Thanks For The Memories

I was late calling my parents for Thanksgiving. The day had has been a non-stop whirlwind of activity and had just gotten away from me. So I called them on Friday hoping that they weren’t upset that I was behind in calling them. They weren’t. Their Thanksgiving had been a busy one as well. They are currently on the east coast and had celebrated with my brother and his wife’s family.

I talked with my dad for a bit before he ran out of things to say and handed me over to my mother. Mom and I chatted about this and that before the holiday was even mentioned. Then Mom wanted to know all the details. Who did we spend the holiday with, which house was it at, and what my favorite part of the day was. Then she wanted to know what we ate.

“Did you have Glorified Rice?” she asked.

“No” I answered. “I don’t think there is anyone that really likes it. Besides, I can never get the rice to stay soft.” Glorified Rice was the one dessert that my grandmother absolutely had to make for family gatherings. It was a strange combination including white rice, heavy cream, marshmallows, pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries. As a child, it was my absolute favorite. I remember eagerly helping Grandma slice the cherries in half and being allowed to use her ancient hand-held mixer to whip the cream until my arm ached. After Grandma died, we tried to recreate the heavenly treat using her recipe card from her trusty recipe box. It was never the same. The flavors were there, but the rice always turned into little pebbles no matter how long we cooked it or what we tried.

“Well, how about 7-Up Jello Salad? Did you make that?” Mom asked.

“Yes, of course we made that. It’s Mimi’s very favorite.” I answered. My youngest daughter, Mimi, had come over after work and then again first thing in the morning so she could help make her favorites. One of which is 7-Up Jello Salad. This is another odd traditional dish in our family. I always think of my aunt who found the recipe originally. Of course I have no idea where she found it, possibly a magazine, a church cookbook or given to her by a friend. Who know? Regardless, the combination of 7- Up, lemon Jello, pineapple and cream cheese is always at our holiday table.

“I bet you had Cherries in the Snow, didn’t you?” Mom sighed. All I know about the origins of this layered concoction of angel food cake, cream cheese and cherry pie filling, is that my dad used to give out recipe cards when he was a realtor, and this was one of them. In fact, I still have a “Hometown Realty presents” recipe card with Dad’s name on it. For some reason, it always make me grin.

I’ve always felt that Thanksgiving was the one holiday dedicated to our friends and family. We are supposed to think about all the things in our life that we should be thankful for. What I hadn’t quite grasped was that the warm feelings associated with this special meal wasn’t because I was thinking about how grateful I was. Nor was it because the food was so amazing. The most remarkable thing about this meal was the memories and the love behind each and every dish sitting on our table.

I thought of all the dishes we made and the stories behind them. I smiled at the thought of my dear friend Susan teaching me how to make the Cranberry Orange Relish when our kids were tiny, Jeanne’s famous pies, the Spiced Cranberry Sauce that Sue introduced me to just last year, the Green Bean Casserole my friend Kathy always included, the stuffing Mom taught me how to make, and the turkey (cooked in a bag) that Grandpa got out his electric knife to carve each year. So many people have made their indelible mark on what I always thought was merely a traditional meal. I truly am thankful to have had all those people in my life.

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Beautiful October

Hello October. I’m so glad you are here.  It seems as though you have only just arrived, but in truth, you are nearly gone.  As they say, time flies when you are having fun.  I’ve been enjoying you so much. 

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There’s something about the transitioning seasons that appeals to my heart.  As much as I love the summer, it’s time for something new.  Autumn brings a welcome nip to the air. There is just enough to cool the air and make it crisp, but not yet cold. The leaves are just starting to change colors and fall to the ground.  I’d say that they were wonderfully crunchy to stomp through, but the reality in the Pacific Northwest, is that they usually just create a colorful, yet soggy mosaic on the ground.

