Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Writing....On Blogging

I decided to begin a blog for a few different reasons but mainly to use as vehicle during a time of transition. I wanted to find out what would surface and figure out which way to go. I hoped it would teach me important things about myself, my changing role, goals and priorities. At the same time I devoted more hours putting pen to paper and writing. It all fits together.

This is what I've found so far:

** I enjoy the process of recording the day to day twice a week on this blog and the direct interaction that comes with it. It is casual and spontaneous and has a different feel than writing an essay or short story.

**I enjoy finding photographs to accompany each post. Whether they fit the topic directly or rather obliquely....they make sense to me.

**Hardly anyone puts pen to paper anymore....more like fingers to keys to LCD screen. However it happens, collections of words still appear. Marc gave me a red Moleskin notebook a couple months ago so I would have a place to jot down thoughts and ideas. And I do......so there is my pen to paper. 

** Outside of this blog, personal essays and short pieces of fiction are where I've landed for awhile.  I like the challenge of saying something within the confines of an assigned word count. The way it makes me distill a piece to the bones; a contrast to how wordy I am in live conversation.

 **I'm pretty sure I could tell the most embarrassing tales about my boys here on this space and would never hear back about it. So very tempting........but of course I won't. 

**Some days I don't have a clue what I'm going to say. The steam of a shower, a long walk or baking usually helps. I'm without an oven at the moment. It's been tough without cookies.

**Spending time doing something I truly enjoy has been a great way to move through life's changes. They're inevitable, right?

Hope there is something you enjoy spending time doing as well!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Almost There......

I might just be getting the hang of this......maybe. I may possibly have figured out what it means to be a mom to three adult sons......sort of. Or at least I'm on the road to that place, winding and jolting and full of steep hills and potholes that it is sometimes.

One of my goals this first empty nest year was to explore what it means to be that mom: the one who doesn't know exactly what role she plays in her family at present, but is working to figure it out. To write and document and feel each quake, complete with unpredictable aftershocks, as the tectonic plates of my world shift to new places. With each post and photograph and paragraph I am moving forward, steadily if not a bit shakily. And I should be, because of course......they are. I'm quite certain I am not meant to be stuck in the place of their younger years, repeating myself like a skipping record. (Dating myself with a comparison like that......)  I'm also quite certain that I'm getting that message LOUD AND CLEAR from each of them. If I become complacent and begin to interact in the old ways…...in the ways that are easy and comfortable and comforting…...those ways in which I know by heart how to mother.......a telltale rumble begins and I am duly warned.

I get filled in on the status of their lives via text messages, phone calls, opening doors, closing doors, cars in the driveway, brief visits, facebook posts, appearances at the dinner table or the very rare request for help. These updates come to me on their terms alone and they should. I let that happen and I should. It wouldn't do any of us any good for me to cling to them or tug at them. To impede their personal growth or roadblock their path to independent adulthood. But oh......how I want to spend some hours back in the days when our family and this house was their entire world. I know......in doing so I run the risk of impeding my own personal growth; placing a roadblock in the path of whatever else is ahead for me, too.

One of my sons is building a life in a town several hours away. Another lives here but does his best creative work long after my head hits the pillow and often goes to bed just about the time I get up. The third is home for the summer, radiating confidence after a successful first year of college that solidified just how capable he is without the rest of us nearby.

We are interconnected pieces that surround and protect a common core. Traveling independently alongside each other. Doing our own thing but staying in contact. Every once in a while, one of us makes a move and the rest of us shift, slide or lurch into place…...because by definition, we can't not. I think I’m getting it.  

(ps: computer in shop again, no pics this time.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Learning Garden

The other day I noticed some enormous lavender bushes flowering in the back lot where our local Farmer's Market is held. Thinking the vibrant purple would make for some nice images, Marc and I ended up back there late yesterday afternoon, my camera in hand.

As soon as I was close enough, I realized that it wasn't a light breeze moving the blossoms back and forth, and that indeed there was no power tool in the vicinity responsible for the constant buzzing.  I have kind of an irrational fear of bees......don't make me explain. One flitting here or there is fine (although a flitting one did end up in my ear the other day), but when they congregate in great numbers, I've been known to change course in order to prevent a lot of embarrassing screaming and dancing around.  Anyway, I didn't bring along my zoom and would have needed to crouch in way too close for my comfort in order to get a good shot. Thank goodness most of the other plants in the garden weren't as attractive to them at the moment.

