Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blast from the Past

At dinner with friends last night, I mentioned a recent surreal experience of attending my first Stake Dance in about 100 years. My friend responded, "now that's the kind of thing you need to be blogging about." So, here it is...

After several years of working with adults and then small children at church, I was recently given the opportunity of working with the youth again (12 - 18 years old). To any one who has enjoyed this role, you understand the unique combination of energy, faith, drama and hormones that these young people bring into your life.
One of my areas of responsibility is the Stake Dance. I'm not sure how far back into our church's history Stake Dances run, but I'm pretty sure that they have been going on forever. And in many ways, it feels like it's the same dance that has been going on since about 1954.
Don't get me wrong, there are some dramatic changes over the years. First and foremost, the dress. When I attended, it was dresses and panty hose for the young ladies and shirts and ties for the young men (it was hugely contraversial if a young woman tried to remove her shoes... bad form!). A typical dance these days is all about jeans, tee-shirts, and even sweat pants (yes, on the girls). There is also far less hair spray destroying the environment these days. The music of course has changed as well, although there were several songs that date back to the 80's that still get air time. One other change is that with the exception of "slow songs" (this term must be said with a perfect blend of expectation and breathlessness) no one appears to ask any one else to dance (to an old woman like myself, it appears to be an ancient tribal ritual where the males are hopping in one circle and the females in another.... bizarre).
But Stake Dances are a testament to the aphorism that "the more things change, the more they stay the same". When I walked through the doors as a chaperon, all of the sudden I was 15 years old again and felt that long forgotten yet forever familiar feeling of anticipation blended with fear. Good stuff! I found myself for a split second looking for Greg Hill (who I haven't seen in 30 years) so that we could stand by the door and talk about his Mustang. It was as though, in the Cultural Hall of every chapel a time warp occurs so that...
  • The boys still look perpetually younger and more awkward than the girls, but somehow the girls still haven't noticed this fact.
  • There are still those same three young women singing at the top of their lungs, squealing at 30 second intervals, and chronically checking around to ensure that they are seen. (I know... I'm pretty sure I was one of them in 1979.)
  • Those poor souls who still haven't figured out that "no one" shows up before 9 pm still wait patiently for the cool ones to arrive, after making the horrible faux pas of arriving on time.
  • Slow dances are still performed in a manner that hasn't been seen at a school dance since Eisenhower was president.
  • At Stake Dances, Line Dancing has never gone away... and I'm still lost and annoyed every time they play one.
  • There are still "It" Songs that draw every kid onto the dance floor like lemmings. Ironically, 30 years later, it's still Journey that does it. (thanks Glee) When "Don't Stop Believin" comes on a gasp is heard through the crowd, and everyone flocks to the center, no one dances, but every kid knows every word and they belt out the song so loudly you can't even hear Steve Perry (thanks Glee).

Although these dances look kind of like a first year course at Arthur Murray's School of Dance and could certainly be described as quaint or less charitably as woefully out of touch, it's delightful to watch youth actually interact so wholesomely in a very unwholesome world.

Seeing these youth moving past all the fears and the obstacles they face and find a way to communicate and connect brought my a little more life to my step and hope for the future. If you want a lift, offer to chaperon a dance (shameless plug for volunteers!), and see that the best things in life haven't changed... Except, sadly, they no longer play Stairway to Heaven for the last dance....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's About Time....

The Bi-Annual "I Survived another Stinking Reunion" Shot
This post is woefully late. But thanks to Bethany and Company for creating another enviornment for great memories. Loved the location (autumn in the Wasatch?? Perfection!), loved the food (honestly don't think I'll ever be able to eat another homemade Kit Kat bar), and adored the company.
Am so grateful to have a family that I love to be around.
Here's to 2012! Family: It's About Time.
The Children were calm and peaceful...
I love this angel boy!!!

One of the sexier Reunion Photos

Madonna and child.... very annoyed child.

The kind of sympathy you receive when you've cut the tip of your finger off.

