Saturday, January 4, 2014

2001 A Space Odyssey and the Year the World trembled

Austin, Dixie, Emerson and Greg in Gold Beach at Kid Castle Park

This year was a bit crazy, not just for us but for all of the world, the change between bedtime on September 10 and on September 11 was, of course the major impact from 2001

As you can see in the small handwritten note at the top of the page, by the time I printed this and addressed the envelopes and was ready to send out the Christmas Letter, I had made two additions, the first says, Happy New Year and Martin Luther King Jr. Day  -  And just above that it says "Happy Valentine's Day!"

Happy Holidays to Family both by blood and by heart,

Once again, the speed with which December arrives has caught us by surprise (Here I had added by hand, January and February too!)  I am always grateful that this letter has become my own personal tradition because it forces me to slow down at least once each year and look for the blessings and the problem areas in my life, but honestly, didn't I just do this? So how to organize the letter this year?

First, I want to say thank you for being in our lives.  Each per on I mail this to is in my heart and thoughts many times during the year.  I have birthdays marked on my calendar, pictures hanging all around my house and only wish I actually called, had written or somehow got in touch each time I thought of the people who enrich my memories and my life.

So 2001 ?  Was it a Space Odyssey?

Austin started Basketball and both boys began lighting the candles as the church Acolytes.  I was babysitting a couple of other boys after school and volunteering in the boys classrooms.  Greg and I finally took the tree down on January 21.  About normal.

We drove about 130 miles to find some snow so that Austin could try his luck at snowboarding and skiing.  Once again his natural talent at any sport was obvious and no-one could have guessed it was his first time on the slopes.  Austin got to bring the class rat, "Velvet" home and I survived it.  Greg had a Dr.'s appointment in Sacramento for some throat problems which turned out to be non-malignant nodes.  We toured the state capitol and Sutter's Fort while there.

Austin turned 8 and had a rowdy bunch for his birthday party at our house.  Nearly 30 children for a make your own banana split fest.

The boys volunteered to hide the Easter Eggs at the Chetco Library for their annual indoor egg hunt, so I let them skip the morning at school.  While helping out, they made friends with another volunteer and her three retired racing greyhounds.  Soon we found ourselves invited to one of the dog's birthday party and we all went.  Greg and the boys and I soon fell in love and began planning to adopt our own pair of racers.
    Emerson's 7th birthday found us with Aunt April and Uncle Vince at our house, putting up swings in our redwood grove and pulley gliders between two redwood stumps and helping out on a boy scout beach clean-up and tour of the Coast Guard vessel in port here.  They left the day before his actual birthday and Grandma Priscilla, and Uncle Lance flew in the day after, so we picked them up in Medford and endured two weeks of the boys trying to show Grandma just how rude and obnoxious they can be if they really work at it.  Amazingly she still let us bring them to visit come summer.
    They made their own scout pine wood derby cars.  Emerson got third place in our pack and then Austin took 4th place at the scout jamboree.

Emerson's firs grade teacher had to take the rest of the year off after May 15th for health reasons but he did get a very nice substitute for the remaining weeks.  I took the boys to the Eureka Inn for a Mother's Day Tea for Mothers connected to Adoption Horizons.  Off course it was good to show Austin off again.  Greg and I celebrated our 17th anniversary by taking the boys to see"Shrek" and enjoying their company too.

(Jan 26, 2002. We had Snow!  First time since the boys were born! And it stayed 5 days-so much fun)

Hand written on bottom of page

School ended on June 14th.  Austin was given a prescription for reading glasses the next day. Then we went to Redding to the Water Park for the birthday of a boy who is almost our other child, Thomas.  From there to Sacramento where Greg's check-up showed improvement on the vocal nodes and then to stay on the bay across from San Francisco at Tiburon which is a lovely, indulgent little community.

