That's drizzle . . . not drivel--

Simply living... in the Pacific Northwest

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Granny, I want to talk about something."

I've come to discover this is what Hunter says when he wants to tell me about something that happened or he learned about at school.

We were sitting in the McDonald's parking lot last night before our library excursion when he said this. "Oh, what is it, Hunter?"

Then he began a diatribe about caterpillars. They're very hungry and thirsty. The females (I'd never heard this word uttered from his lips) lay eggs. Then they have babies and then they make a cocoon and take a long nap. They're sleepy. When they wake up they come out and they're a Monarch.

"Oh, really? What color are they?"

"They're yellow with black stripes. Then they lay eggs again. Only the mamas, not the daddies."

"So, do you have caterpillars in your classroom now, Hunter?"

Silence....he's still mulling over what he just told me. I think.

"Are they in a cage?"

"No! A jar." (silly me)

"Well that'll be exciting to watch them, won't it? You'll have to be very patient, huh?"

Silence....I think we're done with this discussion. He moves on to the toy he wants which is no longer manufactured.

He's only been in school since Aug. 30, but I'm so pleased he seems to be doing more challenging things, homework for example. He's never had any. He is volunteering information about what's going on in class where, before, you had to extract it like a stubborn tooth. This little conversation felt like a gift.

So, shout out to Hunter's teacher and any other special ed. teachers out there. You have my utmost appreciation. Thank you --- your job has shattering implications. It has profound effects on the life of your students' families, whether you realize it or not.

This post was a link to Rhonda's Down-to-Earth blog:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Too late for me, but Lisa, it's your time!

Forgive me, Lisa Spangler, if I wax wistfully today. You’ve been on my mind the last few days after I read about your role as a starting linebacker on a local high school football team.

Why wistful, you ask? Well, Lisa, it’s like this. I am getting old. And getting old doesn’t always mean content. You get to an age where you look back and say, “Ya know, if this or that happened, things may have just turned out a bit differently.”

I could list at least a dozen events in my life where, due to fear or lack of self-confidence, I did not realize an aspiration. But that would be too depressing right now, girlfriend. Let’s focus on the one at hand.

Let’s turn the Wayback Machine to 1970. Yes, the old days. Before Title IX.

I had a number of years of Little League softball under my belt and eagerly looked forward to playing for my high school team under our new girls’ coach. Miss Hawkey brought a new confidence to girls interested in athletics, i.e., tomboys. Gregarious, vivacious and extremely athletic, Miss Hawkey introduced us to off-the-regular-menu PE items like archery, field hockey and trampoline. We thrived under her encouragement with a new feeling of self-confidence. We all hoped our collective enthusiasm would mean more promotion of school sports for girls.

But, all the self-confidence in the world would not change school norms. Crushed, I learned the school would not fund a girl’s softball team.

The National Organization for Women was making noise in those days about the lack of equal opportunity for women in many areas of academia, not the least of those, sports. I heard enough of this through the news on TV to give me the courage one day to approach the high school boy’s baseball coach in the hall at school. Would he give me a chance to even try out for the team?

He knew me from my hanging around during their practices. Though I didn’t say anything, I knew from watching I could hold my own with most of those guys. All I wanted was a chance. Would he, like your coach, Lisa, give me a fair shake, come to see me as just another undersized ballplayer? I asked, and he looked at me askance.

“I need some big, strong BOYS.”

Crestfallen, but not discouraged, I asked again a few days later at practice. Same answer.

So, Lisa, there ya go. I’m not going to say, “You don’t know how lucky you are,” because that would make me sound bitter. And I don’t feel bitter. I think it’s awesome you get to play the game you love so much. I have tried to imagine what it must feel like to be you, just putting yourself out there on the field, getting it done and taking names. I imagine it feels fantastic.

I’m happy things have changed to where we can watch women’s sports on ESPN. Now it’s commonplace to read the coverage of local girls breaking records and leading their teams to victories at all levels.

But heck, in 1971 I couldn’t even convince then-Columbian sports editor Ralph Fisher to cover girl’s volleyball even after it had become a sanctioned intramural sport, with district-wide competition. He said no one would be interested.

So surely you can see, Lisa, why I feel wistful when I reflect upon your story. The barriers have been breached. Just a couple years too late.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I've been re-blogged!

