Hope…

Hubby and I have been busy traveling the past month.   For Easter, we celebrated with our dear friends along with Little Man (who is not so little anymore) and his folks.  It was a wonderful time to celebrate and catch up.

The week after Easter we traveled to Florida to see Little Miss and her folks.   We were able to spend a couple of weeks with them.

Little Miss, as you may recall lives in the panhandle of Florida.   Seven months ago the area they live in was hit by the category 5 hurricane Michael.    I confess as we drove down the excitement of seeing my daughter and her family outweighed any thought of what had happened seven months ago.   Time and events are like that, we watch the news reports before and during a major event like the hurricane, and we think and pray for the area for a bit and then, as normal, we forget.

Yes, we had talked with our daughter and had been kept abreast of the recovery of the area, but, we live several states away and the reality of what it is like fades with each passing week.

We stopped to get gas and I texted our daughter our progress.  She texted back and asked if were starting to see some of the damage.   We hadn’t at that point.

Shortly after our stop, our mouths started to open wide.  On either side of us there were acres of open spaces.  Trees were gone.   The trees left standing were either twisted or snapped off at the top like someone had taken a sharp saw and cut off all the tree tops.   The roadside stands that dotted the highway were either gone or mangled, laying in heaps of debris.   Hubby kept asking what the gps said the speed limit was,  I thought he was being overly cautious.   Finally, tired of checking the speed limit I told him to look at the signs, he calmly told me there were none.  Homes were covered in tarps that took the place of roofs or walls.  All of this was miles from where the eye of the storm hit.   We were dumbfounded.

Our hearts were saddened by what we saw.   All of this devastation and it has been seven months.   I couldn’t imagine how these people were dealing with all of this.  This area was where the outer bands of the hurricane was.   Our daughter had told us that funding was not coming for repairs.  That several of the insurance companies were sluggish.   I felt so bad knowing that I was driving through this area on the way to my great joy in seeing a grandchild.  It was a vacation, and we had just left our home with the roof intact and our home surrounded by trees full of leaves and branches.

And then…   At an intersection I saw a school bus.  A few feet down I looked into an empty field and saw a tractor plowing up the land.  I saw a makeshift table and tent selling items, I saw hope.   These people may have been hit hard, but, they did not flounder.   Yes, there are tarps covering many of the homes there.  There are many stores still not open because they are awaiting repairs, there are buildings with just the steel structure showing, there are more tarps on homes and buildings than I could imagine.  But, there is hope.  There is life.  There is resilience.   Hurricane Michael was a category 5 hurricane, it hit hard.   But, it did not diminish the strength of the people who live there.

Yes, the landscape of the area is different, driving into our daughter’s development was different.  There were no trees, except the palm trees.  There was a pond that no one noticed before because it was surrounded by trees.  We watched roofs being put back on, life getting back into a new normal.   We saw hope in action.

As we drove out of town, hubby chuckled a bit.   I looked up from my phone and he pointed to the side of the road.   The speed limit signs had returned.   Hope.

Thanks for stopping by…  DAF  (Cathi)

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Hey.. Hey…

You know when some event happens and it brings back a flood of memories?   Today (well, technically yesterday as it is after midnight now), such an event happened for me.   I was on Facebook and saw that Peter Tork of the Monkees had passed away.

For a moment, I did not believe my eyes, so off my fingers went to google and sure enough what I had read was correct.   Peter Tork had passed away.  A part of my middle school life was gone.  Sweet memories flooded my mind and also a weird pang in my heart jabbed me.

The teeny-bopper television show was one I loved and I was a faithful fan of the Monkees.   Posters crowded my closet door.  I would save my baby sitting money to buy teen magazines so I could keep up with the latest on the Monkees.   I had their 45’s.  I had their albums.   To this day when I hear a Monkees song on the radio I can sing right along and also know where the needle on our record player would jump or stay put.   Of course, we all know that if you put a penny on the arm the needle would track the record better.

