Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Stormy Weather — June 28, 2019

Stormy Weather

Last evening the kitties and I enjoyed the thunderstorms in our area. The kitties probably didn’t enjoy the stormy weather as much as I did.
The image above, shared by our local TV station, KOIN, shows the storm system moving over the Portland area. 
storm-damaged tree
Attribution: KOIN

We were among the fortunate who escaped damage to property or grounds. Others weren’t so lucky.

As a youngster growing up in the south, my favorite summertime event was a thunderstorm. Trouble with my mother came my way because I dared to stand outside and wait for the storm to arrive. Then I refused to go inside.
I have since come to understand Mama’s fear of the dangers inherent in a storm. In my memories, those were some thrilling times.
Thunderstorms are not frequent visitors in Portland. But I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that more will come this summer!
Feature image attribution: Jose Julian Araya via KOIN
Clouds — June 10, 2019


Summer activities during my childhood were simpler than today’s activities. Water to cool off came via a sprinkler connected to a garden hose. Or an inflated wading pool filled to the brim with cool water.

We rode our bikes on neighborhood streets. Hopscotch boards appeared on sidewalks drawn with chalk. And there was the simple joy of lying in the grass beneath a large tree and looking up through the tree branches.

One of my favorite past times was lying beneath a large sycamore tree in our front yard. As I looked through its branches, I could see the sky and clouds.

My imagination would run a bit wild, and I’d be able to see interesting shapes among the clouds. Animal shapes were my favorites, but to discover any shape was a success!

Imagination is one of God’s great gifts to the human mind. Think of the many ways the imagination helps the artist, whether painting or writing.

So thankful God created imagination!

Image by 준희 김 from Pixabay.

Memorable Bananas | Day in the Life #10 — May 20, 2019

Memorable Bananas | Day in the Life #10

Ever notice how memories slip into the activities of our everyday lives? Things we don’t think of until something or someone triggers that long ago memory and it rushes to the forefront of our minds.

Several years ago while caring for my mother, near the end of her life, I wanted to help get her to eat. She’d suffered another of several congestive heart failure episodes, and the nurses encouraged some fruit. I brought bananas, something I knew she enjoyed.


Recently staff had begun mashing her food, so I mashed the bananas. Their aroma overwhelmed my senses. You know…that smell only a fresh banana has.

As I continued mashing, I remembered doing the same for my son when he was an infant. No doubt Mama had mashed bananas for him, and other grandchildren, and for her children.

My next thoughts moved to contemplate how the cycle of life catches up with us in the mundane. As my mind wandered back through generations, I imagined my grandmother engaged in the same activity, and her mother, and on and on.

Among my thoughts was the process of aging. As we age our bodies and our abilities revert to how we were as children. Unable to care for ourselves. Unable to read or write. Even in our eating things change.

Life — its beginning and ending so similar.

Image by Markus Naujoks from Pixabay

Hot Summer Nights | A Day in the Life (Episode #9) — August 8, 2018

Hot Summer Nights | A Day in the Life (Episode #9)

We’re having a heat wave!

Oregon is HOT in our neck of the woods. Usually, summer days aren’t filled with temperatures nearing 100 or humidity starting the day at 70% or more. We’re accustomed to average summer temps in the low to mid 80’s, low humidity, and nights cooling down into the 60s or even high 50s. 

Mornings now you can hear the sounds of neighbors doing what you’re doing–opening windows and doors to let the cool morning air in. At our place, in Meyers Woods, this will keep the house cool throughout the day with the help of shade from our old growth firs and cedars.

Many older homes in the area have no air conditioning. Oregonians are somewhat complacent thinking that global warming isn’t going to affect the Pacific NW. Best we think again, dear neighbors!

But global warming and current days are not my subject matter today. I want to talk about…

Hot Summer Weather

Back in the day, the 1950s.

There was no evidence of air conditioning in any of the homes on our block. None anywhere we knew about. But people fared the summer weather without a hitch.

I grew up in Nashville, TN. The south offers a hot summer for the most part. The humidity can often be as high as the temperature. Mosquitoes are everywhere.

Clothes Pins or Pegs
Pixabay | Ryan McGuire

Unlike Oregon and the NW, summer nights in Tennessee didn’t cool off much. But I didn’t mind. I counted lightning bugs and stars until Mama or Daddy called us at bedtime.

Monday was wash day at our house, and Mama laundered sheets and pillowcases. A favorite activity was handing her the clothespins, or some call them clothes pegs, for hanging the wash.

Going to bed with air-dried linens made summer nights a delight!

Hot Nights Meant Bedtime Delight.

Windows were open as far as they would go. Hopes were high for a slight breeze or a hefty draft blowing through.

I could hear Mama using the Coca-Cola bottle she used to dampen clothes for ironing. This signaled the preparation of cooling sheets, as she called them, for the long, hot night. 

