Sunday, August 23, 2015

Some Summer Happenings

Here in Oregon the smoke is thick as winter fog.  Like fog, it makes the world seem silent and a bit ominous.  The sun shines through and spreads a strange orange glow on the landscape, and the it looks like a glowing red ball as it sets.

Our eyes burn, and our sinuses ache, and we cough, and the air seems almost poisonous.

The smoke blew in from further east, we are told.  We're also told that some 90 fires are burning all over the Northwest.  The stories and pictures are just terrifying.

It all has an apocalyptic feel, and we are praying and hoping for rain.

Three firefighters have died, and it hits me hard, because Steven is learning to be a firefighter and EMT.  "No, Mom, they're not going to send me to fight wildfires," he says.  "I'm not certified for that."

But they're taking people from local fire departments, and prisoners, and the National Guard.  So he and his classmates might be next.

One of Steven's first assignments, once he was qualified to go on calls, was to rescue a cat out of a tree.

Yes, just that cliche, but it totally warmed my heart to hear him tell, grinning, how he climbed the ladder 20 feet into the tree and rescued the cat and brought it down.

He is a Rescuer at heart, and it's right that rescuing should be his life work.

But firefighting is more than rescuing cats, and one of these times he will be the guy in the yellow suit, heading straight for the flames with 50 pounds of hose on his shoulder.

May God surround him with protecting angels when that day comes, and may He send an angel or two to keep me calm as well.

*     *     *
This has been a busy busy summer.

Dad was here for most of it.
We went to Detering Orchards and Dad got to pick up windfalls.
He was very happy.
We looked up the spot where Grandma jumped off the train.
Dad liked to watch the action over at "the plant," as he calls it.
Here he watches Keith push Leonard Baker's seed into a pile.
My brother Marcus, in the middle, brought Dad to Oregon, along with his wife Anna.
Phil, on the right, came for a visit.
So we posed for a sibling picture. "Put your arms around each other for goodness sake!"
said the photographer.  So we did.
*     *     *
Two mama cats had lots of kittens.  One cat was a good mom, loving, attentive, calm, practical.  The other cat was really an odd mama, obsessive and oblivious by turns.

Jenny put the cats' water in an old pie tin instead of a sour cream tub so the kitties could drink more easily.  Well.  The strange mama has this bizarre habit of leaping straight up and about three feet north whenever we open the door, no matter if she's asleep, eating, whatever.

One day she was lying on the porch, nursing her babies.  I opened the door and she levitated off the floor, scattering kitties in all directions.  One of them landed right in the pie tin of water.

What kind of mom does this??? Seriously!  I exclaimed to Steven, "That cat is so weird!" and he said,

Quote of the Day:
"That's what happens when you have kids too young."

Oh Steven, we love you.

Two batches of kittens in one box.
It has been a hot summer.  The cats start melting at about 85 degrees.
And yes, for all the Animal People who are right now reaching for their phones to call me because I must not know about Spaying, we are giving kittens away to Good Homes and will take Steps to Prevent such a Population Explosion in the future.  I just wish the cats would ask Paul before they start dating, like the daughters do.  It would at least give us fair warning.

*     *     *
Yesterday we went to a wedding and like I do at weddings, I watched people and whispered observations to the daughter beside me.

I love to watch people, and tell stories about them, and figure out how they're connected to everyone else I know.

I also like to imitate them, and laugh about their quirks.  Because some people, oh my, they just have all these odd delicious quirks and they always do these same bizarre things that they've done for the last 40 years, and it is so much fun to discuss this.

And if you are talking with someone who is equally fascinated by people, it is just so much more fun than observing it yourself and making notes about it in your little notebook.

So we were sitting there watching people file out, bench by bench, hugging and hand-shaking the bride and groom, and that One Guy with a reputation for Being Like That filed out, and I whispered something about it to Jenny, with a snicker.  And then I realized that he might have a family member sitting close by who could have heard what I said, and suddenly I felt Horrible and Mocking and Unkind.

Since then I've been wondering about these things, and what are the proper boundaries, and how do you enjoy observing the endless variety of personal quirks without descending into belittling and nastiness?

On the one hand, I think you should be allowed to say some things about people, in the privacy of your home, that you would not say to their face.

I also think that if people don't want to be spoken of in That Way, they should refrain from doing Those Things.

