The Portugal Years: Before, During and After

George MacDonald, a Scottish preacher and author, had a gentle character who had a mental disability. He went around saying over and over again saying, “I didna ken whaur I come  from.” This week you will see some moments in my life before, during and after Portugal.

last vacation
Fenwick Island, Delaware

My dad’s boss had a house on Fenwick Island, DE. He let my dad rent it at a reduced amount and we spent some lovely summer days walking the beach. We were near Ocean City, Maryland, which had a boardwalk. The last summer before my older brother joined the Army we spent two weeks. We all kind of knew that it was the last family vacation.

Fifties Party, Denver, CO
Fifties Party, Denver, CO

In November of 1975, I got a job at a small Christian publishing house (now defunct) in Denver. I boarded in a woman’s home with another young woman who also worked at the publishing house. Judy invited me to go to her the young adult Fifties Party at her church. It sounded like fun, so I dug into my wardrobe. I got engaged to a man I met in a college class – Modern Fantasy Literature – but he was ready to get married, and I knew I wasn’t.

wccs wedding
June 30, 1979  Aren’t they the sweetest kids you ever saw?

At the end of a year, being thoroughly fed up with working in a cubical, I accepted a position at West Chester Christian School as the fourth grade teacher. How I loved doing that and loved my students. Most of the time, at any rate. Harry and I had dated when I was in high school, and broke up over some silly thing. He came back for another round, invited me to visit him in Portugal and before I returned to the states, he had put an engagement ring on my finger.

Harry at work
Look at him! Who could resist a face like that?

We the following summer, and I went back to Portugal with Harry and the idea that we were going to stay there until we died. With a few visits to family and friends in the states, of course.

Me with Elisabeth at 4 days old.
Me with Elisabeth at 4 days old.
Bethy's bath time.
Grandmom taking charge of bath time.

We were so excited about having our little girl followed by another little girl and finishing up with a little boy. We were content. Our children were thriving in Portugal. We never imagined our Paradise would end. But it did. In the spring of 1999, we left part of our hearts in Portugal and ended up in Lancaster County, PA. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t home. Not for us.

Valentines Day Homeschool Craft
Valentines Day Homeschool Craft
Forever friends
Forever friends
Sarah-Sarah at Christian Character Club on Wednesday night
Sarah-Sarah at Christian Character Club on Wednesday night
Valentine's Day Sweetheart Banquet; Harry acting out Casey at the Bat while I narrated it.
Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Banquet; Harry acting out Casey at the Bat while I narrated it.



My daughters participating in the Greek Tragedy, Electra.
My daughters participating in a Greek Tragedy, Electra with our homeschool group.

We had friends, and Harry had a job, but those were painful years trying to re-enter the American culture when we felt mostly Portuguese.

Other Grandma and us on our front step in West Willow, PA
Other Grandma, a friend and us on our front step in West Willow, PA – my favorite house ever.

Eventually, we moved to Florida. But it’s not Portugal.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?

Losing Your Heart

The Curious Introvert-Book Reviews and Other Fun Things

Wu2 Hannibal Oliver Wu Price born June 20, 1999 – March 17, 2014. Beloved faithful  friend, valiant warrior. He woke me just before dawn today to tell me he loves me and goodbye.

You can read his story here. I am going to take some time off to think of him and to grieve with the other four-legged and two-legged family members.

View original post

Another Blog Award: The Sunshine Award from Dancing Rider


DR actually awarded this to me in December, but with all of the hustle and bustle of that time of year it got lost in the shuffle. Thank you, Dancing Writer, for your kindness and thoughtfulness.

Dancing Rider blogs here: about two of her passions: horses and ballet. If you haven’t checked out her blog, mosey on over there and she what she’s been up to!

The Portugal Years: Year Three – Bethy’s First Christmas and Other Stories

Bethy's First Christmas (4 months old)
Bethy’s First Christmas (4 months old)

Our Portugal Christmases were always fairly simple and small present-wise. We never felt hard done-by though. ”Things” come and go. Bethy’s giggles at that age made us smile. We had enough.

We lived off of the economy in Portugal (meaning that with few exceptions and as much as possible we lived as the Portuguese lived). Occasionally someone sent some things from the states. I was yearning to have a red velveteen dress for Bethy for Christmas. Right before Christmas one arrived from a dear friend in the states.

She is bundled up almost to the point of being unable to move in the photo. It was cold. Homes did not have central heating, and there were always a few months when it would have come in handy. The houses also had no insulation. We layered clothes on and off as needed. It was the Portuguese way!
Somewhere in the crazy year after Bethy was born, our landlady demanded a raise in rent. We tried to negotiate with her for less than she asked. She was one of the Portuguese who saw dollar signs when dealing with Americans. We probably did have more than most of them. Extortion, however, was not the way to our hearts.

We left Queijas and set up housekeeping in the Municipality of Loures. The grocery and bakery were handy to our new home. Our apartment was on the first floor up just one flight of stairs and we were permitted to use the ground floor garage for storage purposes. Our landlords were kind and lived in the second floor apartment. They had a six-year-old daughter who liked to talk to us. Next door a small family cared for the wife’s aunt. An ancient cathedral brooded at the other end of the street, and across the street was the best perk of the move: a beautiful park within walking distance.

Around that same time we learned that Harry’s youngest sister was getting married in June. And that meant an early furlough in the states. I was not enthusiastic. For me, it wasn’t “home” anymore. I loved where we lived and loved the people among whom we lived.

