Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

I so enjoy hearing from you...so leave me a comment; it'll make my day!

Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Road to Grey: Act Three

It was over a year ago that I decided to go grey. It was a tough choice because I actually loved my blonde highlights. But the 'high' I got from my color was short lived. I needed a new fix every couple of months. Then I started reading about all of these beautiful women who were going grey. "Grey is the new blonde!" was their battle cry. So I decided to try it. I had nothing to lose but a $150 dollar hair salon bill... and my ego.
I soon discovered that going grey from bleached blonde is difficult on so many levels. It's time consuming and emotionally taxing. It had taken months to grow my hair out, and I didn't want to cut it under any circumstance. 
 I was left with two options:
A. having skunk-like grey roots;
B. trying to apply a rinse that was close to my natural color and allowing the grey to fade in more gradually.
 I chose the latter. However, since my hairdresser had never actually seen my natural color in it's entirety, she took a guess based on what she saw on my roots and  put a VERY dark rinse on my head. EGAD! Now my hair was Black! I hated it! Talk about a blow to the ego! I felt uglier and more unattractive than I had ever felt in my entire life. I felt like I looked like a gypsy! Not a real gypsy...one of those spooky ones you see in movies driving around in a horse drawn wagon full of tapestries and a crystal ball!
"It's cute!" said my hairdresser.(They always say that, don't they?) "It'll lighten up in a week or so..."
Well it wasn't cute and it didn't lighten up. After waiting four long weeks for the rinse to fade; I went back and demanded that my hairdresser DO SOMETHING! So she put some taffy colored highlights in it to lighten up the overall look. This felt like a devastating setback. Here I had wanted to stop highlighting my hair; and now I was highlighting it so that I could stand the grow-out process! And though it looked a little better; by now my hair was so over-processed that the ends soon turned an awful coppery color and were coarse as straw. I didn't take a photograph of this stage of the process--it but trust me--it wasn't good!
Finally, in total frustration I went to another hairdresser and told her to whack it off. I had managed to grow the grey out to about three inches, so I figured a really short cut would rid me of all of the crazy, fried-out colors on my head.  Which was hard because all I really really wanted was long, lush grey hair.  

So here I am a year later with my salt-and-pepper grey hair. Do I love it? No. But I don't hate it either. Here are a few words of wisdom I can offer if you are contemplating going grey:

*If you're currently sporting a color that is drastically different than your natural one--the process will be harder than you think. Much harder.
*Even if you don't think you are particularly fussy or vain about your looks; this process will humble you. You will learn things about your self-image you never knew before. (Face it; you ARE somewhat vain about your looks or you wouldn't be coloring your hair in the first place!)
*And when you go through a rough patch where you feel really-really unattractive; you will have gained some hard-won empathy for women who, for whatever reason have never, ever felt attractive.
*You might not be naturally as grey as you think. My hair has sort of a grey sheen to it in the light; especially on top, but the back is still pretty dark; which I'm told is common. If you are planning on becoming an instant silver fox; you could be in for disappointment.
*You will love, love, love  not having to make appointments for root touch-ups every 8-10 weeks. And when you go in for a haircut; the $35 or $40 you spend will seem like pennies compared to what you coughed up to keep your color going.
*Some colors that used to look great on you may not work anymore. And you may find that you look absolutely stunning in colors you used to avoid.
*Your husband/boyfriend/children/coworkers/friends may not like it. And they will tell you so. Be forewarned!
*You just might begin to feel more authentic. More like YOU. More happy in your own skin. More happy with your own age.
*Or, you may not be able to deal with what sometimes feels as a shocking 'instant aging process.' You may want to go back to coloring for a few years. Or forever.
*The truth is, you are beautiful. Blonde hair, black hair, red, brown, auburn, or grey hair. Remember that.

Personally speaking--though my hair isn't exactly what I hoped for (I really want that striking all-silvery look)--for now I'm staying the course. I say 'for now' because I'm not totally convinced that I can hold out for my desired color to come in gradually. I'm accustomed to the instant gratification that comes in a peroxide bottle! This takes time and patience. So I ignore the L'Oreal commercials and remind myself that the question is; would I rather feel more authentic and relaxed about this aging process; or will I fight it tooth and nail; dependent upon a bottle of peroxide to maintain my youth?

 On the other hand, don't we women depend on a whole arsenal of little bottles in our war against aging, of which peroxide is just one? Our moisturizers are called age-defying; and our foundations promise to reduce fine lines in just days! And since I'm not walking away from my make-up; I'm certainly not judging anybody--including myself--for coloring her hair!

All I know for sure is this; Every day I wake up with a few more of those beautiful silver hairs and in time I will most certainly become a 'silver fox.'

 Patience my dear...patience!  



Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's Dad's Birthday. A Snapshot for His Descendants

Dad with his Aunt Ada Miller
[This piece, more than anything, is for my children and grandchildren, my nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews all the way down our immense family tree. It is a snapshot of your grandfather. I hope that when you read it, you will in some way see yourselves in my descriptions of Raymond Claude Miller.  He was a wonderful, simple, complex person. Funny, sad, friendly and very private. You should know about him. Your are his descendants. And part of him undoubtedly lives on in you.]
Today is my Dad's birthday. July 3, 1910. I guess that makes him 104 years old.  He passed away many years ago, when I was a young teenager. He was never a rich man, but he left me something very precious... the gift of having known him.  In a way so few really did. Only close family and a few valued friends were ever privy to this man his friends called Ray.  I got to call him Dad. He was your great-Grandfather, great-great Grandfather. Or beyond. You probably never met him; so I'd like to tell you a little bit about him...
 He was kind and gentle-hearted. He was nice to people, and liked you for what you were. He especially loved children and animals. And they could sense it. Very often at family gatherings you would look over and see small children wander over to him and crawl up into his lap, without his ever asking them to. His gentleness drew them to him. I remember times when Dad would be mowing our lawn, Bruce, our little neighbor boy would come over and quietly walk behind him the whole time, mimicking every step. Dad limped, Bruce limped. When Dad stopped to pet the dog, Bruce patted the dog's head. No words were said; no words were necessary. Being near him was enough.
He was quiet--not shy-- purposefully quiet. And perceptive. He noticed things that others miss because they are so anxiously clamoring to be heard. If you were feeling blue about something, you didn't have to tell him. He'd already seen it in your face; your expression. Sometimes when I felt bad he'd look at me and say, "Let's go on an excursion!" We'd head off down the road in the old blue Ford Fairlane...he was the pilot, I was co-pilot and Honey, my dog played  'navigator-- riding with her head out the window. We'd stop at a country store and he'd buy me a bottle of grape soda and sing silly songs to cheer me up.  How I miss those rides! Happily, it seems that quietness of spirit is an inherited quality. I've noticed that several of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren  --who never met him--him have this same attribute. If you are one of them, be grateful. I know it is difficult to be so in this overstimulated age where many believe that those who shout the loudest are the most well-informed. Not so. Your quietness is a rare quality...a gracious gift possessed by so few.
He was witty. When a quiet, thinking person speaks; their words are meaningful. And if they find something is funny enough to tell; it's often something that's been overlooked by most. And so, when my Dad quipped about something he thought was funny; it would bring the house down with laughter. For days we'd be chuckling about something funny Dad said.
He was flawed. I wouldn't be real if I didn't mention this. Dad drank too much. There were factors, I believe, that contributed to his problems.  His parents divorced--something almost unheard of in the early 1900's. After a bitter custody dispute, he and his younger brother were awarded to his father who was a traveling salesman. Since his father traveled for a living, often for days; the boys were left at the boarding house to be looked after by the woman who ran it--but for the most part; they raised themselves. He had no nurturing mother-figure in his life. It was only in his adulthood that his mother pursued a relationship with he and his brother. There seemed to be a sort of melancholia in my father's personality. Perhaps it was a result of his childhood. Perhaps it was a sort of depression. Whatever the cause, it seemed like a few beers served to lift that cloud of sorrow from him for a few hours. Sadly, the relief was temporary and over time, the alcohol stole my father's health and was the cause of much unhappiness for him. But if there is a bright side to this part of his life it is this: I have observed that those who suffer with obvious problems (we all have our vices--but for some, it is more public), those who grapple with demons in their lives, are so much more compassionate and forgiving of others who suffer. This is so true of my Dad, who loved people that others would write off as undeserving or worthless. (A note dear family, about addictions. If the addictive personality is truly genetic; we would all do well to use caution. It would be nice to see this kind of heartbreak torn from the pages of our family's story.)  
He was smart.  Dad was a wizard with math. He seemed to have a sort of photographic memory for numbers and could quickly calculate problems mentally that most would need a paper and pencil to figure out. Like many young men of his day, Dad had to leave school to get a job in his teens. He worked hard in lumber camps and mills. He was promoted to being a lumber grader. In this capacity, it was he who decided the quality and grade of the lumber being shipped out from the mill.  He was good at this, and was offered a job as a lumber inspector, a promotion, which would have meant traveling around the state and inspecting the lumber and systems of many mills. He turned it down. He wanted to stay home with his family. For which I am grateful. And I am also grateful for the intelligence that has been passed down through our generations. It's wonderful to see all of the talented people we have in our family!
He was handsome. If eyes are truly the window to one's soul, then my father was a beautiful, beautiful soul. His were soft and expressive; tinged with melancholy, but on occasion they sparkled with amusement. And kind. Always kind. (It warms my heart when I see those same eyes in my grandchildren, my nieces and nephews and their children.)  He was tall--over 6 feet, with long arms and lanky legs. His hair was thick and dark. His face was usually quite serious, but when he smiled, it seemed as though the sun had broken through the clouds. Many folks remarked about what a striking resemblance he bore to Abraham Lincoln!   And he smelled like the woods!  I loved to bury my face in his flannel shirts, which always smelled of cedar and pine from working at the mill.
He was simple. As mom would say it, 'he never put on airs.' He was not impressed by wealth or a person's station in life. It really didn't matter to him. Nor did he feel compelled to try and impress anyone. Which to me, is very impressive!
He was generous to a fault. Mom used to complain that Dad would give someone the shirt off of his back. It was true. He was always giving somebody a bag of spuds from the garden or peeling a few dollars out of his old leather wallet for somebody who need gas money until payday. We didn't have much, but he always found a way to be generous with what we had. In their earlier years, it was pretty common for my folks to invite family members who were down on their luck to come and live with them until they got back on their feet. Sometimes they supported whole families and their children for long periods of time.
So this is a snapshot of Raymond C. Miller. There is more to say about him, but I find myself at a loss of words to describe who this man really was; and what he meant to me. But I will tell you that every now and then I see him. In you. Something about you... your quiet demeanor; they way you chuckle, watching you with your children...it reminds me of my Dad. And it makes me smile.
We are all here today because Raymond C. Miller was born on this day in 1910! Light a sparkler in his honor tomorrow. He would like that. 


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