I’m In!

I was about 19 when a friend of mine started talking about football. It must’ve been shortly after New Year’s because I remember that I had recently watched the Rose Bowl Parade on television. In my innocence, I asked how many Bowls were left until the Super Bowl. Seeing the look of confusion on my friend’s face, I went on to explain that I was talking about things like the Rose Bowl, the Apple Bowl and the Orange Bowl. I just wanted to know how much longer until they got to the Big Daddy of bowls…the Super Bowl. Once she stopped laughing and picked herself up off the ground, my friend explained to me that they were completely different. The Super Bowl was for professional football players, and all the others were college level.

Needless to say, I’ve never been accused of being a sports fanatic. Over the years, any sports I watched were pretty limited to my girls as they played softball, basketball, soccer, martial arts and dance. I’ve been known to get caught up in the excitement of professional sports. Heck, I’ve had fun going to a few different games and watched them on the big screen…but given the choice, I’m just as happy curling up with a good book.

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I’ve always cheered our football team, the Seahawks, on in an absent-minded way. It wasn’t that I wasn’t loyal to our team, I knew they were out there playing, I just didn’t think about them all that much. This year is different though. This year, our town exploded in blue and green. Beautiful blue flags with a white “12” emblazoned on them fly from cars, buildings and even our Space Needle to show the support of our fans. The air is filled with a nearly tangible excitement. This year, the Seahawks are headed to the Super Bowl. (That’s the professional one, just in case you’ve lost track.) And this city has gone crazy! It’s impossible not to climb aboard the bandwagon and cheer our team on.

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Win or lose (what am I saying, of course they are going to win! Even a non-sports fanatic like me knows that!) they are our team and our entire city couldn’t be prouder of them!

GO HAWKS!!

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Just Like Edison

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning wondering what had woke me up. After a moment it dawned on me that it wasn’t something that woke me, but rather it was the lack of something. The fans that Shaun and I have taken to sleeping with every night, had stopped. After a few more perplexing moments, I realized that the red glow from Shaun’s alarm clock was also missing.

That made it official. The windstorm that I had been hearing all night had probably blown a tree branch across a wire and managed to knock the power out. I knew there wasn’t much I could do about it, other than hope that the repair crews would be able to fix it quickly. With a sigh, I set my phone alarm so that Shaun wouldn’t be late for his morning appointment, then snuggled back into the covers for a few more hours of sleep.

When my alarm went off, I reached over and shook Shaun awake. I explained to my groggy husband that it was time for him to get up, but that the power was out. I asked him if he wanted me to give him another half hour as he would be unable to check his email, nor would he be able to take a hot shower. He mumbled something that I took as “that sounds like a great idea,” so I set the alarm and rolled over.

Shaun pulled me from the brink of sleep by announcing that he simply had to take a shower. He was going to start the generator and needed me to help him. After a few years of using our generator with extension cords, we had finally hired an electrician to wire it to our house. This was to be our first time using it, and neither of us really knew how to use it.

Apparently my tactic of falling back to sleep to get out of figuring it out worked, as I was awoken once again. This time, it was by the loud roar of our generator starting. A few moments later, the furnace kicked on and a bright light was shining in my eyes. “I did it!” Shaun announced, “I made electricity!”

“Wonderful,” I muttered, “I’m so proud of you.”

I gave him a few moments to bask in his amazing achievement. I was very happy that my husband went out in the storm to start and hook up the generator. It was quite wonderful to have hot water, heat and lights that would turn on.

“Hey Shaun?” I asked, “Do you think you can still make coffee?” A girl does have her priorities after all.

Note: I started writing this as KT and I sat enjoying ourselves in a coffee shop. I asked her if she knew who invented electricity. I was sure it it was Edison, Tesla, Benjamin Franklin or someone else entirely.  I think studying for all those finals has really effected her.  She grabbed her phone and started looking it up.  I can’t remember all she told me about it, just that Edison, who generally gets the credit, didn’t really do much.  Huh, go figure. 