Early in May, I got a phone call from my mom. My grandfather had suffered a heart attack, and passed away. This is the grandfather who gave us a home during many of my growing up years. He bought me bicycles and built a sandbox for me. He could cook up a heavenly mess of fresh green beans and bacon, and his ‘mater sandwiches fashioned with mayonnaise and freshly picked tomatoes from the garden were summer’s delight. Unfortunately, he also had a bad habit of being very inappropriate with ladies old and young. The older ladies could duck and blow off the attention which he felt entitled to dole out. My sister and I, however, were unable to defend ourselves.

All of the conflicting emotions drove me to pick up my daughter and a blanket and go sit in the park with the other nursing mothers. At least, I thought at the end of the day, my daughter was safe from his unwanted attention. In two weeks, we would be on a jet heading west.

A Blogging Award from Rachel Carrera, Novelist: The Field of Flowers Award

Being nominated for a blogging award always takes me unexpectedly. It usually takes me awhile to  get my act together. The Field of Flowers Award means a lot to me, especially the kind words that Rachel said about my blog. Thank you so very much. Not only have you honored me with this award, but with it I have discovered your delightful blog. So without further ado, here it comes!


▪Thank the blogger who nominated you – have gladly done so!
▪Place the award on your own blog – done!
▪Nominate 7 other bloggers and write a little something about why you would give these bloggers “A Field of Flowers”.

In no particular order:

  1. The Professor blogs here in The Punchy Land. Some of you are wondering what sort of blog that is. The Professor is a genial chap and fun to read. One of the outstanding things that he has done is to make his blog a truly interactive community in a very “punchy” manner. Now that you are all confused, you will know how our growing community feels on a daily basis. The best thing for you to do is visit for awhile. Warning: if you stay too long, you may become addicted to the hilarity that we all enjoy.

  2. As a reader, I will admit that I follow a few book review bloggers for the sake of a higher TBRlist. FictionFan’s Book Reviews  cover across the fiction genre and includes classic stories and new authors. Her reviews are fun and informative. Her take on horror is refreshing. She’s good. If you like to read, swing by her blog and check her out.

  3.  Petals Unfolding | Whispers of Silence features some of the most beautiful photographs of nature that I have ever seen. If that were not enough, she adds  thoughtful words with each of her photographs. Following her blog is knowing that when I need some quiet and encouragement, it is there. Take a look at her outstanding photos, and rest on them.

  4. This man, Opinionated Man, is a prolific blogger. He will make you think about things you never imagined thinking of. He is, as his title suggests, quite opinionated – but he’s upfront about it. He has opinions about nearly everything. Unlike others, as long as his readers respect him and others, he encourages others to share their opinions as well. If he disagrees, he does it in an agreeable manner. Adult content warning

  5. Heather Kopp blogs over on Sober Boots where she shares her journey along the the road of being a recovering alcoholic and other topics. She is frank about her mistakes and has a tender heart for people who struggling with many kinds of bumps along life’s road. Something she said last week on her blog rang a bell for me. She said that caring for someone’s dog while they are away is also a spiritual practice. Check her out.

  6. The LadyCheetah blogs on Life in the Concrete Jungle. She offers her perspective, observations and opinions in short, pithy but humorous segments. Her posts help make my day a smiling one. It will only take a minute to go over there and see what’s going on.

  7. Do you have food allergies? Bethy at The Girl Who Couldn’t Eat Anything blogs about finding things to eat when you can’t eat…well almost anything. She also journals about the vagaries of high energy  four-year-old daughter she calls, The Princess, and who hasn’t yet come to the end of her explorations. I will admit to a strong bias for this blogger since she is my eldest daughter. But if you or you know someone you know that struggle with food allergies, take a look at some of her very yummy recipes.

▪Let your nominees know that you nominated them.

Will attend to this momentarily.

The Portugal Years – On the Collecting of Cats

You know how a few small things can create a landslide? That’s how my cat collection began. I had no idea of collecting cats. It never ever crossed my mind. My dad had given me a Garfield pencil eraser. Later it was a pewter kitty playing with yarn. But let’s face it: two decorative cats do not a collection make. Oh, and if I had ever collected cats, I gave it up at least a decade ago.

The little fellows should be displayed with dignity, and in order for that to happen, I’d have to take up dusting. So, no more cats unless they actually use a litter box. I enjoyed and appreciated every little knick-knack from each loving person who gave them to me, but enough is enough. And just as a warning to my children, I’m putting your names on every one of them and you will have to deal with them after I am gone. 😆 Anyway, here they are: the cats of the world.

Garfield – feeling his age, I’m afraid, but still here.
This is the pewter yarn kitty. She stole my heart from the start because I liked to hold her in my hand. I still do.
This is the pewter yarn kitty. She stole my heart from the start because I liked to hold her in my hand. I still do.
One of my fourth graders gave this to me back in probably 1977-78 school year.
One of my fourth graders gave this to me back in probably 1977-78 school year.
My friend, Cindi, gave this to me after we got our Samantha cat. I think it was a birthday present. She gave me a whole family of cats.
My friend, Cindi, gave this to me after we got our Samantha cat. I think it was a birthday present. She gave me a whole family of cats.
Having a set of siamese, they seemed to attract more.
Having a set of siamese, they seemed to attract more.
And more...
And more…
Portuguese cats...
Portuguese cats…
...Spanish cats...
…Spanish cats…
...German cats
…German cats
Novelty cats
Novelty cats
Useful cats
Useful cats
A gift from my daughter's godmother when we left Porttugal
A gift from my daughter’s godmother when we left Portugal
Cats from friends.
Cats from friends.
So many cats, so many happy memories that came with them...
So many cats, so many happy memories that came with them…
Cats of all kinds.
Cats of all kinds.

I love cats

Do you have any collections (intentional or otherwise)?