Cousins ~

The cousins, siblings and me at Grandma Goodie’s House

Cousins are our first best friends. The instant playmates from birth through childhood, and beyond, if we are lucky. I remember so many good times shared with my cousins when we were young. Meeting up at Grandma’s farm, we built go-carts from apple boxes and made tunnels of hay in the barn. We rode our bikes like maniacs along the river road and luckily survived without ever toppling into the current. How Grandma wrangled the six of us without losing her sanity is a testament to her Norwegian fortitude for sure. No matter our escapade, she’d chuckle and send us back outside to play. Dirt was good, added to our immunities, she said, and hay dust, though it made us sneeze, caused no lasting damage to our developing lungs. She loaded us all in her big boat of a car and drove us into town to shop at the five and dime and fed us burgers and fries at King Charlie’s on the way back home. Siblings and cousins forever!

“Time passes and we may be apart, but cousins always stay close at heart.”

My dad and his brother grew up with a big, rambling group of cousins, all meeting, yes, you guessed it… at their grandma’s house. He lights up when he talks about Sunday afternoon baseball games in the field beyond the house and potluck meals spread on tables made of wide boards cut at the small sawmill they operated on Meadow Lake. There is a picture of all the black sedans parked in the driveway. I can almost hear the ring of the horseshoe clanging on the iron stake as the men hoisted them in the air. In winter, when the lake froze over, they strapped on skates from the wooden box under the stairs and raced each other from shore to shore. Dad said his grandpa fashioned skis from a couple of planks and the cousins took turns skiing through the orchard. I have enjoyed those stories so much, they have become my own and I am lonesome for the times gathered in that cozy kitchen around the warmth of the old cookstove. My great-grandma’s place was next to the stove, beside the window. She had hair to her waist that was always braided and wrapped around her head or in a bun at the back of her neck. She was short and round and always wore an apron. (Sounds a little like someone else I know!) I have her chair in my house now, I love having that connection to her and to those good old days.

“God made us cousins because He knew our mothers could not handle us as siblings.”

Time has that crazy way of marching on and now my kids have kids, which winds us back around to cousins!

and Quinn makes 6!

Six busy kids making their own memories together as they grow up. Will they remember dragging my collection of bottles and jars out to the picnic table to make potions? I can’t forget Jamie Todd running in the house for some necessary supply, I asked what they were doing, he answered, “Searching for the antidote!” Pumpkinfest and Cooky Day, extra holidays they enjoy every year, I hope storing up good times in their hearts to draw on down the road. Part of the job description when I signed on as ‘Grammie’, was to provide a place to just be, whether it was to build a fort under the table or play cards around it. Now the older five are teens or close to it. They hang out on the tire swing or sit around the picnic table, talking about life and friends and school (or the lack there of) but there they are, together. I love it.

“In my cousin, I find a second self.” **Isabel Norton

As kids, the years that separated my cousin Lisa and I kept us from being playmates, but there’s another funny thing about time~ it’s a great equalizer. Now it’s almost like we are the same age and the stories she heard from her mom match those my dad has told me and we are connected, heart to heart. We might not have enjoyed a shared childhood, but we make up for it as adults. We look through the old photo albums, connecting the dots that create a picture of our sprawling, extended family. We have the same Norwegian immigrant great-grandparents, and the same love of the old home place. Kindred cousins for sure.

Dedicated to my dear cousin Don Mayhew ~ July 20, 1948-August 31, 2020

“There is one thing that is right and true in this world, Family. To watch where we’re going, To know where we’ve been, and to be with us in the end, for comfort and to carry on.” *LRVW

Peace. Love. Amen.

Happy Birthday, Big Mike!

Gayle, Mike & Me in Sunny AZ

“Siblings: children of the same parents, each of whom is perfectly normal until they get together.” **Sam Levenson

Oh man, that quote says it all!! It cracks me up as I read it. Nobody can make me laugh like my siblings. We call them ‘Laugh Attacks’. Those crazy fits that truly bust a gut, that when I try to tell someone how funny such and such was, they look at me like….”Okay… yeah… that sounds hilarious…” as they roll their eyes. I remember sitting around the dinner table as kids and having to divert our eyes from each other. Getting tickled by something only we could see, a ‘laugh attack’ with the accompanied snort and possibly milk coming out of our noses was frowned upon by our parents.