Beyond the usual teeny-bopper craze were the memories of a group of friends I had.  Marlene, Lorraine, Vicki and I spent each lunch hour together.  We were good friends and had spent each lunch hour together as long as I can remember.  We did not go home for lunch as many students at St. Joseph Catholic school did.   No, we ate in the lunch room and then went to the playground for the rest of the lunch hour.  The playground was actually the asphalt parking lot for the church, but, it was what we had.  No swings, no slides, no teeter-totter, just asphalt.   There were the occasional jump ropes and if we truly scored there was a ball to play with, but for the most part, it was conversations as we huddled in the corners between the spires of the church.  It was there that Marlene told us that her mom was going to have a baby and she hoped it was a girl as she only had one sister and five brothers.  It was there that Lorraine told us she was going to be an aunt, and we marveled how she was able to be an aunt in sixth grade even though we knew her brothers were much older than she was.   I know it was also where I could talk about my Mom and how much I missed her.

My Mom died in 1966, the year the Monkees television show started.  Their music and their show distracted me away from the grief I felt most of the time.  When I was with my friends and we were talking about the Monkees, I was no longer that girl whose Mom had died, I was just a normal girl.  Somehow, the Monkees enabled me to be a regular person and one that could carry on conversations.

I actually did not realize until today how much that group meant to me.  I knew I liked them.  I knew I was a fan.   But, it wasn’t until today, some fifty years later, that I realized they helped me move past my grief and back into normalcy.

So, thank you gentlemen for helping me through that season of my life.  Rest in peace, to my favorite Monkee.     Cathi (DAF)

 

Tea…

I sit here drinking a cup of chai tea.  It is warm, comforting and I am enjoying it very much.   I decided to have a cup after reading Chai and a Chat on Ritu’s But I Smile Anyway.    I commented to her that in comparison to what she would be drinking, mine is a weak American counterpart.

I grew up with tea.  My folks being of Irish and Scottish descent, tea was ladled out for all sort of remedies.   Don’t feel good?  Here’s a cup of tea.   Feeling sad?  Here’s a cup of tea.   I continued that tradition with my girls.

During dinner when we were young, I remember my Mom would heat up the water and fill the teapot.  After dinner, the teapot would be placed on the table, and both of my folks would have a cup of tea to finish their meal.  I always left a bit of milk in my glass because, if I was lucky enough, Mom would pour some of her tea into my glass and I would be able to join in with them.

I don’t remember the teapot being on the table after my Mom got sick, but, the memory lingers in the deep recesses of my brain.   I remember the teapot as a teapot.  I can’t remember the color or design, but the image of it sitting on the table comes back to me often.

I love teapots.  I actually have a collection of them.  I have some from Japan (for loose green tea), and I have one from each member of my family.  Hubby got me a big one that I don’t use often as when it is filled, it is heavy.  My oldest gave me one that actually matched my kitchen when we lived in San Diego.  My youngest gave me a plain white one that, I confess is usually the one I grab when making tea for hubby and I in the evening.  It doesn’t pour well, I hold it over the sink to pour, otherwise more tea ends up on the counter than in the cup.

My most prized teapot is a special one my girls brought back from their vacation to London a few years ago.   They  said they went into a shop either in Piccadilly or Notting Hill,  (I am not certain which right now) and described me to the shopkeeper.  They told him that I collect teapots and I love unusual ones.  He reached down and produced the teapot they purchased.  It is one of my most prized possessions.  It sits in my china hutch and I use it on special occasions.  It pours so beautifully and brings tears to my eyes when I look at it.

I know things like this are made to be used and enjoyed, and after all, they are just things.  This one, though is more to me, as it reminds me that I have two loving daughters who care about me.   They spent time during their vacation with each other to remember me.  They made certain it was carefully packed to arrive perfect for me.

