Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas surprises and traditions

I would be willing to bet that many of you have never heard this family story of mine.
I giggled aloud today when I saw my special Christmas ring on my dresser.
It prompted me to write this just in time for Christmas. My husband and I
celebrated our first married couple Christmas morning with his family in 1980. In his stocking, he had the normal chewing gum, tic tacs breath mints and some other "stuffers", but I had the gift that beat all Christmas stocking stuffers to come in my stocking.  I pulled out a black velvet ring box. You can only imagine what was going through my mind at this point, I joyfully opened it as the entire family gathered around me. It was a LARGE, very ugly, horn of plenty costume jewelry ring with about 8 small rhinestones. He excitedly asked me if I liked it and the other family members oooed and awwwed at how lovely it was. My head was spinning! I was then prompted to put it on and then more compliments came. I was numb. Were they all blind to how ugly and bizarre this choice of ring was!? I could barely breathe as I thought and wondered what I could have the ring made into. I only thought diamonds as I pondered, maybe a necklace or bracelet? Oh dear Lord, I will have to tell my husband privately how sorely wrong his choice for me was! Thankfully they all couldn’t stand to put me through anymore torture and as the living room filled with belly busting laughter my husband grabbed my gawdy adorned ringed hand and took me to a closet where my new set of golf clubs was wrapped in a big red bow! Such sweet relief! We still laugh about what a good sport I was that day and in true Christmas tradition I wear the ring every Christmas morning to remember how thankful I am that I married that man who gave me golf clubs our first Christmas.

Merry Christmas my friends and Happy New Year.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Learning to speak raccoon language from my new BFF

   My new best friend is James, known locally as the "Critter Getter" guy. Our relationship began a few weeks ago. We've been spending lots of time together at different hours of the day. He's so smart! He knows raccoon sign language, and he's been teaching it to me. I am so lucky to have a friend like James. He texts me to tell me when he's coming over. I gave him my home number too. One night James sat out in front of my house until after midnight. Everyone needs a friend like James.

   Several weeks ago my husband, I will call him John for now, confessed that he had found a pried open vent on the foundation of our house several weeks back, and had repaired it. Husband John knows his wife doesn't like the open freeway under our house for rodents.Wife Lorrie realllllly hates rodents. Good husband John dutifully fixed it and was placing traps to catch any unwelcome intruders. The vent and all subsequent vents were all getting destroyed every night now.Very perplexing so my heroic husband said he would replace each vent with brand spanking new vents to fix this problem once and for all! He worked for hours on this project. I love John. That night one of the vents was pulled open like butter and we weren't sure if something was coming or going out! Husband of the year announced it was time to call in the professionals. This is a great quality of my hero husband John, who knows when to throw up the white flag. Other men could learn this redeeming quality from him! It's my husband's fault though that I now spend so much of my free time with James. He made me call him and told him to come over to our house.

   James is teaching me allllllll about raccoons. He knows them very well as he learned about raccoon language from his father. He says I have a mama raccoon under my house and she has babies now there. James has a special camera he placed to record her coming and going from under my house. I love James. He's so techie. James tells me stories of his adventures with raccoons. He has a large scar on his hand from where he was bit once. James is so brave.

   Everything James has told me about this mama raccoon is true! She is a good mama and returns to her babies after going out late at night for water and food. James says she is the best one to take care of those babies. James says after we separate her from the babies, he will then reunite them (the kits) back to her. She will move them to another safe place. But first he has to fix all the vents with super duper special made vents he has made just for him. Then he puts in a special door that locks behind her at night when she emerges. He made sure she would go in and out it one night just to be sure. James is so patient and careful. He records everything so he can know for sure what mama raccoon is doing. I'm so proud of my new friend who is taking good care of me and my foundation house-guests. Yesterday Mama raccoon,let's call her Rhonda now, after my best friend in college. Rhonda was locked out and tried for hours to break into my house foundation but James made a mistake and didn't screw down the crawlspace door completely! Rhonda then pried it open and found her way back to the babies! Hooray! Wait, this is not good. James feels very badly for his mistake but I forgave him because after all he is my new best friend. James is letting Rhonda recover from the trauma and hopes she will move her babies this weekend. Rhonda is being recorded on camera thanks to James. I love James.