Jill, Mike & Me… 1961

There were four of us, growing up on twenty acres at the bottom of Bunk Foss Road. Once in awhile a cousin would come to play, or some of our parents friends who had kids our age would come to visit, but mostly it was us four Campbell Kids. Together we blazed trails through the woods and built forts beneath the canopy of towering evergreens. Up on the hill behind our house, there was an old chicken coop. I don’t think we ever raised hens or gathered eggs, but sometimes we would get ambitious and sweep it out for a make-do clubhouse. A Transparent apple tree grew beside it and in August when the apples started to ripen and fall, the deer would come, feast on the windfalls and rest in the shade. One time we (Mike) came up with the brilliant idea to capture one of the deer for a pet. I’m not sure how we lured the poor creature into the coop, but when that door closed, and she was locked in, the term ‘wild animal’ was defined for us. Lurching and rearing and searching for an escape, it’s a miracle none of us were trampled before we got that door opened and the deer bounded away.

As teenagers, we moved from the country into a house in town. With a rec room in the basement and a pool in the backyard, our house was the gathering spot. I think we moved in mid winter, but on the first sort of nice day in March, Mike was the first one in the pool. I’m pretty sure there’s an eight millimeter movie somewhere of the fastest jump, splash, exit in history.

Mike wrestled and played football for the Panthers. Friday nights found our house full of friends and family of all ages, eating snacks around our big dining room table and rehashing the game. Glory days for sure!

A couple of years ago when we were all in Arizona, Mike invited me on a road trip. “Hey, do you want to take a drive on the Apache Trail? Everyone says it’s beautiful!” How could I resist? He picked me up early and away we went. It’s not often as adults that we get undivided time with a sibling, but there I was. We were on the road for about ten hours, exploring historic spots and stopping at every scenic viewpoint. Reminiscing our shared times, and listening to him replay some of his shenanigans was an experience I will never forget!

Today I celebrate my baby brother and wish him a happy birthday. Growing up with built in best friends was great fun, growing old with them is even better! Love you baby bro!

My Baby Brother

Peace. Love. Amen.

Farm Fresh Memories ~

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” **Thomas Moore

Sheets on the line, snapping in the warm breeze, are one of my very favorite things. It’s barely noon, but I picture myself cozy in my bed tonight, fresh scents of summer, lulling me to sleep. Is there anything as humble as a clothesline? It can be as simple as a length of twine tied between two trees (like we do when we are camping) or as fancy as a collapsible umbrella that you can take in and out according to the weather. I even have one made for apartment dwellers, that fastens to the wall to be attached across a room, then rolls itself back in when not in use.

My grandma had the best clothesline. It was a pulley system from her back porch, a mile (it seemed!) out to an ancient maple tree in the pasture. I can still see her laundry stretched above the yard and across the garden. It truly danced on the wind that whipped up from the river. Helping grandma pull it in the late afternoon never seemed to be a chore. Even as a little kid, I felt the sacredness of those times spent on her farm. Summer days filled with endless hours making trails in tall grass and searching for kittens in the dark interior of the big old barn. My brother and sisters and I couldn’t think of any place we would rather be. We grew up sitting around her round picnic table in the yard, her old transistor radio turned to KWYZ while we played cards or shucked corn or snapped beans.

Upstairs at grandma’s house was a huge bedroom. Even with the low, slanted ceilings, there were enough beds for each of us, including grandma. She tucked us under quilts made from five inch squares cut out of old wool coats and and sewn together with feather stitches in contrasting thread. Beneath their weight we had little choice but to lay still as grandma told stories in the darkened room. I loved how she spun the Mother Goose tales into a long and winding adventure where Little Bo Peep bumped into Little Boy Blue and they worked together to round up their restless flocks. Sometimes they ran into Mary and her lamb, sometimes the Billy Goats Gruff tripped along, telling of the wicked troll that lived under the bridge. We’d drift off the sleep to the soft sound of grandma’s voice and the lonesome whistle as the train lumbered on tracks on the other side of the river. In the morning we would tip toe down the bare wooden stair treads and venture into the kitchen where grandma already had a fire in the trash burner and corn meal mush cooling in the pan.

Isn’t it interesting, how our memories are stirred and pop up as fresh as if it happened yesterday when we allow ourselves the time to ‘just be’? Here I am having quiet afternoon, thinking I am alone in my backyard, when in fact I am sharing the space with my younger self, my siblings, my grandma, not to mention, long gone barn cats. Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone.” I picture underground springs of memories, that bubble up when the surface is scratched. It’s funny how it works. Here I am, the grandma now, sixty four and counting, but when I think of these old days I am six, or eight, or ten… and for a bit, immersed in the good old days, in my heart I am a child again!

