Posts Tagged With: Rock climbing

Hidey Holes and Other Scary Times

Friday Letter to My Kids – October 3, 2014 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

When we moved to Oklahoma one of the first things anyone said to us was, “Welcome to Oklahoma. If you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes.” That sure proved true. Blue skies could change to threatening wall clouds and potential destruction in just a matter of minutes. Then sirens could start blasting and we’d tune in to the local news to see where the radar signature of a tornado might be traveling.

Luckily we never saw one in person.

Luckily we never saw one in person.

Do you remember hidey holes?

The first time we had to crouch and hide from a tornado it was in a one and a half-story home with that odd loft. The smallest and most central room in the house was the bathroom. That’s where we hid out when the tornado sirens blasted.  I had all four of you climb into the tub where I covered you with a big  quilt. Then I hunkered down beside you. Dad must have been out-of-town or at work.

Lucky for us the sirens proved unnecessary and no tornado touched down anywhere. I imagine the adrenaline of that first time kept us all awake late that night.

There’s an odd sensation of wanting to stand at a window and try to see this phenomenon live and in person. It seems to outweigh the logic of hiding out in a closet or bathtub. Nowadays with smart phones, weather cameras and non-stop storm chasers we could snuggle safe in our hidey hole and still see what’s going on.

Our second home in Oklahoma had a bigger, better sheltering spot, in that big weird closet that wrapped around the back of the rock fireplace. Remember that closet? It could have served as an extra bedroom it was so big.

I have to admit I’m glad we didn’t have a storm shelter. The idea of crawling into a glorified hole in the ground and waiting out a fierce storm scares the heck outta me. Remember how I don’t like basements, dark places or small spaces? But we’d have had a better chance if our house had taken a direct hit by a twister if we were underground.

The closest we ever came to real danger was a cluster of tiny tornadoes that sort of skipped over our neighborhood, tickled a few rooftops, took out a few small trees and then dissipated. And once a gas station in the town just north of ours took a direct hit. Phew.

I see news footage of some of the havoc from big storms that sweep through towns and feel grateful we never saw anything like that firsthand. Moving to “tornado alley” turned out okay for us, but the idea sure sounded ominous at the time.

Fairly self-explanatory.

Fairly self-explanatory.

Even in Wyoming you’ve encountered scary stuff. How could you ever forget the time you were staying at Grandpa and Grandma’s house Big J? Lightning hit in the middle of the night and blew the TV out. Grandpa said you made the leap from your bedroom to theirs in one bound.

I suppose anywhere you live there’s some kind of danger. Some areas habitually rock and roll with earthquakes. Others experience frequent flooding. Then there’s the coastal threats of hurricanes and tsunamis. Not to mention volcanoes, drought, landslides, ice storms, sinkholes, dust storms, hail, blizzards. There’s always something.

Life itself plays out as a risky undertaking. Knowing that, we brace ourselves for uncertainty and bumpy roads while enjoying the ride and scenery as much as we can in the meantime.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself less willing to risk even simple things. I’m sure I’m missing out, I’m just not sure how to combat that inherent fear.

Jarek Tuszynski [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jarek Tuszynski [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hard to believe this now deathly-scared-of-heights woman, your very own mother,  is the same one who introduced you to rock climbing and rappelling you when were four and five years old. Who was that woman and where did she disappear to? (Remember days spent at Spire Rock?) Little J picked up the nickname Arachnid for her mad climbing skills back then.

Maybe it’s a hormone thing. Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it’s actually sanity finally settling in. Staying safe, avoiding risk and searching for a solid footing seem to make up a significant portion of my daily efforts. Feels a bit like I’ve taken up permanent residence in a hidey hole.

That’s silly.

So far, each of you have braved new adventures with eyes wide and anticipating what’s next. Fortunately, I can also see your wisdom in “setting protection,” like a smart rock climber would. You’re on belay and working your way up to new, fun and spectacular vistas.

It’s scary and exciting to see you progressing. I want to save you from rock fall, wild weather, and anything that might prevent your happiness. But I can’t. Even if I could it’d be unfair of me to deprive you of the learning opportunity of hardship. (Have I mentioned how much I hate learning from hardship? You should at least know that much about me by now.)

About all that I can do involves praying for you which I do daily and fervently! Wherever you go and whatever you do I wish you courage, calm winds, safe passage, sturdy shelter, and plenty of joy.

 

Love Always,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

 

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

 

 

 

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Categories: Family, Friday Letters, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Climbing, Shredding and Burning

Friday Letter to my Kids

Dear J, J, L and L,

I’ve been “on vacation” for the past two weeks. As you know from personal experience that means, (ninety-five percent chance) staying with relatives. That’s not a bad thing; it simply means that most of our vacations involve family, not visiting Europe or going on a cruise or hitting the slopes or the beach.

We did do some of that. We had some good times on the slopes for a few years. In fact big J practically emerged from the womb skiing, and little J took to skiing like a seed to dirt. I still get this ache in my stomach about J breaking his collarbone on the first day of a four-day ski trip. No more snowboarding that season. The pain of the break, I’m guessing, felt like nothing compared to the pain of watching everyone else racing down the mountain while you had to lounge around at the lodge every day.

Ouch! I hope you’ve made up in quality what you missed in quantity on that trip.

Given that you put yourself to sleep at night by boarding down a specific run makes me feel pretty good about all the days you managed to get in on the mountain after that.

We never made it to the ocean with all of us together. L and L enjoyed that singular experience. Spring break, we found out the hard way, isn’t really the ideal time to hang out in the Pacific. Chilly, fierce waves, a strong undertow, but plenty of space on the beach. We managed to get a sunburn, sand stuck in every imaginable and unimaginable spot including the sleeping bags. One of my other favorite photos ever? The sun setting orange over the ocean in a thirty mile an hour breeze, and L and L silhouetted just so. Good times, good times.