So, now my cup of tea is finished as is this post.   Just some random thoughts on this sunny day here, thanks for stopping by.   Cathi (DAF)

Middle of the Night Reminders…

Several years ago while living in San Diego, I had one of those horrible, no good, awful days.  You know the kind, where you carry your soap box around with you because everything sets you off and you want to voice your opinion on them.   I cannot remember what all set me off, some I do and since they are of a political nature, I will refrain from dredging them up.   Anyhow, my dear hubby came home from work, ate his dinner listening to my rants of the day and suggested an evening drive to the mountains.  Now, if it were me, I would make that suggestion to throw me off said mountain, but, fortunately, I am not him.  Instead, he drove me to the mountains, to ‘our’ spot that has a turn out and a beautiful view of the desert floor.

We drove the 40 minutes to the mountains, pulled into our spot and got out of the car.  I stood looking at the darkness surrounding me.  It was quiet there, no traffic noise.   Hubby wrapped his arms around me and just held me.  After the day I had, he knew that this is what I needed.  Quiet, peace and the sky.  I sighed and told him, “Someday I just want to be able to walk out my front door and see stars again.  Not have to drive almost an hour just to see a star in the sky.”

Stars are hard to see in big cities.  The light pollution fills the night sky and blank out the stars.  Yes, there are a few stars, but, they are not brilliant.

Last night I could not sleep.  Again.   As I lay in bed I started to watch the parade in my mind of every little thing that needed attention.  Granted, in the middle of the night, EVERYTHING you think of is in need of attention.  I finally got up and walked into our dining room.  I peeked out of the curtains and saw the front porch.  On it sat two chairs, small ones but they were there nonetheless.  They are just little things that I wanted this summer and there they were.  I told myself that this was a reminder, things get taken care of.

I next walked into our living room and walked over to a set of french doors.  Looking out I tried to see if any deer were sleeping in the yard, there were none that I could see.  I started to think of the flower garden that each year I attempt to get under control and each year I have failed.  I quickly walked away from the window.

Next, I was in our kitchen.  At the window I looked out and adjusted my eyes to the lights at the end of our driveway and our neighbors driveway lights.   They gave a gentle glow to the bare trees in our side yard.   Beautifully rising and casting shadows in the night sky.  It was an awesome sight, like a painting I have seen somewhere.  My eyes kept going up and there, spread across the sky as far as I could see were stars!  Bright stars that reminded me of little white Christmas lights blanketing the sky.

In that moment, I felt like I was being covered with a warm blanket.  Those stars were shining for me to see.  Those stars were right outside my door.  Stars for me to see and watch and marvel at.   Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”     Standing in my kitchen and looking out at the night sky, I realized I had so many of my heart’s desires.  Humbled, I turned to go back to bed. 

As I reached the doorway of my bedroom I remembered Psalm 46:10 a “Be still, and know that I am God;” 

It always amazes me when I actually stop long enough to be still.  To stop and listen instead of continually yapping to our Lord about things.  Middle of the night parades rob me of peace.  They rob me of sleep.  They rob me of listening when I need to hear things.  Sometimes I need to get up and just look at what surrounds me and remember that my God knows exactly what I need.  Today, I am thankful and grateful and hopefully I won’t move from this place for a while.

Thanks for stopping by today,  hope you have a good day.   Cathi (DAF)

 

A Flash Back Memory…

Last night while I was browsing You Tube, I came across a video for the Navy Lodge in Yokosuka, Japan.   This caught my eye as this is where we lived for the first couple of weeks after arriving in Japan.  I clicked on the link and smiled to myself.

This lodge is definitely not the classier place to stay when looking at first class hotels around the world.  It is by no means a four star resort to most.   It is a good, functional place to stay when you are being relocated to a foreign country and you don’t have your own home to move right in to.  It is a great place to drop your bags when you have arrived after a long and hard flight across the ocean.

I remember well the relief I felt when we first arrived to the Navy Lodge in June of 1976.  It was a dark and dreary night, no lie! It was a rainy night and the drive from Tokyo to Yokosuka was both invigorating and strange.   The signs were flashing neon, beckoning people to come into the pachinko parlors and restaurants and bars.  Each was fascinating to see, but overwhelming after a long flight from San Francisco.

We had a sponsor from the base meet us, which meant someone who my husband would be working with met us at the  airport and arranged for our lodging and getting us settled in for the first few weeks.  He drove a work van to the airport and talked most of the way from the airport.  Hubby carried on a conversation with him while I stared out the windows wondering how this was ever going to feel like home.

