s easy to wallow in what is wrong, what is creating the current angst, but in those times, I try to step back and find a positive something. I suppose some may see a positive attitude as being naive, that I am not understanding the gravity of the situation.  Trust me, I understand.

I understand that people suddenly come down with incurable illness. I understand that people have relationships that fall apart. I understand the people commit unspeakable  atrocities against each other for some perceived wrong against them. Yes, I get it.  I don’t however, want to wallow in it.

I would rather laugh at silly jokes told by a 6 year old, or smile after reading that there will be a solar eclipse next summer in the U.S.A.  This is in no way diminishing the importance of some of those events. I think letting the anger and annoyance cloud the big picture, perpetuates the general feeling of anger felt by so many. With that said, I think for tonight, I will sit back, have a cool lemonade and enjoy my new fun socks.  It’s the little things that make us smile and remind us life is about more than the anger, pain and frustration. It’s the little things that make to rest bearable. 13244690_10209210328636016_2136243102944374746_n

 

Summer 2016

For the past few years, we have been fortunate to take our summer RV trips. We have had some incredibly memorable times traveling around the country, seeing such wondrous sites.  It can be a challenge, planning just the right trip, with time and money constraints and the desire to see everything.  Somehow we manage to have just the right trip for us, at that moment.

Because we had already had a couple trips this year, our summer trip was not as long as some of our others have been.  We packed up the RV- a feat in itself- and headed out, just as the temperature in town heated up. We headed  to the Oregon coast, and to a climate I am more suited for.

We took our time heading north, and our first stop was a rest area in Canyonville Oregon. Nice big spot to stop for a night.IMG_2527

Next day, we continued to our destination of Seal Rock Oregon. We had the best spot- looking over the cove for great beach walking, tide pool searching, looking for shells and just an overall great week.

With Seal Rock as our base for the week, we had time to explore the coast.

I will say, I would certainly spend more time on the Oregon coast.  There is so much to see and do, all within an easy drive. More than anything, I found that being on the coast made me feel so refreshed.