Past and present meet at the strangest places

By Bruce Stambaugh

The past and present sometimes intersect in the strangest places.

I had lazily let scores of previously read email messages in my inbox pile up for much too long. Never mind how many there were. Let’s just say it was the equivalent of a very messy desk.

rainy day, Shenandoah Valley
Rainy day.
While waiting for the chilly rain to quit in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, I took action to remedy the situation born of my procrastination. I spent several hours over parts of two days, but I finally cleared all the old emails away.

What took so long? Well, I had to read some of them of course.

The variety of clutter I discovered I had left shocked me. Messages from sales people, church folks, friends, family, businesses, and people I didn’t even remember tickled my brain cells.

I deleted most of the emails. A few were rather important, and I was surprised that I had just left them hanging there like those infamous Florida chads. Rereading several of the messages reawakened good and bad emotions long.

newborn baby
At the hospital.
When I reached the ones from early October 2009, I was pleasantly transported back in time. Long forgotten electronic correspondence between family members and myself got my old heart racing.

The birth of our granddaughter, Maren, was the main topic. How timely I thought. We were in the midst of preparing for her sixth birthday party. Reading those notes from friends and family brought back fond memories.

I found updates from my wife about how our daughter felt as she approached delivery, and what Nana was doing to entertain the grandsons in Texas, where they lived then. I was still in Ohio.

Now our daughter and her family live in this sprawling valley cradled between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Alleghenies to the west. They have settled in nicely. Texas is but a memory, much like my uncovering the orphaned emails.

Occasionally it’s good to look back, to remember, to recollect the past, to resurrect old feelings of joy. The birth of a baby is always a celebration, especially if it’s your granddaughter.

I was glad Nana was there to help with the grandsons, Evan and Davis. They were only five and three at the time. They needed her.

newborn baby
One week old.
I arrived a few days later to hold my newborn granddaughter. Maren was as beautiful as her name, a derivative of Marian, which was my mother’s name.

As I revisited those old emails, Maren’s birth seemed like yesterday. Here we were celebrating her sixth birthday. Where in the world had the time gone?

One day she is swaddled in diapers surrounded by stuffed animals and curious brothers. Today she is an active, self-assured kindergartner learning to speak Spanish.

I chuckle at her impressive English vocabulary alone. Maren rattles off words like “actually,” “random,” “responsibility,” and “unrecognizable” in the proper contexts. The days of cooing are long over.

Next thing you know, she’ll be going out on her first date. But let’s not rush it.

Nana and I enjoyed Maren’s little birthday party. She just reminds us of her mother when she was six, only Maren persists with all things pink.

For now, Nana and I enjoy watching our three grandchildren grow, mature, fight, play ball, do gymnastics, and interact with their peers, parents and friends.

I’ll cherish these moments as best I can. Keeping a clean inbox is a good way to start.

birthday presents
Ready for presents.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2015

Better late than not at all: Humbly accepting the Versatile Blogger Award

By Bruce Stambaugh

Last March, I was honored to receive an award I really didn’t know what to do with. I had only been blogging for three months, and I wasn’t sure if this was legitimate or the blogger’s version of a chain letter.

Versatile Blogger AwardAaron Graham was nice enough to bestow the Versatile Blogger Award on me after he read my Questions post. And for my more cynical readers, I have never met nor do I know Aaron. He adequately described the award and why I received it, along with a few others. In accepting this coveted award, all I had to do was write a post thanking Aaron. I also had to proclaim seven little known facts about myself, which would have been a piece of cake since I am so little known to start with. And I had to hand out the same award to up to 15 other bloggers. In my naiveté, I wasn’t sure I knew 15 other bloggers. Sure, I had more people than that visit my blog, and several posted comments. I could have easily gone back through those comments, clicked on their blog and christened the 15 I felt most deserving as fellow Versatile Bloggers. But I didn’t.

You see one of my many faults, and my kind wife will attest that it is only one, is that I procrastinate. I wrote about that, too, once. But that was long before I starting blogging. Still, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and here we are in 2012 and I still haven’t passed on the award the way I should have. Until now.

What spurred me on? One of my blogging friends, Mikalee Byerman, was awarded the Versatile Blogger award after her hysterical Jesus is my Trash man post. When I saw that, I knew the award was valuable and for real. In fact, Mikalee was on my short list of bloggers to nominate.

So thanks to Aaron, who by now has probably forgotten me, and to the nice lady from Bellingham, Washington who crowned Mikalee, I am finally accepting this award, revealing seven startling insignificant facts about my life and naming 15 very deserving bloggers for the same award.

And the nominations are:

Bob Zeller for his persistent and informative posts about his two great loves, besides his wife, photography and birds. His shots are amazing.

Patricia Koelle, who shares some exquisite shots from her home in Germany.

Scott sees the extraordinary in the ordinary, and has the wherewithal to share it. http://littlecrumcreek.wordpress.com/.

Subhakar Das, who knows both books and photographs with equal expertise at http://ficfaq.wordpress.com/.

Heather who shares a love of animals and words, not only with me, but also with her long list of devoted readers. http://becomingcliche.wordpress.com/.

Lucy Gardener loves food, photographs and life. She incorporates all three very nicely on her blog. http://lhgardener1988.wordpress.com/

I think you’ll find Carrie Craig a most appreciative person.

Judy at Northern Narratives beautifully chronicles the days through her lens.

Though focusing on poetry, the subjects and style of Kvenna Rad’s poems are indeed versatile and deserving of this award. http://kvennarad.wordpress.com/

A military spouse from Texas has an important and timely message to follow on http://sottmp.com/.

Grace encourages people to decorate their life at http://www.herumbrella.com/.

Tinkerbelle loves laughter, and shares her youthful sense of humor from her London base. http://laughteriscatching.com/.

Fiona takes an upbeat look at life from China. http://fionaqiqi.wordpress.com/.

Anyone that takes a picture a day, plus loves words and dogs gets my vote. http://livingtheseasons.com/.

And last but not least, any 16-year old who titles his blog, Learning to be Wrong, has to be right. Way to go, Justin. http://learningtobewrong.wordpress.com/.

As for my seven personal revelations, they’re not nearly as revealing or as exciting as the bloggers I’ve listed. But to fulfill the award’s requirement, here there are:

1. I can’t swim.
2. I’m afraid of the water.
3. I almost drowned when I was two.
4. I only take showers (See a pattern developing?)
5. I have never water-skied.
6. I used to have long, blond, curly hair until the seventh grade.
7. I attended the Cleveland Browns’ last World Championship (now hyper-marketed as the Super Bowl) victory, a 27-0 trouncing of the highly favored Baltimore Colts in 1964. Of course since then the Colts moved to Indianapolis, and the Browns moved to Baltimore, thanks to Art Model. The good folks of Cleveland sued to get their name back and won. Unfortunately, the Ravens, really the exiled Browns, went on to win a Super Bowl so Model could be buried in his camel’s hair overcoat and a championship ring on his finger. Or was he already? I can’t remember. I haven’t followed pro football since Model moved the team. I’d rather go swimming.

Well, folks, that’s the best I can do. My procrastination has finally been overcome by guilt, and the Versatile Blogger Awards have been duly handed out. Bring on the Oscars.