When we were dropped off at the Navy Lodge that night we checked in and were shown our room.   It was down a dark hallway.  On the way to the room we were shown where the bathrooms were and where the showers were.  Women on one side, men on the other.  Sort of like when you had gym class, those types of showers.   The only t.v. was in the lounge at the end of the hall.  Our room had a sink in it, a double bed and a small window, but it was quiet and it was ours.   We sunk into bed and slept like you can only sleep after a trans-Pacific flight.

After a good night’s sleep, a shower, and fresh clothes we met our sponsor for breakfast.  I can’t remember what that was, or where it was, all I know was the new day brought new energy and an excitement.

It did not take long for Japan to feel like home to us.  The signs that were so strange on our arrival soon became friendly to us.  The noise of the traffic and  the crowds of people became the melody of our lives.  We learned to move and flow with it.  Trains were second nature to me as I did not drive while living there.  I became familiar with the bus schedules, the bus stops, the train stations.  There were very few boring days while living there.

I often wonder what it is like now.  After watching the video last night of the Lodge, I smiled to myself.   A kitchenette in each room, that was unheard of!   A bathroom in each room, how wonderful!  A television in the room, amazing!  Plus, right before we left Japan, the Armed Forces Radio network brought us American television!  So, there is no more watching American shows dubbed in Japanese!

Time changes so much.  Things advance and improve and improve some more.   I would surmise, though, the people of Japan are still like they were.  They welcomed us and spoke with us and shared what they had with us.  They are a part of my history, my story, my heart.

Thanks for stopping by today,   I appreciate you.   Cathi (DAF)

 

And another year has passed…

Children make you old.  Not a complaint, just an observation.   When my Dad would call me on my birthday (the years he remembered it was my birthday), he would always ask how old I was.   I always thought it was strange, he may have been joking, but it was the age of rotary or push button phones, and there was no way to actually see his face, so I continued to think this man who was responsible for bringing me into the world actually did forget how old I was.   When I would tell him, he would go, “No, you can’t be that old!   When did you get to be that old?”   Each year, the same conversation.

Today, my first-born is 40.  I have morphed into my father and sit wondering how she could be that age.  It’s impossible,  I think to myself.  Must be a mistake in calculations,  I try to convince myself.   But, it’s not.   1979 subtracted from 2019 is 40.   Ouch!

I remember my 40th birthday.  I think it was yesterday.  Actually, that took place in 1995.   My oldest was a sophomore in high school, she was learning how to drive.  Life was exciting for both of us.  Her learning to drive and me learning how to not scream when she was behind the wheel!  Ahh, sweet (?) memories!

Anyhow, fast (and by fast, I mean hyper-speed) forward 24 years and we arrive at this moment.  She is now 40 and I am officially old.   The years between have seen lots of laughter, even more tears, late night fears (more on my part than hers), and continual prayers.  She is a lovely woman, full of grace and beauty.  A loving wife, a caring mother and devoted to her family.   She has grown into a woman who I aspire to be.   She made me who I am today and for that, I am thankful.

Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” (NLT)

Thanks for stopping by today…  Cathi (DAF)

 

 

Broken Bones, Broken Hearts and Broken Promises…

After a bit of encouragement today from a lovely group of bloggers, my mind started to once more formulate something to write. It has been three months since my last post. I broke a promise to myself to be more consistent in writing. I was determined and I did not see it through. I realized today that for years I have been playing at writing. It is a life long goal of mine to be a writer. A serious one. Each new year I think to myself, “This is THE year. I am going to start that novel I have carried in my heart and mind for the past twenty plus years. ” And then, by the end of January those thoughts fade and I think to myself, “Well, maybe someday I will get to it.” This year was no different, I thought maybe this year I will do it. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t ruled it out.

