Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Final Paper

I got an "A" on this final paper, and I got an "A" in the class. More significantly, I got to know myself a little better. This was written out of thin air in a computer lab at the education center. I did not have time to think. I did not need research. I was given the option between writing two very personal essays, and either one I chose I think I would have come out of the final paper knowing something I did not know before: I am still affected by my parents' divorce twenty years down the road.

I haven’t been camping since my childhood days. I am not a princess, I can handle the dirt. I wouldn’t mind pitching a tent and building a fire, or hiking to the top of the waterfall. I love the smell of the campfire. And it is always nice to get away from the everyday life and get closer to the fresh air and television-free, natural life for a moment or two. But I don’t go, I don’t even make the effort to go. It was only in recent conversation with my sister that I finally came to the conclusion as to why this aversion has come to pass. My happy memories of family vacations to the Great Redwood Forests of California have been polluted with the divorce of my parents in my teenage years.
From my earliest memory I can see myself standing like the tiniest ant next to one of the world’s tallest living things. The great Sequoias of the Sierra Nevada are like nothing else on earth. A vehicle can pass through a carved tunnel, or drive on top of a fallen tree, with room to spare! As small children, my siblings and I would run rings around the base of the tree until we were out of breath, never once catching up to the other side. I couldn’t resist rubbing my palms over the furry, outer layer in amazement that the tree had existed for hundreds and hundreds of years. We were lucky enough to travel to the National park several times a year, always camping, always excited to explore what nature had to offer.
I remember one time the whole brood of us, five kids in all, went for a hike through the forest with our parents leading the way. We came to a meadow where the giant trees had fallen and made homes for all kinds of animals to live. We climbed on top and for dozens of meters we crossed the marshy meadow on the fallen foot bridge to the end where the branches shot out into the sky. We saw deer and rabbits, but my favorite were the littlest tree frogs I had ever seen, no bigger than a teaspoon. We spent the next hour catching and releasing the frogs, hoping to cause no harm.
There were times when I didn’t enjoy myself as much. Some nights were cold and I know I must have been sleeping on rocks. Occasionally our camping neighbors stayed up too late being rowdy and playing loud music. I couldn’t wait for the morning to come, to release me from the long night of waking and drifting. But an early morning campfire to warm us up and hot cocoa never failed to get a bunch of kids running and playing and generally giving back to our neighbors a taste of what we got the night before.
Once we were a little older, I had the permission to wander the campground with my sister on our bikes. A little freedom in a time of perceived safety did wonders to young girls’ confidence. We never came across any real danger, and in the world we live in this was a miracle. It did happen that we got careless in our bike safety, and chose not to use helmets while riding tandem on a one-seater down a big hill. Ouch! No concussions, but scrapes deep enough to keep my father at bay while my mother played nurse to clean out the wounds.
By far my favorite memory of camping was Beatle Rock. Even before the siblings became numerous, and my sister and I were barely old enough to go to far from our parents, we would wander about on the great rocky mountainside that overlooked the valley below. It wasn’t impossible to catch sight of a bear or an eagle from this magical place, and I even knew as a small child that the sunset was unbelievable. I had moments of fear that we could fall off the edge of the great rock that held us up so high, but my parents were both there to lead us and reassure of us against any danger that could pass our way. They were our protectors.
As the marriage dissolved, the illusion of safety and guidance dissolved as well. My parents became separate individuals trying to make an impact in our lives, and often times contradicted one another. Their influence didn’t hold the same power as it once did when they were one parental unit. I left out into the wide world soon after the split and forged my own way in life, not really mourning the loss of my parents’ marriage or my childhood, but not looking back either. Now I have become one half of the parental unit, “the great protectors” to my children and I am finding that I am finally taking a greater look at my childhood days. My happiest memory will always be long summer days camping in the Redwoods with my family, even if the thought also brings out the hidden sadness I feel of the dissolution of our family as a whole unit. The solution I feel, may be, that it’s time to go camping again.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Scrapbooking Isn't Everything...

But it's almost everything! After all the other things that make me who I am - husband, kids, the to-do list, keeping in touch with loved ones, keeping on top of the bills, keeping up with the speed of life, well, then there is only one thing...scrapbooking! I know just about everyone who knows me, knows that this is my hobby, passion, obsession! I love the smell of the paper, I love the ink on my fingers, I love looking at other talented artists online, I love telling a story and putting our life on paper in the best way I know how. Scrapbooking is art and I must be satisfied by doing it everyday! I don't read much anymore (mostly because I'll fall asleep if I slow down for half a second) and I don't watch TV except for the occasional movie rental, and I don't stress about a perfectly clean house, and it's obvious I haven't been as good at updating my blog as usual!

So, why haven't I posted my scrapbook pages you might ask? Well, I had another blog for that, but I am in the process of consolidating. Another thing you should know...I'm teaching classes at my house. Not a consultant, don't have an agenda, not selling, and not really for profit...just want to inspire more people to document their lives in a really fun way. Last year was so much fun and now I'm starting a new season at the end of this month with a summer themed class using the cutest paper from Cosmo Cricket!

You know you can ask me...if you want to know know more about the class, where to get supplies, why I spend all my time and money on this one thing! OR if you want to ask about Europe, the boys, my crazy thoughts that I keep posting in short story format, what it's like to be married to a viking, what I had for dinner last night - you know anything - just e-mail me! I'm not hard to reach! So, here we go...I will continue to post my short essays on life, art and travel AND I will post my scrappy stuff here, too. I sure hope you all enjoy!

Laundry Day

It seems simple really. A task everyone must undertake. Laundry. I have become inundated and therefore have no choice but to become an expert. This task begins with a search and rescue. It’s wise to start with the various collection sites in the bedrooms and bathrooms, but attention must turn to the smaller less obvious hiding places: at the foot of the bed, under the couch, in the car, on the dining room table, behind the couch, etc. After the offending articles have been recovered and deposited on the laundry room floor, it’s time for sorting into appropriate piles. I prefer to separate the clothes as follows: white whites for a hot load, reds and oranges together to keep the colors true and avoid the infamous pink socks scenario, darks, lights, and linens. I also choose to wash anything associated with the dog or wiping up messes separate from all other items. Then load by load I make progress through the cleaning cycles; cup of detergent, turn the water on, fill up basin with clothes, top off with fabric softener ball, close lid, and try to remember in thirty minutes to switch the wet clothes over to the dryer. It usually takes at least two cycles of drying to finish off one load and I like to fold the clean, crisp laundry right out of the hot dryer and into the basket. This is where I feel the need to tell you that I often forget my laundry duties and the wet articles will go untouched for hours before I manage to finish one load. But eventually I have baskets brimming and spilling with all the clean, folded and evenly divided clothes, ready to be tucked neatly into drawers or closets. The baskets sit in my path begging to be put away, and after a long week of endless washing, I get to the final task of finding a home for every last shirt and underpant. I very easily could have completed ten loads on any given week, but this is not all. No, this is not all. The final step is what I kindly refer to as the Sisyphus Syndrome, because like the Greek God that was required to push a boulder to the top of a mountain only to find it at the bottom and starting all over again, I must go back to the very beginning of my laundry task only moments after having seemingly finished.