Each sheet was dampened as much as she felt necessary to keep us cool enough to fall asleep. When she brought the sheet to you, Mama carefully laid it over you spreading it to its full size.

Now the hope for breezes was at its peak. And as soon as someone felt a breeze, the whole house knew–there was either a long “ahhhhhhhh,” or a giggle, or one big yawn.

It was time to fall asleep and dream dreams.

What memories do you have of hot summer nights?

Perhaps there’s something you’d share with us in the comments below, or perhaps this is good fodder for a short writing piece you’ve been putting off. 

Either way, my hope is that it’s not so hot where you are that you can’t sleep! Sweet dreams!

A Day in the Life | March Madness (Episode #7) — March 22, 2018

A Day in the Life | March Madness (Episode #7)

DIL_ March Madness #7_Sm

Between February and October 2015, I wrote six posts in my “A Day in the Life” series. Not long after the October post, I fell and opened a large can of medical woes which I still battle off and on.

I want to resurrect that series because I enjoyed sharing memories of some of my life experiences with you. So, today we begin again and hope to post many more than six.

The Day the Madness Started

From high school forward, basketball was my sport, favorite of them all. The basketball bug bit with my first pep rally for the basketball teams. Then in 1964, my senior year, our high school boys’ team was red hot and on a roll. Donelson High’s school spirit came alive that basketball season. I can still hear and feel the electricity, enthusiasm and excitement at each pep rally. And then to have our boys come out on top!

Donelson High School Boys’ Basketball Team, State Champions, 1964 (Nashville Tennessean)

During college, I learned of the NCAA tournaments, better known as March Madness. I wavered between the men’s and women’s games. I loved watching the University of Tennessee women’s team. I had high school friends playing under the great Pat Summit. But I also had a fondness for the Duke Blue Devils and still do.

Ironically, this last weekend Coach K surpassed Summit’s record number of wins. It was a bittersweet moment when Coach K responded to the report that he would rather have Summit around than pass her record.

Fast forward to 1997

A move to my last law firm in a string of several took me to Perkins Coie LLC in Portland, Oregon. My days there were still in the “probationary 90-day period” when a young paralegal came to my desk. Houston said he had a question for me. I thought it related to a case he was working on. But that was not it. He wanted to know if I wanted to go in on the office March Madness pool.

Never having participated in a sports pool before, I didn’t want to appear dumb so I said I would. I handed Houston a $5 bill and took a copy of the bracket from him. I had no idea how to “guess” who’d beat who, but I’d give it a try.

With my lack of experience behind me, the only thing I thought would work was to put my favorite team, Duke, in the final game. Then I worked my way backward with Duke and then randomly filled in other spots. In some games, I sort of knew who was the stronger of the two teams and hoped I was right.

Each day and game seemed to make the wait to hear the pool results farther and farther away. Would that last day ever come when the winner would be announced?

And the Winner Is…

Finally, the big day arrived. I don’t even remember how the announcement was made but when it was made, it was my name that was in the winning position. I had won the March Madness pool beating out the attorneys and most of the men in the office.

I know when to hang up my gloves and end the madness. I never again entered that pool. Why mess with success? If you’re doing well, it’s time to think about retirement from the sport. And the March Madness bracket and its pools is definitely a sport.

Do you have any March Madness memories you’d like to share, or a story to tell about a family member and their sports excitability? Use the comment section below and share with us.

Attribution featured image: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from article by Neil Greenberg of  The Washington Post
Getting Back on Track — June 15, 2016

Getting Back on Track

Feature image attribution
Feature image attribution

Getting back on track now we’re home after riding the rails across this country (almost) and back isn’t easy. Getting back on track after several months of fighting unrelenting pain is also difficult. Combine the two and I literally don’t know where to start.

Start at the Beginning

I suppose the safest place to start is at the beginning of our rail riding experience. Initially, our trip was single-purposed: attend our younger grandson’s high school graduation. Plus we wanted some extra days to soak up our son’s family since we only see them about once every three years or so.

Our first stop along the way was the ever-bustling city of Chicago where we rented a car to drive the rest of the way to Springfield, TN, where our son, his wife, and their son live. Grandson, Steven Michael (aka Mikey), was graduating from East Robertson High School on May 20th and we rolled in on the 19th.

Graduation was a fairly routine ceremony–procession, speeches, awards, diplomas, recession, camera flashes, tears, laughter, tossing of hats, etc. Rather than chain this well-honored student to family, we released him to enjoy a party with friends. After all, we had a few more days with him.

The three guys–Grandpa, Steve, and Mikey–spent a day drooling over Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, as well as a tour of the assembly plant.

While they did their thing, DIL Amy and I took in some retail therapy at Opry Mills Outlet Stores, the former site of Opryland. We did more talking and drinking cool drinks (it was hot!) than we did buying retail items, but the entire day was good for our souls.