And I don't know if I could survive as a pastor's wife if Paul and I couldn't have honest conversations about people.

But I also felt like the moment at the wedding was a Holy Spirit nudge that my heart was feeling like I was way superior to That One Guy and my amusement was far too condescending.  Maybe that's the key thing, and maybe it's ok to enjoy other's oddities and strangenesses if I let people get just as much amusement out of mine, recognizing that I have plenty to choose from.

*     *     *
My last post was about a busy day, which was part of a terribly busy week.  Then, suddenly, Pauline Scheffel's funeral was over, and so was VBS, and Matt was back in Washington, D.C.

So Paul and I went to the coast for a few days and stayed in a nice ocean-front hotel, thanks to the generous school board and their end-of-year gift.

I walked on the beach a lot and it was rest for my soul.  I watched the sun set and I watched the sanderlings, who are the happiest birds ever, run along the shore with their zippy little legs.  They like to peck the microscopic creatures the wave leaves behind, so they run along in a group, always at the top edge that the wave reaches on the sand, and they peck and run and have good times with each other.

In fact, they are a lot like Pauline who passed away last week--small in size but it doesn't bother them in the least, moving rapidly and getting a lot done without being nervous or frantic, just very happy to keep busy doing what God made them to do.

We also went out on a whale-watching expedition because there's a pod of some 200 whales that summer close to Newport, and Paul thought I really needed to go out on the ocean for the first time.

He bought me some Dramamine the day before, since I get carsick and airsick, and surely I would get seasick as well.

The Dramamine was a 24-hour variety, and it bragged that it was "less drowsy."

Well.  I took half a pill and spent the next 28 hours falling asleep pretty much every time I sat down.

But first we got on the boat, which motored out of the bay, where the fishermen were unloading tuna, and then out past the jetties, a rough ride in itself, and then it hit the 5 and 6 foot swells, plowing up and plunging down like a bull at a rodeo.

"Just watch the horizon!" said the cheerful lady at the microphone.  I have a feeling she also wrote the "less-drowsy" label for the Dramamine and is also the person who tells pregnant women to drink ginger tea to take care of their morning sickness.

I leaned back against Paul and closed my eyes.  "We're having some ocean motion!" said the microphone lady cheerfully.  She said "ocean motion" several times, like it was very clever.

We did not see whales.

The ride back was with rather than against the wind so I could open my eyes and take in the demo on the stern, where Mrs. Cheerful had some kids drag plankton out of the ocean in a cool little net with a cup on the end.  She was always recruiting Helpers, since the boat was full of children on a field trip with OMSI.  I even got to be a Helper and hold the strainer while she poured the water through.

So it was kind of a disappointing trip, all around, but I didn't throw up, and I can now say I've been on the ocean, and it is nice to have a husband who wants me to have new adventures.
Here we are just past the bridge, and I am still smiling.


  1. You could have called this post, "Summer Flotsam & Jetsam." ;-)

  2. I am an avid people watcher too and so is my husband but maybe 15 years ago my husband was convicted about making comments to one another in public and so we stopped. I have to admit that I missed it for a good long time but soon I felt that he was right to ask me to not comment anymore. It was freeing. We do have some laughs about interesting things when we are home from time to time. For me personally, I always assume that anyone whispering out in a public place is talking about me and it really hurts me so I remind myself of that when I am tempted. I was really reminded of the awkwardness that can happen after going to beach with my near deaf parents and nearly dying of embarrassment everyday while they kept up a loud commentary on everyone we saw. Most of all a couple at the resort where where we were who had two beautiful African children. My Mom says loudly, 'Well obviously those kids are adopted.' Anyhow, this is not a judgement of what you might do but just my observations and experience.

  3. So I am curious, in firefighting school, do they ever tell recruits no one has ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree?

  4. About observing others and laughing at their idiosyncrasies... I understand the Holy Spirit's dislike for that...

    On the other hand, if you want to laugh at someone without offending anyone, laugh at yourself! The older you get the more things you will find to laugh about. You either laugh or become a sour puss.

    I choose to laugh. And...I had to learn that, believe it or not.

  5. An entertaining read, as always! I loved your thoughts about commenting on people's quirks. The Holy Spirit has convicted me about similar things like that, and in general, I like to laugh at myself instead to be safe. :)

  6. Next time try 'Bonine' instead of the 'sleepy' med. It changed our family outings from 'night'marish to delightful!!