Time for a new house

Time for a new house
Time for a new house

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Tribute to Bel

dadbeach3dec114 I am adjusting to the thought of Bel being gone, little by little. Al said to talk about my feelings, Nina said the same, and others have echoed that sentiment. Many suggested that I write some stories about Bel, and I am doing that. I have so many years of photos, a digitizing project I had hoped to tackle when I retired. Yeah, right, who has any time after retirement anyway. I think that is somewhat of a fantasy. Still, I pulled out the old boxes, the old journals from the early 90’s when Bel and I first met, and eventually I’ll get out all those VHS videos that I want to put on DVD’s.

I look at the photos and remember just what a very different kind of human Bel was, and I remember just how crazy-making she could be. It was that very difference that made her life so hard and yet was such an amazing blessing to so many people. When she went to work for me she had six cats, and was nearly homeless. She worked in my flower shop, then she had nowhere to go so she moved in with me, and in the process brought all her stuff and all her cats and all her craziness.  I was a neat freak, healthy food, new-agey kind of person and she was a hoarder, wildly disordered and incredibly creative.  She smoked and drank Mountain Dew and talked in rambling circles that never seemed to stop or start in the same place.

There was a lot of ambivalence  in our friendship.  When she left for Florida, I was incredibly relieved, I could finally clean my house and have two cats instead of dozens. But because we shared so much of life and work and silly stuff I missed her terribly.  Somehow she became someone I knew I was supposed to take care of, and yet she took care of me too.  I wrote a eulogy for her that we passed out at her memorial, and thought maybe it would be OK to put it here, as a start at least, just a way to share a tiny bit of Bel with the bigger world.clip_image002

Belva Jean Bradow

born on February 1, 1947 died on February 25, 2013

Now What??!! Bel came into the world in a Wisconsin snowstorm and left us on a warm Florida day. Her life was a blessing to anyone who came in contact with her. You may not have understood her, but if you were in her line of vision, you usually became a recipient of her care. She cared about people, especially those that others might have never noticed. Stray cats by the dozens have felt that love. Homeless people have felt her generosity, and we all have listened to her rambling conversations filled with tidbits of wisdom and counsel. If you were lucky enough to be on the receiving end, over the years you probably received what my entire family refers to as “a Bel Box”, random collections of small things wrapped lovingly and creatively in ways that could bring a smile to your face no matter how gray the day. Monthly Bel Boxes were sent to my grandsons in Iraq to bring a little bit of joy as they fought for our country.

Around the neighborhood-13 Bel never had children of her own, but she knew how to get right down with kids on their level and communicate with them, and play with them, and say things to them that would pump up their self-esteem, and make them laugh. My grandchildren all knew this loving, funny, caring, wonderful side of Bel and treasure their memories of her presence in their lives, even though they are now adults.

belcat5All of us have remnants of Bel around to remind us of her creativity, her caring, her eccentricities. We all know Bel was eccentric in the way the most beautiful souls can be. There are bird houses in yards, little cat and dog steps for elderly animals that could no longer reach the bed, little packages of talking stuffed animals sent to ailing hearts that would say “I Love You’. My family has been the recipient of untold dozens of home baked tiny cookies wrapped individually in perfect little papers. After long, long days working long hard jobs, my feet have felt the kindness of her touch as she rubbed out the knots and pain.

People she has cared for will never forget her. If you never felt the full force of her love and care, you might only think of the crazy cat woman down the street who was maybe difficult now and then, or maybe you didn’t understand her. If you never got close enough, maybe you didn’t get it. But those of us who did, will forever be touched by this incredible, loving, creative, magical, and yes…very different human being who touched our lives. There has never been and will never be another one like Bel in this world. We were blessed with her for far too short a time. All the humans and cats that she nurtured into old age I am sure met her when she crossed to the other side, and I can’t help wondering if the angels will take some lessons from her. florida 073

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Two sides of life

At the moment I am sitting in the ICU with my friend Bel. When I timed this visit, she was home, but before I left I got the call from her sister that she was back in the hospital. It isn't easy being here, and it isn't easy being Bel right now. We are staying here during the day and as much of the night as they will let us.

We have great nurses and nurses from hell. Doctors that all say something different. It is exhausting and frustrating.

Yet in the midst of it, I took a break and went to see Alison about an hour east of here. New life, precious and sweet. A new mom falling in love with her newborn. Sunny warm skies as we ate lunch on the shores of Lake Dora, and I got to learn how to do the new fangled stroller, car seat, everything carrier technology.

