Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Holiday Gallivanting

My apologies to those of you who are new to my blog and tuned in for the first time only to be bombarded by my last two over-long over-wrought posts. Now that I've exorcised that particular bee from my bonnet, I feel much better! Let me just add a teeny postscript to what I said before:

1. There are many women of my acquaintance who actually DO possess an enviable level of natural beauty and who are quite lovely with minimal to no grooming.

2. There are also those (not me) who exude personal style with total ease. They dress with flair without spending hours agonizing over how to achieve their look. This is not something I disparage, but something I admire.


Well, I may have forfeited my title of World's Least Spontaneous Person by accompanying my family on a trip requiring the purchase of airline tickets that was planned only a week in advance! Pathetic, really, what qualifies as spontaneity in my world.

We spent the Memorial Day weekend at Shaun's folk's house, located on the family tree farm off the highway that runs from Portland to the coast. Shaun's sister and brother-in-law and their baby were up from So Cal for a visit, so we decided it would be a perfect time to go see everyone. The boys got to do the things that make life for boys worth living (i.e. throw rocks in the river and ride the tractor with Grandpa) and I got the opportunity to participate in a Jensen family tradition that I'd always heard about.

On Monday morning we headed to the Vernonia cemetery to meet up with Shaun's grandparents and "put flowers on the graves." If you haven't ever been to Vernonia, let me just say that it is about one of the smallest towns that I've ever been to that is recognizable as such. The cemetery is very lovely, as is everything in that lush green neck of the Oregon woods. Shaun's mom cut peonies, snowballs, and iris from her garden to place at the graves of her father's parents and her brother.

I was amazed to see that almost every grave was adorned with fresh flowers. As we walked among the headstones, Shaun's grandpa pointed out the people he'd known, worked with, been a friend or neighbor to. I thought of all the people who had brought the flowers and envied their connection to a particular place and the continuity it provided. I don't know the whereabouts of a single one of my forebears, physically or metaphysically :), and it makes me sad that the scatteredness of even my immediate family means we will never have the opportunity of reconnecting with those who have gone before by making a tradition of visiting their graves.

It was special for me to bring Nels to the resting place of the men who inspired his name: Shaun's great-grandfather Niels and Shaun's uncle, whose middle name was Nels after his grandfather. Not that we tried explaining it to OUR little Nels. He is a very sensitive and perceptive little guy, but being at a graveyard was confusing enough for him as it was. Though we've discussed death with him a very little bit, we weren't quite prepared, as Shaun put it, to explain body-soul duality. So when Nels asked "What's a grave?" on the car ride over, I answered that it is a place where we celebrate someone we love who has died. Good enough.

All in all, we had a lovely long weekend. The kids and I were all varying degrees of sick, so we did a lot of lolling about. The adventure was extended a bit on our return flight when the left engine of the airplane was deemed "broken." Fortunately this was determined before we left the ground. We de-planed with much grumbling of passengers, but another plane was available (phew! does ANYone ever want to get back on the plane they just fixed?) and we were only delayed about an hour or so. We actually got a lot of sympathetic looks as it was bedtime and our children looked tired.

So here we are back in Boise and all four of us in shorts this evening. Shaun is tan from cycling, but if only we could somehow harvest the power of the leg pallor of the rest of us...well, I don't know. We could change the world.


Anonymous said...

Now, now. You do know where some of your relatives reside. Grandma Shay, Grandma Helen and Uncle Johnny are all on Grandpa's mantle with swap meet stuffed animals paying homage to them. Nearly as picturesque as freshly cut flowers in a small town grave yard. Your description is right out of Anne of Green Gables. Oh to be Anne!

Gypmar said...

Well, see, I didn't even know that. Ah, the heritage.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the news of this wonderful blog. Fantastic. Thanks for writing about the Memorial Day tradition. I fondly remember Chick's mom as a kind and dear woman and of course I cherish many, many memories of Rick. ... I was too often on the losing side of snowball fights with that guy! He had a deadly aim! I was just recalling a pillow fight I had with him (hmmm a fight theme here?) and the lovely blue glass vase I shattered with my left-handed poor aim. On a walk out to the mailbox later, Laurel was so gracious to tell me that I was much more valuable to her than the vase she'd brought back from their trip with GFC & my dad to Israel. I knew she'd never return there and I was beating myself up in guilt over the accident. It hadn't helped that my brother yelled at me as I was trying to clean up the glass in my bare feet. That made a miserable experience all the worse - so Laurel's loving words were the healing balm my poor soul needed. It still makes me cry. I even shared that story in our parenting class a couple weeks ago when we were talking about helping kids learn from their mistakes and not lecturing, etc.

On a family history note - I'm glad to see your interest in knowing where folks are buried and connecting with history, etc. Just this week I discovered a scrapbook here from Mary Elizabeth Parsons (Martin) from the late 1880's and tucked in was P.R.Martin's application for US citizenship and renouncing allegiance to all foreign powers and specifically the Queen of Britain and Ireland. Probably Queen Victoria, right? The rest of the scrapbook is filled with newspaper & Sunday School paper clippings, poetry, etc. - primarily re. the Temperance movement. There's even a copy of a Temperance Contract that was recorded in the Ross family Bible. (Did you know that one of our Temperance advocate ancestors lost their barn to a fire set by bootleggers?)

A few years ago, Dad, Betty and I took a couple wonderful trips out to the East coast and then to the mid-west. We took pictures and gravestone rubbings at graves of our ancestors dating back to the early 1700's and perhaps late 1600's. We visited museums featuring our history. I saw the knife Hannah Dustin used in her noteworthy ordeal. And - of course we saw the two statues in her honor. She would be Nels & Willem's 15th great grandmother - the first woman honored with statues in the colonies.

I just told Betty about the scrapbook and she's excited to see it when we get together for birthday celebrations soon.

Thanks for this blog - and thanks for bearing with this long comment. =) Maybe I'd better start a blog, too, huh?