Saturday, October 27, 2007

The New Carpet at Grammy and Grampy's

Yesterday new carpet replaced G & G's very old and very stained blue carpeting throughout the house. The new is a lovely beige. It made the rooms look bigger immediately. Sister Judi and Mandy had bought a large rug to accent and protect the new from stains for what G & G always have called their "blue room."

I remember the first floor in that house at 8454 Oso. It was hard wood, warm in the summer and cold in the winter. The heat register between the living room and hall was lit with a match in the early morning and we stood on that hard wood warming our feet while it blew up my nightgown and I dreamed I could fly. We danced around trying to get at much warmth while keeping our toes off the hot grate and the four of us would fight for our corner of the heater in the winter. The floor always had dust bunnies and it had a beautiful shine. I remember Christmas's and laying on the floor before I could walk and slidiing along. Later with socks on I could slide on my feet. Then at about age five, the parents bought the braided wool rug. What an amazing rug. I doubt anyone in at least my grandchildren's generation have ever seen such a rug. It was really quite beautiful. It was like a Joseph's coat full of colors. And it was WARM. I was gone from home and long since married before they replaced it with the RED wall to wall. The braided rug wasn't even worn in most places. After that, the blue. But underneath, yes, there is that hard golden wood. Judi and I stood a moment in our old bedroom pondering a couple of things about the furniture there...she remembered a nail polish incident, and I remembered a pottying incident! So many funny memories in the house we grew up in!

Mom and I talked about what we would call the "Blue" room now that the carpet is no longer BLUE--the "Den" or the "Library." We settled on "Den," But I like to think of it as the Library. My Uncle Lloyd built the bookshelves years and years ago, in fact, I think Bobby and I were probably about four when the back bedroom was added on and the library and desks were added and it became the "boys room." It was a perfect "library" with desk space for two growing boys--one might have thought the parents emphasized education and scholarly research, but I don't recall seeing "the brothers" at those desks! But the desk to ceiling space for books were filled with books on trees, almanacs, agriculture, the wars (I, II, Civil, Revolutionary), biographies, encyclopedias, devotional books, political books, poetry, coffee table books, and much more. Since my childhood there have been many purgings and garage-selling, and giveaways of the books--but always, before long, the shelves are filled. Now Mom can't read or see what's there.

The other day she asked me if I had her old poetry book from her college days. She was sure she had given it to me. I didn't think so but promised I would look. She was hoping to get her hands on "Little Orphant Annie" by James Whitcomb Riley to share with the little "great-grands," as she calls them. (She always thinks of them, she wants treats handy just in case she gets to see them and she actually got out to See's to buy Halloween treats for them while the carpet was being laid yesterday--if they only realized how she thinks of and loves them! One day they will.) Then last night as Mandy and Jim and Holly and Judi and Fred and I were putting the furniture and knick-knacks back in their home, I took a moment to sit down in the new "Library" next to her in Dad's chair. I scanned the book titles on the shelves and there was her Poetry book. I jumped up and pulled it down, the fabric binding is frayed and worn, but her favorites are marked and I found "Little Orphant Annie." We called in the great-grands who were there--William, Rachel, Aaron, and Lydia. With the lights dimmed, I began to read the famous old poem with hushed and scary tones, and as I read, their Grammy quoted it word for word with me, with great emphasis on "And the goblins will getcha, 'ef you don't watch out!" What a sweet moment.

The sweetest moment came though when Jim was putting drawers back into the small credenza in the living room and a letter fell out. He picked it up and as he read he realized it was a thank you note to Grammy and Grampy from Andy. He must have been about 12 when he wrote it. He had beautiful handwriting and Mom and I were immediately taken back to those years while he was growing up and what an attentive grandson he was. It made me realize that Bob and Judy must go through those kind of moments on a daily basis and relive their loss that's never more than a breath away. It's a blessing that the memories are good and our hearts were warmed by that sweet moment admist the chaos of putting the house back together!

Here are a few pictures for my "Loves" who are near and far away...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Life in Southeast Alaska!

How do I describe another trip of a lifetime for Fred and I? Pictures will tell the story, but I'll describe a bit here. It was an adventure--the adventure included incredible rain storm in Ketchikan, delayed planes, and wet and rough ferry rides between the mainland and the Ketchikan airport. Then the storm grounded all planes and we wound up about 11 hours behind schedule in meeting Isaac and his family in Thorne Bay. But finally in the dark and in the rain we had our arms around Sophia and Isaac as they greeted us at the ferry in Hollis. Then we drove through the forest to Thorne Bay where Katie and the baby were waiting with homemade pizza and a warm and welcoming home. The next day we had the baby dedication and Fred brought the message at their church. After church --the entire church family-- went to the pastor's home for unbelievable food (uh-huh venison stew) and then jamming with the church's Blue Grass band. I wish I had time to write all the detail--it was amazing. The rest of the week was spent with drives to Craig for shopping and sightseeing, a trip by foot through a dense rain forest that at the end trail rewarded us with a standing of old totem poles, indian lodge, and the ocean. Another trip to Sandy beach that was still densely forested but more open for sitting and watching the sea. We spent time at Ike's school on two days taking lunch to him and seeing his great school--for as remote as it is, it was fully equipped, completely accessible by wireless and remote. We had a morning at Sophia's little school (on the same campus as Isaac's high school), and we even attended a baby shower and welcome to the town for Katie. The Martin's had neighbors in for dessert two evenings, and before we knew it we were packing to leave. Leaving was so hard. Sophia especially hated to see her Grandma and Pop-Pop climb into that four-seater float plane and leave her behind standing on the dock. I was so sad, it's really tough having your kids so far away, you know in your heart it's supposed to be and it's meant to be, but it doesn't get easier.

