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, November 25, 2012

Family matters

Norma Jean, Fia, me, Markee
The Thanksgiving gathering of the Stewart clan is winding down. Norma Jean flew home to Florida on Friday, Markee left for Canada yesterday, and I will leave on Tuesday to return to the rainy Pacific Northwest. I would be there now, except I couldn't find a reasonably priced ticket any earlier, and I'm very much enjoying being the only traveler left in town, since I get to have Phyllis and Buz all to myself.

It's been my habit to stay with my brother and my only sister-in-law Phyllis whenever I come to town. It started decades ago and now has become my home away from home, taking the place in my heart that my mother's home inhabited while she was alive. It never mattered where she lived; wherever it was, it was home. Now that she has been gone for almost twenty years I realize I've transferred my affections to this place, wherever Phyllis and Buz live.

Mama died in March of the year she would have turned seventy (in July). I marked the day when I realized I had lived to be older than either of my parents, and this coming Saturday I will make it to the magic birthday. It has been remarked on by most of my siblings, so it is not a small or insignificant moment in our family history. We have also discussed our absent parents, whose characteristics are quite present in us, all with slightly different flavors. As we age we are beginning to take on certain attributes more prominently that we once associated with our parents.

There have been moments of strain when we have all been together, which is inevitable I suppose, but the hurtful comments never feel right. I've been the recipient as well as the giver of them, and for my siblings who might be reading this, I wish to say that whatever rough waters we have navigated this week, you are my family and you matter to me. I love every one of you with my whole heart and am grateful beyond words for the time we have had together this week.

To mark the occasion of Fia's fiftieth and my seventieth, we have received presents from our family as well as given ourselves a couple of things to mark the event. Fia decided to give herself a tattoo on her birthday that will be with her to help her remember to walk with God.
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."
This is not my sort of thing; I'm not of the generation that finds tattoos appealing. She said it felt like little razor blades as she was being tattooed. They started near her big toe and worked backwards. I shudder when I think of that area under the ankle bone being tattooed! She is very happy with it and says it's no longer painful. She's returned to her usual activities. In fact, she took me to her hot yoga class yesterday, and we "enjoyed" being together in a super-hot room while we twisted ourselves into pretzels.

Years ago (I just realized it's been almost two decades) I attended Bikram Yoga classes, which are also conducted in a very hot room. This version is called Sumits Yoga and incorporates both Bikram and Vinyasa style yoga along with music! Never before had I ever attended any sort of yoga class that had music as part of the experience. It was... different, but this morning I am feeling quite good and not nearly as stiff and sore as I thought I would be. I think I might start attending the Bikram Yoga classes in Bellingham now and then, as it was a reminder of how wonderful it feels to sweat like that, while bending in ways I couldn't possibly achieve otherwise.

For my own self-administered present, I am now the proud owner of an iPhone! It seems that every single member of my family owns or has access to one, and I was the only one of us with an old-style flip phone. I figured that if I was going to take the plunge to a smartphone, I might as well do it while I have people around who know how to use it. It turns out, though, that it's very much like my iPad, with almost all the same configurations AND a phone.

There is at least one thing I have to learn to use efficiently: Siri, the voice software that comes with the phone. I had seen the advertisements with John Malkovich carrying on a "conversation" with his phone, and now I've done it myself! With Buz's help, I "introduced" myself to my phone and asked her to call me DJan. I spoke into the phone and said, "call me DJan," and she responded, "Okay. I will call you DJan. It has a nice ring to it." I am quite pleased with the phone, and yesterday I talked to Norma Jean and sent her a photo at the same time! Having multiple functionalities available at the same time is also something I will also need to get accustomed to having.

Well, it's that time again, early in the morning with my partner still asleep but not next to me, as he is back home in Bellingham. I sit here in bed composing before sunrise with a cup of coffee next to me in my home away from home. The Texas sunrise will be sunny and bright, and I'll appreciate it while I'm here. But I miss my partner and look forward to seeing him soon. Until next week, be well and take care of yourself.


Gigi said...

Sounds as if you had a wonderful time - despite the few bumps; which are to be expected when a large group (particularly family) spend an extended amount of time together.

And jumping from a flip phone to an iPhone! I know that has been an adjustment, but a fun one, I'm sure. You will never be able to go back now!

Enjoy the time you have left in Texas.

The Broad said...

What a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend to have! Most of my family have I-phones and I-pads. I've opted for an Android phone and tablet -- more suitable to my pocketbook!

Enjoy the sunshine -- while you have it! England is either cold and sunny or wet and miserable!!

Rita said...

Family can always have a few glitches when you get together, but the love is there. What a memorable trip! :)

I'm not into tattoos, either, but the iphone sounds intriguing. Now I am going to picture you and Siri having conversations--LOL!

Have a safe trip home!! :):)

justme_alive said...

Sounds like you had a good family time & congrats on the new phone! Now you'll get LOTS of suggestions from friends about fun apps you can get. I'll start ;-) Remember when I hiked with you I used "Endomondo" exercise tracker. (They have a website that syncs the workouts where you can edit/name/create routes, for a variety of activities) I have the pro version. I love it. Hope you have a Happy Birthday & enjoy Amy's cupcakes! - Kimberly

Linda Reeder said...

