Archive for the ‘life’s little treasures’ Category

In a former life, I took the picture at the top of Haleakala, a volcano on Maui. It was a place I had wanted to go to see the sunrise. It had been on a short list of things I wanted to do. In 2004, I was able to take my kids to Maui and we made it happen. I think there’s a post somewhere on this blog that talks about that experience so I won’t go into it. I will say that it was one of the most awe inspiring moments of my life. I would do it again in a heartbeat but I know I, most likely, won’t have that opportunity again. However, in light of the events and situation in the world and in this country, I find myself looking to these moments and these places that demand acknowledgement and belief in/of a greater power.


Read Full Post »

If we were having coffee, we would be indoors. It’s raining here in Seattle. It’s not cold, just wet. You would have to help yourself to a drink before settling in as I have a baby in my arms! I drove up here on Tuesday morning and was handed a baby as soon as I got in the door. The rest of the time has been filled with holding him, feeding him, and lots of burping! Mati is four weeks old. He’s quite alert for four weeks. I think I’m spoiling him. He’s been attached to me almost all day, every day. I got to be his first babysitter, too. His mommy and daddy had tickets to two soccer games this week so they got a couple of nights out and I got this precious little boy to myself.

This past week has been filled with shock and sadness in the world. Being here with this tiny, innocent little boy has helped me both empathize with that grief and sadness and also get through it without totally falling apart.

As Mati sleeps in my arms, I’m reminded of holding his daddy in my arms when he was this age. I’m reminded of how much simpler the world was; how much less hate, fear, and danger we faced. I am also filled with hope and dreams that Mati’s world will be a better place; that he won’t have to know the hate and intolerance; that he will be in less danger when he grows; that he will live in a world that embraces all mankind.

I’ll be driving home to Portland tomorrow. I’m already missing this little one and wondering when I’ll be back to see him. I’m lucky that he’s only a three hour drive away from me. Hopefully that will translate into frequent visits.

 #WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog linkup hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster Blog. Come join us!

Read Full Post »

I awoke in the predawn hours today to hear the news on TV…Harper Lee had died at the age of 89. That’s a good age. It was said that she had been deaf and blind for at least the last five years. It was a matter of time. Hopefully, now no one will take advantage of her again. She wrote my all-time favorite novel. Next to To Kill A Mockingbird, nothing stands any here as good. If I had been given the choice to read only one book my entire life, it would be To Kill A Mockingbird. It is that good.

It’s a day to think about her and her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s a time to celebrate her work and the mark she has left on every person that has ever read her book. It’s a day to ask some questions. Why didn’t she ever write another novel? How close to autobiographical elements in her life were the events in the novel? What about Go Set A Watchman? Which Atticus was the true one? Does GSAW invalidate TKAM?

I won’t try to answer all of those questions here. I have my opinions and I’ve read a lot about her life and those around her, both in her childhood years and in her adulthood. As far as Go Set A Watchman, my worry is that it will influence people, especially schools, to not read To Kill A Mockingbird. That would be a crime, at least in my opinion. I will say that I’ve read that she was so traumatized by all of the publicity and criticism she got after TKAM that she didn’t ever want to put herself through that again.

I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.— Harper Lee, quoted in Newquist, 1964

I’ve also read that she was a perfectionist and had begun a couple of novels, including at least one non fiction book but put never finished them any of them because she was unhappy with her writing. That sounds like a perfectionist to me; like a writer, always second guessing herself.

Tonight, I will stream To Kill A Mockingbird and perhaps I will begin re-reading it and Go Set A Watchman. And I will think of that timid, talented woman that kept so many words inside of her…so many words that we would all love to have read. I will celebrate that she lived and wrote and left us Scout and Atticus and all those other people of Maycomb.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, when my daughter got home with Anderson, he was asleep. He rarely falls asleep on the way home from school. It’s a short ride. But he did yesterday and she let him sleep in the car. She rolled the windows down and parked in their driveway. We both sat at the window so we could see when he woke up. We didn’t think he would sleep long because he normally wakes up when the car stops. He sleep in there for well over an hour.

