And now for something truly embarrassing

This year for Christmas and Hanukkah, I packaged and mailed cards and Frango mints to my husband’s clients.

There’s a whole story about Frangos which are from the now defunct Frederick & Nelson’s department store in Seattle. They were first sold in the early 1900s, then bought out by Marshall Fields, Bon Marche and now Macy’s. When I was a young girl, my mom would take me downtown Seattle to Christmas shop and have lunch at F&N’s. The end of the festive trip would be one melt- in-your-mouth Frango mint.

I have sent Frangos to my husband’s clients for years. My project beings with getting padded flat rate Priority Mail envelopes and labels from the post office. My local post office didn’t have any and suggested that I order them online.

One day, I ran out of envelopes and since I had a miserable cold, my husband drove to another post office further away to find more envelopes. He said it was like pulling teeth to get envelopes. One employee told him that they only have envelopes if people come in with them and return them unused.

Fast forward a week, my husband is getting calls from his clients thanking him for the delicious chocolates.

Then one woman calls and said she was confused about this year’s gift.

“Why?” he asked.

“Well, there’s a beautiful card, a delicious box of chocolates — and one dirty gray sock!”

She emailed him a photo of the three items together. And yes, the sock was really dirty!

The client said “I know you must use a service to mail these. You may want to speak with your service.”

The only thing we could figure out is the sock came in an envelope from the post office that my husband went to. I would stack the envelopes and place the card and Frangos inside and then tear off the plastic strip, fold and seal. I never once thought to look inside “empty” envelopes.

If I’m not fired from Frango duty next year, I WILL look inside each envelope.

How would you have responded to the woman who received the dirty sock?

This is what a Frango box looked like when I was a child and Marshall Field bought Frederick & Nelson.

Two more thoughts

Utah and UW friends

My BFF from the University of Washington and me during one of her visits to our home.

Without my friends I would have been lost.

I’m talking about my recent visit with my mom. In case you missed it, I wrote about it HERE. It was difficult to find my mom in skilled nursing and to see how drastically she’s aged since my last visit.

I stayed with my best friend from college who lives six miles from my mom’s assisted living. Lots of times I stay in a small hotel close by. It’s not that nice, but affordable. It was so much better to come back each day to my friends’ comfy house and not be alone.

My BFF’s husband loves to cook and he shopped and prepared my favorite foods. The first night he made steamed clams, garlic bread and a delicious salad. Last time I visited, we went to Pike Place Market and I bought clams, which he cooked. They remembered how much I enjoyed them which was touching. I suppose they didn’t forget after I kept asking if they wanted the clams on their plates! They surrendered them to me.

steamed clams from Pike Place Market

It was so comforting to not stay by myself and to be able to relax and talk with close friends each day and tell them about my mom. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

The power of music.

One day my mom was kind of out of it. When I walked into her room, she was asleep. She woke up and said “Who are you and what do you want?” I was standing over her bed. To be fair, she didn’t have her glasses on and was groggy.

I got her out of bed and helped her sit in a chair while I sat on her walker. I turned on the TV, but she wasn’t interested and stared down at her hands.

I remembered my brother told me that she perked up listening to music. Mom was a coloratura soprano opera singer. My brother played her Joan Sutherland, a famous coloratura soprano, on his phone and he said Mom sang along with her. I played her favorite songs from Don McClean including Vincent, American Pie, And I Love You So, and Castles in the Air on my phone. She owned every one of McClean’s albums and played them over and over when I was a child.

After a few minutes of listening, my mom began to sing along. The music moved her and made her more alert. She focused on getting out of her chair to walk to her old room. I was amazed at the power of music and the effect it had on her.

“And I Love You So”

And I love you so
The people ask me how
How I’ve lived till now
I tell them “I don’t know”

I guess they understand
How lonely life has been
But life began again
The day you took my hand

And yes I know how lonely life can be
The shadows follow me
And the night won’t set me free
But I don’t let the evening get me down
Now that you’re around me

And you love me too
Your thoughts are just for me
You set my spirit free
I’m happy that you do

The book of life is brief
And once a page is read
All but love is dead
This is my belief

And yes I know how loveless life can be
The shadows follow me
And the night won’t set me free
But I don’t let the evening bring me down
Now that you’re around me

And I love you so
The people ask me how
How I’ve lived till now
I tell them “I don’t know”

One of my mom’s all time favorite artists and songs.

What are your thoughts about the power of friendships and the power of music? Do you have any examples of how they’ve added to your life?

Why was my daughter so annoyed with me?

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. After visiting Mom last week, I wanted to repost this.

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.

Mom and me in the early 90s, big perm.
Mom and me in the early ’90s Like my perm? My mom’s curls are natural.

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.

A beach day with my daughter.
A beach day with my daughter.

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

A whirlwind week

Olive the cat getting out of my way as I clean house.

It’s a busy week or two. We returned from a trip to Mexico. I wrote about that HERE.

My son and his girlfriend are visiting from the Bay Area. We are gong to visit Taliesin West later today. It will be a first for all of us. That’s the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright. We’ll be going on a self-guided tour. A coincidence is that a friend of mine from playgroup days in Palm Springs is a director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. What a small world! I found out from a friend in Palm Springs that our mutual friend had moved to Arizona a month or two before us. I wrote about coincidences recently HERE.