The drive through the Ocala forest was healing, and reminded me of all the lovely times i have shared with Bel since she moved here in the year 2000.

a life beginning and a life winding down. It is all a circle

 

Friday, February 15, 2013

February This n That

Home in Rocky Point, Oregon Sunshine and 49 degrees, low tonight 27
Valentines Day Decor (10)
Valentines Day Decor (5)We returned home from our January travels just in time to get the last of the Christmas lights down and the Valentine decorations up.  I know, I am a little bit crazy that way.  I love to do seasonal decorations. 
Besides, it gave me a chance to get out my first little quilt table topper
that I made last year as a very tentative, brand new quilter.  Funny how the imperfections become a bit endearing after a bit of time has passed.  No one really cares but me anyway, and it is fun to see my progress. 






Leaving sunny California behind, we drove once again into another cloudy inversion over the Rogue Valley.  The little cottage was waiting, all proud and excited to show off her brand new hat.  The roofing job was completed with just a few glitches and a little bit over bid, but Mo is happy with it.  There was a lot of repair involved, and several layers of roofing, dating all the way back to 1926 had to be removed.  Someone asked me to show a photo of the cottage, so here it is again, with the new roof of course.
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cottage roof (4)cottage roof (2)
We put the MoHo to bed and traveled back over the pass to Rocky Point, relieved that there wasn’t much new snow since we left in mid January.  Everything was in good order, with the driveway accessible, the house warmed to a balmy 55 degrees by the backup electric heaters, and everything in good shape.




It is good to be home, but February is really my least favorite month of winter, and if I didn’t have to be working for a couple of weeks, I think we would have just gone back over the mountain and right on over to the coast!  Ah well, that will come next month when I return from Florida in early March. 
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winter ice around home (10)
winter ice around home (1)In the mean time, the sun has been shining daily and the nights are cold.  The snow is still very deep and the driveway is completely frozen into a sheet of solid ice.  I can’t stand up on it, and when I tried to move the truck it just slid sideways for a bit before deciding to go forward.  The only way to get outside and enjoy the sunshine is in the mid afternoon, when I put on the snow pac’s and trudge up an old side road by our place that isn’t completely iced over.  I leave it to Mo to get the mail, which entails walking down the glare ice driveway to the sheet ice road to get to Rocky Point Road, completely bare and dry.


Speaking of mail…it doesn’t seem like there is ever anything in there at all except advertising.  Not sure I would miss it if I didn’t have it at all, but I know I won’t miss Saturday mail. We don’t put anything in the box that is worrisome, mailing from town if we need to, and we don’t get anything troubling either, choosing instead to receive almost everything electronically.  Packages are usually delivered via FedEx or UPS. Lots safer that way, I guess, unless of course everything gets hacked.  UhOh.  I hear the mood of February sifting into this journal.  I have no right to complain at all, I am sitting here with the glare of brilliant sunshine on snow coming through my window and lighting up this room.

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bin mouse damage (2)
bin mouse damage (1)Lots of RV’rs have been talking about mice lately, so I thought I would add my little story to the conversation.  I store bird seed in a big, strong, heavy plastic garbage can.  We seem to only have ground feeders around in the winter, so I thought that maybe they would appreciate a bit of seed scattered over the snow.  Opened the bin to find several very fat, very dead mice in the bottom of the container.  Seems as though they figured out how to chew through the plastic, but then couldn’t get back out of the bin.  ugh.  I don’t do dead things, so whined for Mo to come and fix it.  I would hate to live alone at moments like this. I guess we will have to find something stronger to hold the bird seed when those little guys are winter hungry.



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photo
Within a few days of arriving home, I got a call from Heart to Heart Quilters in Merrill letting me know that my first big project, a queen sized quilt, was ready for pick-up. My daughter Melody had the day off, so I picked her up and we drove the half hour south to Merrill together.  In addition to picking up the quilt, which was quilted beautifully, we spent a long time in the quilt shop looking at fabric and patterns and day dreaming about the day when I will again tackle a big project and make a bed quilt for her.  She let me know that a lap quilt would be nice…but gee Mom, I would really love a big one.  I told her she would be lucky to get it in the next ten years.  This last big one only took me a few months to finish, and in all fairness, I certainly wasn’t working on it all the time.
alison baby quilt (1)
I also managed to finish the quilting and binding on the baby quilt for Alison’s newborn little boy.  Alison is the wonderful soil scientist who worked for me in California who moved to Florida.  I am tickled about the chance to visit her next week while I am in Ocala with my friend Bel, and to deliver the quilt in person. I thought frogs and bugs and blue and green would be a great theme for a little boy who lives in Florida, right?
Jeremy at the fire (6)