This morning I got to Tina’s to babysit and both of the boys were still asleep and it was kind of late for them to be asleep. I let them sleep then my timer went off…the timer I set on the days I watch them, to remind me that it’s time to get the boys ready to take Anderson to school…at 11:40. They were both still asleep. A quick text message to Tina at work verified that I should just let them both sleep. When Anderson woke up he looked droopy. He sat on the couch with me and just cuddled for a while. He said he “want no school today, Nana.” Spencer was still asleep. I made the decision to just keep him home and let him and Spencer rest. Spencer finally woke up about 12:15 but he didn’t last long. By 1:30 I found him curled up on a pile of blankets he had thrown out of his crib earlier, with his binky in his mouth. I got him a bottle and put him back to bed. He slept some more.

We spent a very quiet afternoon on the couch. Anderson watched a movie. When Tina got home from work, she wasn’t feeling well so she said she was taking a nap as long as Spencer slept. I came home and sat on the couch. I was freezing but my cheeks felt like they were on fire. I also had a sore throat. And I was achy all over. So I took a nap. For three hours.

After consulting with Tina, who told me that Spencer is still asleep and it’s now after 7 in the evening, we’ve decided we are sharing some kind of bug. At least she is off from work for the next three days. That will give everyone a chance to rest and recuperate.

I’m glad there’s just the two boys. I do remember growing up in my large family and getting sick. Everyone would get sick and by the time it had run through all seven of us kids, and our parents, the first one would get sick again and we’d have a second round. So yup, good thing there are only two boys.

Read Full Post »

Today I drove home from my son’s house where we had gone for Thanksgiving.  It should only take about 3 1/4 hours but it took over 4 1/2 hours this morning.  Rain. Rain. Rain.  Oh, and then the wind.  The rain was coming down not in sheets but in blankets!  Although the speed limit was 70, no one, not even the proverbial hot rodders that think they are Mario Andretti, was driving above 45.  Luckily, everyone was leaving a lot of room between their car and the others.  That part was good.

I’m getting too old to make this drive without a lot of rest between the drive up and back home.  I think I need a few days to recuperate between the drives.  I’m not only tired when I begin the trip home, I’m exhausted when I arrive.  And then there is the stress.  The stress of the drive knocks me out.  Today, I got home, sat on the couch and the next thing I knew, it was three hours later.  I had fallen asleep.  Then I had to go out to unload the car but it was raining so hard that I had to come back in and wait til it let up a bit.

I know I’m complainig. I shouldn’t.  It was wonderful to be included in my son and daughter-in-law’s Thanksgiving celebration and also that my daughter and grandsons were also included.  That was a bonus.  I’m also glad we took two cars. They still aren’t back yet as they stopped to see her in-laws along the route back.

Now I wait for Christmas when I’ll do it all over again.  For Christmas, the bonus will be that my youngest daughter will also be coming so we will all be together.  That makes the drive worthwhile.  And I’m not doing it one day up and the next day back down.  I’ll have three days between the up and down!  Of course it will also mean that I will be a year older as I will have a birthday on Christmas so yes, I’ll probably feel a lot older!

Read Full Post »

While watching TV, a commercial caught my attention, which in itself is unusual as I tend to tune out all commercials. I’m the one that is totally clueless about what a company might be running for their commercial, regardless of how popular said commercial might be. The commercial that caught my attention was for fried chicken from a regional chain. Now I am craving fried chicken. I don’t eat meat except one in a great while and rarely do I eat anything that is fried so the commercial seems to have accomplished its task!

Years ago I used to make an oven baked chicken that mimicked fried chicken. It was a recipe that I got from a healthy heart cookbook purchased after my brother died from sudden cardiac death at the age of 37. The recipe called for skinless chicken dipped in egg whites/egg substitute then rolled in crushed corn flakes. Instead of frying the chicken in oil, it was baked in a non stick pan in a 350 degree oven for an hour. Easy, right? I love the simplicity and the results were delicious! An added bonus was that instead of having to stand at the stove and carefully monitor the frying process, I could just put a whole tray in the oven, set a time, and forget about it while I ran around doing so many other things that had to be done. When I had to cook for large groups, at school functions, it was easy to bring this dish.

