Monday, November 29, 2010

Apartment Living

For the first time in our married life, Jane and I are living in an apartment here in Shoreline, Washington. Shoreline is a bedroom community of Seattle and most folks who live here just seem to say "Seattle" when asked where home is. 

Our dwelling place is just three blocks from the church, up a fairly steep hill to the west. Last week in snowed here and the three or four inches made mobility almost impossible. When you combine hills with snow and ice plus the fact that most folks here don't have all weather tires it makes for quite a challenging experience. Jane and I loved it. It reminded us of Colorado plus, the community in which we live was almost shut down. We had the streets to ourselves and we made good use of them.

But I digress. I'm writing basically to show you our apartment. We moved out of "The Big House" in Highlands Ranch, Colorado back in '08. Downsized to a flat. Then in '09 we retired and downsized again to the cabin.  Moving to the Seattle area to serve a temporary assignment in the Aurora Church of the Nazarene meant downsizing again.  Our apartment is a cozy 608 square feet. It's very nice. New. Just a bit small. Jane can occasionally be heard to complain "there's no closet space left!"

We're on the fourth floor and give thanks daily for the elevator. Now, let me take you on a tour of our "crib."

Welcome to our living room. Yes, the furniture is rented with the exception of the recliner near the window. That was in the pastor's office at the church until I snagged it to use at the apartment.
 Yes, this is standing in front of the window looking back toward the front door.

 This is our lovely, and rarely used, kitchen. When you move someplace on a temporary basis you don't realize how much money it takes to set up housekeeping again. We drove to Seattle in an Escalade and thought we had room in it to bring the necessities. We were wrong.

Jane took this shot of me getting off the elevator as she stood in our door way. Those full length mirrors sure do intimidate a person when you're walking out in the morning. "How did I get this fat?" "I thought these pants were longer than that." "My hair is a mess."

Since these photos were taken Jane has put up the Christmas tree and found other bits of seasonal decor to place in appropriate spots and it's a very festive little place. And as I mentioned before, it's very cozy.

Serving the people of this fine church has been such a blessing to us. It's our second interim assignment. The first was in La Junta, Colorado. The thing that we've discovered in this new phase of our ministry is how warm the people are that we've been invited to serve. Just as La Junta, the people here at the Aurora church have gone out  of their way to make us feel welcome and at home. We've been in the homes of many and found such eager listeners when we preach. I know that I'm a few years out of the "contemporary" pattern and this church has been functioning in a fairly contemporary mode. ( I tell people that I'm not old, I'm retro). But the older folks have welcomed us as a "contemporary" and the younger ones have accepted me as a grandpa. I like both roles.

Once again, this church has done more for Jane and me than we've done for them. They've made us feel like family.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I've been thinking about that word a lot lately. "Home." It's a word that's packed with meaning and emotion. As a child it was a ranch style house built by my father on an acre of ground given to mom and dad by my mother's dad. My grandpa Turner. It was on the south side of a dead end, dirt road in Wichita, Kansas. The north side of the road was a wheat field. When cars drove by on hot summer days the dust would seem to hang in the air forever. On cold winter nights the old Humphrey stove would put out enough heat to keep the house toasty. It was home. Mom and dad made sure that it felt safe. My little brother, Terry and I shared a bedroom. He was seven years younger than me but we still became great friends sharing that room. It was home.

I lived there until Jane and I were married. Our first "home" was a 28 foot trailer house. Eight feet wide. Small, yes, but we were young and it didn't matter. That first Christmas we purchased an artificial tree from Sears and decorated our home for the season. It was home.

Since that inauspicious beginning we've lived in 17 different places (counting our current apartment in Shoreline, Washington) but they've all been "home." Jane always made it so.

These past two weeks we've been on the road and in the air more than we would have liked. Jane's mom died back in Wichita at age 96. We flew "home" to help care for her funeral. We stayed in a nice hotel and somehow as we drove the familiar streets from our childhood we were "home." We haven't lived in Wichita since 1971 but it was home.

After the funeral we flew back into the Seattle airport and were back in our apartment for the weekend in order to preach at the Aurora church. After that morning worship service on the 7th we again caught a plane and flew "home." But this time it was taking us to Colorado. Jamie picked us up and we spent that Sunday night at her house and then on Monday we drove "home" to our cabin in the mountains. We hadn't been there since the Thursday before Labor Day. We unlocked the door and walked in greeted by all our "stuff" and we were home.