Shortly before we got home, on the day before his 51st wedding anniversary, Greg's Dad was in a nasty motorcycle crash in the Black Hills, close to their home.  This is one of the strongest, most healthy, (and usually smartest) men whom I have ever met.  Well, that he survived is nothing short of miraculous which also proves to me that he is extremely lucky and very loved by mere mortals and by God.  So it also showed me that anyone who thinks they have the right to take risks with their life simply because they are old enough to not have to be told what to do, is missing the great inner-connectedness of their life with that of those who love them.  Harvey has forgotten much of the suffering he went through from not wearing that helmet, but I know Mimi will never forget the weeks in intensive care, then the hospital, then the rehab hospital and the slow improvement at home.  She will never forget the agony of having to drive through blinding thunderstorms every day with a crazy daughter-in-law or son at the wheel.  Greg and I were exhausted by the round trips between Newcastle, Wyoming and the hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota and we did only a small fraction of the journeys Mimi made.  So Austin says he loves his Grandpa very much, but he should remember he's the only Grandpa they still have and if he's going to still ride motorcycles Austin is going to glue a helmet on him with super glue

We spent a lot of time at the hospital with Harvey, but we also got to spend the 4th in Cody seeing Brett and Shannon and my nieces and nephew.  We went to the parade and fireworks and to the big rodeo, plus spent a lot of time escaping the heat in Cody's new indoor water park.  Mom and Lance went with us to Newcastle for awhile and visited the Goode's, mostly in the car on round trips which always included the flavor of the day, sherbet twist at the Flintstone village midway between Mimi's and the hospital.
    On our way home we visited Greg's sister Wendy and our wonderful nephews in Laramie.  Austin got to shoot a real gun and ride a real motorcycle and is still glowing.  Then we drove home with a detour to play at Lagoon, the big amusement Park by Salt Lake City.  Finally we stopped in Ashland, Oregon to visit our adopted family, and to take home one of their kittens, a spunky male named Rocky Rocket Rockstar.

Greg had another Dr. Appointment in San Francisco and the throat Dr. seemed to feel he was much improved.  No surprise that a music teacher's throat would look better after the summer.  Then Greg taught a week of Band Camp and the Concert was Amazing as always.  The teachers started back to school August 22 and the kids started on Brett's birthday, August 27th.  I bet my brother is glad we never started on his birthday when we were kids.

Austin caught three salmon on the Klamath river when Greg and the boys went on a chartered fishing trip.  The largest fish was 33 inches and at least 15 pounds.  Emerson didn't catch a fish but did do what he really wanted to, swim in the river.  I was at a writer's workshop which actually happened in our little town of Crescent City, so I couldn't pass it up.  Most are 350 miles away.  But the fishing trip is a loss, I'll long regret.
September 11, 2001

The world shook and resettled into slightly different form.  The following is part of an article I wrote shortly after (that was published as a guest editorial in the Powell Tribune and as a long letter to the Editor in the Crescent City Triplicate)

     "I pledged allegiance countless times in my life, to the values and people of America.  I saw reasons why my country is not perfect.  I grew up in the shadow of a remnant from a time when we weren't but thought we were, at war with Americans of a certain foreign descent, Heart Mountain "Jap Camp" (now more correctly called the relocation center, just as the highway outside of my home town is no longer "Dead Indian" but Chief Joseph Highway)  I am the daughter, granddaughter and niece of men who served.  My great uncle was last seen collapsing under a tree as a Japanese Soldier with a sword approached from behind and his friends staggered away on the rest of the Bataan Death March.  I grew up, nevertheless, to visit Japan and to teach in a school with an exchange teacher from Japan, a country we now call our friend.  I, the great granddaughter of a reservation born woman with a father who disowned her when she married a white man (Actually she was born in 1875 and the reservation was established in 1889)  I know that if the land bridge theory is true then all Americans, even the Native Americans, descend from someone born someplace foreign to this once empty land we all love so much.
     "I, a pale skinned, blue eyed, redhead, grew up to tend a school in Chia for awhile and see things from the point of view of the minority.  It's humbling and scary to need the friendship of the masses when your very looks and language set you apart.  Let us in America offer our love and support to any loyal american, no matter their skin color or the name they use for God.  The blood they shed, or donate, is still red.
    "I listen as Dan Rather breaks down because our "Alabaster Cities," have indeed been dimmed by many human tears. I choked up myself and then remembered that we can still choose to fulfill the most important part of that song, a part we've failed at before but are getting better at; we can still, "Crown our good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea."
     "I listen now to Americans reacting to "Terror Tuesday" and although I hear hatred and anger and some who would see anyone with swarthy skin DEAD.  I also believe I hear more from people who have learned from our mistakes. The humanity of the individual still must be cherished in spite of physical or religious resemblance to monsters.  All humans look like someone who has been a terrorist. I myself saw in Timothy McVeigh's face, features which resemble members of my family, yet I take spiders outside rather than kill them.  Inside are the differences that count.
     "Had my children been threatened by a terrorist, I would have attacked first and thought second.  Now as America gears up for war, we have time to think.  We must not repeat the terrorist moves by attacking innocent civilians whose families must wait, as ours still do, for word from deep within the pile of rubble.  We must instead target the specific individuals who try to raise children to become human bombs.  We can't throw our young peoples lives away merely to kill some other nation's moms, and dads, and children.
    "The terrorists and the firemen both rushed to the trade towers, knowing they faced death.  One raced to kill and the other to heal.  I believe in America and I believe we will choose to overcome our pain and prejudices.  I see the firefighters and the terrorists waiting to see whose legacy America will accept.  I believe our actions already show that we will choose to heal.
    God Bless us, one and all."