When my kids were in elementary school, a group of fathers had the Dads Club which supported one main project through two fundraisers each year. The Dads Club owned and operated a building adjacent to the school where school groups could meet for free. Most of the Scout groups associated with the school met at the Dads Club building. In addition, AYSO business meetings used it, as did the PTA. To pay for property taxes, insurance, utilities, and insurance on the building, the Dads Club put on a Pancake Breakfast each January. This Pancake Breakfast was also the kick off for Fathers Follies, a musical production held each May, in which all acting and singing roles, male and female, were performed by the fathers. The moms were a big force behind the scenes each year. Personally, some of the things I did over the years include repairing and laundering costumes, helping dads into and out of their costumes for dress rehearsals and performances, makeup, and feeding the dads backstage.

One year, I had to provide food for the dress rehearsal on the same night that I had to attend a function at the high school where my son was a student. (Yup, I was one of those moms that had kids in high school, middle school, and elementary, all at the same time!) Rushed is a mild word for what my schedule was like in those days. As I started to fix my oven fried chicken, I grabbed the box of corn flakes, only to find that one of the kids had put the empty box back on the shelf. I called a couple of neighbors but no one had corn flakes so I had to improvise. I grabbed the box of raisin bran, plucked out all of the raisins, and proceeded with the recipe, replacing the corn flakes with my raisinless raisin bran, all the while hoping that it would turn out to be edible.

It worked! When I returned to the facility to pick up my serving dishes, the food had been completely devoured and the lingering dads all commented on how good my fried chicken was and mentioned that the slight sweetness in the chicken coating added a fruity flavor. I was very much relieved!

That was the only time I fixed it with raisin bran and I haven’t fixed it at all in years but now that I think of it, I am going to give it a try again.

Read Full Post »

A friend’s twee the other day reminded me of this story which has appeared here before, but due to my having lost everything on my blog last year, I had to reconstruct it.  Enjoy!


I had no idea on that early Monday morning, so many years ago, that I was listening to a story that would stay with me for many, many years – a story that I would tell over and over again – a story that I would use to teach others, as it had taught me.

The bell rang for first period and we all headed for class.  Mr. Kennealy usually arrived early to let us in as we waited outside the door but this morning was different.  He had left the door open but he wasn’t in the classroom.  We all went in and took our seats and waited.  The tardy bell rang and he wasn’t there.  A minute later he walked into the classroom.

Mr. Kennealy arrived without his usual smile.  He had a somber look on his face, too somber even for a Monday morning at 8 AM.  Instead of his usual social studies lesson and a test we were supposed to take, he started talking about a motorcycle ride he had taken the day before.  Mr. Kennealy explained that a few years previously, he had bought a motorcycle that he rode on weekends.  He talked about how he needed to get out in the open air and feel the wind in his face and all that horsepower under his control.  He explained that after a long week of teaching and coaching and parenting, he needed an outlet.  His motorcycle was this outlet.  On his motorcycle, he felt free and unrestrained.  He felt that he could forget all responsibility and think only about being alone.  His motorcycle rides had become a cherished and anticipated activity that he couldn’t do without.

While riding along in the mountains on that  quiet Sunday morning, with no traffic in either direction, he came upon a sign that warned of a “STOP 150 Feet Ahead.”  He thought about it.  Clearly there was no traffic so why should he stop?  He repeated for us the internal dialog he had:  “Why should I stop just because the sign says that I have to?  I know it’s the law but laws are made to protect us from others and from ourselves.  I know that the stop sign is to protect me and others from colliding into each other.  I know this road and I have been on it a million times and there has never been anyone else on it, especially on that part of the road, so there isn’t anything to protect me or others from.  The law should be null and void.”

