Nothing like the perspective of a Grandson . . .

Visiting with Jennifer and the boys:

I’m in Dallas now, spending a couple weeks with daughter Jen and the boys before heading home to Indiana.   Grant, who is 17, is not around the house much. He has his landscape and car wash business and between his school, business and time with his friends 4-wheeling, there is little time left for Grammy. Sounds perfectly normal to me.   Oh to be 17 again!

Reid, at 13, is at that in-between stage . . . too young to be on his own (driving) and too old to really want to spend lots of time with Grammy. The good news is he needs me to get about when his mom is gone so I become very important. And I’ll take “important” any way I can get it!

Reid_Blog 10.9.15
Reid is a real comedian at times!

The twins on the other hand are all about needs. They have been so much fun to watch and interact with and they love riding the bus for school every day. They are full of energy and a healthy dose of 8-year-old boy orneriness. They are definitely keeping me on my toes as well as literally falling into bed after a full day with them.

The funniest story over the past few days has involved Reid. Jennfer was away for a girls’ weekend get-away with her friend, Tricia, this past weekend. Reid had a scout camp that began on Saturday morning, lasted overnight, and would end Sunday.  He called at 10:00 a.m. to say they had returned. I loaded up the twins and off we went to pick him up.

Now I should explain the meaning of “loading” up the car with the twins. First of all mornings are busy here.   From the time they awake we have a good hour of things to do involving daily hygiene and grooming, eating breakfast, taking meds, and general preparations for the day. When that’s done I sit down for a moment, throw my head back, and let go of a big healthy sigh. I made it!

On Sunday they slept in a little later than usual so when Reid called to say he was back I had not showered yet and was, in fact, still in pajamas!   I said to myself, “oh well”, and began our journey to get into the car. This requires a bit of patience as the boys have really grown and I can no long carry them. So with assistance we “walk” to the van where they get themselves into their car seats. Moving as fast as I can we are now “loaded” and backing out of the driveway at 10:20.

Twins doing the worm
The twins love doing “the worm” down the hallway on the way to the back door for getting in the car.
Twins in car
We made it to the car and off we go.

The drive to the church is just 10 minutes. I pull in and go to my usual pick up point but no one is there. I wait a few minutes and then pull out into the circle drive, which takes me around the parking lot to some of the other buildings. Finally, after not seeing Reid I text him asking, “where are you?” Then with no answer I call and say, “Where are you?” His reply leaves me laughing hysterically.

“Grammy” he says, “please stop the car and stay still. I’ve been chasing you all over the church grounds and I can’t catch you!” I look out and say “Where?” He replies laughing, “BEHIND YOU.  JUST STOP THE CAR!” Oh I love this boy!!

Until next time . . . .

Mara

Final days in Sitka . . .

September 30, 2015

Final days in Sitka . . .

Last week I did get a new roommate – Coleman Ruston – a historian who will be working with things related to the Russian Bishop House and St. Innocent.  He comes from Central Washington University and Ellensburg, WA.  I believe he will be doing translations but am not certain.  He’ll be in Sitka for about 9 months.  We spent just a little over a week together before it was time to leave so I can’t say I know him well at all.  He, however, was a nice housemate.  It was fun cooking for more than just me a few times.  Hadn’t realized I’d missed that!  We’ll stay in touch over Facebook though and I think he will enjoy his time in Sitka.

This was my final week in Alaska for 2015.  What an awesome three months it has been.  Leaving was incredibly bittersweet.  While ready to get home to family and friend, it was difficult  leaving such a beautiful place with such great people.

I did manage to get in a hike on the Indian River Trail thanks to another volunteer, Michael.  I didn’t want to go it alone and it turned out to be a beautiful day.  Michael brought the bear spray (I didn’t have any) and off we went.  This trail runs up a slight incline following the Indian River for about 4 miles and is considered to be an easy hike.  We didn’t make it to the top due to time but we did get a little over halfway up before heading back in order to arrive before nightfall and more likelihood of finding (or being found) by a bear.  Here are some pictures (not going to tell you how many I actually took but it was too many!) It was just so beautiful.  Hope I don’t bore you with too many here.

