Sunday, September 24, 2006

Once Was Lost, But Now Is Found

For my last birthday, my elder son's wife gave me a gift card to Michaels. I opened presents, cleared off the table, threw away the wrappings, etc. That was the last time I saw the gift card. Looked high and low, but to no avail.

Fast forward nine months to this weekend's cleaning spree. And you'll never guess what I found in one of the bags of recipes, grocery lists, junk mail, etc. You betcha---my once lost gift card is found!

Now to combine it with one of their famous 40% off coupons and go shopping!

Late Night Reading

I just bought two books from Amazon. I didn't realize they had come until DH went out the front door at midnight (long story, he smelled smoke, everything is fine! (~_~) But, anyway, he found the box outside and set it in the bathroom. A few minutes later I got up to let one of the dogs out and found the box. Thinking it was the machine for his sleep study, I promptly went back to bed where I tossed and turned for about 20 minutes. I figured I might as well get up and watch the video about the sleep study. Pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and found my books!

So it's after 1am and here I sit, reading cookbooks from cover to cover (is there any other way to read a cookbook?)

Dream Dinners...Life Just Got Easier! and Super Suppers Cookbook (both based on the popular "assemble-and-freeze" places that seem to be popping up everywhere these days).

I can't wait to try them!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Red Hat Saturday

My Red Hat friend, Jan, & I had a delightful day Saturday! It was a full 12 hours from the time she picked me up in EG till she dropped me back off. Amtrak was rather slow we thought, but that gave us more time for chatting on the way in (and sleeping on the way back!)

The Ferry Building and outdoor farmer's market were wonderful! We both came back with our tote bags overflowing.

It was hard to choose a place to eat, but we finally settled on Ferry Plaza Seafood. Good choice, Jan! She let me pick the wine, and I paired a nice pinot grigio with our seafood.

We couldn't get enough of the fresh produce (although it was definitely higher priced than the farmer's markets here!) $3 a pound for dry farmed tomatoes, but they were worth every penny! Lots of the vendors gave out samples, and the peaches were a sure bet after we tasted them---summer in every bite! Let's see, Jan came home with some nice looking potatoes and a loaf of asiago cheese bread that kept calling her name all day! I think she ended up with some really fresh looking green beans as well. I brought home some fingerling potatoes and a loaf of green onion bread (yes, Jan, my dinner sandwich was awesome!) and a loaf of sourdough we'll use today for "buns" for hamburgers. We bought a couple of desserts, Jan a brownie, and me a raspberry macaroon that we munched on while walking about and people watching. Lots of olive oil and vinegar tasting to be had as well.

Did I leave anything out, Jan?

My first "real" train ride, and I must say trying to figure out the timetable was an experience in itself! I was amazed how clean and well maintained both train stations were (I guess I was thinking more along the line of Greyhound bus terminals! (~_~)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

I started what ultimately became a tradition the first time I held my brand new grandchild back in 1994. I had someone take my picture.

"I must capture this memory," I thought to myself. And then I decided that I would always have my picture taken the first time I held a new grandbaby.

What I didn't know then is the memory of that precious moment--all seven of them (so far!)--would be indelibly kept deep in my mind and heart forever.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Deja Vu

It was a “deja vu” moment.

Climbing into the car this morning for an early morning grocery shopping trip, I was hit with the thought “this is what it felt like to start our annual summer vacation to Grandma’s in Seattle.”

What was it?

The hint of fall in the morning, reminding me of every coastal morning I ever awoke to?

The dog curled up in the back seat?

The dew on the window?

The moon still visible in the dark sky?

I closed my eyes and could see mom in the front seat, her hair smelling like the fried chicken she had just prepared and placed in the ice chests, now wedged inbetween her feet and the bags of other snacks for the trip. My dad at the wheel, having just caught a few hours of sleep after a hard day’s work.