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Lofty Goals

Last weekend, Shaun and I went on a little adventure. (More about that later!) We had looked online and found a quirky little café in the middle of a boatyard.  I had a feeling I was really going to like it when my coffee arrived in a one-of-a-kind, lopsided mug that looked as though the funky flowers had been hand painted. With my first sip, I knew I was going to love it.

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As we waited for our breakfast to arrive, I gazed around, completely charmed by the kitschy décor. My eyes wandered from the multicolored swirls and snowflakes dangling from the ceiling to the colorful plates randomly tucked among photos and knick-knacks on the walls.  I was particularly drawn to the aprons the waitresses wore.  They were vibrant and full of joy.  The eclectic mixture of ruffles, lace and appliques should have given me a headache, but instead, I found myself beaming.

I turned to my husband and announced that my New Year’s resolution was to make an apron.

“That’s it?” he asked, “your only goal for the entire year is to make one apron?”

“Yep. It’s been on my list for the longest time. If I only have one resolution to keep, there’s a much a better chance that it doesn’t get set aside in a week or so.”

Shaun grinned at me and shook his head. After nearly twenty-five years of marriage, he’s learned to just accept what he often refers to as Susie Logic.

“Well,” he said, “I guess there’s something to be said about having lofty goals.”

Have you, Dear Reader, made any resolutions, loft or otherwise this year? I’d love to hear them.  (I know… I’m SUCH  a snoop!)

Posted in Adventures, Coffee, Humor, Love and Marriage, That Man O' Mine | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

New Year’s Tradition

A few years ago, I heard that eating black eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day would bring good luck for the entire year. Despite not being terribly superstitious, and realizing that I had made it though many, many years without having eaten them, I had decided that we should embrace this new tradition.

The first thing I had to do was figure out where to get black eyed peas. Next on the agenda was to find out what a collard was. The peas were easy. There was a large display stacked on the end cap at our local grocery store. I tossed a couple cans in the cart and headed over to the produce section. Of course, nobody there had the slightest idea what collard greens were. I decided they were similar to kudzu. A mysterious plant that runs amuck in the Southern states, yet is alien to the rest of us. I didn’t worry about them too much, we didn’t need them anyways.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with those black eyed peas. The label on the can didn’t offer any serving suggestions, so I was on my own. I opened the can and peered inside to see what they looked like. Floating around in a murky liquid were little white beans with a large black spot on each of them. They reminded me of the navy beans my mom used to add a little sugar and vinegar to and feed to my brother and me. We loved them. My family thought they were weird.

I had given up on the idea of our new tradition from lack of interest. Then last year, one of my Facebook friends, a true Southern belle, posted something about black eyed peas. My interest was renewed. I plied her with all sorts of questions and was rewarded with lots of information and recipes. I was ready to try this again.

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Only, it seemed as though everyone wanted to try it that year. We went to five different grocery stores hunting for the black eyed peas. We looked in the canned section, the dried legume section and the frozen section (Apparently that’s how you can get them in the South) with no luck. I was ready to give up when Shaun found a dented can tucked in the back of the very bottom shelf in the last store we were in.

After a long day of hunting for black eyed peas, I was in no mood to try cooking them. So I opened the can and fed everyone a plain, cold spoonful. Blech.

I assumed our fledgling tradition of eating black eyed peas to start out the New Year was over. My family had other ideas. Yesterday, they all wanted to know when we were going to have the peas. I may have been nursing a slight hangover and merely growled at their teasing. As the girls left the house for the day, they wanted to know what time they should be back to have the black eyed peas. I realized that I wasn’t being teased. Much to my amusement, they had picked up that this was an important tradition to me and were willing to humor me.

I found myself preparing a vegan recipe of Hopin’ John, a spicy Southern dish with rice and black eyed peas. It was much better than a spoonful of cold peas straight from the can, but certainly isn’t going on our list of favorite meals.

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Apparently, we have ourselves a New Year’s Day tradition after all. We eat black eyed peas in the worst possible way, just to get the bad stuff that every year has, out of the way as soon as possible.

Hmmmm….this could be fun.

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope 2014 is good to you. 