(Don't get me wrong......I have a great appreciation for bees and am thankful for all of their hard work and usefulness......they just scare me.)

The fact that I bypassed the lavender sent us wandering around the rest of the garden, and what a wonderful spot to wander in any time during the planting, growing or harvesting seasons. Peaceful and inspiring. Beautiful and thought provoking. A community space put to good use as a Learning Garden. We walked the pathways between several small plots, reading the informative signs posted along the way. There were flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Poles, trellises, rain barrels and compost. A rich variety of food, beauty and potential photo opportunities, which of course, I know will change significantly and rhythmically throughout the summer and fall.   

Today marks the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice. It is the longest day of the year, the instant in time when the top half of the earth is tilted closest to the sun and the astronomical first day of summer. We're lucky to be able to celebrate here with cobalt skies, wispy clouds and the promise of the sun warmed offerings of the earth in the months to come. What will you do to celebrate?

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Warmly, Margaret

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day

This close to Father's Day, it's hard not to spend time thinking about the first time I told Marc he was going to be a dad. The first time both of us realized we were going to be parents. We both hoped it would happen but assumed it would take awhile. It didn't.

About a year after we were married he was assigned to work in a clinic in Spokane for six weeks. No big deal. My parents live there so I would drive across the state for a short visit with all of them at the half way point. After a few servings of pot roast at my parents dinner table the first night, my mom made a comment. I was really hungry for some reason.... and for red meat, which wasn't necessarily normal for me. It struck me as a little strange when I thought about it on the drive home, but I might have just missed her cooking. A couple additional symptoms prompted me to do a pregnancy test within the week. I was pretty sure I felt different.

When I made the call to Spokane it took nearly a minute for Marc to respond, but in a good way. In a 'suprised-it-happened-so fast-that-I'm-speechless' way. Our life would change, but then it had several times already. It changed in a big way when we met, when he started medical school, when we got married. In the years leading up to that we had both gone though change separately....college, graduation, new jobs, a few moves. We were used to it, welcomed it and realized we had little control over much of it. The stuff of life. Neither of us are the type that needs the future to be too planned out or perfect. When we attempted to map out the best time to start a family, we could think of reasons, financial and otherwise, to put it off until much later.......but we really wanted it to happen sooner if at all possible. So with little money, a lot of trust and big plans we jumped in. We weren't impulsive....simply realistic. Why wait?

Even though we didn't have anything tangible to show for it.....no morning sickness, no ultrasound picture, no baby bump.....we were parents. Physical evidence would come soon enough, but I'd listened to the heartbeat, seen the pregnancy test, made the phone calls. 

Every moment of the past many years of parenthood has illuminated places inside of us that we weren't even aware existed. We've found strength  and humor and creativity. Patience and unconditional love. We learned to trust ourselves and the process. To trust our boys to make the right decisions; to learn from their mistakes. It doesn't mean that those things weren't difficult sometimes. They were, but the difficulties stretched us all. It makes me laugh when I describe our parenting experience this way. The phrase that comes to mind is  "but our kids would beg to differ."  And they do. They're our kids. We're their parents. I'm not sure they will see the big picture until they have some of their own.....but I hope that someday they make big plans, are not afraid of change, trust the experience and jump in. It's been amazing.

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Mid June in the Pacific Northwest:

Breezy with a chance of wildflowers or weeds....take your pick. Sunny east of the Cascades. Spicy spring veggies, herbs and greens. The last school bus rolling past our corner. Kid noises in the neighborhood. Happy dogs. Thumping car stereos. Scrubbing down the grill. Plans to make a batch of barbecue sauce.

Summer's on its way....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Helping Out

What does this weekend hold? Rising early to help out at a high school football event. Even though I no longer have a child that plays or even one still in high school, I'll be at my assigned table by 7:30. Thank goodness for the husband who will tap my shoulder, the coffee maker that wakes me, and the friend who most likely will send me a text to be sure I'm on my way. I'll arrive coffee cup in hand.......It's a great thing to do.