All it was missing was a parcel of siblings, brown grocery bags full of our summer clothes, a younger sister sprawled across our laps, another sister’s Humpty Dumpty stuffed down between us so Mom couldn’t see that he had been smuggled into the back seat, where space was always a premium.

Memories are a good thing!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Four Stages of Grief

It has been way too long since I last posted. I've had several friends indicate they miss reading, so will try to do better.

Life is busy, and isn't that a good thing? Else I might find myself playing "Why Me, God?" in the aftermath of Rollin's stroke.

I've been thinking and reading a lot lately on the four stages of grief (denial, anger, depression and acceptance). I'm trying to move past #3, and finally decided I had to do SOMETHING, so attended a stroke survivor group meeting held at Kaiser. After a brief time together, they split into two groups, surviviors, and caregivers (that's me!). They of course wanted to hear my story (I kinda felt like what you might say at an AA meeting, you know..."Hi, my name is Susan. (~_~)

It was amazing to see them all start to nod and smile as I related my story....been there, done that, all of them! It was encouraging to know that!

I came away with a new sense of what the stroke had really done to Rollin, and a few coping strategies. Hopefully it makes a difference in our relationship, and the general atmosphere around the house!

Friday, February 03, 2006

I Am From (LUES)

I am From
(Loleta Union Elementary School)

I am from the LUES Class of 1964, a class of thirty-six, the largest to-date graduating class. From six honor students, Kathee, Renee, Susan, Greg, Sham, and Bill. From my graduation speech "Get that All Important High School Diploma".

From an era when the school mascot was the Beaver (in green and white) and not the current Cougar (in maroon and white).

I am from my teachers. From Mrs. Eva Stahl, who made the class stay in at recess one day because I wouldn’t confess that I was the one who had thrown my uneaten egg salad sandwich under the lunch table.

From Mrs. Loretta Snyder, who I don’t remember much about, except that she was a warm and loving teacher.

From Mrs. Jean Bennett, who I only had for about 2 weeks in 3rd grade before I was "skipped" a grade level.

From Mrs. Mildred Gregg, who was very stern and would rap you across the knuckles with a ruler if you misbehaved.

From Mrs. Esther Carr, who I had for both fifth and sixth grades. (She and her husband--his name was Tom, I found out years later--took a trip to Hawaii just after it became a state. Back than he was the very skinny quiet Mr. Carr, married to a very large and loud woman, but it seemed to work for them. Their Hawaii trip was the inspiration for her every-other-year annual Hawaiian Luau. Mothers would be assigned dishes to bring--I still have Mom’s copy of sukiyaki and rice pilaf somewhere--and girls would learn the hula).

From Mr. Floyd Mauney (AKA "Four Fingers") who, after I was out of his class, suffered a heart attack on a hike with his wife, Mrs. Bonita Mauney and died. Mrs. Mauney later married "Red" Mc Marin, the bus driver and custodian.

From Mr. James Cochrane in 8th grade, who was also our principal and attended our church. He had a heart attack that year (which he survived and later went on to teach in a Lima, Peru missionary kid’s school) and was replaced by Mr. Robert Riffenburg, whose wife would later be my high school home economics teacher.

From Mr. Swerdlow for speech, a place where I went to try to pronounce my "J’s" correctly, so I could say I was Susie James, and not Susie Games. From band leaders Mr. Madelena and then Mrs. Swackhammer.

I am from the ChatterBox (especially song dedications back and forth from me and Linda--"Big Girls Don't Cry". From the "Did You Know" column, where I was featured one week ("Did you know Susan James always has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?" From the time they passed out the newspaper and then frantically picked them back up again. When they were redistributed, Karl Erickson's answer to "What would you do to make the US a better place?" had been blacked out. (answer "Get rid of the President"--this was on Friday, Nov 22, 1963, the day John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated).