Leaving these three as well as Amy’s parents was not easy, but leave we must and so we drove back to Chicago to drop off our rental and pick up the train headed back to the Northwest.

Another Celebration in the Middle

Fran with granddaughter, Emma (last photo)
Fran with granddaughter, Emma (last photo)

Just before we left home we received word that Bob’s sister, Frances (87), had passed away following a stroke. A memorial service was scheduled for May 27th in the afternoon. Our route home passed within three hours north of Avon, where the service would be held. We changed our rail tickets, ordered up another rental, and got off Amtrak in Whitefish, MT, on May 26th at 8:45pm.

Our drive was in total darkness down a long and winding road with few possibilities for stops. However, with Steady Bob at the wheel we made it without incident to our hotel in Helena. Early the morning of the 27th we drove to the home of our nephew and his family for breakfast. Fran’s older son, Walt, and his wife, Marilyn, have six children. Soon the two youngest will be the only two at home. The rest are either out of or in college.

What a delightful morning that was as we sat around the kitchen table eating homemade waffles, fresh fruit, and freshly made whipped cream and celebrating the life that was Fran’s. After breakfast, we headed out to the family ranch, handed down generation to generation, and now operated by Fran’s younger son, Hank. Many memories are held there as well.

Fran’s life is best summed up in a Facebook post by Timothy J. (TJ) Kerttula, the oldest of the grandchildren:

This was the passage Grammy was meditating on before she went into the hospital and this is what her bookmark says ” My meditation of Him shall be sweet.” I am going to miss her with her hugs, challenges to my spiritual walk, challenges to memorize more verses and the example she was to all her grandchildren. She poured her heart and life into us. I am thankful for the time I had with her this past week. Talking to her, even though she couldn’t talk to me. She found a way to comfort us with the squeezes from her hand and the nods of her head. Now she is in heaven with Jesus with no more pain, no more sin, singing praises to Him and gazing on His face. She has finished the race.

What an amazing hope we have through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Memories flooded our minds and hearts all day and especially during the celebration of life that afternoon. Many more people attended than expected and extra chairs had to be set up quickly. A time we were so glad to be able to share.

Unplanned side trips can be a blessing and this truly was one. Not only had we witnessed our grandson’s graduation from high school to college, we had celebrated Fran’s graduation from this life to the great life awaiting her in her heavenly home.

Back Home

Getting home and back to your own stuff is always the best part of any trip. We had driven back to Whitefish to catch the last leg of our rail trip. However, the train only stops once daily in Whitefish and that’s at 8:45pm, leaving at 9:16pm. We had a day to drive back and then kill in Whitefish. Driving around Whitefish we saw some interesting places. Some closed. Others open and crowded.

Bob explored the outdoor exhibits at the train station. We picnicked by spreading our lunch in our rental car (the wind was a bit blustery outside). With Kindles in hand, we both read, then napped, read some more, people watched, and then went somewhere for dinner (I can’t remember where!). Around 7:45pm we headed into the station to freshen up before boarding the train for home.

Following a good night’s sleep and our last meal onboard Amtrak, we pulled into Portland around 10am on Sunday, May 29th. Home never looked so good.

Getting on Track

After a doctor’s appointment that first week home, I began physical therapy and rehab for my many months of incessant pain. Interestingly enough, after all the waiting, the pain management doctor suggested an injection in a different site. During our trip (started four days after the shot), I was the most comfortable I had been since January or February. We decided based on that result I should begin PT, and I can say for the first time I actually look forward to my appointments.

This therapist has taught me so much about my spine, the curve in it and how it impacts everything about my body, and what I can do to keep up good spine health going forward. I still can’t believe that after my first appointment and some exercises and manipulations, my shoulders are level for the first time in years. My skirts even hang straight now.

I’m nowhere near the end of this journey. I don’t know yet how many appointments I have, but I do know the exercises I’ve been given are a lifetime commitment.

On an unrelated health issue, I’ve learned I will be having an exploratory procedure in July. Pending the outcome, I am keeping things low-key for now with respect to blogging, social media, book reviews, and the newsletter.

What I Learned

While traveling, I spent my time watching the countryside pass by, read a lot, took some good naps, laughed a lot, cried some, and let the busyness of computers, email and social media fall to the side.

And you know what? The world didn’t crumble at my feet. Clocks didn’t stop. God continued to bring morning with the light and evening at dusk, and He watched over us just as He does when we are frazzled and too busy to even stop and thank Him.

The lesson in all this is that I get too busy wanting to do it all, wanting to be perfect, wanting to please everyone else, wanting to measure up to expectations I read in this or that article. None of it is necessary.

The only things I need to be concerned with are satisfying God’s expectations and everything else will fall in place. Simple as that. Forever and ever!

Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 29:11

Feature image attribution