Next week, I fly to Seattle to visit my 90-year-old mom. I meant to visit for her birthday last March, but we were in the throws of Omicron. Both my daughter and husband got it. What weird days those were. I was taking care of my daughter — without being near her. We would wave at each other through her apartment window. I’d go to the laundromat and grocery store for her and leave things on her front steps.

When my husband had COVID, I moved into our Casita. It has a kitchen, so I cooked him chicken soup with lots of garlic and onions. I’d leave it outside the front door and text him. I was close if he needed me, but I wasn’t in physical contact.

I now have an aversion to flying. We have taken trips by car, which I’m comfortable with, but I haven’t wanted to get on an airplane. I can’t stand the wait at the airport, the crowds, being on the plane. COVID ruined flying for me.

Did COVID change your feelings about flying, too? Or did it affect you in other ways? Did you or your family get it?

No can do

black and white book business close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you ever said the phrase “No can do?” I have and I remember a song from my college days that had those words in the chorus.

I ran across a story from the University of Washington that went viral because of their list of “problematic” words they produced for people in IT. It’s called “IT Inclusive Language Guide: A reference for software and other information technology content.” Here’s a link if you want to peruse the problem words.

I graduated from the U-Dub, as did my brother, mom, dad, aunt and two cousins. I’m proud of my alma mater normally. But today, not so much.

Without getting overly political, I feel censorship is getting out of hand. I don’t think it’s a one-sided issue, but it’s coming at us from all sides.

Changing our language and letting us know what words can and cannot be used I view as a type of censorship.

First, the list divided the offensive words into four distinct areas:

  • Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, Religion, Native/Indigenous Identity
  • Disability and Ableism
  • Ageism
  • Gender and sexual orientation

Grandfather makes the list of problematic words:

A “grandfather” clause, “grandfather” policy or “grandfathering” in IT s a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases. Those exempt from the new rule are said to have grandfather rights, acquired rights, or to have been grandfathered in.

Why it’s problematic:

“Grandfathering” or “grandfather clause” was used as a way to exempt some people from a change because of conditions that existed before the change (e.g., we’ve grandfathered some users on an unlimited data plan.”) “Grandfather clause” originated in the American South in the 1890s as a way to defy the 15th Amendment and prevent black Americans from voting.

They don’t like the phrase “brown bag lunch” either. I always thought it referred to the brown paper bag that I used to put my sandwich and apple in for school lunches. I didn’t know brown bag was referencing skin color. In fact whoever wrote this list, says it does — I’m not buying it. The damn paper bag has a brown color. That’s it.

No can do.

Other offensive words are mantra, cakewalk, ninja, guru, redline, peanut gallery and jerry-rigged. Oh yes, and the expression “no can do.”

Thoughts? Do you think the UW is going too far with their list of problem words? Or, do you think we need to be more sensitive? Do you view changing our language and being told what words we can and cannot use is a form of censorship?

Hall & Oats — I Can’t Go for That (No can do). I was in college when it came out. I hadn’t met my husband. Should this song be banned, along with the phrase “no can do?”

The look in her eyes overwhelmed me

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Downtown Seattle on a sunny day.

I will never forget the look in my mom’s eyes when I said goodbye. My daughter and I were visiting my mom in her assisted living home on a recent trip to Seattle. 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.

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.

Why visit the original Starbucks?

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My son on our day trip to Pike Place Market.

While we were in Washington for my daughter’s last PAC 12 meet, we took a day trip to Pike Place Market. If you are visiting Seattle you have to visit the market. It was a favorite place for my mom to take us when I was a young kid and I have memories of shopping there for seafood and fresh vegetables throughout my college years.  One of the main attractions are the fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market, who throw whole salmons through the air. Click on the link to watch the action. Another highlight is the doughnut shop that sells tiny freshly made donuts–which were so hot the steam came off them as we enjoyed a half dozen cinnamon sugared ones.

When I was young, I hated the Public Market. It scared me. The downtown area known as “Skid Row” surrounded the market and I was terrified of winos and drunks falling in the streets. The area was originally called Skid Row, not because it was an urban blighted area with people on the “skids” but because it referred to the path along which timber workers skidded logs.

When I was around 10 or 11 years old, my parents liked a restaurant called Henry’s Off Broadway. It was the special occasion restaurant reserved for birthdays and anniversaries. Henry’s closed in 1991 to be raised in favor of an apartment building. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19910626&slug=1291262 The reason why I’m bringing up Henry’s it was the first time my parents drank Starbuck’s coffee. They loved the strong coffee served in white china cups and saucers and asked what type of coffee it was. The waiter told them Starbucks and told them about the small coffee shop in the Pike Place Market with a variety of roasted beans.

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My son and husband enjoying their Starbucks from the original store.

 

They made there way down there, with me in tow, and soon my parents gave up large cans of Folger’s and Yuban and were grinding Starbuck’s beans with a small electric grinder—which I still have by the way.

When we took my son to Pike Place Market, he wanted to go into the original Starbucks. What was so funny, was there was a line to get inside complete with a cordoned off area. The wait often exceeds an hour, we were told. The coffee shop hadn’t changed since I was 11 years old, except for the tourists. Wall to wall people taking selfies and waiting to purchase $100 aprons with the Starbucks logo surprised me!

 

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Taking a selfie in the original Starbucks.

Have you visited Pike Place Market and what is your favorite things about it?