I am from the Tidepools, the every-other-year field trip for the 7th and 8th graders to an orchard in Petrolia . From breaking into groups of four (me, Renee, Kathee, and Terri). From the skits around the Friday night campfire (ours was miming and dancing to "Going to the Chapel of Love"). From pllanning your meals (Kathee and Terri, the Catholics, "Oh that's OK, we can have bacon for breakfast Friday morning, we'll just go to confession when we get home"). From bringing your tidepool treasures back to camp (can you believe they used to let you pick that stuff up and take it out of the natural environment?). From boiling the sea urchins over the campfile until the needles fell off. From using the latrine the fathers would dig for us, from Mom laying in traction in the back of the little trailer. From Carolyn Jones (one of the older and wiser 8th graders) making sure you were packing Kotex. Of course I didn't need them yet, but Terri Thompson said "That's OK, I'll bring mine." Show off! From the big orchard where we set up our tents, girls on one side, boys on the other, and probably the chaperones in the middle!

I am from playing last string basketball, and only playing a couple of minutes each game (because back then it wasn’t about winning or losing, but how you played the game), but Mom was always there to do (more than) her share of carpooling.

I am from teachers breathing a sigh of relief when one of us entered their classroom, because they now had Mom, who volunteered for anything and everything. From car pooling to class room parties, when she would make sugar cookies in heart shapes, and lovingly frost each one with white frosting and inscribe each person's name on one in bright pink frosting. From a mother who brought extra cookies and would personalize them at the last minute, for preschoolers who attended their siblings parties. From her sugar eggs at Easter, from countless Valentine's Days and Halloween and Christmas parties.

I am from mini milk cartons, from Tuesday Bank Days, from Scholastic book orders and SRA reading cards. From band concerts and graduation at the Fireman's Pavillion. From Safety Commissioners and crosswalk duties. From flagpole raisings, and stop signs on long poles. From one long whistle blast for stop, two short blasts for go.

I am from a place where your friends stopped by your house in the morning, to "walk" you to school. From Ray who had a knack for always finding the hair brush, usually stuffed down couch cushions. From the seemingly insurmountable hill you had to climb to get to the schoolyard. From crosswalks and safety patrol officers, from whistles (one long whistle to go, two short blasts to stop) and stop signs.

I am from a place of infinite memories. From a safe haven of learning and growing, a place that would spawn (due to Mom's frequent lunchtime absences due to carpooling duties) Dad’s display of displeasure, written in red sharpie marker on the hallwall sheetrock of the little house where we all grew up – "This haphazard method of me getting no lunch has got to cease."

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I Am From (Paper Route)

I am from stacks of newspaper, bags of rubber bands, black newsprint on my hand. From canvas bags that fit over your head, the paper bag holder on wheels with a round "puller" handle that Dad made for Carol, bicycles and tote gotes. From the Falgout's delivering the morning edition of the Times and the James' delivering the afternoon edition of the Standard.

I am from Mrs Biondini, where Carol had to hand deliver the newspaper to her porch because she didn't want the newspaper to make a black mark on her door., the same lady who ironed her son's blue jeans till there was a crease down the front of the leg. From Mrs. Wagner's (who lived down Franklin as far as you could go and then turned left, the road curved down and around and they were tucked in the curve) popcorns balls on Halloween "one per person please" and chocolate covered cherries at Christmas. From Mom taking over John’s route because he was sick in bed with asthma and running over Ida Martin's mailbox, and Dad going out in the rain to replace it. From Blackie and all the other dogs on the route, from those who were tethered, and from those who weren't.

I am from upper route, middle route, lower route, from a sister who couldn't ride a bicycle, from a time where only boys could have a route, from a time where it was safe to go door-to-door to make your monthly collections.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I am From (Summers in Seattle)

I am from one bag of clothes stuffed in a paper bag with room for only one Sunday dress. From "For heaven's sake, let your sister stretch out." From ice chests filled with fried chicken and green grapes, from boloney and cracker sandwiches, from a picnic on a rock somewhere on the Klamath River.

I am from Saturday night popcorn and Black Cherry Kool-Aid,. From a truck farm with blueberry bushes and strawberry plants. From peanut butter sandwiches and honey. From picking wild huckleberries in the woods and raspberries at Aunt Clara's.