School is settling into shape for the year. Greg is still at only one school and still actually has his own room to teach in.  Austin is in the GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) program and is doing mostly 4th grade work in a class with 18 third and 15 4th grade students,  It's crowded and chaotic but the teacher is great and he's doing well.  Emerson is in love with his second grade teacher who must be close to retirement but still scuba dives, runs and sky dives, though she couldn't get her weight up to the required 100 pounds so she has to sky dive strapped to a buddy.  I am substitute teaching at the boys school and volunteering in both of their classes once a week.  The subbing isn't really reliable but at least it is some income which writing hasn't been so far.
    On October 27th we adopted two retired racing greyhounds from the racetrack in Oregon.  We had been going to get two from Arizona on Sept. 15, but the events of Sept. 11 kept that small delivery flight from being able to happen.  George is four and a half and Gracie is two.  They are extremely playful outdoors and mere speed bumps in the house so they are easy to adjust to and we all love them. They do make other people's dogs look short and heavy and our house and van look really small.
Grace (and George) in motion
 Emerson hasn't even had one behavior warning at school all year and has already been student of the month.  His reading and math are still strong and he's making new friends. both boys finished soccer after pretty decent seasons.  Both still resist their violin and cello lessons but are doing well in spite of themselves.

We actually had 9 days off for Thanksgiving.  Insane but we enjoyed every minute of it. The aunt and uncle from Salem returned from a wonderful working vacation surveying elephants in Africa.  The aunt and uncle and Cousins from Laramie drove out and we had ten people for Thanksgiving in a little cabin on the beach up the Oregon Coast.
Emerson's teacher worked them all year with long walks and then took them on an 11 mile bike ride

The schedule never gets simplified. Soccer is over but the boys are through the levels in swimming lessons and now do one hour of competitive swimming three times week.  They want to sign up for basketball and Austin just tried out for a role in the musical Oliver.  He will be in it next March as one of the little pick pockets,  He has a truly yummy voice so the singing will be fun.
    We are planning to drive back to Wyoming for Christmas and hoping for better weather than the 8 feet of snow which stranded Wendy and John in Utah on their way back to Laramie after Thanksgiving here.
    The school doesn't get out until the day of Dec. 21 at 3:30 so if we hit too many delays we may have Christmas in a motel somewhere between.

Good Grief!  look at the length of this.  I ramble on and on when all I really need to say is Merry Christmas, Happy, Healthy 2002.

We love you!  And when I find my address book I'll actually be able to mail it to you.

Dixie, Greg, Austin and Emerson

Then in handwriting in February,

I'll never find it, so this is going out to those addresses I found on envelopes I've received.  We had great trip to Wyoming then came home and Strep Throat made Emerson and Dixie Collapse but we're all healthy now!  Love you all.  I'll try to make Christmas on time in 2002's letter.

Most wanted Villain 

With Grandma Priscilla at Ocean World

Grandpa Harvey and Remi
Doesn't he look like Robert Duvall in Seconhand Lions?

Hoar Frost in Cody Wyoming

The house Greg grew up in

The salmon Austin caught

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