Humbly, I report I have a story published on Autism Speaks' blog:

There are many good stories on there---read on to learn more about autism. Knowledge is power!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just some snaps to cheer me up

Thanks to Deb at for the inspiration.
Old-fashioned  Columbine
Sedum Autumn Joy

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Corn Day 81

This post is linked to Down To Earth "On My Mind". Check it out for some lovely Down Under, down home reading:

OK, Mr. Hume, I will cut you a little slack since we've had such a mild summer (sorry to virtually everyone else in the U.S.).

But, it's Day 81, and the on the seed pack you said 79 days to maturity. Not 78 or 80, mind you. 79.

It looks like to me we're looking at another week. I am going to sock it to the corn with water in the coming days to see if that helps fatten up those ears.

I am eager to make corn relish---you might say I am relishing the thought! We are going to have a lot of corn coming on all at once, and since I do not own a pressure canner, and have limited freezer space, AND my husband nearly sucked all the air out of the room when I mentioned it---I will be making relish with my corn. At least that which we do not eat fresh.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dialogues that just make you laugh

This is one:

Hunter and Pa Pa went fishing today. That's a big deal here. So beforehand, Hunter and I went to the store for fishing excursion snacks.

His current favorites are those roll-up fruit snacks. He eats them so fast it makes you fear either he's going to choke himself to death or he's a secret bulimic.

So he cons me into buying a box (containing 6 small bags) of fruit roll ups. These are not simply short rollups. I'd say totally unfurled they measure, oh, maybe 36-40 inches. He asks there in the aisle if he can have one, and I reply, "No, you can have one once we get in the car."

So on we go, finishing up the shopping,one of us all anticipatory and atwitter over the impending engorgement of rich fruit-flavored high-fructose corn syrup solids. During check-out, his eyes follow the box as the checker scans and bags it. THEN, as I'm wheeling the cart out of the line and toward the door, he asks the question I've been waiting for:

"Now can I have one, Granny?" He smacks his lips.

"When did I tell you you could have one?"

"In the car."

"Are we in the car?"

"No."  (Here's where I smile thinking about this--I love that he answered me.)

"Then what do you need to do?"

"Be patient."

That's right, Hunter...just be patient. Let those salivary glands reap the rewards of all that waiting! Gleeking will rule the day! Buckle up, rip, unroll and enjoy!

Epilogue: According to Pa Pa, the rest of the box was annihilated in about 15 minutes at the fishing hole.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

That great new-library-card-smell!

(this is a link to Down To Earth's On My Mind forum

Is there anything like that smell?

Yesterday was library day for Hunter and me. We try to (and usually do) go to the library every other Wednesday. We have a great system here in our area and it just got better in July with the opening of the new central building.

Hunter looks forward to our library visits so much. His first intent always is to visit the DVD section to see if there are any new train videos he hasn't seen yet. (Hey, whoever is producing those, keep it up!)

I decided it was time for Hunter to have his own library card. All these years we've been doing this, I've been checking out his materials with my card, which is okay, but I wanted him to have his own card. I'm not sure what kind of reaction I expected from this. But the process was exciting to me.

The librarian was nearly as excited as I was when I made the request. As I filled out the necessary paperwork, she told me she wanted to give him the usual schtick she gives all kids receiving their library card. Ok, I told her, but he has a bit of autism going on, and I can't guarantee you'll get any eye contact or reassurance he knows what you're talking about. He probably will get it, but you just won't know that for sure.

So I corraled him from the DVD section for the orientation. It took about 28 seconds.

"Hi, Hunter! This is your very OWN library card! Now, it's important you keep it in a safe place and always bring it with you when you come to the library, because if you want to check out books, you can't if you don't have it. So, now, would you sign the back?"

What Hunter probably heard:
"Hi Hunter! This is your ........blah blah blah...........sign the back."

He signed the card eagerly because it was a really cool Sharpie pen, but needed help spelling his last name. Then as fast as he came, he was trotting toward the stairway to, the children's floor where all the cool hands-on stuff (meant for 0-5 year olds) is. I collected the card, smiled and thanked the librarian and her misty-eyed assistants standing nearby.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ridin' the rails with my guy

Hunter has loved trains ever since he learned there was actually a mode of transportation which accommodated his penchant for lining things up.

