Laurel Springs NJ

I love walking around Mom’s town. It just feels like home to me. Today I crossed over to the other side of the tracks for more memories. There’s the Laurel Springs School where my sister and I attended for a few weeks before moving to Germany. There were separate boys’ and girls’ entrances! How quaint! I always have to go by my grandparents’ home and I am always disappointed that it looks so run down. They took such pride in it and always had a nice yard, rocking chairs on the porch, flower boxes in the windows. I know time marches on and it’s not “our” place any more but the house and the people in it were always my anchor growing up. Even as adults, we loved going to that house with the African violets on glass shelves in all the windows, the red carpet in the living room, the piano against the wall, the spooky stairs to the attic, the crucifixes on the wall. I miss Grandmom and Grandpa and happy times in that house. The stone railings have been there since I was a kid wandering the streets with my grandfather and siblings. And the last house is where my ex and I lived with Sarah and Bonnie while I was in grad school. Memories!

Some more sights from around town:

New Jersey

Mom and I took advantage of the rainy weather to go through our old coin collections so I could put away some of the coins for my kids and grandkids and leave the rest for my siblings and their families.  As a kid, I was excited to find a penny or a nickel from a year that we didn’t already have, and add it to the proper slot in our book of coins.  I don’t think we have any that are rare or worth a lot, but it was a fun pastime when we were growing up. Later, Mom started buying uncirculated sets of coins so she has a lot of those from various years.  We found quite a few that lined up with grandkids’ birth years so maybe one day they will be happy to have a little memento to keep.

Pretty much any time I’m home, I drag out Mom’s old photo albums and the last few years we have started culling those down too.  I think Mom is kinda “over it” and doesn’t want or need a bunch of family photos any more. She says she’d rather we go through them now than after she’s gone.  I think we must have distributed a lot of our own childhood photos by now because I didn’t see very many.  But I brought home many of my kids and grandkids that I’d sent to Mom over the years. I will keep them till my kids have to sort through them when I’m gone…I’m sure they’re gonna be excited about that prospect. haha (I keep reading these articles about how your kids and grandkids don’t want your old “crap” but I am still a bit sentimental myself).

Here are a few photos of me when I was growing up. Notice the Catholic school “beanie” headwear and the bow ties.  And crooked bangs cut by one’s mother were certainly a thing.

We ate *real* pizza AND cheese steaks one day.  Don’t judge me.

We played a rousing game of “Chickenfoot” one night, and the sun finally came out the next day.

I still love snail mail

Maybe it’s a by-product of being an AF brat and moving around a lot, but I’ve always loved getting mail. I can remember receiving letters from my grandparents as we transferred from base to base, and once I was old enough, writing letters back to them to tell them what was going on in my life.  One time my Grandpop sent us kids a letter from his home in NJ to our home in GA with bits of string taped to the envelope, noting inside that he had asked his friends, the birds, to bring it to us when they flew south for the winter.  My dad was not very talkative nor demonstrative but he would write us letters when he was on TDY and it made us feel a little closer to him. He was in Maine for the winter one year and I remember him telling us that the snow was above the roof and they had to tunnel out. Who knows if that’s true!  He also said he was passing the time by doing “paint by numbers” pieces for us.  I think my sister and I got pictures of clowns for our bedroom.  🙂  As I got older, I enjoyed exchanging letters with various friends when one or both of us got transferred yet again. Even into adulthood and early parenthood, I still wrote letters to friends and relatives when long distance calls were expensive and we couldn’t just pick up the phone for a chat any time we wanted.

With the introduction of the internet, email, and nationwide cell phone plans, snail mail has certainly lost favor with most of us.  These days all we usually get in the mail is junk or the occasional bill (most are online now, right?), catalog or package.  I used to send cards to everyone I knew for birthdays and special occasions but I have pretty much stopped doing that too.  I still check my box expectantly each day but I don’t really know what I am expecting any more! Once in awhile, a fun surprise arrives, like a few days ago when several of my orders converged and showed up at the same time: a yard sign for Beto O’Rourke, running for Congress against the awful Ted Cruz, some cute pop-up cards I found and decided I needed, two “Chatbooks” (my Instagram photos), and a set of new checks with our correct address on them after two years…yes, I still write the occasional check–call me old!  🙂

Don’t get me wrong; I really like email and Facebook messaging and texting and calling anyone anywhere for cheap.  But I do kinda like a good mail day, too.

 

You are Welcome Here

Saturday we marched and rallied for immigrants and refugees.  It was a beautiful warm and sunny day in Dallas as we made our way from City Hall to the JFK Memorial Plaza with a couple thousand like-minded folks.

When I lived in Alaska, I taught English to immigrants from many countries for a couple of years. This experience opened my eyes as I got to know my students ; I quickly came to love them and to respect their motivation and dedication.  They were such hard workers and such kindhearted human beings.  Recently I’ve been volunteering with a refugee agency here in Dallas and I’ve been so troubled by the hatred toward immigrants and refugees as well as the Trump administration’s harsh policies and actions. Can you imagine how tough it is to come to a new country where you don’t speak the language well (if at all), where you’re unfamiliar with the customs and expectations of other people, and find yourself feeling unwelcome or unwanted after years in a refugee camp holding onto your hopes and dreams of a better life in the USA?  I worry about the people arriving in Dallas each week and I hope they do feel welcome here.  Our small action last weekend was a statement and we hope it was heard.

Mentioning my students made me want to go back and look at all of my pictures from our classes, gatherings, and celebrations.  I sure do miss these beautiful people!

 

 

 

All That We Leave Behind

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My grandmother as a young woman, my grandfather’s 1923 graduation announcement, a teacup from my grandparents’ house, and an 1892 copy of The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott.

Rich and I bought our son-in-law Miles’ parents’ home in Dallas a couple of years ago. His parents were building a new home and a jokingly-made suggestion ended up a reality when we decided to take the plunge.  Since we were still in Alaska at the time, we rented the house out with the intention to move into it once we eventually came to Texas.  Our original plan was to retire to Dallas this summer, but we went slightly crazy and moved last October instead!  Meanwhile, our tenants still have a lease till June 30 so we’ve been renting a nice little apartment just a couple of minutes away from daughter Sarah and her family.

Continue reading “All That We Leave Behind”