The past three months have been eventful. They have flown by actually. The end of October I was blessed in being able to speak to a group of women whom I love dearly. It was a long weekend retreat at a beach house in Myrtle Beach, SC. The talk centered around forgiveness and a hard lesson I learned about forgiveness and faith several years ago. It was a cathartic experience in writing this. But, with experiences like this, I felt drained after sharing my thoughts and words and emotions.

During the time of the retreat I had to miss the memorial service for my dear cousin who had passed away. It broke my heart to not be there for him or for my extended family. We each have that one cousin (if we are blessed) that brings your heart joy with each thought. He was that cousin for me. My heart smiles with each memory of him, but, I feel his absence daily with each thought also.

After the retreat, hubby and I traveled to our hometown in Northwest Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful time, it is always fun to be with friends and see family. We had a wedding to attend and that made the time even more enjoyable. Our niece made a beautiful bride and her new husband is a wonderful addition to our family.

As we were celebrating in our niece’s joy we received word that a dear friend passed away suddenly after a fall. It made the cracks in our heart deeper as we realized once more that we would not be there for the memorial service. The separation of death hurts in ways you do not expect. We have the assurance that we will see one another again, both my cousin and our friend, when we pass through this life, but, it does not ease the desire for one more conversation, one more round of laughter, one more time to pray for one another.

On our last night in our hometown, my dear hubby decided to do a tap dance with a cat, at the top of a staircase. Guess who won the dance contest? Yep, the cat! Fortunately, no fall down the stairs, but there was a trip to the emergency room for a broken ankle. It fortunately healed quickly and he is back to normal and on the mend.

Yes, it’s been a hectic three months. But, worth it. In between all the chaos were the holidays and a trip to see Mickey and Minnie at Disney World. I have found that usually in life there is chaos and confusion at times, but in the day to day things there is always a place where peace and joy reside. It is in the little things. The memories of loved ones that make your heart smile. The laughter as you explain to doctors how an ankle was broken. The victory of being able to share things from your life you never thought you would be able to speak aloud. The sparkle of tree lights and the sparkle of grandchildren as they look and marvel at gifts under the tree. The gleeful laughter of grands as they play and chase one another around the house, dogs in pursuit and mothers yelling to slow down. Life, sometimes it needs encouragement, sometimes it needs quiet, sometimes a simple nudge to just write helps immensely.

Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate you! Cathi (DAF)

Michael…

I haven’t been on my blog or reading other blogs for about a week now.  I don’t know what has been written about the hurricane and so I have been hesitant to write about it myself.

We had the remnants of the hurricane pass through our area, we were on the western edge, so to us, the storm was no different from a good winter type storm. Some wind, rain and a few small branches laying in the yard.

Our daughter’s family lives in Panama City Beach, had Michael not veered slightly to the east, she would have been in the direct path.   As it was, she did not receive as much damage as expected, for which we are so grateful.

What has prompted me to write is this, although the initial reports were wonderful, like most things in life, when the dust settles and the air is clear things appear that at first glance were overlooked.  Such was the case with family there.   They are still so much farther ahead than  others and they are so thankful and know they are blessed, but they still have some obstacles to overcome.

They have learned a few lessons so far in this process and by default,  I am learning them too. I am so proud of my daughter and son-in-law.  They give.  They give of themselves, their time, their belongings.  I am looking at my home in a fresh way this week.  I am looking at what is in my home in a new way.  This storm has touched my life.   I know there have been other storms, and I am not diminishing those in any way, this one was more personal.  When things are personalized they take on greater meaning.  I have joked in the past that I do like the hurricane seasons because my kids, who are both in hurricane prone areas, come to visit.  Yes, that is wonderful, and I do love those times, but this time the kids did not come home.   They made the intelligent decision to go a bit further west and found safety from the storm and had a few days of sun.

Coming home to what they did, they took nothing for granted.  They have power and cell coverage.  They no longer just turn on a switch and expect the lights to come on.  The lights are a blessing.  Their cell carrier who is usually complained about is now a wonderful treat.  They are sharing their phones with others, so things can be accomplished and loved ones can hear a voice and feel reassured.