We always wondered if this love would wear out over the years, but, no, it seems to be stronger than ever.

Before the summer came to an end, I bought tickets last weekend for us to ride the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad train up in Yacolt. It's got an old diesel engine, a caboose, a club car and an open-air car.  I believe the engine and railway used to work the logging industry back in the days before the spotted owl. Now it carries families and friends visiting during vacation, train enthusiast groups, and, I imagine, the occasional boy living with autism and a fascination for anything "train."

The train meandered along about ten miles per hour throughout the bucolic countryside, ten miles down to Moulton Falls and back, with a thrilling tunnel in between. Cows, horses and goats scarcely noticed our presence as we rattled by. Motorists waved. The sun shone. Perfect.

I noticed Hunter's body language during the ride. I know part of what he was doing was stimming, resting his cheek on the side of the car, watching the tracks pass beneath us. But he was also noticing all the different features of the train. The whistle horns (he numbered each one), the stack protruding from the caboose (why?), the placements of the lights.... I'm so proud of his many perceptions, and I'm so glad to be able to share these types of things with him.

His responses to experiences heighten my sense of gratitude; sometimes he gets a bit overwhelmed with what I guess is inner joy. All he can manage to say is, "Granny....I love....I love..." He can't seem to express  the rest of the sentence. He is just loving the moment.

I love, too, Hunter.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lavender Days

It's been a weird year weather-wise here, but one thing which has not failed is the lavender crop here in our vicinity.

Each summer when Sam and Sarah come to visit, we try to harvest a few handsful of stems to make lavender wands. They're wonderful to stash in your lingerie drawer or someplace in your car. The house was simply filled with heady, herby lavender aromas last night while we made are some photos showing some of the steps, if you are unfamiliar. All you need is lavender and narrow ribbon, 1/8 or 1/4-inch.
You start by tying the stems together below the blooms with a length of ribbon, then bending the stems back down upon themselves. You must use an odd number of stems. Five to seven work well. This first step, starting out, is the most challenging. After this it's a piece of cake.

Start weaving the ribbon over and under the stems.

Keep going until you reach the bottom, then tie off in whatever fashion you wish. Below are some finished ones. Sarah made a mini wand and attached it to her phone!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On My Mind....Contemplation

This post is linked to Rhonda's On My Mind post at her webpage, Down To Earth.

Today I was having a wonderful conversation with a fellow who has a counseling service office in our building. The subject of mindfulness came up. In the course of the conversation, I laughingly told him I often talk to myself while I'm doing something "mindless like housework."

He countered that such activity is not mindless at all, that being mindless has nothing to do with doing mundane tasks, but with not paying attention to what it is that I am "talking" about; not being aware of my presence of mind. That is, I should ask myself to try and be more mindful of the types of things I am ruminating about while I'm doing other things.

To make this more clear, let's say I am mopping the floor. I don't need to concentrate on this task; it's pretty much habit and automatic by now. So....I should take time to be more intentional about making note of the things I'm thinking about during these moments.

What kinds of things am I talking to myself about? Do I sense any patterns? Am I re-running conversations, making my part more forceful, or re-stating so that I sounded less offensive? OR am I dreaming of trips I'd like to take but probably never will, of relationships I lost and what may have been if I hadn't, or what it will be like when I lose all my weight.

What patterns do I notice when I intentionally make note of these thoughts? Am I spending too much time being regretful? Spending too much energy worrying about something I have no control over?

If so, with what kinds of thoughts can I replace these negative thoughts (which I was not even aware of before)? Perhaps blessings. Maybe try and think about where I saw God in my life this week, today, yesterday. What can I do for someone else today? Hey, there's a thought...think about someone other than myself.

My husband crosses paths with me occasionally during the weekend when I'm going about my chores and chides me, "Hey, who you talking to?"

I may turn red -- and I am going to try and stop being so visibly verbal with myself-- but I'm going to look forward to saying to him, "Well, you know, I was just taking some pleasant self-inventory. Want in?"