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Cherished

I was wandering around in the grocery store the other night, having a conversation with myself about what I still needed to get. I glanced over and spotted an older gentleman looking at me oddly. Assuming that my conversation was no longer just in my head, I flashed him an embarrassed grin and vowed, once again, to stop talking to myself in public.

To my surprise, the man swung his motorized scooter around in front of me, and stopped abruptly, startling a laugh out of me. He gave me a crooked smile, then told me that I looked like a nice lady and asked if I could help him. Being the nice lady that I am, I told him that of course I could.

He handed me a greeting card and said that he had forgotten his reading glasses. He was wondering if I would read the verse inside to him. It was for his wife of 57 years and he wanted it to be just right for her. I laughingly told him that he had asked the wrong person, as I couldn’t see worth beans either, while I fumbled inside my purse, feeling for my readers. Then I read the words paired together with the lovely drawing on front of the card.

It was one of those sappy poems so many cards contain. I paused in my reading and glanced at the man. He sat with his eyes closed, nodding his head in agreement, just listening. As I handed the card back to him, he choked out that it was perfect, thanked me for my time and sped away.

Our chance meeting lasted only a moment. However, it has stayed with me. The man reminded me so much of my grandfather. A gentle, kind man who was searching for the perfect words to tell someone else how much he did, and always had, cherished them.

My thoughts went toward my own husband. Shaun and I aren’t really the sentimental types. We rarely even give each other cards. If, on the rare occasion we do, it would lean more towards the humorous type, likely with puppies on it.

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Yet, I know that my husband adores me. He may not give me romantic cards or roses every week. But he is always thinking of me. He shows it in the little things he does.

This last week he has been out of town. The first couple days were nice. No one to steal the blankets from me, no one to tell me endless dumb jokes or rile up the dogs. Just peace and quiet at last.

Then I realized that I was missing all those little things that come only from him. Things like the trash bag I set outside the door magically disappearing. The goofy jokes or links to strange videos that he always sends me during the day. The quick phone calls snuck in-between meetings or on the way to lunch. The knowing glances, and private jokes that we share. Big comforting hugs and sweet kisses. Little things that let me know that I am being thought of. I know that I am cherished.

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Still, I amuse myself with the thought of Shaun in thirty or so years. He’ll be zipping around some store in his scooter, startling strangers and asking them help him find the most adorable greeting card, with the most ridiculous punch-line ever, for his wife of 57 years.  I can’t help but wonder what they would think.

That poor stranger.

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The Things I May Have Forgotten to Mention

My parents called me yesterday. They said it had been over a week since we last talked and they just wanted to catch up on things. It wasn’t too long into the conversation when my dad asked about the weather here in Seattle. It seems that he is always wondering what our weather is like. I’m pretty sure this is because he grew up in what he considered the frozen tundra, known to most as the state of Michigan. He isn’t too fond of those boyhood memories of trudging back and forth five miles to school, through the ten-foot high snowdrifts, going uphill both ways, of course.

In fact, it’s quite possible that the ghastly weather was the primary reason he enlisted in the Navy as soon as he was old enough for them to accept him. Somehow, Dad managed to spend his next thirty years stationed sunny California. He’d be the first to admit that all that toasty sunshine thinned his blood and he no longer could handle cold weather.

So I suppose it was a valid concern that he was wondering what ours was like. When he mentioned that they were having a bit of a heat wave in South Carolina, I began to wonder where he was going with the conversation. I was pretty sure he had an underlying motivation.  So I told him that we were having one of those rare glorious days filled with sunshine and blue skies.  What I may have forgotten to tell him, was that the water bucket I keep outside for the dogs had frozen over. 

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We chatted a bit more, then Dad casually mentioned that it was 82 degrees and Mom had been having a rough time trying to get the air conditioner to work. Now I was positive that they had called with the sole purpose to boast about their warm weather. 

So I told him about how I had gone to our local Country Village with one of my girlfriends.  I described all the wonderful lights and decorations they were still in the process of putting up.  I also told them all about the wonderful high tea we enjoyed. I may have failed to mention how we were bundled up and had darted from shop to shop in order to keep warm.  It’s also possible that it somehow slipped my mind to tell them that the picturesque fountain had frozen over.

