Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shakespeare, Finally

When we moved to OR 20 years ago, some dear neighbors up the street became good friends and we spent a great deal of time with them.  They taught us a game called Mah Jong which I never really got the hang of but we had fun anyway.  They had property across the street from our house on which they had planned to build a home on someday but they changed their minds, sold the property and moved to eastern OR.  My in-laws bought that property and built their own home on it (that's another story!)  Anyway, we have kept in touch with these neighbors all these years.  Before they moved, they gave us quite a few books and magazines that they no longer needed.  One of these books was Shakespeare: 23 plays and the Sonnets.

This book has been kept in a prominent place for 20 years, being referred to when needed (Shakespeare comes up more often than one would imagine).  I had always hoped at least one of my kids would want to read it someday but I never pushed.  And then one day, four months ago, Chad announced he was going to read it.  It took him four months to finish (as he said, "Shakespeare is not easy reading") but I was so proud of him for never giving up.  I think he was proud of himself as well.  The great thing about Chad is that whatever he is reading, I get to "read" it, too.  I got to learn all about the plays as he was reading them.  I did the same thing for him when I was reading "War and Peace".  It's fun to have someone to share with when one is reading a great peace of work.  We discussed each play, Chad giving his opinion for each one.  Learning the background was interesting as well.  We both got a terrific education on Shakespeare, simply because he wanted to read it. And that is exactly what I had hoped would happen.  I could have made it an assignment but I chose not to and I think he learned more because it was his idea.  I wish I could do all our learning that way.

It was interesting to see just how many phrases have passed into modern life that have their origins in Shakespeare.  I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that.  We also enjoyed reading Verla's notes (our neighbor that gave us the book).  I think this was college reading for her, probably dating back into the late 1950's and her sense of humor shows through in her comments.  She was a teacher for many years and I think she would love to know that Chad enjoyed this book.  That's a letter I need to write, and soon.

We have other books Verla gave us that turned out to be very important to our children.  She will enjoy knowing what an influence these books have had on our lives.  I've never thought to mention this to her in our yearly letters to each other.  But this year, I definitely will.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Today is Memorial Day, the day when we are to remember all those who have served and died for our country and beyond.  When the kids were little, we spent a great deal of this day learning, doing crafts, putting out the flag and saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  And we nearly always go to one of the cemeteries in our area, particularly the one where a lot of soldiers are buried.  There used to be ceremonies including fly-bys of fighter jets, sometimes we could see them from our living room window.  But, since those jets are usually being used elsewhere, we haven't seen them in several years.  This year, we are planning to attend a ceremony in town and then go to the cemetery we usually go to.  Chad put our flag out.  We talked about the origin and whys of Memorial Day (it used to be called Decoration Day) and I prayed with my kids, thanking God for all the brave people who served and died, including the families left behind.  In particular on my mind is a family here in Oregon who lost their only child, a son, just last week.  He was supposed to be married in the next few weeks.  He was on his second tour of duty and he didn't come home.  Not alive, anyway.  My heart goes out to that family.  I always cry when I read about those we have lost in these recent wars, especially when it hits in our state.  Oh, it doesn't matter where they live, I cry anyway.

There was a good article in our local paper about the shift of focus for Memorial Day, how for most people it's about getting away and having fun.  But there was also an article about several families who convene every year at a cemetery where their loved ones are buried.  They use this time to not only see family but to clean up the grave sites and bring flowers.  I thought that was a lovely tradition to have.  The children in those families hopefully will continue the tradition, making sure their kids honor their loved ones.  Important stuff.  I want my kids to have these values, always showing respect for those we have lost, for those in the service, keeping traditions.  Today, Todd and I both told the kids about our family members who served our country.  I have a lot of military in my family, including the Civil War, and I hope to keep telling these stories so my kids will remember.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Progress, progress ...