More than a few of our camping trips involved rain, a couple of them fairly significant amounts. North Carolina rains pale only in comparison to Oklahoma rains. Either way, we ended up soaked, clothes hanging everywhere inside the tent, muddy boots, big smiles, flooded lakes or streams. Good thing we cooked over a backpacking stove or we’d have eaten cold food all those times. I loved big L’s computer drawing, back in the dark ages of computer graphics, of one of our camping in the rain events. Wish we could find that. It’d make a great children’s book. Especially the mud monster part.

Let’s not forget, L and L, Queen of the Flame and Little Muddy Foot. Those two young girls will forever be tender spots in my heart of camping hearts.

Rock climbing and rappelling figure prominently in our getaways. Little did I know what I set in motion when I took that wilderness adventure course. I look back now and shake my head in amazement that I looked on as your Dad roped you in and let you climb at Index or scrambled all over Spire Rock or swing suspended from whatever boulder, cliff or mountain happened to be handy. Dad still refers to little J as “our Arachnid” for your epic climbing abilities.

Yes, most of our vacations involved camping in a tent, which isn’t bad at all.

You also got plenty of experience with airline travel, surprisingly, which has come in handy tons of times, and has become old hat for others. Little J had the chutzpah to backpack Europe once and visit Paris another time. Big J now travels regularly for work, getting around airports and big cities as if they’re simply different runs at a ski resort.

Many of our vacations involved road trips as well. But that, oh my, that is another story or ten for another day and another letter.

Wish we’d taken you to Yellowstone. And I’m sorry, but I never could make myself feel comfortable with taking you to Grand Canyon, even though it’s been less than half a day’s drive for the past eighteen years. My heart couldn’t bear the thought of you anywhere near the edge of an impossible precipice. And Disneyland remains elusive as a family getaway, even though most of you have managed to get there on your own.

I’d like to think we’ll somehow manage one last ginormous family vacation with all the spouses and *babygrands. Maybe that’s why family reunions happen; attempts at reliving or making up for the past.

I’m pretty sure we made good use of our weekends, summers and holidays. I hope you feel the same. Those rank as some of my favorite memories together.

Would surely love some more evenings by a campfire with ya’ll again sometime.

All my love,

Mom

 

*babygrands = grandbabies or grandchildren

photo-23 copy 5

 

 

“…there ain’t no journey what don’t change you some.”

~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

 

 

 

Categories: Friday Letters, Fun, Memory Lane, Outdoors, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Yin and the Yang

It’s Gratituesday! Today I find my heart filled with gratitude for a sweet companion. I often wonder at his patience with me. I marvel at his resilience when I’m criticizing, nitpicking or complaining. I’m amazed at his willingness to stick around.

Seesaw

Seesaw (Photo credit: nzgabriel)

At first we were both equally antisocial, avoiding double dates, making friends, making connections. But over the years, very slowly, I’ve picked away at my shell of shyness and found that I need and want people in my life beyond family. Friends have become part of who I am. And he has occasionally, and carefully, waded into a few social puddles with me.

I tend to seek the limelight and he will be mortified that I wrote about him here, so publicly. I try to respect his privacy while still writing, honestly about my life and that is why I refer to him as MSH, My Sweet Husband.

The Joy of Flying

The Joy of Flying (Photo credit: caribb)

Just as he said he would when we were dating, he has traveled far and often for work and I’ve been left to tend to hearth and children. Not quite as often we have followed him across the country, crisscrossing it, then settling, sort of, here in the heart and heat of the desert.

I joke that all his traveling is what has kept us together. It sounds funny, but it’s been the reality. And, I’m afraid that cuts both ways. for the two of us. And yet, that old missive that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is as true as any fact you can hold and touch and taste.

He’s kind of my opposite, which is probably a good thing, but doesn’t always feel like it is. His willingness to take chances probably balances out my complete and total lack of desire to risk much of anything. We’re still working on this one. And many other things.

The idea of Yin and Yang, seems to describe our relationship better than almost anything I’ve ever run across.

“two complementary principles of Chinese philosophy: Yin is negative, dark, and 

feminine; Yang is positive, bright, and masculine. Their interaction is thought to

 maintain the harmony of the universe and to influence everything within it.”

The harmony of our universe has been a constant flux of give and take, up and down, sorrow and joy. It hasn’t always been fifty-fifty. But we have become an interesting balance of and with each other.

The man I married wasn’t interested in things that got you dirty, like camping, or the outdoors. But that changed as I embraced that part of my life and pulled him into it. He became the avid camper, the rock climber, the rappeller, while I became afraid of heights and decided I’d prefer a cabin to a tent. His ideal home would be in the wilderness and mine, somewhere between wilderness and civilization.

Yin and yang blue

He has always looked forward to the future, and I have always been firmly settled in today.

How we’ve managed to stay together so long is more a testament of what weathering a storm or two or three will do to a relationship than any other thing we’ve consciously done. I’m grateful he hasn’t given up on me. And I’m glad I haven’t given up on him.  We are a pair, oddly matched, but strangely well matched.

We do have some things in common.

We share a love of music. We share a passion for knowledge and learning. We love to dance. We share a love of our children. We share similar spiritual values.

We share a love I didn’t think was possible. In that I am more blessed than I deserve.

As Robert Browning wrote, I repeat to MSH, my love, my sweet companion:

“Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”

Thank you MSH, for the ride so far!

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday, Love, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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