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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Missing Mama on Mother's Day

Mama and me 
Last Monday I had another of those heart clutching moments that turned my expression sour - as I realized I won't get to celebrate Mother's Day with Mama this year. It's funny how this whole process of grieving for Mama is so full of grouchy anger. You'd think I'd be sad. Instead I'm ticked off at TheUniverse-and-TheWayThingsAre. Grrrrr. Fortunately, God has broad shoulders and  He understands that we all grieve in our own ways. If I didn't know Mama and I would be together some day I would probably be sad instead of mad.

Here at TheCastle we don't really "do" Mother's Day. For almost all of the early years we were too poor to celebrate with stuff and there were other dynamics that prevented us from celebrating in less costly ways. I assured LD that it was just a Halmark Card Holiday and he wasn't to feel compelled to "do" anything. But heck. We didn't "do" Valentine's day either. Lordy - either we really were poor as church mice or I had no confidence in ThePrince - a man who's sentimentality is almost completely self focused - either remembering the day or devising a suitable response.  (probably a little bit of both) It was just easier to have no expectations than to have them crushed.

I know better now and just remind ThePrince that Valentine's day is coming and a poem on a heart is required. In return he gets steak-in-the-kitchen - which we both thoroughly enjoy.

But for Mama. Ahh. That was different. In fact, I lavished special things on both mamas in May because I loved my mother in law  second only to my own dear Mama. She has been gone so long the pinch and the grouchiness has abated but this is the first year in a long time that I haven't gone to spend time with my sweet little mother and oh my goodness how I wish I had one more opportunity. But now I think of it - neither of those women were very sentimental either. Mama always smiled gently at us when we presented our grubby little wild flower bouquets. We wheedled Daddy to drive into town to the drugstore to buy Whitman's Samplers. He always said "She's not my mother. Why should I buy her anything?" But we knew, even then, that he was the sentimental one and had planned all along to take us shopping for a Mother's Day gift. He even paid for everything instead of making us use our allowances. No. The real story is that he was the one who'd be hurt if we were lax or forgot - either the Father's Day thing or his Valentine. So, perhaps Mama is the one who influenced me about not getting all caught up in the gift giving guilt thing. Good thing, too, since ThePrince and I really did live on a shoestring for that first decade.

Besides - I honored Mama every day. I have never liked to talk on the telephone - not even when I was a teen. But I could talk to her every day on the phone and often did. In those early years when we didn't have a telephone, I wrote her letters. I have a box of them now, that she saved and I collected when we emptied her house out 8 years ago.  I shared things with her regularly. She knew about every joy and every triumph and I was careful to shield her from any bad news because I knew how sharply my pain pricked her. Yet if it was important I would share because she was the only one who could soothe. There really never was a Mother's Day for us - not even a Mother's 365 Day. For us, the love, the honor, the devotion was constant. I was deeply blessed by a mother who loved me and it's something that strengthens my spine and shields my tender heart every single day.

So this year, like all the other First Time Without Mama things, Mother's Day will come and pinch my heart and then go. It is just The Way Things Are. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

She's Launched!

Yesterday was one of those crystal blue persuasion days and as I came back into the office from the mailbox it struck me - I will be werk werk werkin' so hard this month it might pass me by and I'll never have spent an afternoon outside. With 190 hours of vacation saved up (werk werk werk, that's all I do ) I suddenly decided to Play Hooky. I knew we were covered, btw, and I had nothing pressing on my desk. Instead I took a favorite salad home, (Subway's chopped Mediterranean salad - YUM) and had a picnic out in the yard. ThePrince had just cut the grass a few days ago and in May I actually have grass - or something growing that's green, at least, so I felt very a la magazine.  You know that feeling - the one you get when your house is sparkling clean and you have the nice stuff out and maybe company's coming and you feel proud ... like your house or garden is as good as the ones in the magazines.

I just sat there, looking in every direction, watching the pups gambol about, just allowing my soul to be open. That means eating slowly and trying to taste each bite - which is supposed to keep one from overeating - though it was 2 o'clock and I was really hungry. But there - I digress. The goal of my hooky playing self was to take the kayak out for her first trip of 2016.  This was a birthday present that came to me a few days before Mama died and after that, though I took it out several times, my memory of those days is all black and shrouded and then, you know, winter - and dark - and cold. So yeah.

I am reminded of a cute story about a wonderful woman I know. She met and married her husband shortly before he shipped off to Europe in 1943. He was gone several years and when he came home she greeted him by offering to shake hands. There just hadn't been enough time to cement a relationship.

Well. That is how I've been feeling about my kayak. We met, we fell in love, and then a dark pall fell on our love story followed by the long separation of winter. I was a little hesitant about taking her out again. Not to worry. The moment I slipped into the cockpit I felt like I was back home again and we slid away from the pier as a single unit. I was one with my boat.

Image result for old town loon 111 with paddle strapThePrince had created a simple stowage system at the end of the pier so I can hang the kayak out all summer (and not have to drag it the 400 feet back to the bank). I can even launch it at low tide! The wide open cockpit of an Old Town Loon is easy to get into and I love how it has a little elastic strap to hold the paddle in place while you're coming aboard. I'll be buying some sort of tarp or cover to protect it from UV damage but it'll be okay for a day or two. This tiny craft - not 12 feet long - just feels like it was designed for me ... and believe me ... I have looked at and even paddled a LOT of kayaks. I could have spent more $$ but why? Perfect is perfect.

I was hoping I could take the dogs along with me since I did not want a kayak to see how many miles I could cover in 20 minutes. I wanted something I could use to nose up into little inlets, poke into marshy guts, sit quietly in while I listened to red winged blackbirds sing. I figured I'd be going slow enough that they'd be able to swim along with me.


