June 30, 2011

The past four days have found me fully immersed in the beginnings of a two-week orientation and training session. Interestingly enough, this extremely international group of us is going to be together for my two “Passport Country”‘s Independence Days. I’m afraid that I have never been a very good, very traditionally patriotic, Independence Day celebrator. But this characteristic, as I just learned, is typical of those of us known as “TCK”s, or “Third Culture Kids.” One of the things we have all been learning about is the nature of the TCK and I, for one, am fascinated by this topic . . . how could I not be, really?
Another tidbit we learned about TCKs is that a common hobby, among TCKs, is that of naming, or comparing knowledge of, country flags. I smiled when the speaker shared this, having done my own flag-naming with some regularity. And we just happen to be housed here in a facility with a nice, photo-worthy collection, as you can see. Any attempts at country-naming welcome . . . :-)

for the sake of a visit

June 27, 2011

Seasons change. Years go by. Life happens. And as I grow not-quite-as-young, not-quite-as-naive, as I once was, there are times when I worry I am going to be cynical and disillusioned with age. I fear losing a sense of wonder at the world, and at life.
But then things happen that remind me once more of all that is good and right. And I realize that while there is much that is wrong in this world in which we live, there is also much that is right; or perhaps more accurately, there are people who are right.
A visit with family allowed me to cross paths with friends from way back in time. So this afternoon I found myself flying with the pilot who flew me to and from family when I was small, doing the same thing once more. To good people such as these, it is the most natural thing in the world to offer a private flight simply to help with the logistics of managing a family visit and allow for time catching up with these friends as well.
No, it did not seem a small thing at all to me today to be approaching this home, seeing it from above as we neared . . .

trees and seas

June 26, 2011

I was treated to a drive along the Pacific Northwest coastline this afternoon, with the good company of some old family friends, and their wisdom about the area. I told them I was wishing my camera was not packed away in my suitcase at the time, as I learned an interesting tidbit about local trees. One of the most common trees we saw along the coast was what I think they called a Pacific Medrone. With reddish bark that peels like a Eucalyptus, it stands out once you know what to look for. So I wanted to capture a visual to go along with this bit of knowledge I had just happily gleaned. But no–locked away in the trunk was my camera.
So later, once on the ferry, I took advantage of my in-hand suitcase and the consequent photo-freedom to snap a few shots of the beautifully watery scenery: and this snazzy “pirate ship,” for lack of a more knowledgable naming on my part :-)

and a rose

June 24, 2011

I had to return to the cemetery today. Had to leave my own mark upon the grave I had not yet made my peace with. So I went with a single rose from Oma’s garden, the bush just going into bloom, and I placed it there. Then I remembered that I had also meant to water the potted blooms my cousin had left, noticing the soil was dry yesterday. But it wasn’t where it sat yesterday. I looked around and was so very glad that I had, for it lay on its side, far from its home, next to a rubbish bin. But now it sits back where it belongs, freshly watered . . . beside a rose.

in earth

June 22, 2011

This morning we went to the cemetery. It was the first time I had been since I was here last, 10 years ago. And it was one of those “too much” times in life. One of those times when there is too much intensity packed into the moment for one heart to handle.
We visited three graves there. One was that of my cousin, whom we buried when she was barely 4 years old. As I stood there with Oma, I remembered the last time I was there, losing my composure and sobbing through the graveside service. But today I stood dry-eyed and quiet.
Then we continued on to my aunt’s grave. This was one I had not yet seen. And as I looked at the flowers my cousin had placed there just days earlier, I thought, Why was I not here? Why didn’t I come to the funeral? Why could I not have ignored practicalities of time and expense then, and just come anyways? I should have been here . . .
Then I started to cry. As Oma turned to walk towards the next site, I turned my head to hide my face from her. We were both quiet as I followed her. I asked what she was looking for now, and then immediately kicked myself for so ignorantly forgetting that Opa’s grave was there as well.
She found it and knelt down, with some discomfort. I almost chided her when I realized what she was doing but thought better of it. Instead, I knelt and started pulling dandelions from around the stone with her. We uprooted the weeds and the stray grasses until the heat started to get to Oma and she eased herself back up. “That’s where I will be too,” she commented. “They will lay me on top of Opa there.”
That was when I realized it was too much. Too much reality, too much emotion, for my feeble self. I wondered if I was just stilted in my human capacities and should be able to just slide through days like this without a pause.
But I think that I am at least in a bit of good company at the moment–maybe not the only one needing to recover myself after such times. For I noticed that Oma had to do some more weeding, some more literal [and figurative, I suspect] uprooting. Such is life, eh?

