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 18, 2012

In the Lone Star state

Taken from a moving car yesterday
Look at that beautiful sky! It's sunny and warm here in Arlington, Texas, while at home in Bellingham it's raining like crazy. In fact, I just found out through the Cliff Mass Weather Blog that there is a very serious possibility of flooding in Washington state by Thursday, which happens to be Thanksgiving. Although I won't be there, I am really hoping it doesn't occur. He says in that post, "If you live near any of the major rivers around here, you better stay tuned. FEMA should watch this as well." Although I will be out of harm's way while I'm here, this could be a major disaster. Oh, I hope not!

Last night I got a chance to see all but one of my sisters for the first time since a year ago last March. Markee arrived from Canada yesterday, and Norma Jean and I flew in the evening before. Whenever we have a gathering, it's here in the middle of the Lone Star state, since three of the six siblings live nearby. My sister PJ wasn't there last night, but the rest of us went to my niece Megan's home for an impromptu birthday party. We'll be celebrating my seventieth and Fia's fiftieth for the entire week, it seems. Tomorrow we will all go to see the movie Lincoln and today we'll have another gathering, with all of us in attendance.

It seems we only have family reunions these days because of somebody's death. Last time it was to honor  the passing of Norma Jean's husband Pete. In order to keep the entire family from descending on her little mobile home when he died in February 2011, we agreed that Norma Jean would come to Texas, and I flew in from Washington, so we had a wonderful gathering. I wrote about it here. I had barely recovered from spending three weeks in Florida before heading to Texas, so it was a particularly disruptive time in my life. But as a result of spending all that time with Norma Jean, we got into the habit of talking to each other two or three times a week on video chat. It seems incredible to me that we never ever run out of new things to talk about.

Because of our close interaction, we have changed each other's lives quite a bit. We read the same books, she takes the same fish oil I do, and we discuss the programs that we both watch. And before I know it, two hours have passed. It's a bit of an addiction, but now I get to see her in person, and we are even sharing a bed. She climbs into bed, turns over and doesn't move a muscle for hours. I feel a bit intimidated so I curtail the tossing and turning I would normally be doing, and so far it's been fine, I've fallen asleep without a problem.

We are in the living room right now, me writing my post, her reading the news on line. Usually I'm sitting up in bed with a cup of tea and Smart Guy asleep next to me. It's almost 7:00am but not even 5:00am at home. I haven't had any problem adjusting to the two-hour time change; I will probably have more of an issue when I go back home. As I get older, I notice I have become less resilient and less able to adapt to any change at all in my routine.

The first night I was here, Norma Jean, my brother Buz (who we are staying with) and I all celebrated being together by having a couple of bottles of wine. That's TWO bottles for three people. I was getting tipsy and drank more than I realized. Usually I limit my consumption by measuring it and not having more than one glass. I got into the habit of doing that when I was dieting and wanted to count calories, and I guess my body got accustomed to it as well. If I deviate and have TWO glasses instead of ONE, I feel it the next day. Yesterday I woke feeling pretty awful, and I didn't have that much extra wine. But it was enough to make me drink ginger ale instead of wine at the party last night. I didn't miss it one bit, and it was interesting to watch everyone else as the wine took effect.

We reminisced over the pictures I had on my iPad, pictures of all of us when we were young, our parents when they were young, and times, people and places long gone. One nice thing about the iPad is that pictures are large enough to share with an entire table, and we all remembered, laughed and cried together. This was the first gathering of many. Norma Jean will leave on Friday after Thanksgiving, and I will leave the following Tuesday. Until then, I am soaking up all the family I can, and my camera will be busy snapping pictures right and left. These will be added to our memories, but it will take awhile before they fade into the past. The imperceptible passage of time will change us from where we are today, and I won't notice it until we get together again.

We have been very fortunate to have all six of us able to have these reunions. There is no assurance in life that we will be able to have another, since the inevitable changes that come to us all may make it impossible. Thinking of that, I feel my heart swell with gratitude for the time we have together this week. I love each and every one of my siblings and our extended family. I'll still be here next Sunday and I'll have plenty to write about then, too.

Until then, I will be posting on my other blog. I want to say how thankful I am during this Thanksgiving week for everything in my life, including you, my dear readers. Many of you have become as precious to me as family, although we may never meet in person. Isn't life wonderful?


Dee said...

Dear DJan, indeed, life is wonderful when we stop, look, and listen to the wonder of it. This time of year calls us to do that and I'm glad for all of us who can be with family at this time.

And life is so full of happenings--that when one gift is lost, another is found. Peace.

Anonymous said...

I can't drink red or white wine at all, but on my trip to India, the hotel served the most delicious sparkling red wine! Oh, it was so good. That was the first time I had ever tasted sparkling RED wine. Wish I could find it here in Hawaii. Enjoy your siblings and your time there in Texas.

Linda Reeder said...

I am envious of that blue sky and sunny warmth. Yes, it is cold and gray and wet here in Washington, the kind of weather that just feels heavy and can bring you down if you let it.
As I read of your joy in reuniting with your siblings, I can't help but contrast that with my holiday choice. I have chosen not to be with three of my four siblings for Thanksgiving. I am rather done with the huge family gatherings of 25 to 30 with loud, free ranging kids. My grandkids are in Colorado with their parents and other grandparents. I will be cooking dinner for eight adults: my son and his roommate, my sister-in-law and her partner, Tom and me, and my two Seattle cousins, one of whom is single and the other recently divorced. Their mother, my aunt, will be recovering in hospital from hip surgery. I guess the one thing we have in common is that we all vote Democrat. :) It will be fun to set a beautiful table, cook traditional food, and have good conversation. The house will be empty and quiet by about 6:00.
Yes, I am a bit envious of the closeness you and your siblings enjoy. Maybe it's our proximity that creates some of the difference. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or maybe it's just the heavy sky is depressing me.
Have a wonderful week!