It’s the little things that are usually taken for granted that have opened their (and my) eyes to the blessing they are.  The photos do not do justice to the area.  Their neighborhood is being cleared, but the damage is great.  There is a bridge that connects Panama City Beach to Panama City.  My daughter said that the damage on her side of the bridge takes your breath away in the magnitude, but, she said compared to the other side of the bridge they are very fortunate.

I have shared this to encourage whoever is reading to pray for those in the path of Michael.  There are some who are still struggling with the effects of Florence who  were hit once more with this last storm.  As  news stories come and go, we tend to forget those major headlines from a week ago.  The headlines may fade, but the damage does not go away as quickly.

Thank you for stopping by today.  DAF (Cathi)

Faith…

blonde hair blur daylight environment

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

I have attempted many things in my life that I never would have thought of doing when I was growing up in my small hometown of Oil City, PA.   I married my high school sweetheart which at the time was a pretty normal thing for people to do.  However, he was a career Navy man and the day after our wedding he drove me away from the security of our hometown, and we have been on an adventure since then.

I have seen the Atlantic ocean, the Pacific ocean, Tokyo Bay, Sagami Bay, and the finger lakes around Mt Fuji,  the Gulf of California off San Felipe, the Gulf of Mexico .  I have been to Tokyo several times, been on an aircraft carrier for a day, been mountain climbing in Maine with our five month old daughter, passing her between one another while we climbed to the top (not our most prepared moment).  I have run across the Golden Gate Bridge for fun, fallen off a bike into a rice paddy, eaten some strange foods not knowing what they were.     I have felt adventurous, bold, brave.  I have had fun.  I know in comparison to others, these are all small things to accomplish, but, for this small town girl who never thought she would see anything except the Allegheny River and Oil Creek, these are big things.

I said all of the above because yesterday as I was preparing for some decorating for our upcoming Ladies Retreat, I came across a clip art that showed a woman leaping from one mountain top to another.  This piece of clip art stopped me.  I literally stopped what I was doing and just stared at the image for several moments.  It wasn’t necessarily a striking image, it was just a woman in mid-air between two outcropping peaks of a mountain.   I have jumped across mountain outcroppings like this before without a thought as to what I was doing, and normally I would just smile and continue to look for what I originally was searching for.

However, I stopped.  I studied this image.  My heart joined in the study.  This clip art spoke of faith.  This person photographed an act of faith.  This woman left a piece of ground she was certain of.  She knew what she was standing on.  It was firm land, safe land.  She left that security and leapt not knowing what the ground across from her would be like.  Would that ground be as firm as what she just left?  When she landed again would the ground be firm or would it be slick?  Would there be rocks covered in moss or gravel?  Would she stumble or slip?  These questions flooded my mind as I stared at the clip art.

Then, a question came to my mind, “When was the last time you took a leap of faith?”  The answer to myself was not positive.  I once thought myself adventuresome.  There was a part of me that smiled because I had done so many things that a girl from Oil City never thought of doing, and yet, here I am, now an older woman from South Carolina who leads a pretty ordinary, quiet life.

Have I settled?  Have I told myself it’s time that I shouldn’t expect that rush of excitement and adventure?  All these questions and thoughts flooded my mind and heart in a five-minute time frame, and then kept rattling around my brain since.   In getting older, those leaps of faith come with a bit of wisdom and experience, memories of skinned knees, aching limbs, racing hearts and disappointments jump up in the front of my mind.   I don’t want to miss out though.

While in Japan, hubby and I went to the mountains for a weekend retreat.  Our car’s battery had been blown so the car wouldn’t start on its own, we had to push it to start it.  We drove that beat up old car into the mountains, each time we stopped I would get out and push it as I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift then, and popping a clutch was an unnatural feat for me.   But, it was during that memorable trip that Psalm 121 became a part of my life.   To me, it speaks of faith, leaping faith, and I close sharing it here with you.

Psalm 121 (New Living Translation)

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

I am now challenged to look for places to leap out in faith.  Will I succeed?  I really don’t know, all I know is I am going to look for places to leap, it may only be jumping across a puddle for now, but maybe, just maybe I have a mountain top or two to leap over.

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)