Those poor things were not just exhausted, but they made a lot of noise swimming so my peaceful trip was accompanied by snuffing and huffing. Also - we've allowed these dogs to tussle so much and so hard that they think it's a good thing to try to duck a sister in the water. Juno is so much bigger than Callie I'm afraid she'll drown her sister. I can take Callie out alone because she's the better swimmer and she's small enough that I can actually put her in the cockpit with me ... something she loves ... but most of the time they'll go in the pen when I go out.

Still and all we made it up Farmer's Hall Creek far enough to see one of Tom Tombe's eagles eyeing us from his guard station. There are 3 active nests within easy walking distance of my house and I am determined to photograph at least one of them. With the new camera. The one I am still learning how to use, but am falling more in love with every day.  I didn't take it out with me yesterday because - well - New Camera - and First Kayak Ride of the season.

Exiting the kayak is the toughest part of the trip. The whole process is a gravity defying adventure, for this boat is narrow and it rocks and I must climb up out of it, depending on the tide, anywhere from a few inches to 2.5 feet. Remember now - a kayak is narrow and tippy. Remember also that I am old and have an injured and weak rotator cuff. Then there is the penalty for any misstep - 4 feet of ooozy black marsh mud. Note Juno's beautiful white fur? Yeah.

Here is a picture of a pro doing it with only maybe 18 inches of rise:
Image result for exiting a kayak onto a pier

I have the thigh strength to do this but alas, I come into my pier on the bad shoulder side.  Fortunately I don't have to use this technique. ThePrince shoved a cedar post into the marsh just far enough from the pier that I can slip the bow between it and the pier, keeping it from rocking. I can tie the stern to the pier with it's mooring line and then all I have to do is center my feet and push up with my legs. Voila! TheQueen is on the pier!

And now it is Saturday and lo. Here comes the sun after a misty start to the day. There will be More Kayaking today.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

TheBrains Fulfill a Promise

emoticonPsst. Hey.
emoticon Yes?
emoticon I thought she was going to post about that camera.  Didn't she promise?
emoticonYes. She did.
emoticonWell. Well?
emoticonWell, I think she has been too busy.
emoticonHuh. Not any busier than us.
emoticonThan we
emoticon Pbbbtth  Not interested in a grammar lesson, you conjunctionist.
emoticon(grins) Okay. But I think she hasn't written about the camera because she's not sure if she plopped all that $$$ down for the wrong purchase.

    Fujifilm FinePix S1 16.4 MP Digital camera

emoticon What? What? What?
emoticonAnd don't go all Brian Gavillan on me.  You know it's true.

emoticon Well, weren't you just sick and tired of all that dithering she was doing? Gawd - she read so many camera reviews that every time we looked at TheInternets we were bombarded with camera ads.
emoticonYes. I was tired of it and the truth is, I think she'd set herself an impossible goal.  I don't think there is a ThePerfectCamera - at least, not a perfect point and shoot one.
emoticon And I HATED the old camera - I didn't even want to pick it up any more. And I resented not being able to take pictures.
emoticonYou're right. I noticed we'd just stopped taking it with us. It was so tedious to have to hunt around for some background trees to hide the spots made by the scratches on the lens.  But I do think you were unfair with her, lusting after those super zooms.
emoticon OMG - but look what you can do with them. drool city!

emoticonAnd I'm not sure the dog photos look right - something about the edges ...

emoticonOh - I don't know - I think they look pretty good and the landscape photos are very nice

emoticonHmmm. Well - they're okay. But they have such little sensors that it's hard not to get noisy pictures.
 emoticon Noise shmoise.
emoticonWell. did you like those first photos we took.

emoticon (squirms a little) well. No. But don't you think ... it's not the camera's fault - it's ....
emoticonYes. I do think that we are pretty ignorant photographers.  When you see photographers in action - you know, the real ones - they just seem to point and shoot.  But really that's not what they're doing. They're twisting dials and pushing buttons and setting things up so the pictures all come out right.   Point and shoot is never going to be National Geographic. It's like those ads that use thin models and show them eating cheeseburgers with huge big bites - you get to thinking you too could be thin if you just open wide and bite.
Image result for taking a big bite

emoticon LOL yes. you're so right. It feels like you should just be able to go click click click and have prize photos. But that's just stupid. Well. You know I love it when we know stuff and I love to learn new things.  We can learn how to take better pictures.
emoticonYes. I think the more we learn about how photography works, the more we'll love that new camera.
emoticon I'm glad we bought that beginner's guide to photography book.

emoticonI am too - already we've improved on those first shots.

emoticon and don't you like that zoom lens? I mean - really - aren't you happy that you can get up close with those fragile wild life pictures? Did you even KNOW a frog had those mimicking camouflage teeth?

emoticonNope. No. I think it was a good thing to get the super zoom. We live in an area where wildlife abounds. It would be a shame to miss out on good quality closeups.
emoticon Besides - I don't feel like this is the last camera we'll ever buy. I mean - what if we get really good at photography - we might want a DSLR
emoticonLOL - you greedy puss you. Just looking for another opportunity for Retail Therapy.
emoticon(Grins) It's never too far away - but no. not any time soon. I want to become a better photographer and I'm ready to take that baby out and play with her.
emoticonSo? Let's Go.
emoticon Uh - and - uh ... let's just keep this between us. She'll never know - she can just think everything's hunky dory and never know we had this conversation.
emoticonYou think?
emoticon Nope. I just feel it's the right thing to do