   James is teaching me about a mother raccoons unbending love. He is also teaching me to be very very careful with my dog around  Rhonda. So far they haven't met. He is teaching me about being patient. He's trying to save me money too by hoping she moves the babies herself and he won't have to go searching for them under the bowels of my home. One thing he didn't teach me, but I  gleaned on my own... is for me to give his business card to my neighbors. Rhonda will be moving in next week to their house!

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Sibling love

   This past fall season we said our long slow goodbyes to our mother Shirley. She was the last cog of the family wheel that connected us siblings together. When the story of my life was written by God, I didn't imagine myself grieving the loss of my mother and the loss of my oldest sister 4 years earlier to leukemia so close together. We were siblings of a count of five, but here we were as a clan of four stinging from the loss of one sister and honoring our mother at a graveside. The loss was huge to me.  I truly wasn't prepared for the compounded grief even though I saw it coming. 

       Here I am months later and I can honestly say healing can and has washed over me in wonderful unexpected ways. OK, So, I've been thinking about my siblings quite a bit these days. I recently saw all of them at my mother's funeral on those chilly days in late October. I felt moved and I did tell them, (but I didn't think anyone was listening to the #4 little sister) that now that mom was gone we would need to become more intentional about spending time with one another and communicating better. I am the lone black sheep of the family living in God forsaken land of crazies in California. They all live in the vast and lovely (and too cold for me) Big Sky Country of Montana. The gap and travel chasm has many miles between.

    As I write I've glanced over at my calendar and I smile because my older brother Ken and his wife Paula arrive tomorrow for a visit during a trip they've planned. One week later my oldest brother Ron and wife Nancy arrive and are bringing some of my mom's belongings to me that I chose for myself after the funeral. Then 2 weeks later my youngest sister Terri and my two nieces AND great nephew come for a week! So in one month I will receive a visit from allllllll my siblings! I am so thrilled beyond what you can imagine. Even if they just came for dinner and drove off that night I would still have felt like the King of England had just stopped by for tea. 
   Now back to the part where I said I'd been thinking about my siblings. I had a memory this past week as my friend Denise taught a women's bible study and she recalled a story about sharing a bed with her sister growing up. She as the younger one wanted her sister to just "talk" to her at night. I suddenly remembered sharing a room with my older sister Cheryl and some of our "sister antics" flooded back to me.  She always got the top bunk. Think BIG sister and pecking order for the top bunk rules. So, I never got the top bunk as a little sister. Nightly I laid in the lower bunk below and would push my feet up on the springs and bounce her on her mattress. That turned into a giggle fest or she grew weary and got mad at me, or my legs got tired but most often our dad came in to scold and tell us to knock it off and go to sleep. Those memories triggered something I'd forgotten. I remember we talked a lot. Well, maybe it was me doing most of the talking back then, but I recalled the sister dialogue that took place between the bunks. Conversations that grew us up together. What stayed with me all these years is that she listened to me. I recall a sense of love and belonging because she did. It was a familiar and strong emotion then and  I felt it again as my siblings have made their plans to visit me this month.They listened to the words I communicated from my heart AND they really must love me!? How incredibly blessed am I!? 

    Each one of these brothers and sisters made a unique impression on my life. My oldest brother Ron defined his moment in my life in the early 70's when our father Gene left for several months as he checked into a rehab center for alcoholism. My father left my oldest brother Ron in charge as man of the house during his absence. Ron took it very serious. He also ran the household while our mother worked full time. I recall eating A LOT of spaghetti since that was all he really knew how to cook. Bless his heart.