I am from a week at Aunt Cora's and Aunt Rosie's, and Uncle Eddie's Packard. From Rick and Barbie, from Aunt Cora's "female surgery" and seeing "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World." on a 180 degree screen. From Ronny and Agnes and Concentration and Go Fish on the front lawn. From plastic swimming pools and picnics at Juanita Beach. From accidentially brushing my teeth with Uncle Jim's Brylcream. From Elaine and Saturday nights at the Laundromat; from coke dispensed from a machine into tiny paper cups, from tiny boxes of Tide. From Pike's Market and the Ballard Locks; from the Seafair Parade and hydroplane races. From Woodland Park Zoo and plastic elephant keys. From lima beans and candy bar bribes. From Salvation Army and 25 cent turquoise ballet flats. From "It's a big chicken" and family reunions. From a place where a mailman would deliver Dad's letter to Mom, a letter addressed to "Granny Goose."

I am from Willie and Tillie, the mallard ducks, and Pepper, the spotted horse who never foaled, but always looked like the would. From banty chickens hatched in a box on my lap. From "That's not Susie!", "Eat your green beans," and "Don't sit on the couch with your buckle shoes." From "My hamburger is rare', Susan said sadly. 'I'll burn it up,' Grandma then said madly."

I am from a Grandmother who knew the value of a dollar, and a Grandfather who knew how to spend one.

I am from the boarding house and 16613 North Road.

I am from summers in Seattle.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

100 Things To Do Before I Die

Wow, I thought it would be easy to come up with 100 things! So this is a "work in progress".

1. Take an Alaskan cruise
2. See the leaves change color in New England
3. Swim with a dolphin.
4. Go to an authentic New England Clambake
5. Skinny Dip
6. Eat in New Orleans French Quarter
7. Learn to Waltz
8. Make love in the Redwood forests of California
9. Picnic in Tuscany.
10. Sleep in a house on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean, with giant windows to enjoy the view
11. See a Broadway show in NYC
12. Send a message in a bottle.
13. Camp in Yosemite
14. Sit on a jury.
15. Write an article/short story, etc and have it published
16. See "Old Faithful" spout
17. Shower in a waterfall.
18. Volunteer and teach someone illiterate to read
19. Spend New Year's in an exotic location.
20. Get passionate about a cause and spend time helping it, instead of just thinking about it.
21. Sing karaoke and not worry that I can't carry a tune!
22. Drive across America from coast to coast.
23. Write my will.
24. Sleep under the stars on the beach
25. Spend a whole day in bed ----- reading!
26. Drive the Autobahn and not be scared
27. Spend Christmas in Hawaii
28. Take a cooking class
29. Raft through the Grand Canyon.
30. Donate money and put my name on something like a brick in a neighborhood park
31. Visit the Statue of Liberty
32. See Stonehenge
33. Be debt free
34. Go to the top of the Space Needle
35. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
36. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage
37. Hike at least part of the Appalachian Trail
38. See a tornado.
39. See tigers in the wild.
40. Fly first class
41. Backpack in Europe
42. Set foot in all 50 states
43. Tour the White House
44. Get a tattoo
45. Tour the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor
46. Take a ride in a sailboat
47. Ride a gondola in Venice (second best, in Las Vegas)
48. View the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris
49. See the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
50. Take a ride on a steamboat
51. Attend a mystery dinner party

Friday, January 13, 2006

Here's another "I am From" (Christmas)

I am from aluminum christmas trees and colorwheels, from paper garlands and angels on top.

I am from artificial Christmas trees, from plastic wreaths and pine scent in a can.

I am from the silk Pointsetta plant and plastic mistletoe hanging in the doorway.