I'm looking forward to sharing time at the coaches check-in table with friends. After our shift we'll stay a little longer to watch and encourage. I'm hoping to take a few pictures and catch up with people I haven't seen in awhile. Of course we'll reminisce. Not so much about winning or losing or championship seasons, but about the kids. Where they were then; where they are now. We'll chat about the  strength of the program and how coaches, parents and volunteers were truly supportive. How fortunate it is that those involved were, and still are, able to grasp the 'big picture'. It made all the difference.

We'll remember lessons learned and friendships made amidst hard work. The postures of determination, intensity, satisfaction, loyalty, pride and fun. We will feel fortunate to have witnessed a group that gave their all to something they loved because they wanted to...... not because someone told them to. We'll mention how our kids learned that trust, taking chances, believing in yourself and your teammates lead to rewards unexpected. That they now know how to try hard and dig deep, and then find the place within that allows them to dig deeper yet. How they respect and encourage each other......still. How they can come back together a year or two later as naturally as brothers.

I'm not a fan of over scheduling kids or putting pressure on them to do something they either do not want or are not equipped to do. I am however, appreciative of those who create a positive environment for any safe activity a child or young adult authentically desires to participate in.

I hope my boys remember all the adults that generously donated time, resources and enthusiasm to their youth activities of choice. That they thank them by giving back many times over in the same way. That these experiences travel with them far into adulthood and make a real difference. That the positive and helpful lessons embedded into their character are silently passed on, modeled and incorporated into whatever else they do; however else they spend time.

Another class has moved on. Another group of excited new ones will begin to take their place. I'm predicting that in a couple of years, kids, parents, coaches and volunteers will still be looking back and commenting on what a great experience it was for all involved. Still coming back to help out.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend....however you spend it. :)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


This morning I glanced at an article that mentioned the 'tone of a city'.  I like that phrase and rolled it around in my mind for a little while today. The author was referring to architecture, but there are quite a few things that can add to the feel of a place: geography, space, color, light, smells, sounds.

The other night our family needed an activity simply based on catching up. One that could set the tone for four of us sharing space together for the summer. We no longer live in Seattle, but did at one time and occasionally need a fix. After an impromptu discussion of dinner options, we decided to head to a favorite spot there to enjoy an outdoor table, warm air, the Puget Sound, muted color, evening light, seafood, chocolate and coffee. We ate and observed scenery and chatted well beyond the point of chilly goosebumps for me, so when the hostess walked through with a stack of blankets I took one, and our evening extended a little longer.

Because we've all reached adult (or almost adult) status in this family we're often in different places in our lives. Much of the time we travel different directions and pursue different interests that come with different needs. It's good to make a point to come together in combinations of two, three, four or five. To make an effort. To get to know the person each of us has grown in to. To set a tone for the future.   

Friday, June 3, 2011


When I began my first 'real' job after college I remember thinking I would reevaluate it in six months. It was a good job; one I had hoped would be offered to me and one I intended to take. I wanted however, to be sure it was the right one and a good fit. I wanted to be a valuable employee and an asset. To be sure that I was not in any way misrepresenting myself to myself, to my employer or to those I worked with. Even though the economy was not in the same state it is now, I also knew that there were not a lot of jobs to be had and so was thankful to have one. The deal I made with myself was that I would reassess every six months and if it was the right thing to do, would see what my options were.  I stayed for ten years.

It was just about six months ago that I began working on this website. It's now time to reevaluate......a practice I've continued in many different areas of my life since starting that first job and one I find to be helpful, calming and centering. It helps me to step away and stand back. It makes me think about the hours in the day and how I choose to spend them. It causes me to look forward, assess, ask questions. What is important? Am I doing what I set out to do? Have my initial goals changed? Have I made a difference? Do I need to reset?

I won't necessarily bring up this practice twice a year, but it's what I was thinking about today. When I first started, six months seemed far into the future and I was a little stressed about making the commitment to post photos and writing twice a week. Truthfully time has flown by......and you know what they say about time flying when you're having fun......

So thanks for visiting, following, reposting, emailing and recommending. For comments, suggestions and encouragement. Thanks to the friends I've made by doing this. See you next week!

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