Indian River Trail_Michael_09252015
Michael Romera, my trail mate.
Another Pic of Indian River trail
This is a muskeg – defined as a “grassy bog”. Muskeg is approximately synonymous with bogland, but “muskeg” is the standard term in Western Canada and Alaska, while ‘bog’ is common elsewhere.
Indian River Trail walk 1
Trees fall but then new ones grow on top of the fallen trees.
Indian River Trail Fall Colors.9.25.2015
fall colors!
Indian River Trail Walk 4
More brush to walk through
Indian River Trail_IndianRiver_09.25.2015
The trail follows the Indiana River. The same Indian River that runs through the National Park and where the salmon come to spawn.
Indian River Trail_skunk cabbage_09.25.2015
There are boards to walk on that have been laid on the trails and covered in many places with a mesh that keeps them from being so slick. Next to the trail (the leafy plants) is Skunk Cabbage. Bears love it!
Indian River Trail_Trees.09.25.2015
Beautiful day! The sun was filtering through the trees.
Indian River Trail_Rope Swing_09.25.2015
We found a rope swing over the river about 1/2 way up the trail. Looks fun and so tempting!
IR Trail Walk 1
More of the trail
IR Trail Walk
More of the trees
IRR Trail Climbing through trees
Climbing through the fallen trees.
IRR Trail sun Through Trees
More of the sun coming through the trees.
IRR Trail 3
Michael surveying the trail.
Indian River Trail_Mara_09252015
I really enjoyed the hike!

Saying goodbye to the salmon.  Only a few left in the river.  Most have spawned and passed on, leaving a wretched stench in the air!

salmon life cycle
The salmon are almost gone.

My last ten days were full of little treasures.  A lunch with folks from the Episcopal Tea House; a trail hike on the Indian River Trail with fellow volunteer Michael; some extra walks in the rain;  a special meal at the home of the garden volunteer made from the fruits of the garden; a last walk to say good-bye to the remaining salmon spawning in the river; a final walk on the totem trail, and lots of “till we meet again” goodbyes to new friends.

Rangers Em and Ryan with Carver Mark
Mark, Alaska Native Wood Carver, with Rangers Ryan and Em.
Berneice2_Sitka
Bernie, who walks the Park trail every day. She’s in her early 80’s and she is showing the $100 she won in the drawing for those who completed their “Park Prescriptions”. I want to be as spunky as she is when I’m in my 80s. I loved seeing her every day!
StPeters Tea Group Lunch 09.25.2015
Ann, at the head of the table, took all her Episcopal tea house helpers out to lunch. It was my “farewell” lunch. She was so delightful. I’ll miss her a lot.

I was also given a few treasures to bring home with me as well.  There is Spruce Tip Jelly, smoked and canned salmon, a Christmas tree ornament beaded by a very special beader, a signed piece of red spruce from the new Cormorant Pole, along with so many new acquaintances and friends.  Can’t wait to show off my prizes when I return home.

This adventure was just the first of what I hope to be many more volunteer trips.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested.  My hope is that I can make these happen six months out of each year.  I’ve already started looking for the next opportunity.  I wonder where I will go. . . would love getting near the water again.  But then, the mountains look great too.  I’ll just have to wait and see.

Next up:  Three months at home and some family time.  Will share some of these events with you in the next blog.

 

Missing mom and dad on their birthdays . . .

9.18.2015

Today is my Mom’s birthday.  She was born in 1918 and would have been 98 today.  My Dad’s birthday is the 21st and he would be 99.  Mom passed away in 2007 at the age of 88 (and just a few weeks before her 89th birthday).  Dad passed in 1988 at the age of 71.

They were a strong couple who had their ups and downs like everyone.  They were both hard workers, strong willed, and wanted more for their children that they were able to secure for themselves.  They were both hard workers.  Dad often worked two full-time jobs to make it through the lay-offs that occurred so frequently in the automotive business of the 50’s and 60’s.  Mom, having had rheumatic fever twice, was forced to be careful about how much physical labor she did and still managed to pull off taking care of her home and working to help provide for all the extras she wanted for her children.