I am from new pajamas on Christmas Eve, opening one present on Christmas Eve, and milk and cookies left out for Santa. From writing thank you notes before you could use your gifts. From champagne bubble bath and bath oil beads. From Dad's gifts, always big red handkerchiefs and white painter hats and socks we'd later make monkeys out of. From waking up early on Christmas morning and opening your stocking, and then going back to bed. From the time Mom let me help fill the stockings for the younger kids, but she still filled mine so I would be surprised.

From "You'd better go to sleep, or Santa won't come" and "you HAVE to believe in Santa or he won't bring you presents."

I am from Christmas Cantatas, Greg Thompsen singing "O Holy Night" and "Away in a Manager." From Jr. Choir robes with freshly pressed red bows. From a Baby who came to save us and give us life eternal.

From Christmas caroling, from hayrides and hot chocolate. From Christmas programs (when they were still called CHRISTMAS programs) at the fireman's hall, from chorus after chorus of Jingle Bells sung while waiting for Santa to arrive on a big red firetruck, from bags of hard candy, an apple and an orange.

I'm from the Nutty Nuggets Mom made every year and her homemade Butter Crunch Toffee and Confetti Bread. From sugar cookies and Mom's vast collection of cookie cutters, from bowls of colored frosting and sprinkles. From Agnes' chocolate dipped creams. From Mary's leftover Ice Cream Snowballs with candles. From popcorn balls, peppermint ice cream and too many cookies. From the time the turkey wasn't ready when we were, of sitting down to a holiday feast of "the sides" and turkey later that night.

From the time Dad "rewrapped" Uncle Eddie's present to Judy, covering the mpeccably wrapped gift with brown paper bags, and baling rope. From bicycles with streamers, from roller skates with black and pink pompoms. From new Bibles, charm bracelets, and new underwear.

I am from boxes of Christmas decorations, carefully packed away in boxes in the attic, from homemade ornaments lovingly saved year after year, from green and red paper cut into strips and Elmer's Glue to hold them together.

I am From.....

I am from powdered milk poured back into empty milk containers, from Tide and Joy and root beer floats on New Year’s Eve.

I am from the little house on the corner that Dad built and lived in with his mother, and the bigger house across the street--the house with ceramic tile in the hallway and in the bathrooms, and in the built-in vanity my mother never used.

I am from the Pacific Ocean and the Redwood forests of California. From magnolia trees and freshly mown grass, from dusty miller, nasturtiums and geraniums, from hydrangeas and red and white rose bushes, rows of corn and hills of potatoes. From tomatoes and peas in pods, from a well-stocked pantry of pumpkin, Dinty Moore stew and string beans my Mom put up in jars.

I am from Saturday night popcorn and Kool Aid, singing in the car, hamburgers five-for-a-dollar, Skate Night, creamery whistles and two pairs of shoes.

I am from the "Sweet" side of the family, from those who hugged and those who didn’t. From Grandma Susan and Grandma Pearl, but not Elizabeth Ann. From an aunt who loved me unconditionally, and a funny uncle who loved me inappropriately.

I am from iceberg lettuce wedges, tomato soup salad dressing, and turkey dinner holidays. From mounds of homemade French fries, bags of artichokes, and fresh Dungeness crab when it was in season. From gallon jars of Joe’s leftover crab cipppino, and Mary’s Swiss Dance sponge cake.
I am from honesty and the golden rule, from paying for your hot dog at Louie's, from respecting your elders and watching out for your little sisters.

I am from He Lives, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, In the Garden, and The Old Rugged Cross. From Reverends Lanning, Lokkesmoe, and Cole. From Daily Vacation Bible School and plaster of paris plaques, from Good News Club and memory verses and Sunday night youth meetings.

I am from Swauger’s Station, from "a pleasant place at the end of the water," from a "peaceful verdant valley where the land of plenty lies." From mill towns and logging towns and dairy farmers, from participants in the Oklahoma Land Rush, from strawberry farmers and carpenters and owners of boarding houses and motels. From LUES class of 1964 and FUHS class of 1968.

I am from pictures stored in drawers, from family reunions and stories told and retold, from the legend of Jesse James.