Hey ... the saw is gone!  It's really gone!  We are adjusting to not having to squeeze past it and the dishwasher to enter the kitchen.  So much space!  All of the lower cabinets are in place (no doors or counter top yet), except for the island which isn't built yet.  It's looking terrific!  We purchased an island hood and a cooktop at amazing prices, what a blessing.  Todd had to go through Longview, Washington, on his way to Portland and stopped at a Lowe's (they are like a Home Depot) where they had a clearance section.  He found the island hood and cooktop which happened to be styles/models he was pleased with.  He came home and talked to me about them, and then I called to see if we could purchase them over the phone.  The appliance manager I talked to offered me the hood for $300 less than the price Todd saw on it (I almost cried).  Seems that she's been wanting to sell this for some time and there wasn't a demand for island hoods in that community.  It's not been out of the box, in perfect condition.  The cooktop is gas which means we'll have an extra monthly bill but fortunately there is a gas line already run to our house in the finished basement, we've just never needed to use it.  I'm sure there's a fee to hook it up again, there's always a fee, right?  Anyway, these purchases take care of a couple of big ticket items we were going to need to buy.  I believe we saved more than half of what we expected to pay if we had bought these items elsewhere.  And Lowe's kindly allowed us to open an account online and gave us 6 months interest free.  I feel so special.

I honestly have trouble remembering life before this remodel began ... and it hasn't been all that long!  It's funny how something can take over your life so quickly and easily.  I'm so thankful for how God has blessed us in different ways through this.  

My husband and our sons took a road trip last Sunday to see the annular eclipse.  Since it was cloudy here on the coast, they drove until they found sun, which turned out to be about a 4-5 hour drive one way.  They didn't get home until nearly midnight but they had fun and took some great photos with their cameras and sun filter.  Carmen and I spent the day talking and playing games.  We made a simple dessert also.  It's fun to see her so interested in cooking.  We made dinner together, a new recipe that we modified to suit our tastes.  It was a great day for our whole family, and I got to see some photos of the eclipse as it was happening, via computer.  

Todd has time off through Memorial Day (the doctor is gone as well).  Hopefully, he can move forward with the kitchen, despite the torrential rain and wind we have been having since yesterday.  And the weather is looking just as foul for the rest of the week.  Springtime on the coast, you know! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

49 And Thankful

We've gotten our routine down now:  Monday through Thursday, life as usual.  Homeschooling, driving Chad to college and his volunteer job, etc.  On Friday, everything gets covered, the plastic comes down all around the kitchen and we look for things to do that keep us out of the way.  When the saw is running, we look for ways to be out of the house.  Lots of cleanup each day of the weekend, then Monday, everything gets uncovered and shaken out.  Life as usual.  Sort of.

Todd has built the upper cabinets on the back wall of the kitchen.  The refrigerator cabinet and the shelves above.  Installed a vegetable sink with a disposal and water filter, for which I am thankful since my other sink has been disconnected.  Amazing how grateful one can be for water when it's turned off for any length of time.  Last weekend, the kids and I went for a long drive, since I knew if I was in the house without water it would drive me nuts.  On our drive, we happened upon a herd of goats, including a pair of newborn kids.  From the appearance of their mother, we supposed that the kids were less than 20 minutes old.  The mother was trying to get her twins to stand up.  It was very cool to witness.  When we returned to our house, Todd was still working on the plumbing (it NEVER goes as quickly as one would like!)  but eventually everything came together, the leaks repaired and all was well.  Little by little, the kitchen is taking shape.

Oh, yes, there was that small event a few days ago.  I turned 49 last Tuesday, and since this kitchen remodel is not cheap, I chose a very small celebration.  Chad put a candle in a chocolate donut and brought it out to me after lunch.  Alec picked a daffodil for me (something he doesn't usually do).  We ordered Chinese take out for dinner which Todd picked up on his way home from work.  He brought in dinner, along with a dozen red roses.  Very sweet!  It was a nice, quiet birthday and I am very glad we didn't go to Leavenworth, WA, this time.  As much as I like going there, it is very spendy.  Actually, having a quiet birthday seemed just right this year.  My daughter baked a chocolate cake today, and said it was a late birthday cake.  She has been choosing recipes out of a terrific cookbook for young people and this was the first time she's ever made anything like this, especially with very little assistance.  She is so proud of herself and so am I.  It was very good, by the way.

I was thinking about my birthday last week, how I love my family and my life.  I used to get so worked up about my birthday, wondering if anyone close to me would remember and do anything for me.  I really didn't feel that way this year - what a relief.  I remember when I was about 11 or 12, my mother told everyone not to worry about her birthday and so nobody did anything for her.  I believe she spent most of the day on the couch, something she absolutely never did.  She was depressed that we listened to her and didn't do anything!  That afternoon, I found a cake mix that you mixed up right in the included disposable box and it was either microwaved or baked (I don't remember).  I brought it out to her and I know she really appreciated my small gesture.  I learned from that experience that you must be careful what you say - people will believe you!  She never again said not to worry about her birthday.  I think she learned a lesson, too!