Friday, July 15, 2011

This weekend's forecast: Rain and raspberry jam

It will be rainy tomorrow, so I will make jam with the first pickings of raspberries I've stashed in the freezer each evening. The tayberries are small, but the raspberries growing next to the "Man Cave" are huge! I wonder what exactly goes on in there? The berries are so large this year it's as if they have absorbed testosterone at a high level due to their proximity to the goings-on nearby.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lamenting Lost Lettering

So now I read that 41 states now are not requiring students to learn cursive writing to progress in school. It is not included in the No Child Left Behind Common Core States Standards for English. Keyboarding techniques are taught in the primary grades as the standard. Which I get, but....

This has left me with mixed feelings, leaning on the side of lamentation.

How many of us remember third grade: the smell of sharpened pencils and the sound of scratching on newsprint, our teachers encouraging us to stay within the lines. I do---and I'm glad I endured what was, at the time, grueling Palmer discipline for an 8 year-old. It was a graduation of sorts, from immature printing to grown-up writing. It was supposed to allow us to write faster-- not having to lift the pencil or pen for each letter--enabling us to conquer those future essay tests within our limited classtime. We would sign our signature on hundreds of documents, checks and contracts in our adult life. We evolved right there, on paper, Ticonderoga in hand. Is there just no time for this anymore? In the third grade? Really?

There is at least one study of students who learn a new text by handwriting which reveals greater brain activity in the areas which control language comprehension, motor-related processes and speech-associated gestures. This is just icing on the cursive cake.

I love seeing beautiful writing--writing someone has taken time and care to put down on paper. The beautiful sweeping capital letters, the flow from one letter to another. Some women I know--and a few men, my Dad included--have elegant, distinctive cursive writing which you can tell is a result of disciplined learning. It took time to learn and there was pride in accomplishment.

But these fine examples are going by the wayside. I'm afraid the Boomers may be the last Palmer devotees. My daughters boast their ball-and-stick D'Nealian writing methods, one even preens, "I love my all-caps's cute!" Others among their peers state they've printed all their lives and got all A's. What's the big deal?

I could get really cynical and project that one day we'll devolve to the point of not needing writing at all. We'll just circle back to cave writing with pictures. But I do try and keep an open mind. I know we are living in a technological age, and you need to get on board or get out of the way.

But, please, write me a lovely cursive note sometime. Just to show me it's still out there somewhere besides the national archives.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On My Mind today...

The first pint of raspberries are in the freezer, so it must finally be summer. Although today is quite chilly. I wonder whether we will get a true summer here or not this year!

I have an abundance of chives and parsley. I made a very nice chopped herb-garlic-olive oil marinade for some delicious pink tomatoes I bought at the Farmers Market last Saturday. It was great, but our breath---OMG!

I lost three pounds this past week on Weight Watchers. This is my major challenge this year. I hope to be down at least three sizes by the time we travel to Florida next May. I think it is a reasonable goal, but I'll need to be very diligent.

Here are some parsley pictures--such a pretty green!


Tied, and --


At the WW meeting, the topic of the lecture was "realizing dreams." The speaker encouraged us to think about our dreams and how we go about making them come about (goals). I was a bit stunned to begin with, as I could not identify a personal dream. The last goal I set for myself and accomplished was earning my Bachelor's degree. Seven years ago! The related dream was working in public information-public relations in the health care field.

Well, then the bottom fell out of the economy and my dream was dashed by every out-of-work journalist fleeing downsizing newspapers and flooding the job force. Subsequent layoffs in the government sector have diminished hopes of ever realizing that dream of spreading the gospel of public health to my community. Non-profits employ established and tenured reporters and editors who used to work for dailies.

I am happy where I've landed, but the speaker challenges me to look inside and figure out if there are dreams I'm too distracted by daily life to dream. The only challenging goal I work toward right now is the weight control. So....of what do I dream now? What do YOU dream, reader?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On My Mind

This post will be attached to Rhonda's On My Mind at Down---to---Earth.

Right now on my mind is this old watch my Dad gave me years ago. It has the inscription of his great aunt's name and the date 1894. It's beautifully ingraved with her initials scrolled on one side and a bird and flowers on the front in tri-colored gold. Sorry about the photo...bad batteries. I may replace later.

I've been thinking how I've kept this beautiful item locked away for years, and now am considering giving it to my daughter for Christmas now that she's about the age I was when it was given to me. It makes me think of the beauty we all have, the shining gifts God has given us, that we should not lock away, but share with others always.