The Sibs at Stewart Falls

Our stunning progeny

Hank "the Hair" Johnson

Sweet Boys

Briney loves Auntie Gail....

The Beautiful Eliot at her Inaugural Reunion
(w/ doting Grandpa)

Time for a walk

Hot Car... Hotter Women

Another interminable gab fest

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Countdown is On

The countdown is officially on...
After all, two years is a long time. And I've felt every moment of it. I think that mothers bear the brunt of the pain: The waiting, the loneliness, the long days and empty nights of waiting. Sometimes it felt that the time would never pass. Because it has been a long two years since that painful goodbye.

Yes, it has been nearly 730 days... since... since we've had a Beagley Family Reunion!

We are switching it up this year and headed to Mecca... aka Provo, Utah. We'll be staying at Aspen Grove in Provo Canyon. It is truly beautiful. I think everyone is going to love it. Please see the pics below. Thanks to Bethany and "The Committee", it promises to be "epic". So, don't walk, but run (or better yet fly) to be there the first weekend of October...

(I'm also pretty stinkin' happy that my baby boy comes home from his 2-yr mission in 11 days, but that is a post for a different day.)

one of the houses... a step up from the barracks at Ft Worden, perhaps?
barbecue pits and playground

a western village...

I have nothing to say to this
just horsin' around
tennis courts. there is also horsehoes, a zipline, the works!

and yes, the pool. I think Grandpa will enjoy basking by the pool in his speedo.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Homage to B-Town

The "Old Bridge"

A while back, I devoted a post to the town we've spent the past twenty or so years, which I really do love. But some Facebook friends recently reminded me of the joys of growing up in Bremerton: Another Northwest town with its own flavor. It's only an hour and a half away from Kirkland, but in a lot of ways, it's another world.

In no particular order, a few things I love about my hometown:

Memorial Park. When I was a kid we'd walk 5 miles and across the Narrows Bridge (aka the "New Bridge") in the heat to get to the only outdoor pool in the city. It was an exotic experience: kids from the "West Side" were there. Kids who wore keys around their necks and swore in public. Intimidating but cool, nonetheless. It was a read education. I was so mesmerized by the drama of the event, that it wasn't until 30 years later that I realized that park also happens to have one of the most beautiful views anywhere.

"The Woods" and "The Orchard". Okay, the neighborhood woods behind our back alley actually consisted of enough space for two tract homes and the orchard were three beaten up apple trees in the corner of an otherwise empty field (that was perfect for pick up baseball games). But as a young child this was "free space" and seemed endless. We'd wander in the woods, climb in the apple trees and eat the not-yet ripened fruit that was so sour, my mouth still smacks remember it. Mom always warned me that I'd get a stomach ache, but I think her cooking prepared me for the stuff, because I never suffered any ill effects. If memory serves, my first kiss was between two of those apple trees in the orchard. Let me just say that Rickey Gischer was one lucky 5th grader.

The Pill Box. Just about every afternoon of our young lives, Pat and I would bike or walk down Barnett Street with a few quarters (or occasionally recylcable bottles to turn in if we were short on cash and feeling entrepreneurial). My first (and I believe last) petty larceny occured here. I was only human. What 9-year old could resist the adjustable ring that came free with purchase of a lipstick.... and I couldn't afford the lipstick! Ironically, a few years later, I landed my first part-time job here. I knew I had arrived when I got to pedal the candy, lipstick and cards that I had once gazed upon so lustfully.

Illahee Park. "Freedom" was riding our bikes down three miles of hill to the beach at the park. Sadly, "bondage" was pushing that same bike back up the three miles home. But still on a long summer afternoon, we could never resist the temptation... I was actually hit by a car riding back home from the Park one time. Lied to my folks and told them I'd fallen off my bike. Didn't want them to be mad at me... (What kind of lying, thieving kid was I??)