My brother loves to say, ‘those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…’ (or maybe that was Judy Collins), in any case, it is certainly true! We’re busy living and growing up, and then all of a sudden here we are, looking back across the years, wondering where in the world the time went. Today, close your eyes for just a few minutes. Let your mind wander, open the door to the dusty closet where those old times were stuffed so long ago. Pull out a good time and sink into it for a while. I’ve got to go take my clothes off the line…

Peace. Love. Amen.

Summer in a Jar ~

“I would love to go and live in the mountains… and make jam” * Eve Best

We hurried home in the late afternoon on Friday, hoping to get our raspberries picked before the dark clouds above us opened up. On either side of the row, we plucked the red jewels and dropped them in our ice cream pails. “Does this remind you of berry picking when you were a kid?” I asked my hubby. “Yes…” he answered as he lifted a heavy branch to reveal a trove of hidden gems. We continue picking in silence, and I remember those simple summer days. I grew up out in the country, so when school got out, it was just my siblings to play with, maybe a cousin or two now and then, that is until berry season. My brother and I would wait at the end of our long driveway for the berry bus to pick us up and out to the fields we went. The bus driver was usually a school teacher, one summer it was our school principal (who we greatly admired), I guess they didn’t get enough of us during the school year. In the berry fields we met up with school friends who caught the bus in town, it was quite a social event. I still picture the farmer showing me the proper way to pick and inspect the berry, “Pick the berry and roll it in your hand to make sure it’s perfect, then put it in your box.” Okay… I’d pick my flat full, turn it for a punch on my berry card and keep picking, but mostly I talked. And laughed. And enjoyed the company of my friends. I made a little money for school clothes, though looking back I certainly could have made a lot more, (20/20 hindsight) but we sure had fun!

Keeping a watchful eye ~

Between the two of us we picked enough for a batch of jam. I washed, crushed and measured our bounty into my big Revere Ware pan, stirred in the pectin (MCP because that’s what grandma used) and brought the crimson liquid to a ‘rolling boil that can’t be stirred down’. As I pour in the sugar, it melts into the hot berries, and the color deepens to a rich, ruby red. I make swirling figure eights with my long spoon, keeping it moving as it boils for four full minutes. I love the combination of ingredients and the science of jam. I love the smell as the jam cooks. Alex Rowat wrote, “Happiness is like jam. You can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself.” I most certainly agree! I might take it a little farther and state, “Jam is Happiness!”

We be jammin’

I am never alone in my kitchen. I am shoulder to shoulder with my teachers and their lesson are mine to pass along. My grandmas, my sister; the hum and the bustle of the process is calming to me. Zen. I ladle the boiling liquid into hot jars, wipe the rims and adjust the lids. Just think, jam, spread on toasted homemade bread on a snowy December morning…

~ Summer in a Jar ~

Peace. Love. Amen.

Pretty in Pink~

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time ~ like to have a friend takes time.” *Georgia O’Keefe

An afternoon, a blue, cloudless sky, and time… time to see! The first days of summer have tip~toed in, offering a break from the rain and an opportunity to ponder ‘pink’. In my flower beds and boxes, pink blossoms tumble out and turn their faces to the sun. I imagine they are feeling cozy in the warmth, as I am as I stroll around, snipping spent blooms and checking soil moisture. I love to visit with them as I tend, not expecting a response, of course, but to encourage them to carry on, it’s only June, you know!

Great~Grandma Pederslie’s Old Fashioned Rose

Thirty years ago, my grandma’s last brother passed away, leaving the family home on Meadow Lake to his surviving nieces and nephews, of which my dad was one of 15. The place was sold and items dispersed accordingly. This rose rambled beside the old garage. I brought a start home and it grows kind of wild in the corner of my picket fence. It looks like the flowers we made from crepe paper when we were kids. Petal upon petal releasing the absolute, most beautiful fragrance. One rose in a vase scents an entire room, so think of how lovely this corner smells! I gave one to our PUD meter reader yesterday, she took a whiff and said, “Oh Grandma!” Yep.

Jill ~

My sister gave me a start of this pink flower. She called it ‘Lamb’s Tongue’. Bright pink flowers and silver foliage that is soft as velvet might be classified as a weed, but I prefer wild flower. Jill was a flower child and a creative soul and I love having a piece of her to speak to on an early summer day.