As he spoke to us, he paced back and forth across the front of the room, looking either down at the floor or up at the ceiling, as if in a trance.  He spoke in a quiet voice and we all sat as still as possible so we wouldn’t miss a word.  We sensed that Mr. Kennealy had something important to tell us.  He gave us examples of what would happen if everyone took it upon themselves to ignore laws and of how laws were the cornerstone of living in a civilized society.  He also gave us examples of times when laws were abusive and too restrictive; of times when those in power took this power and used it for their own good and not the good of the community.  He spoke of free will and our right to exercise that free will.  He spoke of our duty to speak out against abuse by the government.

Mr. Kennealy went on: “I should not feel restricted by the stop sign just because I am supposed to stop.  I debated about whether to stop or not, taking both the pro and con sides.  After much deliberation, I decided that when I got to that stop sign I was not going to stop.  I was going to exercise my free will and indulge my need for total freedom and lack of restriction on this wonderfully liberating motorcycle ride I was on.”

By now the entire period was just about over.  We had seconds before the bell rang and we still didn’t known what he had done.  The bell rang and he was still talking but hadn’t come to any end or resolution.  He dismissed us but not one of us moved.  We asked him what he had done when he got to the stop sign.  He looked at the floor and in almost a whisper he said, “I stopped.”

We loved the story, but I think most of us were rather surprised that this very rebellious philosopher had gone against what he really wanted to do.  I have thought about it and told the story many times.  I have also used it, with some of my own editorial comments, to show how people have the free will to do the right thing or not.

Over the years I have run in to people that were in that class on that day and they all remember it. That says a lot.

Read Full Post »

The Cycle

Today we had Tina’s baby shower.  Tomorrow is her birthday.  One makes you think of the other.

I remember the day she was born, 25 years ago.  She was the most gorgeous baby I had ever seen.  Everyone asked if she was a C-section baby because she was so perfectly shaped with none of the misshapened features or facial bruising common in babies that have that long, arduous journey through the birth canal.  Her cheeks were full and rosy; her skin smooth and white as milk.  Even when she was born she was late and that hasn’t changed yet.  She was twenty days post mature.  She measured 23 inches and weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces.  I remember taking a maroon colored velvet sleeper for her to come home from the hospital in and it wouldn’t snap at the crotch because she was too long for the newborn size!

And I remember how we didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl before she actually emerged to face the world, yet I only had a girl name picked out because I had that feeling that she would definitely be a she!

Schedule-wise, Tina didn’t know how to be on one.  One day she would sleep for four or five hours and be awake for 45 minutes, only to sleep for another block of four or five hours.  The next day, she would sleep for an hour then be awake for five hours!  Not fun when mom doesn’t know what’s going on with baby’s sleep schedule.

I remember having to be ready to go run errands as soon as the baby woke up.  One day Tony, who was three, and I ran around and got everything ready to leave as soon as the baby woke up.  We put everything in the car then we got in the car and as I backed out of the driveway, Tony said, “Mommy, I think you’re forgetting something.”  I asked what I was forgetting and he answered, “The baby.”   I hit the brakes, pulled back in the driveway and we went back inside to sit and wait for her to wake up so we could leave!

Anyway, today has been a day for Tina to concentrate on her baby.  Tomorrow is a day for me to concentrate on Tina, my baby!   One day the cycle will continue with Tina accompanying her daughter or daughter-in-law to a shower for her first grandchild!

Read Full Post »

My daughter, who is currently pregnant, has repeatedly brought up the idea of having a doula attend her during the birth of her baby.  Traditionally, a doula helps the mother during the birthing process, not as part of the medical personnel but more as support and as a liaison between the mother and hospital staff.  She basically tries to insure that the mother’s wishes and needs are met.

As far as I am concerned,  I feel it’s not a necessary element to the birth and because she doesn’t have the money, I felt it was an extravagance that just wasn’t needed.   Then again, I’ve had three kids.  I know the process.  I knew the process at the time I was going through it, too.  I’m one of those people that researches a situation exhaustively so I knew what was going on when I was going through childbirth.  I knew my rights.  I knew what I could ask for and what was best for me and for the baby.