They were so excited when their first grandchild arrived and I recall our drive to Washington DC in 1967 where my brother was stationed in the Air Force in order to spend time with her.  Vacations were rare and mom worked hard to pinch pennies that she would save for these travels.  And they were very excited about this first little girl of theirs.

They were good parents and I miss them.  I’m sure they are spending their time together in heaven with Mom and her questioning of whatever he was doing with the often heard, “Now Michael! followed by a question of “are you sure?”, is that the right way to do it?, etc. ”  And Dad’s likely ignoring her and continuing to do what he planned, then taking some time (by himself)  to rabbit hunt with his beagles.

Happy Birthdays you two!  You are greatly loved and sorely missed by your family.

1967 (3) _ Mike Teague; Michelle Teague; Drucilla Teague
1967 – Mike & Drucilla Teague with their first grandchild, Michelle Anne. Look at their smiles!!!

Thoughts on 9-11 . .

9-13-2015

As we all know, last Friday marked 14 years since 9-11. Has it really been only 14 years? Why does it feel like so much longer? I wonder if events of such devastating magnitude are like that. Once you have experienced them they are too painful to remember and they must be placed in the deepest parts of our memories. When I think about my children, it seems I always comment that it seems that they were just born yesterday. Forty years passed by in a blur!

But these years were happy years (or mostly so) and comprehensible in small pieces. The acts on 9-11 on the other hand was a moment that was incomprehensible. How do we process an event of this magnitude? It feels like it should be 50 years ago and not just 14 years. So much devastation and pain happened in moments that will never be forgotten. Those who were far away (too far away to take an active part) were left to process the pain of it all when they could do nothing except pray for those involved.

I wonder, was that what it was like for those who experienced the devastation of war? Is that how it feels for those who have suffered travesties beyond our imagination?

For all those directly affected, I send my prayers. For those who could and did help, for all the service providers, and for all the police, fire and clergy, I send my gratitude. I know they were all affected, and continue to be affected, beyond my ability to comprehend.

Peace and Blessings to you all.

Mara

 

 

A gift from my Holy Family . . .

My church in Indiana has a college ministry. A group gets together and writes notes of encouragement and love to these college students. These care packages are a great way to not only stay in touch with our students who are away at college, but with any one of our family who is away for one reason or another.

Often we do not hear the effect of these care packages. Did this “note” from home give them a boost of confidence for the day knowing that they are loved and missed? Was this just the boost of confidence they needed to master the day or week? Or maybe they felt a little down and receiving this was just the boost they needed to give them the courage to move on.

Today I received a ‘care’ package from these folks and I want to tell you the effects it had on me. I’ve been away just a couple months and I’m certainly not a young college student. In fact, I’m quite ‘seasoned’ and I’ve seen a few storms in my life. I’ve learned that I have to pick myself up on those down days when you are far away from family and friends. I have to get out and “do” something. I have to make an effort to meet new people, try new things, and laugh at myself when one or the other doesn’t work out as I planned. Sounds easy I know but it’s not. Even when it is my choice to be away, I still miss my family and friends. I miss their love and encouragement.   I miss them laughing with me (as I know they are never laughing at me) when I try new things and falter. Unconditional love and support is nothing to take for granted and something that we miss terribly when we are away. It’s also something that we can’t replace instantly.

So, to those of you at home, who took the time to send this ‘seasoned’ lady in Alaska a care package from home, THANK YOU! I’ve read your notes over and over. They make me feel loved, missed and unconditionally loved. It is a priceless gift of encouragement and love.

HFEC Cares
All my notes of love and encouragement along with a beautiful pen and post it notes and my favorite candies – Necco Wafers and Snickers!!!

P. S.  I know we live in an age of technology where emails and texts have taken over the old ways of handwritten notes mailed in the US Mail!  Rest assured, all of those emails and texts are fabulous and loved. But there is something so special about a piece of paper you can hold and touch and read over and over. What a treat! Trust me when I say that the college kids (of all ages) love them!