 Older brother Ken is most famous for rescuing me from bully boys on the playground when I was in first grade and he was in fifth grade. My hero. I won't forget him helping lace and tie my ice skates as a little girl and then "allowing" me to play hockey for a few minutes with his buddies on the far end of Gibson pond in Great Falls, Montana. He always kind of humored me,but kept a protective eye out for me too. I knew how to duck his brotherly punches, but I wasn't quick enough to elude ice cubes down my back and constant teasing though.

    My youngest sister Terri was the family favorite as she was added into the Marks clan 7 years after me. I don't ever remember having an argument with her.I loved her so deeply. Her strawberry red hair and creamy complexion was the envy of  all. Her pretend friends (Dougen and Ricken) and playful personality was our family entertainment and still is to this day. Most of all, she always made me laugh. I thank God for her daily and wish we lived closer to one another. We plan to soak up some sister love time during her visit.   I am blessed they are all visiting me here during our soggy rainy California winter. Hopefully they won't see my tears of joy running down my face then.💗


  Brother Ken and Lorrie February 2017

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Perfect Storm

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Home, hearts and Montana!

   The month of October sure did arrive quickly at my house! I can account for every moment of the last several months since I last wrote a blog of my random (very random) thoughts. Can you? Are you making the life moments count toward something meaningful? Are you appreciating the very life breath you have?  Have you counted your blessings and then told those blessings of your love for them? I've decided my tombstone should read someday...Lorraine Estelle Bridges- She tried to live a life of no regrets. It really is my life mantra!
   I have spent most of my adult and married life living away from all of my family in Montana. California has been my home longer than the years I logged in the Big Sky country. I usually feel the pain and separation most when I am with them while visiting my home state. However lets be clear, I don't feel ANY regret during those long winter months while I enjoy the beach temperatures of Northern California.
    I recently traveled back to visit my mother Shirley who is failing slowly, but still failing quicker than we all are ready for. She's preparing herself for entrance to her new home in heaven. She told me during our last visit that she is ready to go and is at peace. Comforting words that I'm thinking about a lot these days as her body is declining and we all say the long slow goodbye to our dear mother/grandmother/great grandmother.
    I had a task of sorting through bins and boxes of photographs in between brief visits with my mom in her assisted living home. What a life passed before my eyes as I sifted through the pictorial memories. There were so many pictures of Montana landscape, animals hunted, fish caught and proudly displayed on the grass, formerly owned cars, trucks and campers, pets, family road trips and decades of family events that cataloged lives well lived. Everyone... smiling for the camera. So much joy pressed in on me while I worked on my laborious job.  I took handfuls of pictures to my mom for her to identify for me. Some people she knew and some forever forgotten. I surprised myself at how excellent I was at my sleuthing abilities to name each family member from their birth! After a week I felt like I had been on a long family adventure with my entire family! I'd spent time with beloved relatives and friends that had passed on as well. I heard their voices as I fingered through the photos. I will admit to a few tearful sessions I experienced alone as I would find a moment captured on film that brought deep emotion. Mom holding her first grandchild Erik, My dad showing my son Grant how to clean his first fish. Pictures of close family friend Shirley Hasenkrug laughing as she blew out a birthday cake. Sister Cheryl kayaking in Alaska with a twinkle in her eye. You know, now as my  mom is slipping away, sorting through those pictures seems to be a treasured gift I received during my visit.  I believed that the longer I'm away the more disconnected I would feel, but it simply isn't true. As my older brother Ken drove me half way across the state to catch a plane home(thanks again my dear brother-extra bro points for you) I felt comfortable with the familiar mountains and valleys in my surroundings. It was like putting on a old comfy pair of shoes or my favorite sweater.  I sure love to visit that place I call "home"!  I like the old saying, " Home is where your heart is." I guess my heart is there and always will be. For my birthday my sister Terri gave me a lovely necklace with the shape of the state of Montana and a heart on it. Appropriate gift for me don't you think?  So many I love are there with my heart including my sweet momma for now.  Maybe I have lots of "homes" and it isn't just in California.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