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To my delight, pumpkins have sprung up everywhere. You see them outside grocery stores, decorating businesses, on porches and even on my dining room table. As much as we like to decorate with pumpkins, we love eat them even more! The heady scent of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg fills the air as we nibble on pumpkin muffins, soups, scones, oatmeal, and let’s not forget the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte. 

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Seemingly overnight everyone has dug out their scarves, fuzzy sweaters and boots.  Dressing in layers is a must, as the weather has become even more unpredictable then usual.  Yesterday started out overcast and chilly. By noon it was sunny and warm. The blue sky contrasted so beautifully with the yellows, browns and russets of the turning leaves.  It was simply breath taking.  Today brings glimpses of winter with it’s gloomy grey skies and heavy rain showers.  Despite what the weather man will tell us, each day is a secret surprise, ready to unveil itself in it’s own time.  

It’s quite possible that after a few more weeks of this, that I will long for those long lazy days of summer. Yet, for right now, I’m more than content to curl up in my favorite chair with a cozy blanket, a good book and my pups and just enjoy this glorious fall. I hope you are enjoying it as well.

octobers           Image stolen from Facebook. Original source unknown.

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The End of a Chapter

Yesterday morning Shaun loaded up the car while I ran around the house turning off lights, jotting a quick note to the house-sitter and hugging the hounds goodbye.  Within moments we were joining the masses headed across the pass for Memorial Weekend.  A quick glance at our fellow travelers, those towing boats and campers, or loaded with kayaks and bikes were off for a long weekend of fun.   We intended to have fun, but of a different sort.  You see, this weekend, after four very short years, our girl will be graduating.

I was getting sad thinking to myself that we would never head over to KT’s college again, when Shaun decided to play, “Reminisce.” (He actually likes to play this quite a bit) He began regaling me with all the anecdotes I’ve heard a zillion times before. His voice was growing horse by the time he got to seeing “Toy Story 3” a few weeks before KT headed off for school. It just so happens that Andy, the main character is the same age as our girl. In the last “Toy Story,” Andy headed off to college. I’m sure many people were confused as to why our entire family was sobbing as we headed out of the theater.

Then the day came that we had to actually leave our KT outside of her dorm.

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It was almost more than we could bear.  Yet we were happy to see the smile she gave us as Shaun asked her to pose for this one last shot. 

When I look as this photo now, I see a very young girl, just starting a new section of her life.  Her fist is clenched tight as though holding in all of her thoughts and anxious feelings.  I look at my confident girl of today and can only wonder what the next chapter will hold for her.  This is so exiting. 

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Sweet Basil Dreams

As I peeled apart the clear hard-plastic container, I got my first whiff. A small trickle of nearly forgotten memories started to slowly twirl around in the farthest reaches of my mind. The scent intensified as I pulled the crumpled leaves out of their packaging. I plopped them down on the cheap Ikea cutting board, and admired their greenness against the red. Then I peered out my kitchen window. There, on the railing of my deck, sat a squat brown pot with a shriveled branch defiantly standing up.

I know I should have composted the lifeless plant back in the fall and tucked the planter away for the winter. Yet, somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. In a strange way, I actually liked looking at the dead branch. It reminded that the seemingly endless gray Seattle winter would someday fade away. It gave me hope that our glorious summer would soon return.

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I turned back to my task. Grasping the knife tightly, I sliced the sharply honed steel across the store-bought herb. The cut leaves immediately released the most heavenly aroma. As I inhaled deeply, I was instantly catapulted to the middle of summer. I was outside playing fetch with my dogs as the pungent scent drifted from the deck to where we romped below on the lawn. I was dining outside with friends enjoying the sunshine, good conversation and laughter. Not only could I smell the light fragrance wafting over us, I delighted in the sweet peppery taste it added to our meal. I was sitting in a comfortable Adirondack chair, sipping wine and giggling with a friend all while breathing in that heady perfume.

Smiling at the awakened memories, I scraped the chopped leaves into the waiting saucepan. I laughed at myself for having such uncharitable thoughts toward purchased produce. No, they weren’t the lush, hand harvested leaves that I had spoiled myself with all summer long. They may actually have been even better. At the end of a long winter’s grip, they brought the dreams of summer back to me.


