Sunday, November 28, 2010


The weather on the East side of the mountains here in Washington State has taken a decidedly cold turn, and so I had to get out the heavy comforter-and I remembered this…

The first spring after Amy was born, we were living in Western New York-where winter can last into May.  (We had snow on Mother’s Day one year!)  Our bedding was inadequate- we had recently moved from milder Corvallis Oregon-and so we decided to get a something warmer.  We went to the one and only department store for miles around and we picked out a beautiful blue and green plaid flannel comforter.

We took it home and put it on the bed-and it looked great.  Later in the day we were also expecting a visit from my husband’s sister.  As we sat on the bed, admiring Amy and the new comforter-we decided that a walk would be in order before Cindy arrived.  We bundled Amy up and put her in her stroller and went out into the brisk winter air.  After a quick trip around the neighborhood-we called it good and went home.  As we were unwrapping Amy-my heart literally stopped.  Amy’s head was blue!  I felt like I'd been hit by lightening!  Fearing she had hypothermia, or frost bite, I called the hospital.  ( 15 miles away over icy snowy roads.)  They were very alarmed and concerned as well-and gave us instructions for warming her up and monitoring her body temperature.  (Normal.)

Enter Cindy-in the midst of this crisis.  We explained what was happening-and I’m sure she was a bit unsettled at having arrived in the middle of such an emergency.  I don’t remember exactly what we did other that bundle Amy up and take her temperature every few minutes. (Normal, normal, and normal again.)  And wait.
After awhile-Amy still appeared to be ok.  She didn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort and seemed like a typical happy baby.  We were mystified.

We didn’t get an explanation of what had happened until the next day-when I made the bed.  After smoothing the new comforter into place-I saw my hands.  Yes-they were blue!

The funny thing-is that Cindy brought Amy a cute knitted hat that resembled a blueberry.  We still have that hat too-but the comforter?  We couldn’t get rid of it fast enough!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Supercilious in Seattle

When I was 21, I went to a vocational school for a year- a student in the secretarial program.  I had dropped out of college, and it seemed that the best route to employment and independence was to learn some basic office skills.  I was also pretty immature at the time.  College had turned out to be little more than one big party for me, and I hadn’t grown up much in the short time between leaving college and starting my course at my new school.  I cringe now at the memory of myself back then.  I put on tons of makeup, and wore heels so high that I’m surprised I could even walk.  Yes-- I thought I was pretty hot.

Every day  my friends and I would have to walk past the auto shop classrooms on our way to lunch.  And every day the guys in the auto shop program would just happen to be hanging around in the hall when we walked by.  Even though we protested the cat calls and comments, we loved it.  There was one guy-I’ll call him Mike-and Mike would corner me every day and say “When are you going to go out with me?”  And every day I’d say no.  Now I could tell that Mike was really nice.  He acted wolfish like his friends when they were in a group-but alone he seemed to be really sweet.  The thing about Mike  though—his face was horribly disfigured.  I’d heard rumors about exploding firecrackers, or birth defects—but the fact remained that he looked as he looked, and in the shallowness of my youth I was embarrassed to be seen with him.  In spite of this-I found myself agreeing to a date.  I guess I figured he was never going to stop asking, and I felt sorry for him.

On the appointed Saturday night he picked me up and we headed first to a movie.  I mentally took stock of the situation.  The walk to his car from my front door: safe.  No one was likely to be around.  The car ride: safe.  Not much chance of any one really seeing him as we sped towards the theater.  If we were lucky-we could make it quickly into the theater without too much notice, and once the movie stated: safe. We would be concealed by the darkness.  It was the dinner part of the evening I dreaded.  There would be plenty of people around…and plenty of stares, and pointing, and whispering…

If Mike was trying to impress me-he did a good job.  We were to dine that night at the top of the Space Needle!  I  should have been really excited.  I tried to enjoy my dinner as best I could, but all the while I was self conscious because of  the spectacle I assumed we were making, and I just wanted to go home.  I excused myself to make a trip to the restroom before the hour drive ahead of us.  And I forgot one small detail of the Space Needle’s restaurant—that the tables—arranged in a circular configuration  are elevated one step up from the rest of the floor where the aisles are located. Instead of stepping down-I stepped into the air and came down hard on my wobbly high heels.  Losing my balance I lurched for our table to keep myself upright, and came perilously close to pulling it over.  Luckily, Mike had quick reflexes and prevented total disaster from happening.

I didn’t appreciate the irony at the time.  I was so thoroughly humiliated that the rest of the evening was pretty much a blur of downcast eyes  (mine) and forced conversation.  But now I can see that  no one probably noticed us much at all that night-- until that fateful moment-and that I drew more attention to us  than  Mike and his precious face did.  To his credit-I think he had a good time.  He’d planned a nice evening, and was a perfect gentleman.

And thank goodness he never saw where the real ugliness was—the worst possible kind of ugliness-- in my heart.