We Aren't in Kansas Anymore

Remember that post I wrote several posts back about Bucket Lists? Well if you haven't read it yet go back and read it here on this site. I'm talking about checking off a bucket list item and you should be up to speed.
 My husband John has been dreaming of a trip to Ireland, Scotland and England for quite a while now. It alllllllll started when the movie  Braveheart came out in mid 1995. We had the privilege  of sitting in the front row of the movie theater and getting to know Mel Gibson up close and personal for several bloody hours all for "Freedom!!!!!" Epic film but that was when John started all this talk about Scotland. Fast forward to 2 years ago when we decided we were really going to go there and chose to travel with as many fun friends who wanted to travel with us. So with a total of 6 fun friends married couples who were willing to take the plunge with us we took a 3 week adventure to the British Isles.
It began with a land tour of Ireland for 5 days to the Cliffs of Moher, through the Irish countryside with lambs on every hillside, exploring the delightful Irish towns and Ring of Kerry, and we fell in love with this lovely place. In Ireland you experience a new meaning to the color GREEN. I suppose living in drought ravaged California made us desire this 40 Shades of Green as sung, by Johnny Cash ( We then boarded a ship in London that took us to memorable places for a 12 day cruise. Castles, gardens, lakes and memories we will hold in our hearts forever. Much laughter and adventure with our Fun Friends Forever gang.We ended our trip in London for 4 days and were even there for the famous" Brexit "vote! We will have to return again as we simply could not do everything the city held out for us.
Some favorite memories for me:
~chatting with some 13 yrs old Irish girls at the parliament building in Belfast. They loved Justin Beiber and took selfies with me.Their fair skin tone and freckles made me realize I had found my people! (love)
~pony trap or jaunting cart ride in the park in Killarney, Ireland. An old castle was a surprise ending to the delightful ride.
~seeing how peat moss is made from huge bogs in fields and having Irish coffee at 11 am. yummmm
~purchasing my special keepsake necklace that has my name engraved in an ancient Celtic alphabet called Ogham.
~dinner and whiskey in a real Irish pub.
~the green green green countryside with stone walls and fields of lambs and cattle.
~ witnessing the locals who came out to wave the ship farewell in Cork, Ireland, and Liverpool England, and Greenock Scotland! Pipe bands, waving crowds, period costumes and big fanfare for us.
~visiting Monet's garden and spending one day in France. Also visiting the city of Rouen where Monet lived for a time and  remembering Joan of Arc who was burned at the the church ruins here.
~visiting Hillsborough Castle just two days after the royals William and Kate were there. This is the family home to Queen Elizabeth.
~ Visiting St Andrews golf course and walking on the beach there where they filmed Chariots of Fire!
~playing croquette  at Dunrobin Castle gardens.
~visiting Glamis Castle which was home to the Queen mum.
~actually singing the famous Scottish song"you take the high road and I'll take the low road" on the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond with our tour guide!
~exploring Powerscourt garden and waterfalls not far from Dublin.
~touring a Titanic museum in the last port of call for that fateful voyage in Cork, Ireland.
~eating potatoes at EVERY meal...haha
~Learning the local slang lingo. Example-fairy fingers(foxglove flowers), the necessary (potty break)
~ Having dinner with our fun friends...every ...night!!!
~Seeing the play "Wicked" on the West End in wow.
~Tea at Harrods and Selfridges with John and the Camerons & Kennedys.
~That spaghetti we had at that restaurant our last night in London, and the waitress gave me the recipe! WIN!
~having the courage to ride the London Eye!
~not kissing the Blarney Stone but loved the Castle. Apparently if you kiss someone who did then the gift of eloquence in speech passes to you too. Thanks Roger and Cathy!

I could ramble on about this fabulous vacation, but then you would hate me more then you already do so I will stop and just say this: Go follow after and begin today to implement your dreams no matter what they are! My brother has a goal and dream of visiting every state park in the state of Montana! How cool is that!? He's already crossing them off his list this summer.  I have another friend who wanted to see the Grand Canyon and I had the privilege of standing there with her last October to see it! Go and choose life.