Dianthus~

Dianthus! So now that I am taking time to ‘see’ the flower, I notice the edges of the petals are jagged. I am picturing garden fairies with tiny pinking shears trimming them up on moonlit nights. How sweet these fairies are, don’t you agree?

Foxgloves!

See the foxglove… the outer bell is luscious pink, the inner, pale with a speckled throat. I see tiny hairs along the rim, I have never noticed these before! I love to watch the bees in these tall spires, it must seem a smorgasbord to them. This time of year the road sides are a feast for the eye dotted with this majestic wilding.

Ground Cover ~

This little cutie was purchased as a ground cover to grow around the stepping stones. It’s touted as a ‘step~able’. Could you step on these little sweeties? I can’t!

Impatiens~

This is my favorite shade loving annual. I love her spunky nickname, ‘Dizzy Lizzy’ and her blooms that never need dead heading. I buy full seed flats in the spring, and plant the little starts just a few inches apart, so by midsummer she’s a mound of pink beauty.

Million Bells ~

As much as I love impatiens in the shade, I adore Calibrachoa for the full sun. How can these dainty flowers not only survive but thrive in the heat? I myself might wilt a bit, but these troopers carry on. They look like mini petunias, but unlike those sticky sisters, they don’t get leggy and they also don’t require dead heading. They come in so many colors, some single, some double, it’s fun to mix them up in containers and watch them mingle. Their bright color attracts the hummingbirds, which is a much loved added bonus!

Geranium ~

Another old favorite is the geranium. From a distance it appears to be a softball sized flower, but when we really look, we see a flower head consisting of mini flowers opening in unison on sturdy stems. Yes, they do need to be dead headed to enjoy them all summer. A quick snap of the stem when the petals are spent, will encourage continued bloom. The geranium is also a good prospect for ‘wintering over’. It might be hard to think about as we just head into summer, but as we know, the seasons roll along, summer will blend into fall. I remember my grandma keeping geraniums on her back porch through the winter. They’d stay mostly dormant until she coaxed them back to life in the spring.

Gram’s Rose ~

This gem came from hubby’s childhood home in Gold Bar. His mom grew it by her garden gate, and now it climbs next to mine. Dark pink clusters of small fragrant roses, it is loved and enjoyed in our backyard.

An evening ritual is to wander my yard, bucket and snippers in hand. As I tend the flowers through the season, they reward me with continued blooms and natural beauty. The old saying ‘stop and smell the roses’ is great advice, take time, my friend.

Peace. Love. Amen.

Old Friends ~

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person ~ having neither to weigh thought nor measure words, but pouring them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and with the breath of comfort blow the rest away.” *Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

~ Golden Arm & Fishhook ~

Here’s a story about friendship. Two old guys who have been friends since sixth grade. Who still go by nicknames earned on the high school basketball court and CB radio handles they conjured up in days out jeeping long before wives and kids came along. Who worked together and played together all through these many years. It’s a good story…

It’s a story they shared with me, and their children and now their grandchildren. It’s about checking in and hanging in. It’s about ups and downs and a few sideways… but always it is about friendship.

Thursday found us on a country drive that wound us to the cottage Ron calls home at his daughter’s place. Spur of the moment, unplanned and spontaneous are so often the best kind of times. The stars are aligned and synchronicity slips us all into the places we are meant to be. We sat in the sunshine and talked about happenings in our lives now, and remembered good times passed. When our tummies growled a bit, we loaded up and hit the road for a bite of lunch in one of our favorite towns, LaConner. The three ‘old amigos’, daughter and grand ones, we shared a meal at a picnic table on the channel, enjoying more conversation with each other and a passerby or two. The comfort of an old friend combined with the newness of children was the perfect antidote to the news we are bombarded with these days. The salty air wafted up from the channel as boats, tiny skiffs and giant yachts glided through the water. Stacks of crab pots on the dock below and across the way reminded us of catching our limit in the waters off Guemes Island, when we thought days of cracking fresh cooked crab legs would never end.

Crab Pots on the dock…
The tourists love it, but LaConner is a working town…

Reminiscing the past is great, making plans for the future is wonderful, but being in the moment is best. As we get older and add more life experience to the encyclopedia of our souls, we truly know how precious these days are. Right now we might be masked up and six feet apart, but we are close in heart and thankful for that!

~ LaConner Channel ~

Peace. Love. Amen.