Being a late bloomer, I hope I've instilled in my girls the strength and courage to step out of their comfort zones and be their authentic selves, live life to the fullest, before they're old like me!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

So proud of my Grandson today

The city sponsored a wonderful Get Outdoors day today. I took Hunter, my grandson who lives with autism. We like to do outdoorsy stuff together. Here he is rock climbing and doing some archery. They also had fishing.

He climbed "the mountain" about halfway when he began to panic a bit, so he came down. I was still so proud that he tried (it was his idea, surprisingly). He really is growing!

He is braver now than he's ever been before. Last year I doubt he'd have tried this.
The ladies and gentlemen who helped in the activities were awesome---so patient!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Corn planting

You start with sprouted seed. I started this Sunday evening. Since I do not use paper towels at the house, I just used some drive-thru napkins I'd saved some time ago.
Then water down your planting area and poke holes with a stick or dowel or finger, 1 inch deep..
Place your seed in root-down, cover, and then----Mr. Triplesweet, I will see YOU in 79 days!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

If the breeze would just hold up for a sec....that's it!

I love "trying" to shoot photos of my poppies. The breezes make it a challenge--and getting the right settings!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lucky or....

Today I said to myself, "Girl, you are one lucky chick. Look at the view from your office. How can you ever complain about your job?"

Granted, most days are not like today. Two hundred and seventy days a year are gray and dreary. But today, I was blessed by the second day of cheer thanks to a small flock of Western Tanagers and one cranky female Northern Flicker sallying and calling from the cherry tree outside my office. The male Tanagers, adorable with red-orange hoods, sallied among the branches snatching insects on the fly. The olive females flitted closeby in an adjacent tree, perhaps keeping one eye on a nest.

The Northern Flicker seemed to have a sense of when I raised my camera, because as soon as I peered through the lens, she moved away. She likes to hang out in the cavity of an old wooden pole that bears an old rusting basketball hoop long abandoned. It perches there on the opening, calling its disdain for the more colorful Tanagers. The more frequent the sallying, the more voika-voika-voika-skreet!

I know the Tanagers will be gone soon; they don't stay for long. I look forward to them every spring. They happen to like the mixed "forest" there on the church campus, even though it is only yards from a main arterial. I suppose they'll be heading north soon, maybe following nearby I-5 up to British Columbia.

The Flicker, I hope, hangs around long enough to allow me to see some fledglings.

So...lucky? Well, today, it feels more like "blessed."

Friday, May 27, 2011

On my mind

4:30 p.m. and the beginning of a long weekend.We have Monday off for Memorial Day. It has been ages since I have visited any family gravesites, but I think this year will be the year.

I cannot imagine the number of times each week I quote my Grandma. Many of her funny sayings are part of my lexicon. Sometimes I'll say something like, "That hat you're wearing looks like a wart on a pickle," and my husband will snort and stare at me in disbelief. What? You've never heard that one? Sheesh, I've been saying that my entire life.

It's because Grandma used to say it all the time.

She could be cantankerous and actually, quite judgmental. I looked past that, as it wasn't a child's place to question an adult in those days. But, she had some funny idioms, and for that, and for teaching me other good stuff like crocheting, and appreciating pretty things like flowers and porcelain figures, I will go place a pretty flower on hers and Grandpa's gravestone this weekend.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thoroughly Disappointed Today

My daughter was informed today that her son, my grandson, Hunter, will lose not only his adaptive PE teacher immediately, but next year will lose his 1-1 occupational therapy specialist. This, to me, is unacceptable.

Do people not see past their own noses or credit card bills to the greater good anymore? Everywhere I read folks expressing their disdain for government and their wishes not to pay for anything the government provides. Frankly, I have paid taxes for years for services and infrastructure that I never used myself. But I understand the need for it.

An example is voting for school levies even though your children are grown, or you don't have children.  Education should be a high-value investment. Somehow people have lost the desire to be a part of the greater good of their community. It's dog-eat-dog, what's-in-it-for-me.

In the very near future, more and more people living with autism will be in the workplace, making a living for themselves the best way they can. These are the kids being slighted now by short-sighted voters. With the growing number of diagnoses of autism, I can only pray that people open their eyes and hearts to the reality that we all need to recognize our role in their success.