Yeah Write

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Blame It On The Time Change

Shaun came home from work and we sat chatting about everything and nothing for a few minutes. Then he asked me if I had blogged yet. I gave him one of those sideway looks that told him that I thought he was nuts. Then glancing out the window and seeing how light it still was outside, I told him that I had plenty of time.

It was my turn to get one of those looks that told me exactly what he was thinking about my thought processes. (We are very good at giving each other meaningful looks.) He nodded knowingly and suggested that I had forgotten about Daylight Savings Time, and told me I only had an hour and a half left to get something brilliant posted. Plenty of time.

I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. But…well…it wasn’t dark and I didn’t have to start writing yet. Then suddenly, I realized that there was no time left. ACK! So much for brilliance.

I’m going to blame it on the fact that I had to get up so much earlier than I was meant to, (let’s face it, an hour isn’t very long unless, of course, you are trying to sleep, and blearily hit your snooze for as long as you possibly can!) after staying up way too late the night before.

(Imagine from Facebook…I have no idea who to credit)

Tomorrow has got to be better…

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Thank you for reading A Slice of My Life. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, why not consider “liking” my Facebook Page, subscribing by mail (at the upper right) or signing up in a reader. I’d be thrilled and you would never miss a post. Oh…and I love comments!

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A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

My girls and I often communicate by text. It’s simple to shoot something off and respond at your leisure. The last I had heard from my youngest was that she and her best friend Michele were going to hang out at The Bluff. I had no idea where the bluff was, but I assumed she was fine and would tell me about it later. My response was for her to be safe. It seems that I’m always telling them that. I can only hope that they know how much I worry and decide to make good choices.

An hour or so later, I got another text from Mimi. It merely said “I’m at the hospital…”

My heart started pounding and I tried not to let my panic show as I sent back a series of frantic questions asking what happened and how bad was it. I jammed my shoes on and started hunting for my keys as I waited to hear which hospital she was at. Just as I started to call her, I got another text. It said that Michele’s mom was in the ICU. I let out a huge sigh of relief. I was so grateful that my baby girl was okay.

The immediate panic over, my concern switched to Michele’s family. Once again, I asked what had happened and started wondering what I could do to help. My daughter must’ve had pity on me at that point, as she reminded me that Michele’s mom was a nurse and that they were just visiting her.

And I wonder where these gray hairs keep coming from…

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Mimi and Michele…partners in crime!

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Thank you for reading A Slice of My Life. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, why not consider “liking” my Facebook Page, subscribing by mail (at the upper right) or signing up in a reader. I’d be thrilled and you would never miss a post. Oh…and I love comments!

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Define Interesting

Shaun and I were out running errands this afternoon. He was listening to the classic rock station and giving me a mini-lesson about some obscure band that I was largely ignoring. We came to a stop light and he turned to give me his full attention. Apparently, I didn’t have very pleasant look on my face because he was suddenly very concerned and wanted to know why I was scowling. Of course I denied that I was scowling. I informed my husband that I was just thinking, and was also wondering when he was going to do something interesting.

“Interesting?” he asked. “What do you mean, interesting? I’m always interesting.” I told him that while I was very happy with his confidence level, I needed something more from him than his vast knowledge of the band MouseRat or whoever.

“Wait a minute! This is about your blog isn’t it?” he shouted and began waving his arms around in agitation. “This is too much pressure, I can’t do this!” I explained that he was all I had left now that the girls were rarely home. I needed him for some good blog material…especially as I had committed to blogging every day. And besides, I mollified him, he was the most interesting person I knew.

As we pulled into the Sushiland parking lot for lunch a short while later, I asked Shaun if he thought the waiter was going to ask to pet his beard again. (OK, to be honest here, I’m not sure it that is an interesting thing or a weird thing to happen to someone.)

