Friday, February 19, 2016

Anatomy of the Rare and Endangered Day Off

Last week I did the unthinkable.

I took an extra day off to have fun. Oooooh, it felt good, though!

Life has been hectic at work lately. I had surgery at the beginning of the year, and as soon as I got back from MY time off, some of the other leadership needed time off for medical issues. It's been nonstop, so it was such a treat to take a breather to do things that are important to me.

So what did I do on my day off? Well, the first thing I did was go to work, of course.

It's what you do when you accidentally take the important set of keys home with you the night before.

(Those of you who are reflection-lookers like myself can enjoy a nice peek at my camera and Finley in my sunglasses.And the barn I was looking at.)

On my way home from work, I took an impromptu side-jaunt into the countryside to give Finley a place to explore. I was trying to find the fox house, an abandoned farmhouse I'd explored years before, so named because a fox jumped out the second-story window and over the head of my sister Noni, who was standing directly beneath.

We stopped for a few minutes at one of my favorite old school buildings. It still has old desks in it, and a long blackboard in the one school room. Plus lots and lots and LOTS of bird poop. It's been a popular nesting spot for swallows through the years.


I always get such a magical feeling when I explore one of these old buildings. It's like time travel, and I wish I could linger longer.

 Then I realize it's winter and I can't feel my fingers---welp, time to go!

I never did find the fox house, but I ran into my good friend who was out running her mail route and she took me along a back road to the coolest place, one I never would have found on my own. I guess it used to be a family home and they just collected old buildings, having them hauled in as it suited their fancy.

Not everyone can say they're a building hoarder.

Such a neat place to explore, but I had to limit my wanderings because I'd forgotten my cell phone in the car. Round these here parts you just don't explore in the winter without a cell phone.

I did have enough time to discover the world's largest empty tin can collection!

I left with many internal promises to return another day with my cell phone in pocket and and my better camera in hand.

Maybe when it's a tad warmer, too.

Then it was off to my friend's house for the main reason for the day off. I'm trying to get back in the habit of posting on my Little House in the Prairie blog after not failing to post for two years. Two. Years.

I managed to make one post while I was recovering from surgery, but this was to be my next attempt. My friend had kindly volunteered her mountain man husband for the occasion. You can read that post here.

Ah! There's nothing like spending a relaxing afternoon learning to pour lead bullets for your muzzle loader. In case the British attack or something.

Yes, it was a lovely day. And what better way to finish off a lovely day than with a lovely oven full of lovely fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies...

I'm going to have to do this more often.

If only I wasn't so terribly fond of having silly little things like food, gas, and electricity!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Nostalgia is Contagious

I went to Hawaii when I was 8 years old. My mom took all four of us kids, plus bushels of other relatives came too,  for my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. I didn't go again until last year, 28 years after my first visit.

Then I went again this year---1 year after my last visit.

Personally, I think this has the makings of a fine yearly tradition. (Don't tell my mom I said that. She still insists that each trip to Hawaii is "the last one"---until two seconds after she gets home)

Since this year we were on yet another "last trip", and since my mom isn't getting any younger (don't tell her I said THAT either!), we put a special emphasis on nostalgia.

Hawaii is the land of my mom's childhood. She grew up here, and it shaped her as no other place has before or since. It's where she played, went to school, learned to drive, and had her first crush. And there were certain places she wanted to see again.

And shoot, it's Hawaii. We ALL wanted to see them, even if it was our first time.

The first stop on our traveling nostalgia tour was the Hanalei Valley lookout. My grandparents took my mom to Kauai in 1960 for summer vacation. They had stopped at this lookout, and my mom had always wanted to return.

So we did.

Bam. 'Cause we're cool like that.

Hanalei Valley, 1960 and 2015

As long as we were on Kauai, of course we had to stop and see Waimea Canyon.

Because Mom wanted to, of course. 

Then, jet-setters that we are, we hopped over to the Big Island for some more recent, but I feel still very important, nostalgia.

Fifteen years ago, my mom had taken my grandparents to visit an old friend in Hawi. While they were there, they'd stopped at a wonderful little restaurant that my mom had always wanted to take us to.

Well, since it was important to her.... 

On the way around the island to the restaurant, we got to see our very first active volcano!

We also stopped at the edge of the Waipio Valley. It's too bad we didn't go down, or we could have gotten our very own case of genuine Hawaiian dengue fever.

