Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last Flings of Summer

Cycling along the Columbia



12-08-25-14-05-56HPicnics in the park




12-08-12-14-55-24H12-08-12-15-14-49HNaps in the grass

12-08-12-16-18-05HOutdoor weddings

12-08-04-13-38-34H12-08-04-13-38-52H12-08-04-13-39-07HRiding with the top down!


and bare tootsies!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Continentals—50 Years Later

When I was a kid I never thought I would ever get old enough to use those cliché words “when I was a kid”.   I didn’t understand, back then, why people said “time flies” because when you’re a kid time pretty much crawls.   I hated when old people said “my, how you’ve grown” with a touch of surprise in their voice, because it had seemed obvious to me for a long time that I was grown up.

Now I am one of those old people caught in a mystifying time warp thinking about how life was “when I was a kid” and musing over how “time has flown” and being surprised at how fast the kids are growing up and how old people my age are looking.  I was just confronted with a rush of these sensations a week ago when the Continentals had a reunion and gave a concert.


The Continental Singers were a choir associated with Youth For Christ (YFC) back in its heyday of weekly rallies.  The Continentals were formed in Portland, Oregon in the early 1960’s with talented, wholesome and engaging teenagers who were willing to be disciplined about their music and rehearsals and wanted to be involved in ministry.  My sister Gretchen was a Continental and I grew up in the sidelines of the glamor and fun of it all.  This choir was not a blue-robed staid group; the girls wore beautiful gowns and chiffon dresses and changed outfits several times during a concert. 001009 The guys wore tuxedos and other things I don’t remember because of being slightly star-struck over the girls.  They were directed by Cam Floria who was a gifted song writer and arranger as well as a suave and commanding conductor.    They made road trips and had concert tours and everything. 

12-08-25-12-27-57HThe Continentals made a record album and used my family’s living room for their jacket cover—a large group of teens sitting around together having a sing-along (not to say hootenanny.) If you know what a hootenanny is you understand how time flies.


Anyway, a week ago I went to their reunion concert.  I walked in while they were still rehearsing and saw all these white haired grandparent types on the risers and my first thought was “they look old” (a variation on the “my how you’ve grown” phrase.)

And then they sang, strong and bold “We Are More Than Conquerors”, one of their signature songs from the ‘60’s, and I was thrust into a time warp, a teenager again going to their concerts and playing their sing-along record.  “Life Is A Symphony”, “Sing a Happy Song”, “Pass It On”, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.  Their voices still clear and sure hitting the high notes and the deep bass ones, the orchestra members doing the trumpet and flute and horn parts heightening the effect.  I cried, whether from the moment or the compressed warp speed into the past, I don’t know.  Just the power.

When I was a teenager (insert “when I was a kid”) my family took a trip to the New York World’s Fair. 010That summer the Continentals were on tour across the country.  I believe they sang at the World’s Fair and then they had a concert in Boston at a famous old church.  Well, my dad decided it would be fun to be at their Boston event, and we drove our station wagon up to Boston.  As we drove we saw up ahead a big silver tour bus.  Could it be? Could it be?  We pulled alongside the bus honking and waving and hanging out the windows and soon they spotted us and started waving and honking too.  For some reason my sister had not been allowed to go on tour with the group that summer but at least one boyfriend was aboard that bus.  I don’t recall her hanging out of the car and waving (that would be me).  She was probably dying of embarrassment at being caught with her family on a road trip instead of with the cool kids on the tour bus.


It was so stinkin’ hot in Boston  that 7 of the singers fainted on the risers that night.  But the show went on, costume changes and all.  I remember in particular them singing “Ezekiel Saw De Wheel, Way Up in De Middle of De Air” perhaps because they were acting it out and perhaps because I thought it was a strange song.  Anyway, I remember the boyfriends and the fainting and the wheel in the air.  And the heat, oh my.


Last week at the concert in Portland no one fainted but one lady had to be helped down to sit in a pew during the announcements, and another walked with a cane.  The choir didn’t give their names as I wished, but they did all say how many grandchildren they had.  A few of them were essentially unchanged except for hair color, but many were unrecognizable.   As Cam Floria said in the introduction (yes, he flew in from Hawaii to for the reunion), “They are in disguise.  They really aren’t old; they are teenagers in disguise.”  I know just what he meant. 

Cam also shared the growth of the Continentals from its inception and growth in Portland to its move to California and multiple traveling choirs  there.  To me these were never the real Continentals, not like the ones in Portland who started it all.  But through the years in countries all over the world 65,ooo young people have been part of a Continentals group.12-08-25-12-29-04H

One of the songs I particularly enjoyed at the reunion was an instrumental arrangement of  “Beyond the Sunset” done in swing time.  And why not? I thought to myself after the initial shock.  Usually we hear this old (almost forgotten) hymn at funerals but here it was a dance tune.  A vision from the movie The Awakening came to my mind: Old people having been comatose for years and years gradually coming to life again and starting to dance  with fellow patients all in their hospital gowns.  The dance, the joy of newfound life…  How appropriate, I thought, that “Beyond the Sunset” should be a dance.  A jivey dance.  A joyful dance.  The best dance ever!

I enjoy my memories of the past and the future holds no worries for me.  And in the present I  slide back and forth between time zones feeling young and feeling old in turns and sometimes thinking the child I hold is my child and not my grandchild.  My, how time flies.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Camping at the Coast





I brought books to read that I didn’t open12-07-22-10-59-14H

Magazines to catch up on that I didn’t flip through

Journal to write in whose pages remain blank

Sketch books for sketches that I didn’t do

Suntan lotion I didn’t need


CD’s I didn’t listen to

Wine I didn’t open

Food I didn’t cook


But I did see dory boats going in and out at the cape


And I talked to a kayaking ocean fisherman



I saw a nesting peregrine falcon


and pigeon guillemots paddling red feet in the ocean


I viewed the coastline from a hang glider’s overlook



Watched children, parents and grandparents playing at Oceanside



I bought baskets of cherries, berries & beans at a farmers market


And ate an ice cream cone at the Tillamook Cheese Factory


I heard children shrieking with summer joy in the river


And saw fields of blooming purple and blue hydrangeas


I saw black and white Holstein  cows looking at me


I saw the flash of lightning

And went to sleep under the roll of thunder


I heard the crackle and snap of our campfire 12-07-21-22-04-43R12-07-21-22-31-02H

And smelled wood smoke hovering over the campground12-07-21-07-02-39H


I heard the daytime scoldings of parents

And nighttime murmurings of voices around the campfires

I walked in the sand




I napped in the sun

and I woke  refreshed

I was very busy and came home

Fully rested.