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My folks said they hoped the nice weather held out at least until the end of the month.  They would be heading down to Florida in their RV after that, and didn’t want to fire up the furnace before they went.  I told them how my husband and I had gone for a drive in the boondocks.  I mentioned that Shaun was still wearing his shorts and sandals. 

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It’s possible that I didn’t tell them that my Beloved is insane because it was 24 degrees out.  (Which was quite balmy as it was 12 degrees when we left the house) and the Snoqualmie River right below us was starting to freeze over.

We chatted a bit more, then said our goodbyes. It’s possible I forgot to mention how their boasting actually worked, and left me longing for a taste of summer.   I’m glad I remembered to tell them I loved them and hoped they would be heading back our way soon.

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You Better Watch Out!

  Our entire family went out shopping last Friday night, hoping that the crowds of Black Friday shoppers were home, sleeping off their early morning plundering.  Well, technically we just popped into Target to get a few things. I don’t think most people consider that shopping. Our girls certainly don’t.  Yet Shaun and I, the mall-avoiders, do.

KT and I were happily browsing away in the seasonal section. We were having a wonderful time checking everything out. We had lights to look at, ornaments, stockings, wrapping paper, a menorah…anything you could possibly want. The only thing that was missing was the Christmas music every store in the area had forced us to listen to since October. I’m pretty sure it was playing, but it was being drowned out by a very unhappy child, screaming at the top of his lungs.

I did my best to ignore the poor little guy. After all, it was well past what I would consider to be a normal bed time. Then, there was all the excitement from all the Thanksgiving festivities. His frustration was understandable.  I pushed aside my irritation at the child’s piercing screams and at his oblivious parents and just enjoyed my limited time with my daughter.

After a short time, Shaun and Mimi came from wherever they were to find us. Mimi asked if I had heard that kid screaming.  I merely rolled my eyes and wondered if there was any way I couldn’t have noticed it.  Then I realized that the screeching was gone.

Mimi informed me that Shaun slowly walked up to the child and told him that he had better watch out, because Santa was watching him.

WP_20131026_13_33_36_Pro (3)   Shaun and his friend.  Not his reindeer friend though.

The little boy looked up at Shaun.  His eyes grew wide and realizing that Shaun must know what he was talking about, very slowly stopped his screaming.

Somehow, I think that little boy is going to be very, very good for the rest of the month.

Edit to add: You can read about Shaun’s first “groupies” HERE

Posted in That Man O' Mine, Traditions | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Well, Hello December

I’d say that it couldn’t possibly be December already, but there is a huge tree filled with twinkling fairy lights tucked in the corner of my living room proving me wrong. Normally, we wouldn’t have a tree up quite this early. I’ve always chosen to not decorate for Christmas until after my daughters’ birthdays in the middle of the month. This year, however, is different. I wanted to be able to put our tree up when we were all together. Something that seems to be harder and harder to do as the years go by and my girls get older.

So the day after Thanksgiving, when many families head to a Christmas tree farm or perhaps a newly erected spot in a corner of some parking lot, we decided to put our tree up as well. KT cranked the holiday music up, while Shaun headed down to the garage and hauled our tree up. Our tree comes in three sections. We carefully pieced them all together, folded down the limbs and connected the pre-lit wires. We added in a couple squirts of pine-scented air freshener and after nearly half an hour of semi-hard labor we were rewarded with our beautiful tree.

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I’ve been asked a zillion times why we don’t have a “real” tree.  The most common answers to this question seem to be either not wanting to kill a tree for no real reason, or to avoid the mess of pine needles and sap.  

I guess the answer to that question, for me, would have to be because of tradition.  I grew up with a fake tree.  It was always a ritual for my brother and I to sort the branches out by the faded out color painted on the ends of each branch, and to bring them to my father in the order he called for them.  It was always frustrating, but there was a certain comfort feeling we were responsible for getting the tree to look just right.  I think I just felt the need to recreate that for my own kids.  Of course the fact that my parents gifted me with that ancient tree when I started my own family might have something to do with our choice. 