My deep love to my traveling companions Mark & Laurie Cameron, Roger and Cathy Williams, Ed and Michele McDonald, Duane Schwega and Delene Waltrip, and Pam and Jim Kennedy. I love you all so much for helping us check this dream vacation off the bucket list. Fun Friends Forever!!!!

love and blessings,

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Coughing the life right outta me

As promised I don't write blogs very often but when I do I try to have something interesting to say that most readers will be able to relate to.You know how you see a friend in Target that you haven't seen in ages and they say, " I haven't seen you in so long! How is your family and what have you been doing?" Sometimes you have a difficult time accounting for yourself and what you have been doing with your precious time, now don't you?. Well, I can account for mine realllllllly well thank you very much.because our family has had a lot going on the past 6 months. So if I evaluate my friend correctly and surmise that they truly care to hear my short summary of the Bridges Chronicles then I give them the Readers Digest version quickly.Here's my speech: Well we took a driving trip to Montana to see our parents. One parent returns with us only to be hospitalized twice while visiting us in California.  One set of parents decided to move out of their home of 30+ years. I had major foot surgery. Parents need help moving into new retirement home. Father in law passes away suddenly. Emotional funeral and goodbyes to Dad our patriarch. Beach family vacation with children and grandchildren. Big family wedding in So Cal with 80th birthday party for mother in law. Fall holidays arrive.  Granddaughter gets potty trained. We are exhausted and take a much needed break to Hawaii. Long awaited news that our oldest daughter is pregnant with our 4th grandchild due in October! Birth of our 3rd grandchild Andrew John!  I get bronchitis and I'm not getting better with given antibiotic. Ok, I brought you up to speed. Are you still with me? This is where it gets interesting!
Cough Cough cough cough COUGH! I tell my husband that I am sore from c o u g h i n g. Then one day last week I tell him I can't move and I'm in severe pain crying. Just ice and take ibuprofen is his calm advice.  I decide that I'm not going to follow his advice and 24 hours later I'm at the Dr getting X-rays that reveal a broken rib and fluid on my lungs. If you have experienced a broken rib before than you totally understand the pain I am talking about right now...It is a 10 on the pain scale those health helpers ask you about. I'm happy to report that a new antibiotic has reduced the cough and with rest I should heal in 4-6 weeks. Tell me why is it, that to really slow down your life, God may have to insert a physical obstacle to make us busy bee types stop long enough to heal? Why can't I seem to understand that  pausing to "heal" daily would be so much easier? The "coming to a screeching halt" is so arduous.See my earlier post about my foot surgery to prove I am clearly not learning this lesson.
Here are a few things I've learned during my broken rib trauma thus far:

1.My brother Ron said to not self diagnose and get back into the Dr. Listen to your older brother.
2.If you are in pain and a friend insists on driving and helping allow her to assist you  and you thank her profusely. Do not act like you are fine with a broken rib. You are not fine. Her name is Laurie I can totally give you her number. Message me.
3. Carry around a soft fluffy pillow to cough into. Yelling after coughing is totally acceptable behavior and is encouraged at my house.
4. Laughing and sneezing hurt like crazy!!! Tell your comedic friends to postpone their visits.
5. This is your time to "rest and slow down". Embrace it.
6.If you let the dog in with wet feet and nobody is around to help you dry him off...then everyone in your home will understand your dilemma and forgive you for his cute little paw prints... everywhere...on the hardwood floor. Sorry honey.
7. I'm either a really poor inefficient cougher OR maybe i'm a reallllllly amazing big girl cougher. Jury is still out on that one since I got the broken rib result.
8. You CAN get stuck in a chair you can't get out of.
9. Be advised to accept any offers of meals, help, sweet pea flowers and sincere sympathy.
10. If you offer to bring me a meal, please don't bring barbecued ribs, braised short ribs or even a full rack of ribs...that is not funny.

Lessons learned can be good and valuable if you choose joy even in the midst of coughing. It took me a few rounds of tears but I eventually got there.

Blessings my friends
In Isaiah 43:2, God says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you" (NKJV).