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Gabriel and Jon choosing flies etc.

I’ve learned that Quality Time doesn’t have to be intricately planned out and choreographed. It doesn’t even need to involve a lot of interacting.

Quality Time, to me, is just time spent with someone you care about. You don’t need to be working on the same project or actively communicating even, just knowing each other is there is a great start. Of course, if you are working on the same project and you are interacting, that’s great too! It’s just not always practical and I’ve learned that sometimes, by holding out for the ‘ideal’ Quality Time situation, it’s easy to miss out on some great Quality Time opportunities with someone special. And it’s too important to miss! This is how I’ve spent some Quality Time with people I care about.

One summer when I was visiting my grandparents as a youngster, my grandfather notified me he’d been waiting for my arrival to work on a project he’d been trying to get to for years, cleaning out the huge barn behind the house. I’d always been a bit intimidated of my grandfather. He had a rather stern Yankee countenance, didn’t say much and a when he did, it was usually a dry humored sort of comment that I did not fully appreciate at that time. The thought of spending several days working in a dusty old barn with him filled me more with dread than anticipation. Well, being terminally curious about everything, we hadn’t been moving things around for long before I started asking questions about what all the unusual items we were moving around were. Each time I asked something, Grampa seemed to give me a more involved answer. He suddenly appeared to enjoy sharing his knowledge, and finally some associated memories with me about the antique carriages, wagons, tools and other equipment in there. Before long he was volunteering information. After that experience, we had an entirely different relationship based, I think, on mutual respect. Always, thereafter, I continued to ask him about old-time things and he continued to volunteer information to me about things he thought I’d be interested in. Quality Time

During my grade school years, I’d come home from school and bring my homework into my grandmother’s TV room where she was watching her soaps and knitting. I would, bring her a cup of coffee, fill her in on my school day and plunk down on the floor and work on homework, while she knit and kept up with her shows. Our conversation was limited at this time to what I had for homework and I paid no attention to what was on television, using filtering skills that have come in handy to this day. Still, it was a pretty special time to me, just being in the same space and knowing each other was there. During the summer, I would look for projects I could do in there at that time to continue our ‘time together’. We were very close and there are times I still feel her presence nearby when I am working on a project. I can still hear her voice saying, “Take your time and do it right.” Quality Time

When my brother Jon comes East from Washington State a couple of times a year, he likes to pursue his passion for fly fishing in our many New England rivers. While I have no interest whatsoever in fly-fishing, other than the aesthetic appreciation of the art and admiring the skill involved, I do really value the environment it takes place in. That all being said, it’s not at all uncommon for Jon to stop by when he is home and say, ‘Let’s go fishing!’ We both know he means why don’t I come along and keep him company while he fishes. If there’s a hike into a remote river or stream, as there often is with Jon, we have that time to converse together. We have our travel time in the car together and while Jon is actually in the water, I am quite content to hike along the riverbank and take photographs or sit nearby and read in the wonderful natural surroundings, while not harassing the fish at all. Quality Time

Jon Fishing Upstream

One whirlwind weekend last summer, my brother Jon flew in from Washington and my son Gabriel, flew in from South Carolina, for a Father’s Day celebration. Jon and Gabriel are both fly fishermen. Schedules were tight and the visit was short but somehow, ‘we’ managed to fit in a fishing trip early one morning. I drove. We all hiked down to the river’s edge. It was still foggy and cool. Gabriel went downriver and Jon headed upriver. The light was awesome and I took photos. On the drive back, we all commented on what a good time we’d had. I realized afterward, the only time we’d actually spent together was in the car! Quality Time is where you find it!

When I have a challenging furniture building or repair question, I call my Mom. She has been building furniture since she was in High School. She knows the right glues to use for each type of wood and the best paint to use for each wall surface. She has many moons of experience with these things. Often these requests for information result in Mom saying, I’ll be right over.” And she arrives moments later with a complete arsenal of tools and supplies. This frequently ends up becoming a woodworking or painting session. We may work side by side for hours, fitting tiny wooden dollhouse pieces together; building a computer cabinet from recycled lumber or painting a room, and never feel the need to talk. Or we may spend the time planning a future travel adventure or recalling a previous one. Quality Time

Gabriel Fishing Downstream

When I was young, for a period of a few years, my Dad worked late into the night. He was a chef and needed to stay after hours to be sure cleanup and preparations for the next day were in place. When he’d arrive home, he’d be wound up and unable to sleep. I would hear him come home and get up to spend time with him, as he would be sleeping when I left for school and at work when I came home. It was during those years that he taught me to play cribbage. He was always a ruthless player and expected me to pay strict attention and not miss any points. If he found points in my hand that I’d miss, he’d claim them. I was never very competitive and didn’t care much about the points. I just wanted to spend the time with him. These days, my Dad is ‘retired’ and in the summer months on weekends, he works as a caretaker at a rather remote historical site. Some days, droves of visitors find him and he is busy all day long. On other days, business is a bit slow due to weather etc. When I have time, I drive out to the site and if it’s quiet, I pull out the cribbage board and cards that I always keep in the trunk of my car now. He’s still competitive and still harbors hopes that I will become so. We’ll often play one game and when I (inevitably) lose, he’ll say, “Once more, see if you can do better…” If by some miracle, I win by a few points, it’s, “Best out of three then!” Quality Time

I feel about the same way about golf as I do about fly-fishing. Interesting to observe but I’ll never have the patience to do it. Sometimes however, when Pat has found a particularly ‘interesting’ golf course, and is in no hurry to complete the round, I’ll walk along with him or drive the cart if he takes one. Golf courses tend to be located in very scenic places. He’ll point out some of the more unique aspects of the course layout and so forth and I’ll admire the scenery, stopping to take photographs on occasion. Interestingly, I have picked up some of the finer points relating to links courses and how they differ from other, more traditional style courses and some of the layout comments actually make sense to me now. (!) I have a better understanding about why certain grass types hold up better than others in different weather conditions too. Even though I have not yet been inspired to pick up a club, I guess I’m learning a bit about the game by osmosis! Quality Time

When my oldest son Gabriel was living at home, he and I could read side-by-side with not a word exchanged, except perhaps, “Care for some tea?” Conversation did not seem to be important, just having the time together was enough. He has been living out of state for a few years now and I really miss that reading tem together. When he visits, I find it’s still very easy to sit next to him while he works on the computer for hours on end, (he’s an online college instructor and works wherever he is. Not much time for reading now…). We still don’t need to converse to enjoy the experience. Quality Time

My youngest son, Liam, and his wife Elisabeth, are pretty active and outgoing. When they visit we talk and move around a lot. If I am preparing a meal, they both frequently pitch right in without a wrinkle and we keep on conversing. We all share several hobbies as well and can easily continue to pursue an activity we’re doing and join in and out of each other’s conversations on a seemingly endless variety of subjects. When they leave I sometimes find myself reviewing all the various discussions to be sure I didn’t miss anything! It’s nice to be able to share several topics and catch up with each other on a regular basis. Quality Time

Enjoy your Quality Time !