I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 22, 2012

March family reunion

Me, Norma Jean, PJ, Buz, Markee, Fia, oldest to youngest
Last year I traveled to Texas in March for a family reunion and to finish the celebration of Pete's life with the rest of our family. Norma Jean didn't want the entire clan to descend upon her little mobile home when Pete died, so we made arrangements to gather in Texas to give us all a chance to be together once more and to celebrate the man we all loved.

I also got another chance to spend time with Norma Jean, Allison and her beautiful child Lexie. She's grown so much in a year, but then again, she was only nine months old then, and now she's a toddler, with a full set of teeth! Allison had this picture taken and added to her Christmas card this year. She is certainly a happy child.

There is an incredible number of people around when you have five siblings who are all married and have families. At one point I think we had two or three dozen of us together, with barking dogs, shouting kids, and laughing adults. A madhouse.  Every one of the young children are right around the age my grandchildren would be, if I had any, that is. Actually, now that I think of it, Chris would be fifty right now and could be a grandfather himself and I could be a great-grandmother! How quickly time flies by.

Although it was hard to travel again so soon after having spent three weeks in Florida with Norma Jean, it was wonderful to reconnect with my family again. The ones we really missed, though, are our parents, who seemed to peek out every now and then in the expression or mannerism of one of my siblings. Although I don't have any living children or grandchildren, I will never lack for family to love and be with if I choose it. Here in this part of the country where I live now, I've made friends and have a life that fulfills me, and because of iChat and Skype, I can visit with many of my family members any time I want. This technology makes all the difference in my sense of being connected. We live in a very interesting time.

I haven't traveled again since last March, unless you can count the numerous local trips I took with my Trailblazer friends. This past summer was filled with our regular Thursday outings, plus six or seven extra ones to new and different parts of the state. I learned so much and wrote a post on my other blog about my favorite hikes this past summer.

Now we are in the depths of winter, and the cold and snow of last week has given way to our usual wind and rain. At least the driving is reasonable again, but it seems a long time ago, more than a year, that I visited my family, and a long time ago (more than a few months) that I spent my days hiking in the sunshine, taking pictures of flowers and mountain vistas. These days are spent reading, blogging, talking with Smart Guy and just basically feeling more housebound than usual. I realize how much I enjoy being outdoors, when I'm dressed for the weather and active. We haven't gone snowshoeing yet this year, since the snow took its time getting here and now the avalanche danger is very high.

When I read the posts of my blogging family, it's clear that many of us are feeling a bit of nostalgia for other seasons. Some of my bloggers are in the Southern Hemisphere and dealing with heat and humidity. It makes me realize how insular my view of time and the world is. A year is a long time when I think of the change that has happened, and it's a very short time when I look at the longer view. The older I get, the smaller a percentage a year takes up in my entire lifetime, so maybe that's one reason it seems to have gone by fast.

And then I think of the many long dark days before the birds will be singing outside my window before I wake. This morning I am sitting in bed, laptop perched in my lap, and it's dark and silent outside. It's after 7:00am -- in the middle of summer the sun rises three hours earlier. It will come around and I'll wonder when that happened. Slowly, a minute or two each day... change comes on little cat feet.


Anonymous said...

Lexie is very cute in that dress and matching ribbon in her hair. Lovely photo!

We in Hawaii don't have the 4 seasons that you have in Washington, but I know what you mean, as I lived in NYC for 5-1/2 years. I can't say that I miss winter snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. Give me Hawaii any day when all we need is a light sweater.

Oh, DJan, I am so glad that you have reached a wonderful place in life now, despite the tragedies in your past. I can't imagine not having my daughters and grandkids, but as you said, you have your siblings and their kids to fill the void.

Loved this post, mahalo nui loa!

Whitney Lee said...

I've wondered how Lexie is; she's adorable! You are very fortunate in your family, and in your relationship with Norma Jean. I can also see how happy you are with Smart Guy and how contented with the life you have built.

I am not looking forward to the sun rising earlier...Jordan already wakes us up too early to show us that the sun is shining!

Dee Ready said...

Dear DJan,
What a revelation your following sentence was: "The older I get, the smaller a percentage a year takes up in my entire lifetime, so maybe that's one reason it seems to have gone by fast." I've been aware for years that time now seemed so fleeting but you've helped me understand why. Thank you.

There is such a feeling of contentment in this posting, DJan. It just reaches out and embraces the reader.


Far Side of Fifty said...

What a cute photo of Lexie! She is growing up so fast, what a doll!
Winter has settled in all around..I hate the long dreary days too..you are not alone:)

Linda Myers said...

These are the dark days of winter. When we were in Iceland, our guide told us the great artists and writers of that country needed the dark. That's when they did their work.

We do get contemplative, don't we? Even here in Arizona, where it's been sunny every day, I've been doing a lot of it myself.

Arkansas Patti said...

I agree with you on the blessing our electronic world is on keeping families that share different time zones and climates, so connected. Lexie is adorable and I love that name.

#1Nana said...

Once again yu gave me a lot to think about. It is easy to isolate myself in the winter and convince myself that it makes me happy. Briefy yesterday there was brilliant blue sky and now I have a glimmer of hope that winter won't last forever.

I don't want to imagine a life without my children or grandchildren. When I read your words I had to actively stop myself from thinking about it. I am so sorry for your loss and more so because I realize that it is a pain that you have forever.

Thanks for the food for thought. Take care.

Kathryn said...

Gosh, I see you in Lexie. Those eyes!
I too appreciated the explanation that the older we get the smaller percentage of our entire lives a year makes. (did that make sense?).

I just hope for as many slices as possible in the pie of my life!

Linda Reeder said...

You have been such a stalwart about winters in your adopted Northwest home. Do I sense it might be getting to you just a bit? It does to most of us who live here, and yet most of us would not like to live any where else.
We just have to be careful not to wish away three months out of every year. As you said, they go too quickly as it is.

Rubye Jack said...

Don't you just hate it being dark at 7am? I like that - change comes on little cat feet.

You and your family look so good here. A lot of people can be a good thing at those family reunions, and it is so good for the kids. I remember so fondly my mother's family reunion with 7 kids in her family.

Red said...

Like how you changed Robert Frost's line,"Fog creeps on little cat feet." I think you must have read Alvin Toffler too when you talk about time and the comparison with your entire life.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Lots of nostalgia and a twinge of melancholy here today. Clearly you hold your family close to your heart even though they are far away. I'm sorry you missed out on being a grandma. I think you are putting that energy and love into building your community of friends in Bellingham, and that will serve you well.

Rita said...

Lovely family picture, Djan!
Dagan wasn't supposed to live and yet he is still here 37 years later on a wing and a prayer. I know I am blessed many, many times over...but I still have my greedy moments once in a while where I am sad they have decided not to have any children and I'll never be a grandma. Not very often...maybe once a year. Life is so unpredictable and beautiful...and often out of our control. I can't complain. But I think we both would have made good grandmas, Djan--LOL! ;) Even if we have really great lives as it is. :):)

Stella Jones said...

So nice to have a big family. As you know, I don't have any brothers or sisters and my parents died some time ago so I am greatly lacking in that department. However, I do have the children and grandchild. We all get a measure of happiness and sadness, don't we. The picture of you and your siblings is lovely and makes me really envious. I have never had such an occasion, happy or sad. I'm so glad for you that you have these people in your life D-Jan and Smart Guy and the birds, too of course.
Little Lexie is growing up fine. She is very, very cute, isn't she!

Crazy Life of a Writing Mom said...

Lexie is gorgeous! It's so fun to see you with Norma Jean after reading about her ;)

Trish said...

You are such a gifted writer. It's difficult to write from the heart, but you do it so well that I keep saying to myself, there's a memoir here. And a lot of it has been written on the blog, in your sunday musings.

Sandi said...

Hi DJan,
Great photos of family and darling Lexie! I sense that you appreciate your sib connections, and the extended warmth and joy that is enfolded in those lifetime relationships. It is hard at times, missing out on having grandkids, but there is delight in having nieces and nephews, too.

Every year, I feel a little twinge of "it is the winter of my discontent" (I can't remember author for some reason at the moment!) at some point. There is just something about the isolated aspect of winter, even if only for a day or so, (or even a few hours) that brings out the dreariness, and feeling of "get on with it!" and let there be spring!

Yet, you said it well, the days pass swiftly, regardless of the season, as we gain in years. We're closing in on the end of January . . . it's just a hop, skip and a jump to March!

CiCi said...

Change on little cat feet is so darn sweet. I like that. Looking out on the snow and slush is just part of the year here. I put some food out for birds and squirrels. I didn't have any out there this morning and they were digging in the snow trying to find food. I know they can find it without my help. Some cardinals have been around the past couple weeks.

The picture of Lexie is darling. Her mother is a terrific woman.

Friko said...

on little but persistent fee.
That's one thing we can rely on: it will be spring again!

Until then stay cosy; I think reading, writing, blogging, chatting are very pleasant occupations too.