Thursday, March 29, 2007

Happy Kittens?

While I was going to begin writing about our travels in the motor home this week, I'm still trying to recover from Spring Break at a tourist destination (Caverns of Sonora in Texas), so the muse has been sleeping for the past week. I'll get to that topic next time. This morning a two word email woke me up and produced a bit of whimsy, I hope everyone will be able to share the vision.

(Necessary background: my #1 son, Lone Duck, is seperated from his step daughters by most of a continent. But he tries to keep in touch. My grandaughters ( I don't believe in steps), Honey and Sweetie, also occasionally remember to write to me. So here's what happened. )

Lone Duck sent Honey an email ending with the tag line, "May your house be filled with happy kittens." Honey sent me an email showing me the tag line and asking the two word question, "happy kittens?"

So thanks to the colaboration of my eldest son and his eldest daughter, I offer the following:

Happy Kittens

He said , "May your home be filled with happy kittens."
You asked, "happy kittens?"

Actually I love it! What a lovely blessing!

Think about it for a minute, you come home from school in a lousy mood, you got a C- on an important test, you ripped your favorite green shirt, you fumbled the ball and lost the game. Whatever, you come in the house and flop down on the couch hating the world.

Then, out of nowhere comes a brilliant orangey gold streak, chasing a dust bunny, he loses control on the polished hardwood floor and slides to a stop in front of the couch. Then he stops as if frozen. This tiny ball of fluff has just spotted dust motes in a single sunbeam cutting through the Venetian blind. He leaps into the air contorting his tiny body into an impossible twist trying to catch the magical being.

Suddenly from the back of the couch a black and white kamikaze hurtles through space to attack his orange brother. Connecting in space they plummet to earth, landing near you on the couch. Except for the colors mingling and twisting beside you, it's hard to tell where Goldie stops and Penguin begins.

As they roll around precariously close to the edge , a tiny white face pokes out from under the pillow on the other of you. Snowflake, peers around your knee to observe the fracas her brothers are creating. Calmly, and with a definite air of superiority she watches their antics knowing, the way sisters do, exactly what is going to happen. Patiently she licks her right paw and smoothes back the fur next to her bright blue eye.

One wrong turn and a mixture of black and orange fur slips off the couch to land in your open back pack. Dazed and confused they examine the contents and after turning around three times settle down for a nap, wrapped in each others fuzzy embrace, in the soft folds of your green jersey on top of your shameful physics test.

With a final swipe at her left ear, Snowflake looks at you, shakes her head and daintily hops off the couch to chase the dust bunny that began the whole thing.

Now don't you just have to feel better?


See ya down the road,

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Circus Tent

I was seven years old when Mom and Dad packed us all up and took us camping for the first time. Two leaky pup tents for two parents, three kids and a one year old baby. I remember absolutely nothing about that trip except that it rained and the baby was the only one who slept.

Around 1958 they bought a huge Army surplus canvas mess tent. Round, with a high center pole, the roof was green and tan striped. We flew a little flag from the pole where it protruded through the roof and called it the circus tent.

That tent traveled from Pennsylvania to Canada, Massachusetts to Wyoming and Texas. We took it to Ricketts Glen, Cedar Lake, Tippy-Canoe and Stinky Too (not the real name but what we called the park with the distinctive sulpher aroma) And Hundres of other wonderful spots.

Everywhere we went from Pugwash, Nova Scotia to Mt. Rushmore, from Yellowstone to Diamond Acres, that tent made us new friends. The fathers wanted to know where Dad got it while the kids asked if we were really part of the circus.The moms all envied the fact that we could actually stand up to get dressed. Even after dark, there were always extra hands available to help put the 75 lb behemoth up.

The Circus Tent housed entire troops of Girl Scouts, or Boy Scouts and their leaders, usually Mom and Dad, in it’s 12 man interior and kept us all dry. It served as back yard accommodations for visiting friends, cousins, and rock hounds as well as for sleepovers most of the summer as long as there were still Hoye kids to use it.

Then, one day, Mom and Dad ran out of kids. We had all grown up and left the nest. They had no use for a tent. Dad stowed it in the attic with so many memories and went out and bought a tiny Scotty trailer from my best friend and her new husband. The four of us just harrumphed. We’d had to sleep on the ground all those years! Now they get a trailer.

They took off for a long weekend in the rain and discovered the trailer leaked like Niagara Falls. We felt a little smug as Dad muttered about the $700 he’d paid for it, applied sealants, fixed it up and then used it until Mom insisted on more room a year later.

In 1973, just before we moved across the country, Big Jim, (who had never been camping) and I took our three sons, and went camping in Vermont with Grandma and Grandfather. Dad made us a present of The Circus Tent.

It rained like mad for 3 of the 4 days and Grandma was worried about the kids getting sick, so they got to sleep in the trailer! Big Jim and I didn’t really mind.

In August of that year we moved to El Paso, and the tent went with us. It served another generation of Scouts, albeit with several patches sewn to it’s well worn canvas. It survived a sudden wind storm that saw all six of us and several other campers chasing it to the very edge of Bottomless Lake in New Mexico. It heard it’s share of scary ghost stories for more than 28 years. I wonder how many times it also heard someone say, during a rain storm, “Don’t touch the ceiling” just before someone did, causing a drip onto their sleeping bag.