All that togetherness with family can be tricky. I have experience with that. As the saying goes, "You only hurt the ones you love, the ones you shouldn't hurt at all, I'm sure all is forgiven.
I am still a holdout on a smart phone. I would have to get a new, more expensive cell phone package and we already pay a lot for technology with cable TV, internet and phone, plus a cheap cell phone service. And then I'm afraid I would be addicted to my phone as so many people are today. I hardly ever talk on the phone, but I would be texting, sending photos, and checking email and Facebook all of the time.

CrazyCris said...

I love the title of today's post... Family is what matters most to me in the whole wide world! :o)

What you said about arguments and harsh words sounds very familiar to me. My sisters and I joke that we can't spend too much time together under the same roof or we'll start fighting about the silliest things. It's that eternal love/frustration sibling relationship, with both elements increasing with age! Funny thing is we argue more when we're together as a family (with my parents) than when one of us visits another at her house! Kind of like being with the parents makes us act like teenagers again (it's your turn to do the dishes / take out the trash etc.)

Bravo on your new present! I've been dying to get one, but for some stupid reason the prices in Spain keep going up instead of down! I thought I'd be able to get a 4S from my service provider significantly cheaper once the 5 came out, but the price has gone up!!! grrrrrrr

Enjoy your last couple of days of family and sunshine! :o)

Anne said...

What lovely feet your daughter has.

My kids (some of them) fight when we are all together. There are certain combinations that just don't work, and I often prefer to see them separately. The troubles in your family sound fairly mild, and it must have been a good time together.

I want a fancy phone. And I want the new Microsoft "Surface".

Red said...

You take a very honest look at your family relations. We do bicker and sometimes say things that are offensive. What we have to do is admit that we do and then we can try not to repeat the mistake.
I know how you feel about reaching your mother's age. You will feel that you out lived her. My Mom died at age 59. I worried for long time that I wouldn't reach her age. Now at 73, I look back and realize how young she was when she died.

Rian said...

Djan, guess your holiday with your family in Texas is coming to an end ... but you will have some wonderful memories!

Surviving past your mom's age when she died 'is' a marker. With me, it's surviving past my siblings who were 51 and 59 when they passed. I'm 67 and feel extremely grateful to have gotten this far.

And I think you will love your iPhone!

Sally Wessely said...

Family events are never that easy because of all the personalities involved. Plus, siblings are close enough to know exactly what buttons to push as times. I think this is normal. It also means that you love each other no matter what.

Welcome to the world of iPhone. I've said I love everything about mine but the phone part.

I hope your trip home goes smoothly.

Bragger said...

Safe travels. My siblings are much closer geographically, but it seems we don't get together nearly often enough.

Hubby and I both have iPhones, although I resisted at first. We don't have Siri, though. Hubby said he didn't need one more female telling him what to do.

Jackie said...

So glad you were with family...and wishing you a safe journey home.
Happy birthday on Saturday!

Donna B. said...

Nice family pic. So you got an iPhone 5? I plan on getting the iPhone 4S when my time is up with my Android. Since you are so familiar with mac and iPad, I have no doubt you will have an easier transition with your iPhone.

I like your sister's tattoo. Like you, I would probably not get one for me, but am always interested in seeing what other's decide to put on their bodies.

Looking forward to your Magic Birthday too...

Travel safe my friend.

Friko said...

You all look incredibly alike!

It’s wonderful that you have a great family to spend holidays with and whatever little bits of sharp words there might be, you have the grace to say sorry and forget them again.

Lucky you to have all these gadgets; they are horribly expensive here and I hardly know what I would do with them all.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, your family visit has been so enriching to all of us who read your blogs. I'm glad for you that you get to spend some time alone with your brother and sister-in-law and that their home has become like what was always home before--where your mother was.

I so admire your fortitude and your enthusiasm for new things. Both inspire me. Peace.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I've had my iPhone for about a year, I think, and I still can't carry on a conversation with Siri. Some day I'll wish I had taken the time to learn, I'm sure.

There is lots of tension among my siblings, but we rarely talk about it when together...only after the fact and behind the back of the person we're mad at (nearly always the same one). Sad but true.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Looks like you had an amazing Thanksgiving :)

#1Nana said...

I got an iphone after I lost my phone at Vashon. I'm still figuring it out. We bought an Iphone for Dummies book! We got home from Texas last night. I miss the warm weather and the grandchildren, but I had a great night's sleep in my own bed. It's nice to be home.

troutbirder said...

I'm with you on the tattoo reaction DJ. All I can think of is marines and sailors with hearts saying "Mary._"

gregory urbano said...

i hope you continue to have a good holiday season, i am at a loss for words for your very personal and emotional words that give insight into your family

Deb Shucka said...

Happy Birthday!!!! This was a wonderful post to read. I can relate to the gift of adult sibling relationships and how much that matters. In so many ways you've exceeded your parents' paths, and I can hardly wait to see what you do with the days left to you.

Cool birthday present to yourself. It's one of the many things I admire about you - your willingness to tackle new challenges. I'll look forward to reading about how Siri adds quality to your life.

I miss you!

Linda Myers said...

Family! I spent Thanksgiving with my sister in Alaska. For the first time ever, there is no walking on eggshells. We've both grown and changed, and our relationship is precious to both of us.

I love my iPhone - as you said, just like my iPad, but with a phone - and a smaller screen!

Anonymous said...

Typed and tried to publish my comment, but it disappeared and Blogger apologized. Will catch you next Sunday. Sorry.