The community there is really tight and it was wonderful to meet so many people and understand finally what life is like for them.

Now about the baby. She is beautiful, she is quiet, she is warm and soft and snuggly. She never had a speck of spit up--she is completely contented and loves her new world, She watched us intently when talking to her and formed a little rosebud with her pretty little lips. Sweet little smiles lingered on her mouth after being fed. And she followed the voices in the room with her eyes. She was, in this Grandma's eyes, very, very responsive and absolutely a perfect baby.

As for Sophia, there really aren't words to describe the brightness of this little girl. Her Pop-pop nik-named her "So Funny," emphasis on "So." Her language skills, her reasoning ability, comprehension, small motor skills, her independence, everything about her is advanced. And this is why it's so tough--my wanting everyone in the family to get to experience life in Thorne Bay and for all of you to be able to have your kids spend time together. I know it means that the times we are together will be that much sweeter and so very important.

Isaac and Katie, thank you for your wonderful hospitality--it was truly a trip of a lifetime for us! As Sophia says, I miss you, sooooooo much!


"To fell these trees would be no loss at all,
Whose age and sickness would your axe forestall;
A youthful successor with much better grace,
And plenty will supply the vacant place."
(The Whole Art of Husbandry--excerpt from Uncle Bob's article in "Tree Care Industry" Magazine october 2007)

Around 1957 Dad planted a beautiful umbrella tree in the front yard at 8454 Oso Avenue. Some years later when the tree was mature, he carved T "heart" A and three consecutive hearts that were naturally forming in the ash-colored bark. The tree provided years of shade to the entire house as it reached an enormous height and a certain amount of notoriety as an unusual tree for this cozy Canoga Park neighborhood. Mother even remembers neighbors commenting on that "stick in Amanda's front yard!" During Mother's "heart collecting" years, (before the "cherries collecting" years) this tree symbolized two people in love with each other and certainly in love with hearts! Then as the years began to steal their youth, the hearts in the tree symbolized much more, enduring love and a love that would withstand many trials, and last a lifetime. All of their grandchildren and most of their great-grandchildren know well the story of those entwined hearts and the example of love they represent.

Today a windstorm took that tree down. We are saddened to be sure. And as Bodelia's chainsaw whirled, they stood in their window reminiscing every detail together of planting, carving and being shaded beneath that tree. Bob came, Judi came, and Fred and I were there to see what we could do.

All that I can say now is that the section of the tree with the enduring hearts will be saved and treasured for years to come, and that Mom and Dad's love is safe, secure, and as solid as it has ever been. Sweethearts. How blessed the Wallace family is to know of such a love.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Father's Garden

I once journaled the following when thinking about my Dad's calling in life as a "Tree Surgeon."

[My Dad worked for the City of Los Angeles as a "Certified Tree Surgeon," and for the most part worked for the City for some 30 years. I remember clearly the day (I must have been in about 3rd or 4th grade) he came home from work and proudly showed me his business card. I thought at the time how important "Tree Surgeon" sounded to me, and how happy he was with his first business cards. My Daddy worked very hard and always ran his own tree business on evenings and weekends, usually with large crews who would be at our house early Satruday mornings firing up the chain saws and shouting to one another and loading up the trucks for the big job ahead. Daddy trained many a future "tree surgeon" on those weekend jobs and young men who would go on to takes tests to work for the City just like their mentor. On weekdays, Mother would often have us kids freshen up and line up in front of the picture window to wait for Daddy to get home when shoults would ring out, "Daddy's home!" when the trucked pulled up in front of the house. Lots of hugs and "hello sweethearts!" with dinner waiting on the table would make up the ambiance of a happy childhood home.

Then there were the getaways--time for refreshing on camping trips, Sunday picnics under oak trees in nearby canyons or parks, and then the trips out through Mojave Desert into the Sierras. My Dad was the original "off-roader." There was no such thing as anything but roughing it! Why would we go to a public place when we could throw that truck into 4-wheel and head off into the rocks and sand and explore! Sometimes we came home with rocks for the garden, but usually the beautiful rocks my dad collected came from big property clearing projects and tree jobs.

My dad's agriculture and arborist education made him an expert on tree names and plant names which my twin took on as a life work himself. But Daddy invariably would ask if I knew what "that plant is called." I would of course say, "no" and off his tongue would roll the botanical names for any plant or tree you could think of or point out--a trait of his that amazes family and friends to this day.]

So this summer at our house we re-landscaped almost our entire property and the work is virtually done. As I took photos today, I could not help but think of my Dad and I realized that the rocks I borrowed off his property around the corner from me all have a story and all have tremendous meaning for me as I remember back to my childhood when my parents own yard was a showplace. Now the once thriving desert mound is wind worn and barely a hint of what it once was.

Yesterday we walked my parents all around our front and back yard and showed him every rock, and by gum! -- he knew what every rock was called and remembered the jobs he had been on when hauling felled trees and dirt to the dumps or where a rock in the road was rescued! Always an incredibly generous man, he can no longer make his yard a showplace but yet so pleased that I could make use of his collection, gladly sharing out of his abundance.

What a man...what a garden. My Father's garden resides in my heart as I hear his sweet voice say, "It's just beautiful, Sweetheart, I'm so pleased for you!" Have a look: