The look in her eyes when I said good-bye

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Downtown Seattle on a sunny day.

Little did I know that that would be the last time I’d see Mom before the COVID lockdown. My daughter and I were visiting my mom in her assisted living home on a trip to Seattle in March two years ago today. Mom and I share March birthdays and I try to make it a point to be with her. But last year in March they had COVID breakouts in a facility a few miles from her and then it spread to her assisted living home.

The good news is she never got it. She’s healthy and got both her shots. But I miss her. I’m hoping someday this year I’ll get to spend time with her in person.

Here’s what I wrote about my trip to visit mom in March 2019:

I will never forget the look in my mom’s eyes when I said goodbye. After lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant, we sat around a table in the lobby playing a card game our family played when I was a child, Demon.

It was fun and we all laughed as we got more and more competitive. They teamed up against me, as they tried to defeat me–but didn’t of course. My daughter slowed down her speed to make the game more fun for us old folks, because seriously she could beat us handily at anything involving speed and reaction time.

After that, we walked mom back to her room, got her settled in and said good-bye. My mom stared at me, sitting in her comfy chair, like her heart was breaking. Her big hazel eyes filled with water and I fought my own tears. I felt like I was deserting her.

My daughter asked if she wanted the TV on, and she said, “No, I’m fine.” As we closed the door, I peaked in and saw my mom sitting on her chair with her head dropped, staring at nothing.

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My mom was surprised to learn I had a camera in my phone. She enjoyed the selfie.

The good news is I came the next day, and the next. Each day she looked happier and her spark returned. She has a witty sense of humor and kept me laughing. By the time I said my final good-bye, she looked so much better. I think she’s terribly lonely and I need to visit more often.

And to think I was going to visit her more often — and then no visits at all….

If you live away from your elderly family members, how do you feel when you say good-bye?

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Nothing better than a mother daughter trip.

After Dr. Suess, who’s next?

This was the first children’s book published by Dr. Seuss,  Theodor Seuss Geisel

As a baby shower gift, we received a large compilation of Dr. Seuss books in one heavy volume. My husband loved Mulberry Street and read that nightly to our son. I think the attraction to the story was a young boy with a vivid imagination coming up with a story to tell his dad. It was a father son story.

Today I learned the book will no longer be published and Dr. Seuss is banned from many schools altogether. This cancel culture is taking the joy out of simple pleasures. The banning is because of racial overtones or is it undertones? I can’t keep up.

I long ago sent that volume of Seuss books to our local thrift shot benefitting Angel View Crippled Children’s Homes. I regret it. I’d like to read the books again and see what’s so offensive. I don’t remember anything except little squiggly hairs on creatures that weren’t quite human or animals.

I remember the first books I read. “One Fish, Two Fish,” and “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Cat in the Hat.” I was so proud to be able to read on my own.

I went on Amazon this morning and there was one copy of Mulberry Street left. For a hefty price of over $20. I then clicked onto ebay and found the book being sold for as much as $140! Oh well.

I’ve read that Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird have been banned from schools. I googled book banning and learned of lists of books that have been banned for decades from people from all sorts of points of views. My opinion is strongly against any and all book banning — by anyone for any reason. At least I can’t think of a reason why I’d support banning books. Here’s a list of banned books through the years along with the reasons.

 

And To Think I saw it on Mulberry Street

by Dr. Seuss

When I leave home to walk to school,

Dad always says to me,

“Marco, keep your eyelids up

And see what you can see.”

But when I tell him where I’ve been

And what I think I’ve seen,

He looks at me and sternly says,

“Your eyesight’s much too keen.”

“Stop telling such outlandish tales.

Stop turning minnows into whales.”

Now, what can I say

when I get home today?

All the long way to school

And all the way back,

I’ve looked and I’ve looked

And I’ve kept careful track.

But all that I’ve noticed, Except my own feet

Was a horse and a wagon on Mulberry Street.

That’s nothing to tell of,

That won’t do, of course….

Just a broken-down wagon

That’s drawn by a horse.

That can’t be my story. That’s only a start.

I’ll say that a ZEBRA was pulling that cart!

And that is a story that no one can beat,

When I say that I saw it on Mulberry Street.

The beginning of “And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street” by Dr. Seuss

Positive thought for the day

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My new back yard as the sun begins to set.

 “With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures, and some books, I live without envy.”  Lope de Vega

 

I found this quote in an email from the woman’s club I left behind at my old home. While I miss my friends back home, this thought made me smile. It’s exactly how I feel. I’m very content at home with my plants, wildlife, photos and books. 

Here are some of my new friends. I enjoyed meeting them other night when we barbecued. But the jojoba bushes weren’t quite as thrilled.

 

I saw three of these large birds circling overhead this morning. Can anyone tell me what kind of birds they are?

Speaking of birds, I’m excited about a bird feeder my son’s company is helping come to life. It uses AI to identify birds who visit your backyard. Here’s a link to find out more. The creator has raised more than $5.7 million. I guess there are a lot of us who want help bird watching!

What makes your life content? What simple pleasures make you happy?

Do you worry about too much screen time?

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Before the internet was a thing.

A year ago today was a lifetime ago. We were living in normal times. We were hearing about COVID-19, but it hadn’t affected us yet. There were a handful of known cases. I was reading about screen time and how it was affecting our kids. Depression and anxiety were being linked to social media.

Fast forward to today. We’ve been sheltering in place for 11 and a half months. Does anyone care about screen time and our kids? Depression and anxiety are at an all time high. Our kids don’t see their friends, they have to use their screens to connect. Parents working from home probably welcome more screen time so they can work.

Here’s what I wrote a year ago, before knowing what our daily lives would be like:

I am so thankful my kids were born in the late 90s and not today. Do you know why? Because we didn’t have to worry so much about screen time. We had one of those big box TVs and a VCR in the back bedroom. My biggest worry wasn’t how much time they were looking at screens, but what my son was going to “feed” it — a small toy or a peanut butter sandwich? Yes. He did that.

We allowed our kids to use the computer and they had DVDs that had educational activities that fascinated them. And they watched movies on the DVDs, too. But we didn’t have the internet back then. I didn’t have anywhere, like Facebook or Instagram, to post hundreds of pictures of them until much later! I’m sure they are thankful they were born in the 1990s for that very reason, too!

An article called Challenges of parenting “Generation A” from CBS affiliate KWCH12 in Wichita, Kansas, explains some of the fears parents have today and offer a few tips on how to deal with the challenges:

Generation A

It’s a new term to describe children who were born after 2010. They are the children of millennials. And they live in a world where smartphones and the internet have always existed.

Experts say that’s important because all the technology brings challenges for parents, including a risk of addiction.

Kids born after 2010 have phones in their faces almost immediately after they’re born. Their parents are taking pictures to post on Instagram and Facebook.

Experts warn, if you aren’t careful, that could grow into a technology addiction that makes it difficult for kids to interact with other kids.

“There is a certain type of addictive piece to playing a game, getting rewards, passing certain levels, and it’s just more fun than real life,” said Kalee Beal, who works with kids in the autism community at Heartspring.

She says now, even kids who don’t have autism are facing some of the same developmental challenges because of the technology in front of them.

I watched my toddler son become mesmerized whenever that giant purple dinosaur Barney would appear on TV. That was the only thing he seemed to be obsessed with on the screen. We also watched a ton of VCRs I’d check out from the library for free. I remember my Aunt Linda was so surprised during one of her visits. My son asked if she wanted to watch a movie with him. She was sure it would be a Disney cartoon. She was pleasantly surprised when he turned on “Meet Me in St. Louis.” After years of watching every musical the library had, my son asked me, “Mom, do they make any movies where they aren’t singing and dancing all the time?”

Here are some tips from the article about Generation A:

Beal offered some tips for parents.

First, she says technology is a great positive behavior enforcer, as long as you set limits. And, when time is up, take the device away.

She says games requiring problem-solving and strategy can be good for development, but parents should download the game and play it themselves before handing the tablet over to their children.

Parents should know if kids can chat with others through the game, which could expose them to danger.

Beal says kids are very tech savvy, and if you set up parental controls, they may find a way to disable or work around them.

She recommends looking through devices often to make sure your child didn’t tamper with safety settings.

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Back when my son would “feed” the VCR.

What do you recommend to parents of Generation A to limit screen time? Do you think too much screen time is a concern or have you relaxed your standards?

How to not overwork from home

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Back when I was working from home as a stay-at-home mom with my first-born child.

Little did I know when I posted this last January, that a bunch of people would be working from home in a few short weeks! My husband’s office is shut to most employees and clients. He’s been working from home for close to a year. He’s pretty good at keeping strict business hours. In our new home, he has his own office and that’s a big upgrade from him working in our master bedroom! Here’s what I wrote unknowing what the COVID year ahead would be like:

Working from home is something I’ve done for years. At first, I had what is now our guest room dedicated as my office for my sole proprietor public relations and marketing biz. That’s why the kids called it the “computer room” when they were little.  I had a desktop Apple IIc something computer and heavy-weight laser printer. Back then, I also had a fax machine and a separate phone line for my work.