This was written based on the Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop prompt to describe a time when I fell.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Open Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
It’s hard to believe that the time has come to write to you again!  I can clearly remember last Christmas-it seems like it was only yesterday-and not nearly 12 months ago. Anyway, my wish list for this year is pretty much the same as it was last year.

For starters-I wish I could sing like Celine Dion.  Anytime, anywhere, I could belt out a song at the top of my lungs.  And I’d sound amazing!  But I guess my voice is adequate-since it  always worked perfectly well for  singing Amy to sleep when she was little…

So instead of a voice that could break  windows, I’d like to be so smart that there wouldn’t be an equation anywhere that I couldn't solve, or a subject I couldn't converse on with ease…But, I’ve always been able to figure out how to make a Halloween costume from a table cloth, or reason away the fears that come after a nightmare, or answer the usual WHY’s or HOW COME’s  asked  in the course of a day.

So maybe I’d be super energetic.  I could clean all day, walk both dogs 10 or 15 miles, remodel the house… and still not be  tired.  If the truth be told though, I’ve done fine with the energy I have.  My house is mostly clean, the dogs get adequate exercise, and I’ve managed to do a home improvement project or two.  And I still have enough energy at the end of the day to do a quick load of emergency laundry or proof read an English paper.

No. What I’d really like is to be fearless and brave all the time, with the ability to face any situation without batting an eye.   Do things like stand up for myself,  tell people off (when necessary), save small puppies from burning buildings...   But in reality I’m not a lion-I’m a mouse--so instead of being the type to slay wild beasts with one swipe of my paw, I’m the type that sits in your pocket.  And when you are scared, or hurt, or lonely, or sad-all you have to do is reach into your pocket, and I am there.

So this Christmas, Santa,  what  I really want  is that you put me in the pockets of those who need me the most…just the way I am.

This post was inspired by a previous Mama Kat’s writer’s prompt-An Open Letter to Santa.
Artwork by Ralph Hulett

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Java Mama

This post  is a response to Mama Kat’s writing prompt to list 10 reason why I drink coffee.  I wrote it when I’d had one too many cups…

1.  I like it--a lot (so the other 9 reasons don’t matter).

2.  It gives me a reason to get out of bed every morning.

3.  It gives me a reason to go to bed every night (the sooner I fall asleep and wake up, well you know-reason #2).

4.  When combined with Coco Puffs or Cap’n Crunch, it’s a sure fire energy blast.
5.  Certain foods, like chocolate, taste much better with coffee. (Granted, chocolate tastes pretty good without coffee too).

6.  It requires that I go to Hawaii every so often-because that’s where you get the best Kona coffee.

7.  It really is such a lovely color naturally,  but I have so much fun creating new colors by varying the amount of cream I add.

8.  It  mixes well with other things-like Irish whiskey, for example.

9.  Because you don’t have to drink your coffee to enjoy its benefits.  Chocolate covered coffee beans, anyone?

10.  I like it—a lot (so the other 9 reasons don’t matter). Yes.  I KNOW I said that already.
I think I need another cup…

Monday, November 15, 2010


Thank you to my lovely blog friend over at the Musings of Miss 1941 for giving me this beautiful award!  I will be awarding it to some of my fellow bloggers as soon as I figure out how to post the links to their blogs.  Just when I think I have conquered the mountains in the world of cyber space-I trip and fall flat over a tiny stone.  But I won't hang up my climbing boots yet!  Ah what the heck-I give this award to every great blog on my list!
Onward and upward I go.  Charge!
And thanks again Miss 1941!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crazy Like A Horse

When I was a kid, I was horse crazy.  Well, crazy is putting it mildly.  I was horse insane.  From about age 8 until age 11 or so, I lived and breathed horses.  I read everything I could find written about them.  I collected toy models of them.  And if I wasn’t pretending to ride an imaginary horse, I was pretending to be one.  Yes.  I had it bad.
In the 3rd grade we had to bring in a picture of the pet we had or the pet we wished we had.  Did I take a picture of my guinea pig to share?  Of course not.  I took in a picture of a horse-and a taxidermy horse at that!  And…to top it all off…I told my classmates that it was my own pet horse.  I was an instant celebrity-but my new found fame made me uneasy.  (It WAS based on a fib.)  And so, one morning, I announced to my friends that my horse had died.  (A broken neck, no less.)  Everyone grieved right along with me-and the fateful moment arose when my teacher ran into my Mom after school-and offered her sympathy.  I’m just glad I wasn’t there at that awkward moment-my poor Mom—the last to know.
Years ago, in the midst of my fever, my Dad made me a promise.  “If you still love horses when you are 15, I will buy you one.”
I still remember his name-George.  A shy boy that I got up the nerve to ask to sign my yearbook at the end of 9th grade.  And horses?  What were horses?
Yesterday it all came back to me.  The horse fever was as real again as it had been when I was just a girl.  I went to see the new movie “Secretariat.”  It’s a wonderful, inspiring motion picture-and I highly recommend it.  And by the way Dad…about that promise-is the offer still good?

