Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Winter Storm Stella 2017

It is a first for her. She is here by herself as a nor’easter’ powders the east coast with a fine snow. It is heavier than it seems, whirling or sideways, building up fast.

The Biker is still in Florida. The Writer headed south yesterday much later than he planned. He stopped to say good-bye. She made him breakfast. They chatted. Dante’, school, future plans and past life; time slid by. He runs into freezing rain at the edge of the storm and stops for the night.

She fills a bucket with water and finds the day old bagels and chicken scraps. She shrugs on the big overalls zipping her phone into a pocket as a precaution. She routes out another hat as the one used earlier is still wet. She soon realizes she should have had everything prepped for chores before she dressed. She is overheating as she fills a pitcher for the bird feeders.

She plows her way to the woodshed with the big yellow scoop made to clear snow off the roof. Adding a bit of wood to the furnace she then plows out to the Deuce Coop. Shovels the coop steps and entry way to the run. On a whim she also clears the snow in front of the box shed. She might need something from there later.

Not bothering to shovel a path she tromps through the snow to the bird feeders. Snow is sifting down her neck. This hat does not work as well as the cast off camo fleece one she usually wears. She comes in the back door and stomps her red boots but still tracks in snow as she goes to the kitchen to get the yard stick. Six inches on the flat of the picnic table.

Retracing her steps back past the woodshed she digs for the scrap pans among the coils of stored sap lines. The rubber palmed gloves she wears for chicken chores are not as warm as her leather ones drying on the rack. She usually scatters the scraps on the ground when she lets her flock out to free range in the late afternoon. She is doing chicken chores early and no one will come out of the run today. She fills a pan with freezer burned broccoli and leftover corn. Another one holds spaghetti and sunflower seeds that got damp filling the feeder so she did not pour them back in the can.

She hauls the bucket of water to the run. The waterer is still a third full. The hens are all in the coop. Not drinking as much water so less eggs tomorrow. She hangs the bagels off the roost and puts out the pans of scraps. Going into the coop with the egg basket she tries to shoo them into the run to find their treats but they don’t cooperate. She goes to the box shed for scratch feed and scatters it on the ramp to coax them out. Dominica comes to investigate followed by Emmaline and plump old Strawberry. Soon the ramp is full of pecking, sliding chickens. They jostle around the pans. She leans against a pole watching, waiting for them to find the bagels. The snow drifts in. The wind is “wild and shouting". The hens are uneasy. Every time the plastic wrapping the run flaps a couple dart back into the coop.

She gathers eggs. She fills the feeder with layer pellets, quickly shutting the feed bucket between scoops. Chores take longer in the cold and snow. She doesn’t mind. She likes weather and winter and seasons. She battens the coop door against the wind.  Every path she just cleared is already drifted with a couple inches of snow. The snow is fast and furious as was predicted for midday.

Back inside she wriggles out of the coveralls. They go on easier than the come off. Despite the covering her corduroys are crusted with snow on the bottom so she switches them out for pajamas. She fortifies herself with a cup of hot bone broth she made a few days ago. She is not sold on it. The broth has good things in it: ginger, garlic, lime and nutrients leached from the chicken bones. There are no definitive studies showing that our bodies make use of these nutrients in this form. It is warms her anyway.

She cleans, counts and cartons the eggs. Twelve, including two that are broken, but no green ones.

She heats the oven for the Crusty Bread she set last night. She fills a pitcher with water. She might want it later if the power goes out. While the oven heats and the bread bakes she washes the few dishes not bothering to run the dish washer. The hot water feels good on her hands. Old songs keep her company.

The feeder outside the kitchen window is flocked with small birds. A fluffy Tufted Titmouse rocks on the top bar while Chickadees flit in and out. A Nuthatch hangs on the suet cage where a little Downy Woodpecker fed earlier.

Someone will come plow her out later. Her boys are on standby if she needs them. She is by herself but not alone.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wounds, Scars and a Soft Spot

Today, in the wake of recent deaths and also some discussions about death, I was pondering grief. This is where my thoughts went:

A few years ago I had infection in my leg that caused a deep grievous wound in my shin. The Biker described it as a bullet hole. It literally kept me off my feet for six weeks. It was a long recovery. The  scar is deep. It hurt on occasion for a very long time.   

When Leroy died it was a deep, infected grievous wound that took many years to heal. I traveled a long journey though the dark winter of grief. The overwhelming emotions that came with his death, shock, fear, anger, pain, and confusion no longer weigh me down but they did leave scars. Scars that hurt from time to time. What causes these scars to hurt? Sometimes just missing Leroy. The wounds of grief can heal but the missing part never goes away. He will always be gone from this life and we will always miss him. Another thing that makes my scars hurt is thinking about the suffering of my kyds because Leroy left us all behind. Not only did they lose a brother and best buddy, they lived through some of the most crucial years of childhood with both parents lost in the wilderness of grief: broken, wounded, often without strength to cope or just be there for them. 

Secondary losses also make scars hurt. The fact that my grandsons will never know Uncle Leroy in the here and now of this life is one of those. The lost possibility of another beloved daughter-in-law and more grand children is another.

When I hear of the death of yet another child, it doesn't tear open old wounds but  Leroy's death left a soft spot that wells up with compassion for those left behind. I know there is a long, hard road of grief ahead of them. I know their life will never be the same. I worry about siblings. I pray in the night hours for peace, for sleep, for forgiveness for everyone involved. I also remind myself that healing will come to them. Yes, healing comes. And joy. After the long night of grief joy comes in the morning.

I love you bunches and joy in the morning,

Friday, March 11, 2016

What is life really like...