Memories in Pine~

“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our father did for us.'” *John Ruskin

I spent an afternoon with my sister on Saturday. We wandered the woods of our childhood, picking up pinecones and reminiscing our ‘good old days’. This campground was a favorite spot for our family to gather when we were kids. Shasta trailers and canvas tents lined the river bank. Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and a million cousins making this forest home for what seemed like weeks to us, but a weekend it probably was. We swam in the icy water of the Wenatchee River and broke rocks in Chiwaukum Creek. We whittled sticks, snapped at the river’s edge, into the perfect tool for roasting marshmallows around the evening fire. Up a trail there was an ant hill, always one of our first stops of favorite places, while our folks set up camp. Across the river lived a teeny tiny woman in a teeny tiny house, Penny Pemberton. She lived there all alone, a good ten miles to town and I don’t think she had a car. She piped her water from a spring and had a nice garden space, fenced off to deter the deer. The crew of us kids would traipse across the bridge and slide down the trail to her house for a visit. She had a plate glass window that offered her a view of the river and above it a narrow shelf held treasures she collected in her yard. A hummingbird nest, a few old bottles, a pretty piece of wood. She offered us peppermint candy from a jar with a lid, which we popped quickly into our mouths. How I wish I could hear our conversation! What did we have to say to Penny? And her to us? There is a mountain rising above her old home site, my grandma called it ‘Pemby’s Mountain’. I hiked it with my gram and Penny when I was just a tyke, could there a semblance of a trail there yet?

Looking across the river to where Penny’s house once stood. Pemby’s Mountain rising up behind.

This cookshed is where we gathered to share our suppertime. Tablecloths covered the rough wood, wild flower bouquets bunched into empty pop cans for decoration. There were stories and laughter as we kids wound down from our day running, swimming and exploring. This cookshed, from the looks of it, probably constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s, was built to last. Stone upon stone, though not laid by my father, we can appreciate the labor and the substance of it. My sis and I ran our hands along the log frame and sat on the picnic bench. A breeze came up from the river and across the grassy meadow. I swear it carried the laughter and songs of our childhood, and the cottonwood and pine trees whispered a ‘welcome back’ to us as well.

We wandered the roads of the park, feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun on our shoulders. We stopped at the creek and watched the water rush over smooth rocks and fallen trees. The park has been closed for going on seven years. Mother Nature is reclaiming her domain. But in our hearts it remains a sacred place, of youthful innocence and joy. A wonderful place to return to.

Chiwaukum Creek

Peace. Love. Amen.

Tradition~

Tradition. Such a simple word, but packed so full. Full of hope, expectation and promise. Memories and fellowship.

There are familiar traditions that go with calendar dates that folks as a whole carry on. Fresh picked flowers on headstones on Decoration Day, a picnic on the 4th of July, a trip to the tree farm on the first Saturday in December. We follow our traditions in an effort to stay connected to family and friends. When we get together to share our time and our stories, these remembered times can become tradition, having had so much fun, we part with the words, “Let’s do this again next year!” A new tradition is born. There can be traditions, singular to a particular soul, not followed by the rest. A walk along the river in springtime. A hand brushed across the weathered, sagging fence of a forgotten cemetery. Tradition truly is a matter of and for the heart. It can be ‘set in stone’ or fluid as a stream. Adding new ideas to old ways can invigorate a tradition before it wears out or becomes stagnate. And yes, sadly, sometimes we lose the things we once held dear. Perhaps we were too busy one year and then the next and then… the loss of tradition can be so gradual, you hardly know you missed it until one foggy morning, a memory pops up and, “Hey! How come we don’t… anymore?” Kids, who loved a tradition grow up, old folks who cultivated the tradition die. And what are we left with? The ghost of Christmas past? The echo of numbers chanted out loud as a forehead is pressed against the tree trunk, eyes squeezed shut; “…7,8,9,10- ready or not, here I come!” Who will carry on, I wonder? And then, the answer is there in the grin and giggle of the four year old. She will carry the traditions, some of mine mixed in with hers that she will create and hone as she grows up.

Traditions. I know mine so well and tend them as a bed of roses. I will share them to my last days and whisper them on the wind when I am gone. Perhaps someday, when she’s a sixty-four year old grammie, enjoying her coffee on a quiet Sunday morning, a memory will pop up and she will smile. “Oh yes! I remember~”

Tradition. Such a simple word.

Peace. Love. Amen.