Views from my trip

The house I grew up in from second grade on. No we didn’t have a blue garage! What were these people thinking!

I grabbed the front of the house photo from Redfin.

After my aunt and I left Robe Valley and my mother’s ashes, we drove to my hometown, Snohomish, Wash. During our journey we detoured up Lord’s Hill to my old house that I lived in from second grade until I left for college. My mom sold it after “the divorce.” It was too expensive for her to keep up on alimony payments.

First street Snohomish
First Street, the touristy part of my hometown.
Snohomish first street
Another view of First Street Snohomish.

We stopped for lunch at Andy’s Fish House. The Pacific Northwest has the best seafood. I had chowder, salad and a piece of cod. My aunt had fish and chips. It was delish!

Oto Sushi
While I’m posting about food, I had sushi with my BFF from college at Oto Sushi near my brother’s house. This was called “Skinny Girl Roll” because it didn’t have rice. It was so fresh and yummy.
View from my brother's patio.
View from my brother’s patio overlooking a small lake. It’s a gorgeous home and location. Notice they have one of my flamingos in the backyard!
Nephew playing piano

My nephew played Moonlight Sonata and Für Elise as a tribute to my mom. He used his Covid shutdown days to learn piano!

13 Coins Seatac
The counter at 13 Coins, one of my mom and dad’s favorite restaurants when I was growing up.

My aunt and I spent the night at SeaTac airport after our adventure in Robe Valley and Snohomish. Next door to our hotel was 13 Coins which was a favorite memory of mine with my mom. My aunt said it was a place she and her husband frequented in the 1970s. Sitting at the counter is more exciting than in the booths, because it’s where all the cooking takes place.

13 Coins Seatac
The line action at 13 Coins by the Seattle airport.
brother with two sisters
Mom, her older brother and my aunt who is 11 years younger than Mom.

My aunt shared a small scrapbook she made for my mom’s 70th birthday. This was a photo in it that I loved.

cat on a suitcase
Olive immediately attacked my suitcase when I came home. She made the suitcase her perch for hours.

Thanks for taking a look at my week in the Pacific Northwest.

A phoenix rising from the ashes

Private road through the woods

This is the private road through the woods to our riverfront property. We ran across this obstacle on our journey.

My aunt and I made the trek to Robe Valley where our family has owned property along the Stillaguamish River since the crash of ’29. Our mission was to spread my mother’s ashes in a place of beauty that she loved.

At dinner the night before at my brother’s home, we celebrated mom’s life. I was surrounded with love from my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, spouses and children and of course aunt.

I worried about the condition of the road to the river. Would it be too muddy? Would it be flooded? We were told we’d need a chainsaw this time of year to make it to the river.

“We don’t do chainsaws,” I said.

My aunt who turns 80 this year, nodded her head in agreement.

gate to private road
A new gate to our property.

Our first obstacle was a new gate. Prior to this gate, we had a chain across our road. Fortunately, I packed the key that was mailed to me by a distant relative a few months ago. Whew! It worked!

When we stopped at the fallen branches blocking the road, I was able to push and hold them back while my aunt gunned the accelerator and drove through.

Then something surprising happened. A Great Blue Heron (not a Phoenix) rose from a low branch and flew up in front of us. The Great Blue Heron was my mom’s favorite bird. In the 80-plus years this property has been in the family, no one has seen one.

My aunt said “Mary is that you?” (Mary is my mother’s name.)

The heron kept flight directly in front of our car as we made our way down the road. Literally we were looking up and forward.

I’m reminded of Victoria’s post yesterday at Victoria Ponders with these words from her dear friend:

Look Up.  Look Forward.

https://victoriaponders.com/

It was a sight or a sign. It was other worldly. I didn’t get a photo or video, but the four-foot tall bird guiding us down the road is etched in my mind.

We reached the river without further obstacles, prayed and spread my mom’s ashes along with blue hydrangea blossoms (blue was my mother’s favorite color and she loved hydrangeas.)

We left in peace knowing Mom was put to rest in one of the most beautiful places that she loved.

river view
Where we spread ashes with snow on the riverbanks and snow capped mountains in the distance.
Stilaguamish River in Washington state.
View across the river from our property.

Feeling a little blue

mother and daughter
Mother Daughter photo.

I miss my mom. She passed away New Year’s day this year. I’ve been really busy and have felt pretty good most of the time. But today it hit me.