About a month after Leroy died, the ALC Fall Services were held at the Battle Ground High School. A man, whom I recognized by face but not by name, came up to me and asked if I was Leroy's mother. I answered "Yes". He looked into my eyes and said "What a tragedy." Only those words. They resonated deep within me and I have never forgotten.

A few months later Rick Wiinikka joined the Biker and I for supper on my birthday. As we settled into a booth at Denny's, he asked "So, what is life really like without Leroy?" Just a simple question but it spoke so many things. It let us know that talking about Leroy was not considered a taboo subject. It was a willingness to listen. It acknowledged that our life was indeed changed. Leroy's name was spoken. The honesty of the question gave us permission to be equally honest in our answers. I don't recall what those answers were nor any of the conversation that followed but I will always remember the question.

Until then, Richard E, until then...

Make a simple honest statement.
Ask a simple, honest question.
Wear red shoes for courage - Pat

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Words. Words at my house. "Is SISU a just a word?"  Words. Good words. Different words. Forays into philosophy. Types of government. Presidential assassins. Presidential candidates. The Scholar. The Reader. The Biker.  Bill Gates sandy white beaches. Calculator. Pentillion.  Folding a piece of paper fifty-two  times. EMP.  Lyrics. A song three times. Fat king. Google: cycle. Google: un.  "It's a frame of mind." 3:30 til 3 am. Iceland. Greenland. Too much shampoo . Kooky Cloud. "Is that Leroy?" Banana bread. Pizza Haven. Popcorn. Misfired twice. With his cane. Polynesia. Ewoks. Cubic inches. cc's. "I've never heard his voice." $100 bet. Doc said all went well. A sliver. Arthritis. Pen nibs. White grout. Iraq. Iran. The Listener.

"In three minutes I can hurt you with words.
 In three minutes I can love you with words."

Words and red shoes...  Pat

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

This Boy

I talked to this boy in my dream this morning. He looked like this but he was not two year old boy. He was a school boy. In my dream there were boys sleeping upstairs, other boys, not this boy. I got up in the night to pray the blood of Jesus over everyone in the house. I was standing in the middle of the living room with my hands lifted up when he came downstairs.
I said "Do you want to climb in my bed with me? I haven't seen you for so long."
He climbed in my bed and I got in with him. It was a single bed with a light color quilt on it. 
"What time does school start?" I asked.
"9:19 but only for today." he said.
"What time do you have to catch the bus?" I asked.
" I have a basketballer on my bus." he said.

My alarm went off and I cried. 
Little boy, please, come back to my dream. I still need to talk to you.

It was a teary day and I forgot to wear red shoes....

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Celebrate Anyway

I have been reading posts about the holidays, how awful they are when a loved one has died, how hard it is for all who are grieving. Well, I have had a different experience. Our 8 year old son died in July of 1991. He is one of five siblings. My husband and I both come from large families. Holidays, especially Christmas, are a BIG deal in our family. After the Runner died I grieved deep and hard. It pushed the depression I already lived with even deeper. The holidays were a relief to me. It got me out of my house and out of my own little grief filled head.  Also in my world that had suddenly changed into a dark scary place, the ancient carols and the Christmas story remained the same. That was a great comfort to me. We always include the Runner in all our memories and celebrations; no one has ever had a problem with that. Yes, it is different, sometimes we cry and someone is missing but celebrations are still important. 

With big families someone is always missing because they live far away, may be traveling or celebrating with the other side.  My sister's oldest son died when he was two. She now has a big family and for many years would never have a family photo taken because one was missing. Then one year she came to the conclusion at some point her kyds grow up, one by one they would leave home and not be in the picture anyhow so she takes family photos now with whoever is there.  
Celebrate anyway. Choose joy. Wear red boots for courage.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Stone Keeper

I have a friend who lives far away. She has been through hard things and many obstacles in her life. She has freely given her best years to help others. Today, from far away, I am able to help her. I gather a few cleaning tools, some rags and a bucket of water. These are the tools of her trade. The wind is wild in the treetops but fallen leaves are too wet to twirl and dance. This day is chosen for this task because the lichen is rain soaked and more easily removed. The first time I went looking for this stone I wandered searching because the names  are so obscured.

The first step is to scrub the stone with a dry brush. This removes a fair amount of lichen.
I soon find the tools I collected for the job are not sufficient so I improvise. A crunched empty water bottle, a Snapple bottle and a pick from a long faded rose are put to good use.
As I scrape, scrub and rinse I ponder things. Scrubbing is good like that.  I am intrigued by double middle initials. I wonder what J. M. and A. E. stand for.  I think of the baby girl who lived from June until July, all of one day. I picture the little boy playing in his front yard behind the stone wall, waving at the pay loader driver. I cannot imagine  the heart of driver when his brakes give way and he goes over the stone wall.  The mama who went through the heartbreak of laying these two angels here has long since been laid to rest herself but someone still remembers. Someone remembers the life, the death, and the heartache. Someone's heart still bears the scars. 

I think of stones on other little graves and other little ones from times past. I walk up the hill to remember.
The pinwheel whirls in the wind like life and time whirling by. It stops for a brief moment. Time stops and stands still when death comes crashing into our lives or at least it stops in our hearts for a season. 

Bubbles for Kerry and Mary

There is deep peace here but the wind and rain are picking up. The perfection part of me is loath to leave any lichen hiding in the cracks but I have long been on my knees. Anything that brings us to our knees is a blessing. It is indeed a blessing to be reminded how much Jesus loves the children. 

Lichen is beginning to grow on the Runner's stone. I wonder in the long years to come if someone will scrub his stone and find his name.  I wonder if we should scrape the lichens from stones. Should we clean the dust and cobwebs from little red bicycles? Maybe we should leave them be to show the years going by and time whirling on but today I am the stone keeper because someone still remembers.