Sunday, February 21, 2016

Honor Thy Parents

My mom's been gone for almost 14 years now. When she died I found ways to honor her memory and keep her with me.

I made her fabulous lasagna. I used her yellow Pyrex bowl to make chocolate chip cookies just like she did. I treasured her hand-written recipes. I made decisions based on what she would like or what she would think was a good idea. I tried to be the kind of mom she was. I started going back to church and embraced genealogy and family history. I ate and bought things that she liked, like See's candy and Hallmark cards and ornaments.

Keeping her alive in my heart has been easy and brought me so much comfort.

Now with the passing of my dad I am finding ways to honor him. I know that he was so proud of me for going back to school and for taking care of myself and my kids, and that brings me comfort, but I have really felt the need to get back to all the things he helped me fall in love with: fly fishing, camping, hiking, just enjoying nature and the great outdoors.

Camping trips were part of our life growing up, and as I became a teen and mom and my sister preferred not to do that type of thing and had work to contend with, my dad would take just me on trips up to our old home town in the mountains, where we would fish at Nelson Creek (he always said Crick for creek so that's how I hear it in my mind), and we would pack a picnic and visit the lookout towers, or drive through the game refuge and count deer at dusk.

He's the one that taught me that everything tastes better if you eat it outdoors. My grandma (his mom) lived alone and we would pack our lunches at her house. We began the tradition of putting just mustard on our salami sandwiches because  of the one time my dad opened the seldom-used mayo at her house and found it an off-putting shade of green! (We discreetly tossed it in the trash.) I remember eating those simple sandwiches paired with a couple nectarines at the top of a mountain at a lookout tower, and he was right, they were delicious! (And we always had a running green mayonnaise joke.)

He took me to "Secret Lake", which was a lake at the top of a mountain with no defined trail to it. Only the locals really knew about it, and it was a great place to catch native Brook trout. There was actually an even more secret, upper Secret Lake, and it was here that we found a patch of snow that had not melted and he pulled his rain slicker out of his pack so we could go "butt sliding" on it.

Dad knew almost all the names of the plants and he loved seeing the wildflowers. He also loved finding bear scat, and inspecting it with a stick to see "what the bears have been eating". I thought that was so gross!

Later, when he was no longer able to make these trips and I was grown and had kids of my own, he relished hearing the details of any camping trip I took and loved to hear about my kayak outings.

I'm making a conscious effort to start doing more of these things, and not someday, but now. I bought what I call my "adventure car" and plan on going and doing as much as I can, even if I go alone. I feel like I'm finding my "old self" again in some way, the old self that's been on hold for lack of money, or time, or someone interested in doing things with me.

I somehow feel like when a person dies their spirit is perfected and all those things that were holding them back in life, be it health issues, age, depression, anxiety, etc. are gone, and they go back to their most perfect self, the one that was carefree, and funny, and curious, and happy, and somehow by honoring our loved ones and channeling their interests and loves, they enhance our lives from the spirit world.

So now to honor my father, I will do those things we loved doing together. And I will continue to honor both my mother and father, in different ways and keep them close to my heart.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Movin' and Groovin'

I have a feeling that this year is going to be a year of flashbacks and nostalgia. Now with having both my parents gone, I like to think of all the times in the past and cherish the moments. I was blessed with great parents, and as such, have great memories!
One of the things I was thinking about was that I've always been into fitness. I remember getting Jane Fonda's Workout Book for Christmas one year when I was a teen, and setting up a studio of sorts in the garage to do my workouts.

I also joined a women's health club, and did Jazzercise classes.
The women at my mom's work challenged each other to lose weight, at one point, and I started doing classes for Mom and a couple of her friends in our livingroom.
 I remember planning the moves and picking the tunes we would workout to. I think the funniest thing is that I didn't have the technology to do a mix tape, so I just had 45 records that I had to switch out.
 At this point in time I was into country music. Oh my goodness, just thinking about all of us in the livingroom doing our workout to the likes of Merle Haggard and John Anderson makes me want to laugh!
Of course we wore those crazy leotards and leg warmers that were popular in the 80's, and did things like stretches, crunches, and donkey kicks, plus aerobics. You got the full-deal at my class! Haha!
Wow, it was such a fantastic thing when VCR's and workout videos came along! And now I can click on any kind of workout at any time of day and have it at my fingertips. My how things have changed!
I guess what I took away from this, was how my mom thought I was capable enough to do this little home fitness class and the lift in self esteem it gave me as an awkward and shy teen. And I still love fitness, from just daily walks, to belly dancing, to Zumba classes and most recently yoga, I'm still movin' and groovin'!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Car Problems and Confidence

I've had a pretty exciting weekend. I bought a new car! Well, a small disclaimer: it's new to me, and is actually older than my old car (which I am keeping for everyday driving). It's a gorgeous 2001 Toyota 4Runner, and man, am I proud of this thing!

I haven't felt like this about a car for a long time. Although I love my Civic, it has just been a car. It's certainly nothing fancy, and it just plain and simple gets the job done of getting me from place to place. The poor thing has 225,000 miles on it. I plan to just drive it until the wheels fall off.

This 4Runner really brought back memories of my first vehicle, my 1972 Chevy Blazer that I bought from my dad in 1982.
I really loved my Blaze, and regret ever selling it. Here you see me with the Blazer and my Suzuki RM 100 dirt bike (and some fancy red pants!). These were days full of adventure and independence and taking baby steps towards adulthood.
This morning I had a flash back to a time when my dad and I were in the Blazer on a trip to Portola, and we had stopped at Martis Lake near Truckee for some fishing. I noticed some leakage coming from the front of the Blazer and took a look (now mind you, at this time I had a high school sweetheart who worked on cars a lot, and that was also an interest of mine, so I knew a fair amount about basic mechanics). I determined that the water pump was leaking. Dad had a friend who had met us there for fishing who poo-pooed my diagnosis and said it was probably just a worn hose.
We decided to drive it to Portola and deal with it there. When we arrived, my uncle and cousins' opinions, after looking at it, were that it was a faulty hose as well, certainly not a water pump. Again I crawled under the engine and to me it sure looked like it was coming from the water pump. My uncle offered us the use of his shop and tools to fix it if we were worried about it. We probably just needed to tighten hoses, after all.
My dad asked my opinion after everyone else had had their say and I told him I was certain. He never doubted me. We went down the auto parts place, got the water pump and gaskets and such, and he let me go about changing it out.
Sure enough it had a big crack in it when I pulled it off. I felt pretty good that I stuck to my guns about what I had seen, but what really made an impression on me was that my dad totally trusted what I had to say over all the men-folk that gave us advice. I'll never forget that feeling of him putting my opinion over everyone else's.
It was interesting that that memory came rushing back this morning. I have thought about it over the years, but I guess my dad has been on my mind a lot. I feel like he would love my "new" car and approve of the fact that it will allow me to go camping and kayaking and such more easily. Also this car gives me that pride in ownership feeling. That little, "hey, that's mine" excitement when I see it, like that old Blazer did.
Thanks Dad, for trusting me way back then. It sure made me feel special and competent!