The Minoza's House. I could devote a month of posts to my next-door neighbors. They were the anti-Beagley's. They were cool, Catholic (I desperately wanted to go to CCD), and best of all... their mom worked the 3 - 11 shift. This meant that the five Minoza kids... and one Beagley tag-along, had free reign. I learned to play cards, pool and horse at the Minoza's. I watched my first Nightmare Theatre (stayed up after Love American Style) and conducted my first (and last! Terrifying.) seance at the Minoza's. The best thing about the Minoza's were their names. My parents were sensible. Each child was named a one-syllabled, four-letter name that couldn't be shortened. Not so, for the Minoza's. Their kids went by the names Noodle, Pig, Tate, Wick, and Mooer. I mean, who wouldn't want to be a part of this??

The Manette Bridge (aka the "Old Bridge") When I was in the fourth-grade, I was thrilled to go to the Summer Movies on Friday mornings. I would get a ride to Manette and then cross the bridge on foot (because who would pay a dime to drive across the bridge, when you could park your car and walk an easy mile instead?). Walking across that high bridge gave me the most strange combination of exhilaration and fear. I still have dreams about that bridge and now when I go home, I realize what a beautiful, picturesque the scene is of that old bridge spanning the Puget Sound.

View Ridge Elementary. The very coolest kids attended here and the school had the cutting edge teaching methods... Things like Honor Passes (thanks for reminding me Aaron) and Open Concept Schooling (It was a very big deal finding out at the beginning of the year what "side" you were on. As I recall "North Side" was the coolest.... Mr. Lougheed taught me about the Base-10 number system and Ms. Bellmaier had us put together a school newspaper. The cool kids wrote their articles about chewing gum in class. I did an editorial supporting Capital Punishment. (can you say "loser"?)

The "Yard". As a kid, it seemed like just about everybody's Dad (except mine, of course. I could never get a break.) worked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. But it was just referred to as "The Yard". It was highly mysterious as thousands of men with black lunchpails entered "the yard" at 7:20 am and came back out at 4:02. I could never figure out what they did there or what any of it meant but I was deeply impressed.

I'm happy to be a Bremertonian. It was a proud navy town and it was free of pretensions. There were no organized after school activities and a play date consisted of your mom yelling at you to be home before dinner. And dinner was served every night at the stroke of 5 pm.

I know that the years have given my memories a sweet glow, but it really was a simple, free, and cozy life.

I think I am a product of my environment... and happily so.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It was announced earlier this month that my company will be closing its doors on June 30.  As the one who has keeps financials on the firm, it didn't come as a surprise.  But guess what? Even expected events have the power to shock.

It's a small firm (19 of us at our peak) with very little employee turnover.  I was one of the first employees, hired 11 1/2 years ago.  So, yes, we all know each other... probably too well.  These people stopped feeling like coworkers and began to feel more like family by about 2004.  I know their quirks, they know mine.  I trust these people.

I've come to terms with the loss in net worth from my company stock and the loss of cash flow as it may take some time to find a new job.  Those thoughts aren't fun, but they aren't devastating. The part I haven't begun to deal with is not seeing these people every day.  At my new place of employment, will anyone really care about the mice that Brian found in his apartment or that my brother in law has a new girlfriend?  What will I do when I don't know if Alex's son slept through the night or without my almost daily update on how Ashley's husband is doing with his Masters program?   And what about Allison's dating scene?  How will I go one not knowing how last night's date went and how will she make it through without my ever so wise counsel?

Now, this isn't my first gig.  I've worked at other firms and I've been fortunate to have made some life-long friends at other companies (EF Hutton in the 80's and US Bancorp in the 90's).   I'm smart enough to know that new doors will be opening and I'll work with wonderful people again.  I'll have the opportunity to gain new skills and new friends.  But they won't be these friends.  These people whose lives have intertwined with mine for over a decade. 

It will take months to begin to build relationships and then years to develop that psychic shorthand which comes only from working side by side day, covering for each other, relying on one another and laughing away troubles and concerns.  Eleven years of running jokes are not easily replaced.