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This looks like the very first Mac in my home office.

My downfall with that venture was not knowing when to stop. Even though I had a separate work space, I couldn’t stop working. I had a client who loved to call me after 6 p.m. and give me work that had to be done by morning — and they were my main client! Also, this was pre-email days and internet. I had to transfer files to the people who changed my files to film over a modem. Then the film had to be picked up from these mom and pop shops and I drove them to the printer. I’m talking newsletters, flyers, brochures and veloxes for newspapers. Can you imagine that?

I’d wake up throughout the night and to make sure the files transferred from my modem to the film person’s modem. Sometimes a newsletter or ad file would take six or seven hours to transfer.

How things have changed from the early 1990s! Prior to that it, was a Selectric IBM typewriter I used and hand delivered copy to a print shop who then had to retype it all into columns, lay it out with my photos or artwork, give me a rough copy and finally a blueline to proof before going to print. Things are so much easier these days.

I’m still working from home and everything is so much quicker and convenient with emails and the internet. But the question still remains, how do I guard my time and not work all the time?

What’s a blueline you might ask if you weren’t alive back in the olden days? Here’s the definition I got from googling it from Dictionary.com:

blueline:

a print made on light-sensitive paper and used as a proof for checking the position of stripped-up negatives or positives and copy prior to platemaking.

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What are your solutions for separating a life from working hours when you work from home?

What’s your favorite burger?

Here's the screenshot of Five Guys

Screenshot of Five Guys home page.

This weekend, we went to Five Guys for the first time. I will admit I was a bit skeptical having lived in California for 37 years. In-N-Out Burger has a cult following and during COVID-19 the drive-in line was never less than 50 cars wrapped in a serpent through their parking lot and out onto the street. It’s always busy. Everywhere you see an In-N-Out there is a line. Always for all 37 years I lived there.

When we pulled up to Five Guys there was one family and lady with a Yorkie in line ahead of us. That was it.

I did like the Five Guys burger. In fact it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. I’m not ready to say it’s better than In-N-Out though. My loyalty won’t allow it.

As for the fries….Five Guys was too salty. The salt ruined perfection. You could see the salt granules sticking to your fingers with every bite. Next time, I’ll ask them to go light.

 

Here’s a screen shot of In-N-Out’s website.

My first poll! I’m proud of myself for figuring out how to make one. Also, for my first post using Block Editor.

Do you have a favorite burger place? What is it? Or, please share your home kitchen secrets to the perfect burger.

Kitchen cures for what ails you — tips from the 1900s

photo of Mrs. DeWitt C. Owen

My great grandmother, “Nellie,” author and businesswoman.

My great-grandmother Ella Leighton Upton Owen published a series of miniature cookbooks from 1898 to the early 1900s. Among them was “Sick Room Necessities” that gave tips on how to cure ailments like indigestion, fevers and diarrhea — all using ingredients found in her kitchen.

Nellie, as my great-grandmother was known, was a woman ahead of her time. She self-published these books and sold them across the nation. They were popular as fundraisers for women’s church groups.

 

What was life like at the turn of the turn of the century in 1900 for a housewife? Here are a few fun facts:

Refrigerators for the home weren’t invented until 1913. Instead homes had ice boxes.

 

Ice was delivered by the “ice man” driving a cart and horse.

 

There were only 8,000 automobiles in the United States with zero west of the Mississippi River.

 

Less than two percent of the population graduated from high school.

 

Tuberculosis caused more deaths than cancer.

 

Washing machines consisted of tubs, scalding hot water, washing boards and excruciating hard labor.

 

Indoor plumbing and flush toilets were not common.

 

Bathing was generally a once a week affair because it was difficult to heat up so much water.

Yet, here was Nellie, publishing her books and selling them from her husband’s printing press in Illinois and eventually Washington state. Think of the work to set the type! Hint: it was all done by hand.

I’m currently working with a graphic artist and printer to get these gems back to life. This is an exciting project I’ve dreamed about for more than a decade! I’m finally doing it!

If you’d like to learn Nellie’s secrets on how to treat indigestion, fevers and diarrhea — please subscribe by email. I’ll send you an excerpt from “Sick Room Necessities.” You may find your cure is right inside your kitchen cupboard.

What other major things have changed in our homes in the last 121 years?