Maybe next time

Hawi at last! And yes, I do feel that this moment was a very special and important one...for my mom.

The fact that I licked the plate clean is quite incidental to the whole affair.

 They practically had to roll us onto the plane after that, but we made it to Oahu, my mom's old stomping grounds. The very air there is thick with nostalgia.

Sacred Falls, a popular swimming destination from my mom's childhood, is now closed to the public because the trail is so dangerous, so that was a miss. They do still allow swimming at Waimea Falls, another swimming hole from "back in the day." So of course we had to go.

As if the falls aren't beautiful enough, you reach them through a beautifully maintained botanical gardens.

 All for you, Mother.

Ah, yes. Camp Erdman. The school where my grandparents taught would rent the YMCA campground for the students' camp experience. Grandpa and Grandma would go as chaperones,  and my mom would go as one lucky faculty kid.

This is the shore where my grandpa almost drowned one year in a rip tide. He was trying to swim in and making no headway, so he'd wave at my grandma to show he needed help.

She'd wave right back, and go right back to chatting with the other ladies.

Thankfully, one of the students finally decided Mr. Day was getting a little close to Alaska and headed out in a canoe to pick him up. Nowadays, since they've discovered litigation, kids don't get to swim along this shoreline. The swimming pool is so much less likely to suck you to your doom.

Oh, there were so many spots we visited, I couldn't possibly do them all justice. Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial, Punch Bowl, Hanauma Bay, the library my mom spent so many happy afternoons exploring, Diamond Head, Iolani Palace, Ala Moana, the Pali.

Good memories. Great places.

Why, I do believe I feel an attack of nostalgia coming on myself. Must be time to go back!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Day

I'm joining the probably millions of other bloggers posting their New Year's musings today. Sorry about that! There's just something about new beginnings that inspires imagination and hope in hearts made weary. The excitement and anticipation of the new, the turning away from the old---sometimes with feelings of regret, sometimes with relief. It's a day that brings out the wordiness in already wordy people!

I feel the sparkle and the energy just as much as the next person, but even so, I've never been much for New Year's resolutions. No matter how good my intentions are in January, my resolutions always deteriorate like crumbling autumn leaves as the months pass by. Not this accomplisher's cup of tea, that. 

At the same time, being only three years away from official middle age has given me fresh determination that each day, each month, each year be lived to the fullest. I don't want to look back on 2016 with regrets that I merely drifted through my days aimlessly, or even worse, spent them waiting for "something" to happen. A new job, a new hobby, a new plan, a new boyfriend (Who am I kidding? ANY boyfriend!)---they're all nice ideas, but not worth wasting this year waiting for.

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
Dale Carnegie

I read this today on Facebook, that purveyor of all things philosophical and wise. I want to smell this year's roses, whatever they may be. So, in my effort to live this year intentionally and with purpose---while at the same time avoiding the depressing pit of failed resolutions---I am collecting mottoes and themes that I want to take into my new adventure. Thoughts that I want to inform and guide my decisions and attitudes throughout the year.

So far I have two.

And given my track record with memory, even those are doomed to be forgotten shortly if I don't write them down. Hence this post. Really. It's more for me than for you.

       Not my will, but Thine be done.

This is my motto for the year. I don't know what 2016 holds. A few weeks ago I had some tentative plans for the course of my year. But now, a few doctor's visits, some medical bills, and an ongoing medical condition later, some of those plans will need a little revision to say the least. 
I don't know if God's future plans for me will be the dramatic---a missionary in a foreign field who gives aid to helpless children and also collects lots of foreign cats, or the mundane---a gracefully? aging retail worker who loves Jesus and also collects lots of cats...and dogs...and cats...and more cats and more dogs. 

Maybe 2016 will be the year I meet the future Mr. 

Or....let's go with the odds here...maybe not. 

No matter what this year holds, whether ordinary or extraordinary, I want my life to be lived for His will, not my own.

What would you do if you weren't afraid? 

Easily make decisions I do not. I tend to worry over the simplest things, not sure which is "right". I also tend to avoid things I'm not good at because...well, I'm not good at them. Life is too short (especially when you begin to realize you've already spent such a substantial chunk of it!) to let fear dictate direction. This year I want to challenge myself to do the thing I would do if I weren't afraid. Big or small, I'm feeling fierce. Bring it on! 
Disclaimer: The actual levels of fierceness contained in the above statement may not be discernible to the naked eye. 