Yes, come July I'll be looking ahead with some anticipation and excitement of new adventures and challenges.  But for now, I'm savoring every day with this disfunctional family I've come to trust and love.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reaching Out

Jolene and Brian's "engagement portrait", 2006

This last weekend we attended an evening celebrating the life of my niece, Jolene Armstrong.  It was a beautiful dinner and auction raising money to fight Cystic Fibrosis.  The evening  was wonderful from every stand point:  we saw lots of friends and family, we had a wonderful meal in a beautiful setting, we laughed and cried as we remembered Jolene's strength and audacity, we had a blast bidding on awesome items and events (and yes, we did win the bowling party for 16!!!)... and of course, a lot of money was raised to fight the disease that took Jolene's life.

And it all was made possible because one person decided to do something and then followed through... 100%.  This is the second evening like this that our friend, Erin Christensen arranged. It's true, that Erin had a lot of help from so many.  But without her hard work and vision nothing would have happened.  It was Erin who found people to volunteer time, food, flowers, talents and so much more.  It was Erin who somehow managed to create an incredible evening where absolutely every dollar donated went to fight the disease.   Not a penny went to the food, the facility, the entertainment or the venue.  I don't know how she did it.  But Erin made it happen.

Erin Christensen did not lose a sister or a daughter or a niece to CF.  But seeing her friend go through a terrible loss, she decided she would do something... and then, she did.  She didn't hold back, she didn't let a very full life with toddler twin boys or the many demands she has on her time stop her.  She didn't let an bad economy or a hundred other worries she must have had hold her back.  And I am grateful for her focus, her good nature, her kindness and her tenacity.  

People like Erin make me want to do more.  To work hard for a good cause without counting the cost.  To reach out with energy and joy.  To make a difference.   

Erin did much more than raise money to battle a disease.  This in itself would have been incredibly noble.  But in addition, she lifted hearts, strengthened hope and brought people together.  Erin reminded each of us that we too can make a difference.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Thank My Sisters

Anne and Gail at the East/West Alumni Game (best night ever!)

[After writing the last post blaming my sisters, I stumbled on this post that I had begun back in December and somehow never finished. Oops! If I'm going to blame them for my problems, I should also give them just a small dose of the thanks they deserve.]
Just had a wonderful couple of days with Anne and Gail. It's caused me to reflect on the relationship that only exists between sisters. I'm not sure how I could have treasured so many memories with them and still managed to take them for granted, but somehow that is the nature of family where unconditional love is a given..

My mom always said that you could let your hair down around family... you could be tired and cranky... and they would love you, warts and all. And my sister do. They know me. I mean REALLY know me. They know that I can be loud, selfish, overbearing, that I can consume more chocolate than any human being should... and they still manage to make me feel adored. They even seem surprised if occasionally someone else doesn't adore me.

We share a history: of a converted duplex with a long tiled floor hallway, of Bremerton II ward, a velvet crumb cake and the bread drawer, of a "dance" made up to the Nutcracker Suite... and a thousand other references that only they would recognize. In a single conversation we can be reverent and irreverent, choke back a tear or two and laugh until... well, they know. We've cried through weddings and laughed at death. And yes, we share a twisted, sometimes dark sense of humor.

Because they are closer in age, they share even more of a history with each other: Of Mr. Vehrs, Mrs. Simcik (which they will know that I've spelled her name wrong), of ground beef getting kicked home from the grocery store (I believe you even if your daughters don't) and Young Adult Volleyball games. I know these stories, because I heard them 30+ years ago. I treasured them then and I do now. I listened carefully to those stories, because I wanted to be with them, I wanted to be like them.

I am now the tallest, but I have never ceased to look up to my sisters. And they have always deserved it.

I have been blessed in my life to have a pretty sure foundation. And my sisters are a huge part of that. They loaned me their faith, their shoes, their strength, and even a prized opal necklace for my 6th grade school picture. More than anything maybe, they "get me". I don't have to explain my jokes, or ever say those horrible words, "just kidding". I have called them in the middle of the night to share my joy, or from a telephone booth to share my sorrow. And they always picked up the phone. And always, they lift me up as well. They are my oldest friends and I refuse to think about a world without them in it. They have brought more to my life than I can begin to realize.

I thank my sisters.