crying trees

June 20, 2011

I was camera-ready when we headed out for this afternoon’s walk, remembering these picture perfect Weeping Willows from the last time; we had happened upon this small but lovely neighborhood park, tucked away so that three years of residence had not yet made it found by my walking companions. As I put down my camera and walked towards them again, I was just in time to hear her quietly, but audibly, wondering, “So where are their tears?”

healthy stone

June 16, 2011

As I unclasped Oma’s necklace for her, I commented on how nice the stones were. She told me it was her “health” stone, brought with her from Germany. Bernstein she told me, not knowing what it would be called in English. Looking it up, I realized it was what I know as amber. I have always liked the stone, but didn’t know it had purported health benefits till now. At any rate, when I asked her if I could take a photo of it, now that I knew the word, she brought out another one. Both are in the family, from Germany, but one she had when she was younger and one was brought to this country later on, a gift from her uncle. So there you have it, today’s gleaning :-)

simply made

June 15, 2011

It was with a great sense of breathe-deeply relief that I mowed the lawn this afternoon: the distinct relief of an activity that was simple and soothingly productive. Relief from the hourly–momently–self-checks and reminders that I need not panic, that He will give me the ability to do this work set before me. Relief from the excitement of the work ahead tempered by my “much-afraid” tendencies when the unknown is ahead. Relief from the constant to-do-list additions and wondering what the next, most-important thing now is.
But God spoke a word of truth to my soul. I awoke with the message “God deals with me gently” running through my head the other day. And it is so very true. Every time I feel it is all too much, that He has given me more than I can handle, that I will just sink under the pressure . . . the feared-for arrives and then the reality is so much easier, so much simpler than I could have possibly imagined. Yes, God deals gently with me.
So as I mowed, I noticed for the first time this trailer that I have been meaning to look for since Oma told me about it last week. I forgot to look, with the urgency of the days. But this trailer reminds me of all that is real, and true. It reminds me of my family heritage. I am my father’s daughter. And he made this in his younger days, deciding that the need for a trailer provided the perfect opportunity for him to test out his creative carpentry skills. Here it is still, so very many years later. A reminder of the life I came from, of the legacy I am blessed with, and of the simple goodness of this life I have been entrusted with.

kindred feet

June 13, 2011

So today I made the happy discovery that the church camp I remember as a small child is still the church’s locale for the annual Camp Service/Cookout day. We kayaked, barbecued [and perhaps more importantly, “kuchen”ed in good German fashion :-)], played games, and soaked up the sun. While picnicking, I had a moment of “You too!!!” when one new friend’s husband commented on her odd enjoyment of foot photos. This of course, I could not resist: I just HAD to take a good foot photo with her, and with a few other table companions who were feeling up for the toe challenge :-)

weeding the hurts

June 10, 2011

I’m afraid I had to pull some more dandelions today. And no, I was not a happy camper. Today was a bit of a different retain, though. This time my own day was fine. But someone I love is hurting, and I can’t do one daggum thing about it. So I uprooted dandelions instead, imagining that I could root out that pain in a simpler, dandelion world.
Once again, I opted for a more pleasant visual aid than a photo of weeds. Oma’s well-loved snowball tree is nearing the end of its relatively long [this year] life. And the carpeted result is a lovely one for sure, if a bit of a bittersweet reminder of life’s realities . . .