Watch this thrilling footage of Secretariat’s 1973 win of the Belmont Stakes!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In Awe of Autumn

I took these pictures this morning during a long morning walk.  I wanted to capture the fall colors before they are gone.  I am always amazed at the show that Mother Nature puts on every year-enjoy! 

alley view
   orange trees
3 trees

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Amy Scissorhands

I should have known.  I really should have known.  Amy had been too quiet, for too long.  And when I finally went to her room to see what she was up to, it was too late.  Oh sure-there were some red flags in those moments of relaxation that I had been enjoying.  But I chose to ignore them.
The scene I encountered when I entered her room was something I can only describe as resembling what I believe would be the beauty parlor from H-E-double toothpicks.  One where things have gone horribly wrong-where a hairdresser with a grudge-or some misguided sense of style, has been at work. 
There was hair EVERYWHERE.  It took me a minute to sort out my confusion.  Amy’s hair was a delicate shade of reddish blonde, and there was plenty of that.  But I also saw black hair…and brown hair… and something that looked like fur…and I seem to recall some green hair too. 
All I can say, is that Amy must have worked very quickly.  When I say that the quiet in her room had lasted too long, it couldn’t have been more than 15 or 20 minutes.  But put a pair of scissors in the hands of a child on a mission, and it’s long enough.
I don’t know who she started on first-herself, or one of the many stuffed animals that fell victim that day. No one was spared.  Not even our dog Willow, who probably figured that hair cutting  was just another form of attention.  (So that’s where the fur came from.)
Of all the hair cuts given that day-they had one thing in common.  Without a doubt, they were all bad.  (Amy’s was a real piece of work-cropped down to her scalp in several places.)  But at least her haircut and Willow’s haircut were not permanent, and would eventually grow out.
And what did Amy have to say for herself when her handiwork was discovered?  “I didn't do it--my stuffed skunk did.”
So what do you say to an otherwise good three year old child, who is impossibly cute, telling a bold faced lie while holding a pair of safety scissors in her hand and covered with hair and fur?  “Well I guess we should send skunk to beauty school then.  If’s he’s going to be giving haircuts, he should at least learn to do them right.”

   who me
Who me?

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompt “hair disaster.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thanks, but no thanks!

I know Halloween was just a couple days ago, and it’s a little early to be thinking seriously about Thanksgiving-but I thought I’d share some of the funny and quirky things that have happened on Turkey Days in the past.
Our very first Thanksgiving after we were married, we excitedly planned to cook our first holiday dinner-and then found out in the newspaper on Thanksgiving morning that our turkey had been recalled due to some food poisoning concerns.  A quick trip to the grocery store revealed that our turkey was actually ok-but still,   “A little heart attack with your stuffing, anyone?” ( Or,  how not to make a good  impression-make your guests ill.)
There was the Thanksgiving in New York.  We had just moved there, and we were still getting to know people.  We invited a serious young couple-Jean and Jim- and their small daughter Sarah over to celebrate the day with us-the “ us” being Stuart, myself and our Bassett Hound Maggie.  We tried to make a good impression.  We tried to make everything perfect.  And I didn’t want to appear  rude, but I honestly couldn’t understand what Jean was trying to tell me, making only whimpering noises, until she pointed towards the living room-and there was Maggie, with the entire cheese ball in her mouth.  No body wanted any appetizers after that.
Then there was the year that I decided to try to get the kitchen as clean as possible while some of the food was still cooking so that after dinner there wouldn’t be a gigantic mess to clean up.  I grabbed a  measuring cup full of grease and bits of turkey, and dumped it down the sink.  I realized my mistake when Stuart asked what had become of the turkey “drippings.”  Goodbye Thanksgiving gravy. (This is why you always want to have gravy mix on hand, I realized.)
Two years ago, Stuart, Amy and I went to my parents house for Thanksgiving.  Thursday morning we decided to attend Thanksgiving Day services at a quaint little church near their home.  During Communion, as I prepared to take a drink of wine from the large cup I was offered-it flew out of the Communion assistant’s hands and spilled all down the front of my sweater.  “Oh I’m so sorry!” she gasped.  “Don’t feel bad.”  I shot back.  “I like wearing my wine!” and at that holy moment instantly felt like the most blasphemous person on earth.  Afterwards, though, she came up to me and joked as well-“People will think you’ve been hitting the bars early today!”  and we both laughed.  And luckily  my sweater was red wool, so no harm was done.
Later that day, after we’d finished our delicious dinner and we were relaxing, I suddenly had the sinking  feeling that I hadn’t  unplugged my own iron (an older model-one that didn’t have auto shut off) at my own house--100 miles away.  I quickly dismissed the thought as irrational and put it out of my head.  But you guessed it-when we got home after that Thanksgiving visit-and I looked in my sewing room-there it was-my iron- STILL PLUGGED IN! 
This year-we are having Thanksgiving dinner at our house again.  And getting through the day without any surprises—for that I will be truly thankful!