My daughter warned me that grief will come in waves. She lost a close friend to suicide not long ago and has struggled through her grief. She said just like waves come in sets, so does grief.

I was running errands and stopped to pick up mail before I drove home. There was a dear letter from my aunt (my mom’s little sister) that included a booklet about Heaven. There was also mail from CenterPoint church in Utah, where my husband’s childhood best friend is pastor and founded the church.

The letter from my aunt was encouraging me to reflect on my mom being in a better place. The synchronicity of receiving these letters and booklet gave me chills and warmed my heart. It was not a coincidence. I got the message right when I needed it.

What is the difference between coincidence and synchronicity?

Coincidence and synchronicity are related but distinct terms. The term “coincidence” describes a seemingly related series of events that occur without apparent cause. The term “synchronicity” requires that the individual ascribe deeper meaning to the coincidence; indeed, Carl Jung described synchronicity as “meaningful coincidences.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/synchronicity

What are your thoughts about coincidence and synchronicity? Do you have any examples that have happened to you? I wrote about it a few months ago HERE.

Just what I needed

Waffles the pug

My daughter’s pug Waffles.

I’m back home and I feel so much better mentally than when I left. I was wallowing in grief after my mom’s sudden death. I found myself aimlessly wandering through our house, alternating between tears and shock.

The six days with my kids was like a healing balm or salve that my heart needed.

What did we do? I was busy with my son, making his pour-over coffee, overnight oats, grocery shopping at my favorite Berkeley Bowl. I walked Waffles, played Scrabble, went to lunch and shopped with my daughter on Fourth Street, enjoyed time with my son’s fiancee and family. They lost their father several years ago and I felt their empathy and understanding.

The mushroom aisle at Berkeley Bowl, my favorite grocery store.

I was busy most of the time, I felt needed, and I felt my mom is in a better place.

We watched good movies including Metropolitan and Nausciaa of the Valley of the Wind. The voice of the Princess in Nausicaa was done by Alison Lohman, who is a local Palm Springs girl. She was in my ballet class more than 25 years ago. I’m always interested in watching her movies.

The food in the Bay Area is so much better than in Scottsdale. We ordered in most nights because of the storm. We had Japanese, Korean, Mexican and take out from Berkeley Bowl.

My son’s charcuterie with cheeses, salami, prosciutto, blackberries, grapes, crackers and comb honey.

If you find yourself in a funk — not necessarily grief like I’ve been experiencing — how do you get out of it?

The mother-daughter relationship revisited

My kids not wanting me to take their pic.
My kids not wanting me to take their pic.

I wrote this years ago, when I was visiting my mom in assisted living near Seattle. I am reposting this in her memory. We lost her Jan. 1, 2023.

Why is my daughter so annoyed with me?

I understand how she feels. After all, I was once 19 years old. I remember it very clearly.

When I was that age, everything my mom did, I found unbelievably annoying.

I’ll never forget sitting with her in the car, getting ready to shop at Bellevue Square. She had parked the car. She was fumbling through her purse, making sure she had what she needed. She reapplied her lipstick. Dug through her purse for her wallet to look through credit cards. Searched several times to check where she placed the keys.

Would we never leave the car? Would I be stuck all day? I must have said something to her quite snippy or flat-out mean. A few tears rolled down her cheeks. Which made me more upset with her.

Isn’t it a sad feeling, transitioning from a mom who could do no wrong—from changing diapers, to cooking their favorite spaghetti, to taping treasured colorings on the fridge that were made just for you—to being the person of their abject disdain?

It’s a tough new role. Let me tell you.

But, having gone through these feelings myself, I understand. I’m visiting my mom this week in her assisted living center. I talked about it with her, what I’m going through now, and what I felt like when I was 19. Fortunately, she doesn’t remember me ever being a snarky 19-year-old.

For some reason, I’ve gained more patience throughout my life and that has been a blessing. I’ve also learned forgiveness.

Something else I’ve learned through years of parenting — this too shall pass.

It’s called independence and freedom. We want our children to grow and become separate human beings who can stand on their own. They need to separate from us. A good time to do that is during their senior year of high school, or their freshman year of college. They need to. I keep telling myself that.

However, we also want to be treated with respect, and once again—someday—to be cherished.

Mother and daughter selfie
Selfie with mom on a recent visit to Pike Place Market.

Have your children been annoyed with you? Do you remember being annoyed with your parents? What were the reasons why?

A different kind of mother

mother and daughter photo
Mom and me in the early 90s.

My New Year started off with a phone call from my brother that our mom was found in her bed unresponsive. Within two hours she passed away after being taken by ambulance to the hospital. This was totally unexpected. She tested positive for COVID five days earlier but was asymptomatic.

I’m going through shock, denial, disbelief and grief all at once.

I wrote this story about her years ago. I sent it to children’s book publishers and actually got an offer from a small publisher. I turned down the offer because I didn’t think it was big enough! I’ve never had another offer in my life to have a book published.

Here’s the story:

A DIFFERENT KIND OF MOTHER

I have a different kind of mother. She’s not like other mothers on our street. She looks like other mothers. But it’s what she does that’s different.

She sings all the time. She sings songs by men named Wagner and Wolf. But she calls them “VAHgner” and “VOUlf.”

When my friends come over they ask “What is that?”
We listen. “La la la la la la la la laaaa.”

I shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s my mom.”

My friends laugh. Their mothers never sing unless it’s to the radio.

My mom sings all the time. She sings operas while she drives, cooks, shops, gardens, reads and cleans. I think she sings in her dreams.

My mother never buys a loaf of bread. She bakes it every week and slices it with a big knife. Sometimes she lets me punch down the dough after it rises.

When I take my lunch to school, my sandwich sits crooked and looks like it’s ready to fall. My mother packs me carrot sticks, a hard boiled egg, an orange and an apple. There’s too much food and not one chip or pretzel like the other kids get. I like to order hot lunch.

My mother thinks hunting through the woods for mushrooms is fun. She took classes to learn about mushrooms so she knows which are good to eat and which ones are poisonous. I hate it when she asks my friends to go picking with her. But they love to go tramping through the dense green forest, climbing over fallen logs covered with moss. She points out the faerie rings where the mushrooms grow.

My mother grows vegetables in her garden, she won’t buy them at the store. But does she grow peas and carrots like the other mothers on our street? No. She’s proud of her eggplant, asparagus, spaghetti squash and rhubarb.

When my friends come over to play, my mother asks them to weed the garden.

“Nobody wants to weed. We want to play,” I tell her.

Then I turn around and the kids are lined up on both sides of her, pulling weeds as she tells them about the vitamins in vegetables.

My mother doesn’t read ordinary books by popular authors. She likes to read e.e. cummings with letters scattered over the page. I don’t know what the poems say. But my mother gathers up the letters and makes sense out of them.

Digging for clams up to her elbows in mud is how my mother catches dinner. She knows about razor clams that we dig in the surf and butter clams, littlenecks and cockles we find in the gritty gravel. She calls the ones we break with our shovels “clums.”

She picks oysters off the beach, shucks the top shell of and eats them raw right then and there. She eats the roe out of sea urchins and said, “It tastes like caviar!”

She’s the friendliest person on the street. She bakes wild blackberry pies for elderly neighbors and talks tomatoes with anyone who will listen. 

She invites the neighborhood kids in, even if I don’t want her to. She doesn’t care when kids build a fort in our backyard or makes tents in the living room with old sheets. She lets us draw chalk pictures on the driveway and dig for China in the backyard.

At night when she tucks me in, I listen to her sing a lullaby with her beautiful voice.

When she kisses me good night, I love that my mother is a different kind of mother.

mom fishing in the river
Mom fishing at our cabin in Washington.

Are you superstitious?

Angus our yellow lab and Sherman our black cat (RIP.)

Sherman and Angus lived to ripe old ages of 17 and 15 respectively. I was surprised when my husband’s uncle came over years ago and I discovered he was superstitious about black cats.

Yesterday, I was ready to take my daily trip to the post office with my husband’s client gifts. My plan is to go five days in a row with a dozen packages. Any more than that, my mind gets muddled writing addresses and I make mistakes. Plus, the dirty looks from the patrons behind me, isn’t fun. Once I had a woman cursing at me. My daughter was with me and I was afraid she’d beat up the woman attacking her mom. So, 10 to 12 packages gets me under the radar of the impatient. (Boy, do I miss my daughter’s help with this annual project!)

I counted the packages as I put them in bags to carry. 13. I had 13 packages. That wouldn’t do. Why not? I guess I’m superstitious, too. I notice I avoid the number 13 at all costs. I took one package out and saved it for the next day. Whew! That was close.

Are you superstitious? What about? Do you change what you’re doing because of superstitions?

Sherman helping me with my work. Actually, Sherman wanting attention from me and telling me to stop working.