Rian said...

Isn't that sad? I said the same thing not long ago. I think that as you age you become more aware of how much people mean to you. I'm so happy that you are spending some time with your family. And that you're here in Texas! Happy Thanksgiving!

Rian said...

OK...? The sad thing I was talking about disappeared from my comment??
It was that about 'getting together these days because of someone's death'. Don't know why it went away... maybe because I copied and pastes it?

Linda Myers said...

Yes, it is really dreary here in Washington. I realized this morning that, other than meeting friends for breakfast, I hadn't been out of the house all day.

We're spending Thanksgiving with my sister and her husband in Alaska. Where I'd most like to be. It wasn't always like that, but I'm grateful it is now.

Judy said...

I'm thankful for my friendship with you Jan!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I'm so glad that you are enjoying your family. We have some tensions that make it easier and more rewarding to gather in small groups. And we all tend to spend major holidays with inlaws and/or younger generations. I hope some day we'll enjoy each other's company as much as you do! And I'm glad you are celebrating your 70th birthday all week. It's only appropriate!

Jackie said...

Prayers that all will be well in the state of Washington as the storm approaches.
I found myself sitting and getting absolutely lost in your blog (a good thing)...and its reading was as if we were having a chat. What a lovely way you have of writing to us and for us, my friend.
I especially loved this particular line in your blog:
"I am soaking up all the family I can."
What a beautiful way of expressing the love and warm fellowship of being together with your dear family. May the memories that you make be the happiest ever!

Stella Jones said...

Beautiful weather for you to enjoy and all your family close by. I agree - the older we get, the harder it is to change the routine, even by a little bit. Amazing how the years affect us like that. Take care and enjoy the company.

Rubye Jack said...

Have a good happy birthday DJan.
I'm looking forward to seeing "Lincoln" also and hope to hear what you think of it. Hopefully, there will be no real flooding in Washington.

Red said...

I really like your conclusion. When we are spread so far apart getting together is difficult. The get togethers are then much more valued.

Bragger said...

I cherish the moments when the four remaining siblings can be together. We don't typically get together for holidays, but rather almost spontaneously other times in the year. I hope you have a joyous time with your siblings.

Gigi said...

Have a very happy birthday, my friend!

While I wish I could have the closeness with my brother that you have with your siblings, I know it will never be. Mainly, because he has become such a loner and likes it that way and also because, truthfully, he irritates the living daylights out of me most of the time.

We shall be having a misfit Thanksgiving, as usual. Those of our friends that can't make it home for the holiday come to our house to celebrate. This is something we've done ever since we moved here about 15 years ago and we enjoy our handpicked "family."

Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your loved ones and know that I will be counting you as one of my blessings this year.

Sally Wessely said...

I know you will just drink it up while you are there - the time with your siblings, not the wine. Being with siblings is the best thing ever. Laugh much. I know you will. Treasure every single minute. You have been greatly blessed to have each other.

Rita said...

You are so fortunate that you are close to your siblings and extra close to one. ;) I can just hear it in your voice how happy you are. Enjoy! Enjoy! And I hope things will be okay back at home while you're gone.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Looks like nice weather there! I hope you have a wonderful visit with your siblings. We were gone for eight days so Far Guy could spend some time with his only sibling..he had not seen her in four years. Now it is her turn to visit Minnesota!
Enjoy your time together..and your birthday celebration:)

troutbirder said...

Sounds like a wonderful time and I hope you enjoyed Lincoln. We thought it was a great movie...:)

The Broad said...

It is a wonderful thing to have sisters. I so treasure the times we are able to spend together and feel fortunate that we all enjoy each other's company so much. I don't often get to be with my family at Thanksgiving. In fact living in the UK it easy for the holiday to slip past almost unnoticed. This year I've not made any plans though I had hoped perhaps to see one of my sisters who is visiting her family in London this year. Sadly it's just not possible.

As for wine -- I have to be so cautious as I am diabetic. I do have the occasional glass of white wine and quite honestly don't enjoy more than that any more. Sometimes it is amusing to watch as other people continue to imbibe more than they should -- and sometimes it's quite challenging to appear to be interested in their incoherent chatter! Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for a lovely post.

#1Nana said...

I'm heading to Texas tomorrow and we'll be flying home next Tuesday also. I'll watch for you in the airport! I hope you have a wonderful visit with your family. You are indeed fortunate to have all of you able to get together. Happy Thanlsgiving.

Friko said...

How wonderful to have a fair number of siblings AND to get on with every one of them. In too many families there’s strife and disharmony.

I am sure you appreciate the time you all spend together. May there be many more reunions for you and your family.

Friko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O-town Ramblings said...

This post was especially touching and poignant to me. Every moment you have with your siblings is precious, especially those small, mundane things, like sleeping side by side with your sister. Oh, how I treasure my memories of sharing a bed with Julie with her dog snoring next to us.

Like you said, you never know when those moments will come again. I'm so glad you recognize that and are there soaking up and enjoying every minute.

CrazyCris said...

How wonderful you could all get together like this, and for such a fun occasion as a 50th and 70th (!!!) birthday!

Have a fabulous week with your siblings! lots of hugs! :o)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

You are very fortunate to still have your siblings. And even better is that you enjoy them. I love that the iPad is such a fun tool for you. Am enjoying your pics as well. Thanks for sharing some on the other blog.

Unknown said...

I hope you-all continue to have such good times together.