We love that little cabin on the creek. it's a peaceful place for us. It has been for the 6 years that we've owned it. During some turbulent years in our last assignment we would escape to the cabin and try to recover. It welcomed us with open arms. Gratefully, everything was as we left it. We put clean linens on the bed and Jane started vacuuming. I went to the garage to check on my treasures. The old gas pump was still there in front of the garage and the things that I treasure, though of little value, were all still in place. My office was a bit cold and dusty, but it was home. We were home.

After a week of errands, doctors appointments, dentist appointments and even a short case of the flu following my first ever flu shot, we boarded a plane to fly back to Seattle once again. Staci picked us up on this end and drove us to our apartment. She was so thoughtful. She had a big pot of stew in the back of the SUV for our dinner. We arrived at the apartment and unlocked the door. In a matter of moments she had the stew on the stove and our little place was filled with the delightful aroma. We were "home."

Yesterday as I preached at the Aurora church I discovered that the gracious people made us feel "at home." I know that the old philosopher said that "Home is where the heart is" but  I guess I've never been so pulled between places in such a short time. I discovered that it's true. Home IS where the heart is.

Maya Angelou said it this way.  "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."

I'm discovering that she's right, and that I am.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Flying the Friendly Skies

You probably know by now that Jane's mom passed away last week and we spent Sunday night through Friday morning in Wichita. Our flight there last Sunday afternoon was not just uneventful, it was actually pleasant.  I wish I could say the same thing for the flight home on Friday.

I expected the small commuter plane from Wichita to Denver. It's a short flight and easily endured even in a small plane. What I didn't expect was the small plane on the 2 1/2 hour flight from Denver to Seattle. You know the plane. The kind with two seats on each side of the aisle and those seats are small. Thank you United Airlines.

To make matters worse, Jane, in an effort to cash in a $100 coupon that we had from United, had to book our seats separately. Don't ask. As a result our seats were not together. No problem on the flights TO Wichita. Both legs of that flight were in full size planes, designed for the Big and Tall man.

Not so in the little planes. They had no extra seats and no way we could change seats and be together. 

The trouble started in Denver. The gate/terminal was PACKED. People couldn't find a place to sit and hardly a place to stand. As a result, we were eager to get on the plane. I shouldn't have been.

Jane was in the seat directly behind my assigned seat and MY seat was 4A. That's right. A window seat in a little plane means that my head is pressed up against the wall/ceiling at all times. But that was to be just the beginning.

As I entered the plane I scoped out the landscape and spotted my luxurious leather Lazy Boy awaiting me. I wish. It was about 13 inches wide.  Now most of you also know that I'm not a small person. I know, I know. But I'm not. I'm big. I'm 6'2" and well north of 250....or 260. Okay, north of 270. I'm big. I'm tall and wide. But when I spotted my seat I noticed that the little lady in seat B was.....well, she was short and wide. I'm not making fun of her at all. I'm just trying to describe the situation. She was of Asian descent and I'd swear that her feet didn't touch the floor when she was sitting down.

She stood up to let me climb into the pit that would be my home for the next eternity. I sat down, found the seat belt and strapped myself in. She then proceeded to sit down and dig for her seat belt. We immediately became intimate friends. Somewhat embarrassed by where her hands had been she quickly pulled down the little arm between the seats. Lord knows we wouldn't want to touch. But we couldn't help it.

We made some small talk about the tight fit and soon the plane was speeding down the runway. Once airborne we sat there like a couple of Buddha's. Arms crossed to keep from touching each other and to stay out of each others space. But what about our hips?

As the trip wore on I found that part of the time my right cheek was in her lap and at other times her left cheek was on my lap. We read the same magazine. I'd swear that she was listening to tunes on my iPad from MY HEADPHONES and they were both on my head.

To illustrate how short she was, picture this. Her head hit my shoulder UNDER my arm pit. When I lifted my arm to adjust the air flow or the light....yep, her nose was right there.

After about an hour and a half she drifted off to sleep. I felt so cheap. I've never slept with a woman other than Jane. And with her right behind me I couldn't help but feel that I was somehow being unfaithful.

To make matters worse, she had one of those sleep disorders where every time she came close to waking up she'd jump. I thought she was having a seizure but it kept happening. I soon realized that it was a sleep issue but she continued to sleep and to jump and twitch the rest of the way.

When the plane finally landed and we were able to deplane, I felt like I should at least tell her my name. She wasn't interested. She was as eager to get off that plane and forget about the previous hours as I was.  God bless her wherever she is.

We're flying back to Denver tomorrow after church but we're not flying United. We're going Frontier. At least they have little televisions to keep you occupied. Oh, and we bought the tickets together so we can sit with each other. If you're as big as me you better marry a little woman. I did.