The Circus Tent was our shelter and our friend until one day when we all watched in awe as the tired, sun-rotted canvas simply began to split from the tip of the center pole to the side wall with a tired rrrrrip. Since it was only the second day of our vacation and a new tent was not in the budget, we improvised. The center pole, separated into it’s two components, became the end poles of the world’s longest pup ten constructed from our utility tarp with half the tent at each end.

It was odd how much we mourned that old piece of canvass, although we had often envied other campers with their easy- up nylon umbrella tents, The Circus Tent was a safe haven that kept out lions and tigers and bears each night. Not to mention Boogiemen, ghosts, and headless horsemen. We even had a hard time breaking the news to Dad and Mom. It was as if there had been a death in the family.

Today, Big Jim and I travel the country full time in what we once thought was the ultimate luxury-a Winnebago. We are seeing wonderful sites and visiting awesome places. We are secure in heat and cold, wind and hail and certainly wouldn't give up our refrigerator,not to mention the bathroom! Every now and then, however, we can’t help remembering back in the days when we were really camping in that big old bundle of canvass we called The Circus Tent.

See ya down the road,


Saturday, March 3, 2007

Birthday Presents

Birthday Presents

Sister Mary Dolorita, at St. Michael the Archangel School, in Levittown had a way of turning ordinary assignments into something a little different. One day, instead telling us to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up, she told us to describe who, what, and where we would be in fifty years.

Fifty years? Did people actually live that long???

I described myself as a beautiful little old lady with snow white hair like my Aunt Sadie's (which I later learned came from a bottle). I was a revered writer, beloved by children everywhere just like Carolyn Keene and Louisa May Alcott. After having traveled all over the world, I lived in a tiny vine covered cottage near the ocean, on the edge of a meadow, surrounded by an enchanting wood.

Slow forward fifty years.

Today is my 60th birthday. My hair is now salt and pepper grey. I'm more of a Kathy Bates than a Jessica Tandy. I have not reached revered author status but the emails I've received from children about my first book The Tree at the Top of the Hill have been very sweet. I haven't traveled all over the world but I have managed 47 states and four foreign countries.

I do live in a sort of tiny cottage. You can't get too much smaller than a 32 foot Winnebago Adventurer-no slides(also no vines). Sometimes I live in a meadow, sometimes in the woods, often at the edge of a parking lot near places where Big Jim and I spend a few months working at campgrounds or caverns. I haven’t lived near the ocean yet unless you count five miles from Puget Sound.

But the most amazing thing about me is that - Holy Moly! People do live this long! And when they get to be sixty years they aren’t half as old as I thought they would be!

Today I am counting up all of my nicest presents and trying to figure out how to thank everyone for giving me the gifts that have helped me be who, what and where I am.
  • Thanks Mom- for believing in me and making me work harder at Scrabble so I could have a better vocabulary. You were so hard to beat! When I do grow up I want to be just like you. And Dad - for always being proud of me and letting me know it.
  • Denis and Terry, You have been there with so many answers and solutions over the years. The best brothers ever! Some of the best answers are Barbara and Bernie!
  • Little Bit… Uh… that’s her new name Folks, she forbade me to use “Boop” again. You have been my standard of strength for most of our adult lives. With your honest opinions, sense of humor, and constant support I’ve learned a lot. And you brought in the Drummer Boy to give us a different beat too. But one of these days Boop WILL return.
  • Thank you, Bernice for the love you have for my father and the friendship you’ve offered me over the years.
  • Aunt Marge, every girl needs one person in her life who thinks she can do no wrong. You are mine and I’m yours!
  • Aunt Cathy, at an age when I needed a little polishing you came along and taught me some important lessons about facing the world as myself.
  • To my incredibly, wonderful, brilliant, resourceful, funny sons ,The Lone Duck, Jugglesorcerer, Sage Words, and The Fisherman - thank you so much for always being my friends as well as my kids. Thank you all for providing me with four lovely girls to enjoy as friends as well as daughters of the heart . Then there’s that whole step Grandma and step Great Grandma status.
  • Sara, the mother of my son’s wife, who showed me how strong a quiet woman can be. Didn't make me quieter but I hope I'm stronger now for knowing you.
  • All the Cousins, we spent so long apart and now we begin to come together again.
  • And my beautiful Jessi and Lee who returned this year and filled a wounded place in my heart with sunshine once again.

God gave me the very best family. We may be separated geographically but never in our hearts.

Old friends, Rita, Peggy, Charlotte, Karen, Lori (yes you), Feanette, Joan, Rocky, Cheryl, and MaryAnn , you became my friends in different decades and have influenced my thoughts ever since. I have wished for so long that we could all have a girls night out so you could meet. Just wait until I win the lottery!

And new friends, Jaimie, Karen, Kanda, “Hardluck Lin“, Pat and so many others met along the roads of our new life. Each of you has left pieces of yourself for me to carry.

No, I didn’t forget him. But where do I place my Big Jim? Of course, he’s family, but he’s also my teacher, and my partner, and my rock. And he’s my very best friend. Thank you for loving me but even more, thank you for liking me. I like you too.

A few years ago, I was able to finally track down Sister Mary Dolorita, through yet another favorite grade school teacher Sister Dennis Mary , both were Sisters of Mercy. I wrote her a letter thanking her for encouraging me when I was so young. I was told it as one of the last letters she received. I didn’t want to wait that long to tell all of you what splendid gifts God gave me in each of you. I love you all. Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for the gift of your friendship.

So here I am -Middle Aged at last. Wonder what fate has in store for the second half?

See ya down the road,