I will manage to get in a good 80 hours of work before I leave next Thursday for the Sunshine State.  Of course, the weather there has been fabulous, with temperatures in the 80’s, and as soon as I get there the highs will be 60 or something.  I have no idea why that happens to me when I go to Florida, probably it is because I just don’t get to stay long enough.  Mo and I are still having the conversation about next year and my wish for a Florida winter.  We will see.  In the mean time, we are going to focus this year on getting the cottage in shape and keeping our getaways fairly close to home.
Just thought I would throw in a shot of Jeremy enjoying the lovely new wool hearth rug in front of the fire.  I know he is completely sure that I bought it just for him.  He is getting so skinny, and of course it shows in the photo.  At his prime he was 13 pounds of long limbed lithe beauty and now he is down to less than 8 pounds.  He is on special vet food, limited ingredient diet, with a bit of tuna and fresh meat now and then.  He is such a sweetie, so personable and loving.  At nearly 17, though, it seems that he gets a touch of kitty Alzheimer's now and then.  I read recently about some of the challenges involved with having an “elderly” cat, kind of a bit like an elderly human, I guess.  He gets anxious if he can’t see us and they say that is because old cats lose their vision and hearing and that makes them more fearful.
He still loves nothing more than riding on the dash in the MoHo, and waking me up  at 4:30 am with a loud purr and that sneaky cat claw chin slap that most cat owners will recognize.
I am excited about my upcoming trip, looking forward to seeing how Bel is doing in person, and most of all looking forward to seeing my daughter Deborah in San Antonio on the way home!  I booked a jump flight so I could do both at once, just couldn’t stand the idea of flying over Texas and not getting to see my girl!








         
















































































Friday, February 1, 2013

Ships Passing in the Night…errr….Evening

walks_002DSC_0002If some of these photos look a bit familiar to you, it might be because Mo and I decided to end our Desert Hot Springs trip with a visit to the Palm Springs Thursday Night Street Fair.  Today while catching up on blogs as we drove north on I-5, I saw Rick’s post about attending the same street fair.  In fact, he even took a photo of the restaurant where we were having dinner!  Unlike Rick, I was too overwhelmed with the crowds and the shops and the booths and the smells to remember to take many photos. I can’t believe we didn’t run into each other there, but then again, there were a LOT of people, and lots of doggies as well.

walks_022DSC_0022Our trip was a whirlwind, spent mostly driving back desert roads, and we didn’t decide until yesterday that it might be a good idea to eat Mexican one more time before packing up the rig for our early morning departure today.  I also wanted to see the Marilyn Monroe statue that has been highlighted on more than a few blogs lately.  We parked and walked and finally found it, right downtown in the very middle of the street fair.

In the past, we have had great meals at two Mexican Restaurants on this main drag, so decided to try Macarena’s for something new. Even though we were told it would be a half hour wait, within minutes my phone rang and our outside table was ready.  It was great having good food, a happy hour marguerita, and a good people watching spot in the middle of all the action.

walks_024DSC_0024In addition to all our desert drives, we managed a bit of relaxation while in the desert, and I swam and soaked in the pools every single day but one.  Love those pools.  We also walked the park, walked the surrounding desert a bit, and drove to La Quinta so that I could spend some time in a great quilt store, Monica’s Quilt.  Of course, I came out with a bag of gorgeous fabric and some new patterns.  I also got directions to the Quilter’s Faire in Palm Desert, hidden in an industrial area behind Wal-Mart and came away with another bag of fabric and a couple of good looking patterns.  Ah, Stash!  gotta love it.

Thursday_sun (9)[11]We decided to just make a beeline for home with only a one night stay in Lodi at the Flag City RV Resort.  This meant leaving this morning at 6:30 so that we could travel the lovely sunrise route north on Highway 247 to Barstow before turning east to cross the Tehachapis on Highway 58 to Bakersfield.

I was a bit bummed about not having time to stay one more night at the Orange Grove RV Park because I finished the last of my tree ripened oranges a few days ago.  I decided to take a chance and call the park, and sure enough the owners were friendly and wonderful and said, “Sure, just come on in and get a picker and pick yourself a bag.  No Charge”.  How is that for good advertising!  We pulled into the park and spent just half an hour picking another big bag of the incredibly sweet juicy oranges to take home with us.  Ahhhh.

Capture trip homeDriving into Bakersfield was dramatic as usual.  Looking down on the smog line from the elevation of the pass was intense, and once down in the valley the smog didn’t let up, ever.  We drove a good 250 miles through dingy smoggy air, all the way from Bakersfield to Lodi.  I had to go digging for eye drops.  I drove the first half of the trip through gorgeous, empty, clear desert, and Mo got the second half up the Five.  I think I got the better end of that deal!  We covered 496 miles today and settled into our spot here in Lodi just after five pm, in plenty of time to warm up the leftovers from last night’s great dinner at Macarena’s.

Tomorrow just under 400 miles and we will spend the night back in the Grants Pass Cottage.  Both of us are excited to see the new roof that was completed while we were gone, but neither of us is particularly excited about returning to cold weather.  It has been a great reprieve, and a wonderful two weeks of mostly warmth and sunshine.  Lucky Us!