2016. A new year. A new adventure. Whatever it holds, whether happiness or grief, a hard path or a joyous one, it will be a good year if God walks through it with me. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

To Everything a Season

I'm actually having a hard time figuring out what to write here. After all, how do I sum up almost a year of life? What do I say? What do I leave out? The short answer is, there's no way to do it, but I'll try to hit the very highest of the highlights.

This past year has obviously been super-busy for me. I haven't posted anything for 10 months---and I would probably STILL be putting it off if I wasn't so determined not to hit the year mark. Those months were largely spent working and studying. If I wasn't at work, I was doing school, and it's pretty hard to spin that into great creative works of literature!

All the effort at school paid off when I graduated in May. It only took me 26 years to earn my AA, but I finally did it!  And I am SO glad to be taking a break from school for a while. Well, sort of a break. I'm taking one class this fall and another in the spring. Work has been good---I have never had a shortage of things to keep me busy there, that's for sure.

But all of that only tells you what's been happening on my outside. That's only half the story. This past year has also been the beginning of a journey---a quest to figure out what and WHO I am supposed to be now that I don't have kids at home.

See, I've been busy raising my kids for 19 years. 19 years! They say you build a habit in only 3 weeks, so almost 2 decades cuts a pretty deep pathway in the ol' neural tissue. My identity and purpose for my entire adult life has been very clear and easy to see. I am a parent. A mommy warrior. That's what I'm here for, that's what God has called me to do.

Only now, I'm not raising my kids. Yes, I still play a part in their lives, but it's a supporting role now---I'm not the main act anymore. That's an unfamiliar spot for me.

So I'm learning. Trying to figure out this whole "adult" thing. Figuring out who I am when I'm not on mommy duty. Wondering where the journey will lead and what God's purpose is for me now.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get back to some of the things that I like to do. Yes, life is still crazy busy, but I don't want to be a passive participant---I want to live a life that is intentional, at least some of the time! I can't spend my whole life vegging out on Facebook after work because I'm too tired to move. Which is why, the other day I finally stopped at an old house I've been wanting to photograph since I moved here 5 years ago.

It's a nice old ruin (not unlike what I feel like some of the time as I approach the big 4-0 in just a few more years), an old homesteader's cabin slowly losing the fight to remain upright. This particular day was a beautifully serendipitous meeting of a beautiful sunset at just the time I was driving by. Irresistible!

Finley was happy too, because we don't get to go adventuring as often as we used to

This is the view standing between the two buildings

Standing in the barn, or shed, or whatever it was

For the photographically minded, these two pictures were taken at the same time. On one I exposed for the building, and on the other I exposed for the sky. Two different effects, but both of them very pretty.

Solomon said "To everything, there is a season." Seasons change. Life changes. Things might look different tomorrow than they look today. But wherever life takes me, I can trust Him for the journey.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Pearl of the Pacific

Hawaii is a beautiful place, the pearl of the Pacific.

Unless you are a college student in the middle of the semester---then Hawaii turns out to look an awful lot like a text book.

Ah, we are on the way at last...

First sunset in Hawaii, on the scenic Ala Moana Beach...

At the Dole plantation. You'll note there are no pictures of me eating pineapple whip while studying. My devotion to duty only goes so far, after all....

Snorkeling at Shark's Cove---so hard to see the pages underwater. And my book is looking a little worse for wear...

On our energizing 5+ mile hike to Kaena Point...

Enjoying the sunset off the point...

What to do if it's raining because of an unfortunately timed hurricane? Get in a little culture, of course! The historic Bishop Museum...

In the Hall of Kings at the museum...

Shell hunting. I didn't find that many for some reason...

Doing what we did most of all in Hawaii---getting lost. This is the tunnel during our impromptu  trip to Kaneohe (when all we were trying to do was get back to the restaurant and pick my mom up)...

Hiking to the top of Diamond Head the last morning. Note to self---do not go on a hot, sweaty hike right before entering an enclosed airplane filled with noses....

(Disclaimer: Contrary to the claims of this blogger, very little actual studying was harmed in the process of her Hawaiian vacation. Perhaps she would have done better on her test if she had used her book for reading instead of as a photo prop!)