“My beard!” Shaun said, “You can write about my beard, that’s interesting.”

“It’s not interesting.” I answered, “You know how I feel about that thing. I will write about it when you shave it off.”

Hmmm…I do find it interesting that somehow, the beard is still there and I’m writing about it.

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At least I get to post an interesting snapshot of Shaun wearing wax lips….

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Thank you for reading A Slice of My Life. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, why not consider “liking” my Facebook Page, subscribing by mail (at the upper right) or signing up in a reader. I’d be thrilled and you would never miss a post. Oh…and I love comments!

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It’s All Rubbish

“Did you take out the trash?” asked my Beloved with narrowed eyes.

I paused for a moment, unsure of what to say. Then I pointed to my daffodils that had struggled to come up every year since I had planted them. I babbled on about how I really should dig up the bulbs and find a place in our shady yard that had just a wee more sun.

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“Susie…”

With a sigh, I looked into my husband’s eyes and confessed, “Yes, I took out the trash.”

Shaun burst into laughter and crowed that he knew I wouldn’t be able to stand it.

It was true. I couldn’t stand it. Shaun generally takes the large bins to the road for pick-up on Trash Day. This particular morning, he had poked his head back into the house to tell me that the bins were empty and that it would be pointless to haul them up.

Naturally, I didn’t believe him. I knew that it simply wasn’t possible to not have any trash. I was aware that it was primarily just the two of us living here now, but it wasn’t very long ago that we had to stomp trash down to fit it all in. Surely the addition of two girls couldn’t add that much garbage!

Shaking my head, I grabbed the one bag of trash from the kitchen and brought it to the outside bin. Peering inside, I noted that Shaun was right. (I really hate it when he’s right. That means that I’m wrong. Sigh…) Sprawled in the bottom, was a sack of used kitty litter and an empty Starbucks cup. Dropping the bag I had carried from the house into the bin, I dashed back inside and went on a mad treasure hunt for more trash.

I have to admit that it wasn’t easy. I went through every room and the garage. I found tons of clutter that could be given away, some recycling and just a little actual trash. Doubling my efforts, I managed fill that bin at least, ok…almost…halfway. Enough, in my book, to haul up to the road.

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I’m already on a mission to fill that bin up all the way next week. I just hope I don’t have to go borrow some from the neighbors in order to do it.

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Thank you for reading A Slice of My Life. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, why not consider “liking” my Facebook Page, subscribing by mail (at the upper right) or signing up in a reader. I’d be thrilled and you would never miss a post. Oh…and I love comments!

Posted in Humor, Love and Marriage, That Man O' Mine | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Blossoming

I’ve heard it said many times that those high school years are the best of your life. I have no idea who actually believes that. Most people would say those years were okay, and some would say that it was a personal hell they had been forced to endure. It breaks my heart to say that my youngest daughter may have been in that last group.

School, particularly high school wasn’t a good fit for my passionate, creative and smart girl. She didn’t do well in the traditional classroom setting, nor did she end up with a circle of friends that really “got” her. We sent her off to college, with high hopes that she would thrive there. She did well at first, but as the semester went on, she realized that it just wasn’t for her.

Finally, we listened to what she really wanted to do. Our girl, that had been obsessed with make-up videos, creating hair masterpieces, painting her nails and doing make-overs for her friends, convinced us to send her to cosmetology school. Our Mimi had found her niche.

My daughter, who in the past, could barely drag herself out of bed, was cheerfully up by six-thirty every morning in order to get to school on time. She would put in an eleven hour day and come home so excited to tell me all about it. Through her enthusiasm, I learned more than I ever knew was possible about hair. Even on the days that she was exhausted beyond belief, with aching feet and a throbbing back, she was so happy. Some days, I could barely stop the tears from falling as I watched my baby blossom into who she was meant to be.