Tina really wanted to have a doula so she went online and did the research.  She found a local organization that trains and certifies doulas.  As part of their certification, the doula candidate has to log a certain number of hours  attending births and helping at childbirth.  It’s the final step before their certification.  Because they need the hours, they provide doula services for free until they are able to log enough hours to get their certification.  So Tina found a way to get what she wanted.  Today, she went to meet the doula and really liked her.

In the end, it’s all about what makes Tina comfortable during the birth of her baby, isn’t it?    I didn’t want to keep her  from having what she wanted but I felt that the money could be much better spent considering that they have almost nothing for the baby.  She has clothes.  She doesn’t have a car seat or stroller or crib or diapers or any of the “big ticket” items.  However, now that she found a way to have her cake and eat it too, I’m glad she did it because I want her to  be happily prepared for the birth of her child!

Read Full Post »

My daughter does secret shopping for restaurants from time to time.  It’s a great deal because she gets to eat out at the expense of the company that hires her and then after she submits a short review, she also gets a gift card to use at the same restaurant.  She has done mostly the Cheesecake Factory which is one of her favorite restaurants but it’s too pricey for her to eat there on her own.

Tonight we went to a different restaurant which although I won’t name I will say that it is known for it’s beer and steak.  One location is near me so I went with her.  When you secret shop a place, it is just that…secret!  The restaurant is not to know until they review the report that you file the following day.  They never know who you are.  The visits are pre-determined by the company, meaning that they tell you at what time you are supposed to go and what you have to do (usually you have to interact with the front reception people, order a drink at the bar, order at least one appetizer/dessert, etc.).  We were seated in 15 minutes instead of the 30 minutes they had told us so that was a plus.  We sent her boyfriend to the bar to order a drink (my daughter is pregnant so she’s not drinking) and he came back with a glowing report and the barmaid’s name.  Then the “fun” began when we were seated.  It took the server almost a full 8 minutes to even acknowledge us and then even longer to take our beverage order.  It took him four trips to our table before we ordered our appetizer (which he didn’t offer to take our order for, we just told him we wanted one).  Our entree orders were taken and when the food arrived, my daughter’s burger was not medium-well, it was so charred that it was falling apart and was completely black all the way through.  She sent it back.  When they came back with the replacement, it was cooked much better but they had failed to serve it plain, as she had ordered.  She doesn’t like any condiments at all; they served it with some kind of mustard sauce which she tried gut didn’t like.  She asked the waiter to send it back and just take it off the bill.  She was pretty upset by then.  The server said he didn’t blame her and said he’d take it off the bill.  Then the manager came out.  He was such a jerk!  He was condescending, loud enough for people many tables away to start staring, and then snapped at my daughter, saying something like, “Well what do you want?  Tell me how you want it and we’ll bring it that way.  We’ve already started it for you.”  My daughter responded with the order again, very precisely telling him how she wanted it.  Then he snapped again to tell him how she wanted it so they could get it right.  Then I blew up and snapped back at him and told him exactly how she had ordered it both to our waiter and to him.  It was finally brought out the right way, way after the rest of us had finished eating.  When my daughter asked for the manager’s name, he came over and apologized for snapping at her, all the while with a condescending attitude again!

In the end, they did take the price of her meal off but we weren’t offered any other resolution.  We weren’t even asked if we wanted to order dessert before they brought us the bill!

Needless to say, they aren’t going to like the review they get.  My daughter is really good about being very precise when she reports her restaurant visits and has rarely had any occasion to  give any kind of demerit to the businesses she has visited with the secret shopper program so she will be fair but it’s difficult to give a positive review when something like that happens.   She also did a really good job of keeping her temper and smiling and being nice to everyone involved during the entire time, even when the jerk of a manager was basically scolding her like a child.  We probably won’t go back to that location, at least not during dinner hours, but we’ll enjoy the gift card for another meal when it comes.

Tomorrow I do my first secret shopping gig!  I’m kind of excited about it!  I signed up over a year ago and never got anything til now so I’m hoping it will be the first of many!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »