Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Grandparent's House

When my grandparents retired from the city they bought a cottage close to the beach in what was then a smallish beach town in Southern California.  Both my grandparents have been gone for many years but I dropped by for a peek when we spent 10 days in the area last spring.  Oh so many lovely memories came flooding back.  The town has grown to a city and the streets are flooded with cars and people but the house doesn't look all that unchanged from the front.

It still has a little white picket fence and an profusion of lovely plants growing all around.  Some of my best childhood memories came from staying with my grandparents at this house.  As a little girl I thought that front yard was huge but as an adult it has shrunk considerably. I would spend hours in that little yard with my brothers and cousins pushing around my baby doll stroller or playing ball (the old man that lived in the house to the left hated it when we would come to get a ball that had landed in his yard.  He would watch from the window and come to the door to shoo us off as soon as we stepped onto his lawn.  We were terrified of him. My oldest brother was always the one elected as brave enough and fast enough to run over and collect the ball before the old man caught sight of us, ha!)  One of our favorite occupations was to scour the plants for snails.  We would either have snail races or make the biggest pile we could and watch to see how long it took for them to crawl out from under each other and away back under the leaves.

This little grassy area was surrounded with a little picket fence as well.  It was where my grandfather had his garden.  He had grown up on a farm and I always remember him with a garden.  It was here he planted vegetables and old fashioned flowers--sweet peas, nasturtiums and daisies.  The little building in the back was a small apartment they kept rented for extra income. And around the corner to the right was a sidewalk that went to the back of the property which faced a vacant lot.  The train tracks were across the lot and whenever we heard a train coming we would race around the back, across the alley on to the vacant lot where we would watch the train go by and count the cars. 

This second little one bedroom apartment also belonged to my grandparents.  You can see that the little doorway has been blocked off and moved around to the back but when I was a little girl this was the way in.  Most of this cement area was grass with just a pathway to  the front door.  My dad was overseas when my oldest brother was born and my mother and he lived here until my father returned.  When the apartment was empty we would sometimes come and stay there for a couple of weeks in the summertime. There were flowers and plants and stepping stones everywhere and in amongst all of the plantings is where the adults would hide colored eggs for all the grandchildren to find on Easter Sundays after church.

Of course some of the best memories were of the beach.  It was just just two blocks from house.  In those days there were more vacant lots and single beach houses.  Our parents would walk us down and as we got older we were able to walk ourselves down as long as we went together.

There is an old apartment building right here by this lawn and I was happy to see the bricks still lining the lawn area.  We would walk barefoot along these bricks on our way to and from the beach on a warm summer day.
 Hours were spent at this beach, building sand castles, chasing seagulls, collecting seashells and dragging around pieces of seaweed.  Happy Happy Memories

When I was around 11 my grandmother suffered a massive stroke and though she lived for another 20 years she had to leave the house.  Things changed after that.  My grandfather remained at the house for a while but in a few years he too was ill and the house was sold. The people presently living there kindly invited me in to take a look around the inside and much has been updated and changed but I could still see my grandparents waiting to greet us on the front steps and my grandmother making pancakes in the morning from a simple recipe I still use or putting a huge Sunday dinner on the table when all the extended family and friends would be present.  Much has changed.  Most of our parents are with the Lord as are two of my brothers but the memories of warmth and love and laughter will always be a part of who I am. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Visit to Olympia

Last weekend I took my mom down to Olympia to spend some time with family.  We visited with a cousin who has an apartment in the historic hillside area of the city overlooking the State Capital.  The view from her balcony is wonderful.  It looked especially lovely this day with sun shining down above the clouds.

 We decided to drive up to the Capital Building and take a look around although we didn't go inside as steps were way too much for my mom to attempt.  

The view from the capital park looks down over to the waterfront where the Deschutes River meets up with Budd Inlet at the very tip of Puget Sound.  On a very clear day I believe you can see the Olympic Mountains from here.

We decided to head down to the waterfront and take a short walk around the marina.

This art Gallery looked interesting so we stopped in to take a look.  You can see a reflection of me taking the photo.

I have always admired those people who have been given the gift of being able to take ordinary things and turn them into beautiful works of art. 

If I could have taken anything home with me it would have been these jellyfish.  There was just something about them that attracted me. I wish I had done a better job taking a photo of them.

 But all the art inside didn't compare with the beauty of the picture God had waiting for me outside and I almost missed it.  I was busy making sure my mom was all right, making sure I had all my stuff before I got into the car making sure I didn't step in a puddle and get my feet wet, when suddenly my cousin stopped and said, "Look Up"  And when I did this is what I saw..

  How often is it that we spend so much time with the business of our lives that we forget to look up?  This has been an especially difficult week filled with news I didn't want to hear and things I don't want to face.  Sometimes life gets so cloudy that we forget that the God who created us and all that is around us is right there watching over us as we take every step of every day of our lives.  And in the midst of the clouds of fear, sadness and despair his light is shining down illuminating the darkness and bringing peace and hope.
Look Up