The tree we have now is simple to put up.  Our family is growing up and our tradition is changing.  Little girls are delighted to spend the entire evening setting up and decorating a tree.  Big girls (Ok…young adult women) not so much.  It takes only moments to set this tree up, but that seems to be all that we need to carry on our family tradition. 

I’m glad to see you again December. 

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Hello Fall

It seems as though summer has flown by in a busy haze.  It was lovely. Full of sunshine, good friends and family.  Now I find myself looking forward to autumn and the structure and routines that always come with it. 

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Although, to be honest, I’m not so sure how that’s going to work this year.  The routines always came with the beginning of the school year.  And I have no child going off to school.  Our KT has left for her senior year of college  (How on EARTH has that happened already??) at the end of August and our Mimi has been attending the Gene Juarez Academy since April. 

If I had to choose a favorite season, I’d have to go with fall. I’m so glad it’s here. There is something about it that just makes my heart happy.  I relish the crispness in the air, the beautiful colors of the changing leaves and that nearly indescribable smell that permeates the air and just screams fall to me.  Not to mention the yearly appearance of a certain seasonal latte that I just can’t seem resist. 

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This is the time of year to dig out my jeans, snuggly socks, and fleece.  (My husband Shaun doesn’t bother with that stuff.  He wears shorts and sandals year round. I keep waiting for him to loose a toe to frostbite.)  I need to harvest the last of my tomatoes, and plant some mums and pansies before putting the rest of my garden to bed for winter.  My fingers are itching to fill the house with the spicy aroma of baked goods and simmering stews. 

For someone who whines and complains to anyone that will listen (and some, like Shaun, who doesn’t.) about how much I dislike change, I truly embrace this season of transition. 

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Welcome fall!

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This Summer: A Manifesto

School let out a week ago and I’ve been a little at loose ends as I don’t teach during the summer.  I have a huge lists of projects that need doing, but somehow I’m not terribly inspired to get started.  So this summer I have decided to indulge myself in all the things that I want to do, but generally don’t, for one reason or another.   I have created a list, a manifesto if you will, of my intentions for the next several weeks of summer.  I’d love to hear more suggestions. 

This summer I will pamper my garden. As I weed, I will have lovely chats with the daisies, geraniums and  petunias without worrying what the neighbors…or my daughters…think.  I will grow zucchini and give some to everyone I know.  I will feast on home-grown tomatoes with fresh basil out on the deck.  I will go berry picking and make jam.

This summer I will admire my pedicure as I walk barefoot in the grass and along the shore.  I will wear brightly colored skirts that flutter in the breeze.  I will wear tank tops that allow the sun to kiss my shoulders and cause the freckles to pop out, despite the sunscreen.  I will not worry about the lack of tone in my arms. 

This summer I will finally make that apron I’ve been talking about.  I will read cheesy romance novels and drink sun tea by the gallon.  I will lie in the grass,  stare at the clouds and blow bubbles .  I will play with my dogs. 

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This summer I will go wine-tasting and listen to music in the park while picnicking with my friends.  I will strive to make new friends and re-connect with some old ones. I will learn to make the perfect mojito with mint from my herb garden. I will laugh.  A lot.

This summer I will go on a road trip.  I will watch a parade and applaud some fireworks.  I will go to a drive-in movie theater.  I will walk hand and hand with my Beloved.  We will have long talks about nothing in particular and everything in general while going for long rides in the Jeep with the top down.  We will  go star gazing.  We will dance in the kitchen while making dinner and steal kisses.

This summer I will spend time with my parents and work towards writing their stories down.  I will take my mom shopping and not lose my patience when she stares at a wall of pens for twenty minutes.  I will ask my dad to show me his expertise with that Project List that needs to be done.  I will spend time with my girls whenever I get the chance.  I will blog. 

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This summer I will hunt for fairies, slay dragons and wish on dandelion seeds.  I will embrace the enchantment of the season and not complain too much about the heat.  This summer will be magical. 

I can’t wait. 

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