Last Sunday, while so many were watching the Oscars, I was watching my daughter’s graduation ceremony. They announced the first of three awards. The first was a Client Service Award. It was given to the student who has the most guests requesting her as a stylist. It wasn’t too much of a surprise that it was given to Mimi. People have always been drawn to her. That, combined with the skills that she had developed, kept so many asking for her over and over again.

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When the third certificate, the Gene Juarez Academy Award,  defined as the “Best of the Best,” was announced, we were shocked. It didn’t occur to us that someone could be honored with more than one award, but our Mimi won it! We were so proud and excited for her.

Mr. Gene Juarez, who rarely comes to the graduations, was there as the Keynote Speaker. Mimi had talked with him earlier, and this man who is so successful in his industry, encouraged her to travel and follow her dreams. During his speech, he stumbled over a quote, which only served to imbed it in my mind. He said;

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“Those who work with their hands are laborers,

Those who work with their hands and brains are craftsmen,

Those that work with their hands, brains and hearts are artists.

Be an artist.”

I have no doubt in my mind that Mimi will be an amazing artist, growing in whatever direction she chooses and working in salons that appreciate her talents and passion. I can’t wait to see where her path leads her. It’s going to be so amazing.

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Especially knowing that this is only the start of the best years of her life.

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Thank you for reading A Slice of My Life. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, why not consider “liking” my Facebook Page, subscribing by mail (at the upper right) or signing up in a reader. I’d be thrilled and you would never miss a post. Oh…and I love comments!

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My Little Secret

There is something fundamentally wrong with getting up before the Crack Of Dawn. It’s doubly wrong when the day you do this happens to be a Saturday. Yet, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and crawl out of bed to take care of things. In this instance, the thing I had to take care of was a delicious secret I had been savoring for weeks.

About a month ago, I called KT who is off at college. I told her that her sister Mimi’s graduation ceremony was coming up, and was wondering what her schedule looked like. I then informed her that she wouldn’t be getting an invitation, as Mimi had already come to the conclusion that KT either wouldn’t want, or be able to come. I thought she should at least be given the chance to decide for herself.

Of course KT was excited to see her baby sister’s graduation. Luckily, those dates happened to one of the better times for her to come. I agreed to fly her home in order to save her ten hours of driving time that could otherwise be used for studying. As we made the finalized the ticket purchase, I came up with a brilliant idea. We wouldn’t tell anyone she was coming! KT just laughed at me and wished me luck with keeping that secret.

Now, I’m really good at keeping secrets. People tell me things all the time, and I’m never even tempted to repeat their words. It soon became apparent to me that all those secrets I keep, are nothing compared to the fact that my eldest daughter was coming home for a weekend. There were so many times that it started to slip…not being able to share my secret was driving me bonkers. I had to tell someone, so all my girlfriends knew, the cashiers at the grocery store knew, and even complete strangers knew! Telling them helped, but it still wasn’t the same as telling my family.

Two days before Mimi’s ceremony, she started to seriously regret the fact that she hadn’t invited anyone. We have no family nearby, but we do have some wonderful family friends. I suggested that she invite some of them to come. She shook her head, not wanting to give so little notice. I finally took pity on her and shared my closely guarded secret. Mimi was so touched that she started to cry tears of happiness that her sister would actually come for her.

The next morning, I giggled to myself as I quietly crept out of bed and dressed to go to the airport. Just the very thought of what Shaun’s face would look like when he got up to find KT sitting in the front room negated my deep aversion to those early morning hours.

Some secrets are definitely worth getting up for.

Photo: Tonight I got to watch Meghan graduate from Gene Juarez Academy. She's embarking on an adventure she's wanted to pursue since she was little.</p>
<p>I was incredibly proud as she was bestowed with the honors she's earned through hard work and dedication.

My beautiful girls!

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Thank you for reading A Slice of My Life. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, why not consider “liking” my Facebook Page, subscribing by mail (at the upper right) or signing up in a reader. I’d be thrilled and you would never miss a post. Oh…and I love comments!

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