Friday, November 30, 2012


Holiday parties.  Sugary treats in various forms.  Traffic congestion.  Consumerism run amok.

Simple, unadorned.  Clearing space.  A single candle.  Opting out.

I'll take door number two please.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

At play

Finding a common language, Darien Province, Panama, 2006.
Sometimes I think I am in heaven.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A few inches shy of a self rescue

Ahh.  The many applications for a grocery cart.  Don't tell me you've only used them for groceries; I don't believe that for a minute!

Ida had one turned on its side today and it appeared she was about to climb on it and dumpster dive, which had me a tad concerned.  I met her only last month as she shuffled from the Lynnwood Senior Center where she teaches German to her contemporaries and I was walking by after a swim.  At 4'10", some might say she's easy to miss, but there is much about Ida that caught my eye from that first sighting, her self-sufficiency included.

Today she returned my eye contact and smile with a beckoning wave from across the Fred Meyer parking lot.  "Dear, I need your help!  I've deposited a pile of old newspapers in the bin and my keys went along for the ride.  They're right there.  Can you see them?"

So up I went on her improvised perch, and while she held on to the cart and sang in German, I fished them out.

And then we hugged.

I love my life!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving, then and now

Aunt Maude: under five feet tall,
but larger than life to my childhood eyes.
Memories connect us to our lives in mysterious ways.  As I prepare our Thanksgiving feast today and anticipate the arrival of our Canadian family, memories of my childhood come to me in sweeping waves.

 We gathered at my maternal grandparents farm in Watsontown, PA, a short drive from our home on the Susquehanna River.   For my cousins, siblings and me, a highlight akin to the sighting of a rock star was the arrival of Aunt Maude, delivered to the family gathering by my grandfather, Bob Sheffer.

Mika asked me today, "What was it about her that you loved so much?  Was she a great cook?"  I have no idea if Aunt Maude was gifted in the kitchen, though I do recall savoring a homemade popcorn ball in festive cellophane one year at Halloween.

"Aunt Maude was soft spoken, ancient, tiny and frail, smelled of soap and talcum powder, and had the softest earlobes you could imagine."  Why or how it came to be that we children seized the opportunity to touch her earlobes with the utmost intrigue and respect I cannot say for I don't know.  She never seemed to mind, though, which was part of  what we loved about her.

The menu today is bereft of Grandma's creamed corn and baked marshmallow candied applesauce, but the mere memory suffices quite well.

Now to see if I can find a pair of soft earlobes in the group.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Staying the course

Molokai as seen from Napili Bay, Maui.
During her years in Licton Springs, my friend Kris used to tell me upfront: "If you want to see me after Halloween, you'll have to come to me."  Who wants to navigate the Lynnwood area traffic scene between November and January?  Apparently quite a few, evidenced by the steady flow of car traffic since the horse trails and rail lines gave way to asphalt.

In the 80s, Lynnwood was the go-to destination for all things big: mattresses, tires, furniture galore, and the annual Big Hair contest held at a bar near 44th and 196th.  For better or for worse, we're in a new league now.  They flock in droves to Alderwood Mall with its anchor stores and easy access off I-5, the popular Olympus Spa, an airy Whole Foods, and the gem of them all, the Lynnwood Rec Center.

It's Black Friday, folks, and I can only imagine what the streets look like a few miles from our home.

Wherever you are, take five.  Here's to finding a practice and pace that serves you and adds to our collective peace in this season of excess.  I'm starting with a swim this morning and a soak in the hottub.

Peace be upon us all.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Creating space, making plans

Line 'em up.
Immersed in an organizational task last week, I attempted to explain the labeled stacks of papers to our son when he took a gander at the scene.  "Ahhh.  This is one of the many ways this new eating plan has manifested for me.  I'm purging items and reorganizing all sorts of things!"

Yesterday I received a pair of confirmation letters from the UW School of Medicine and the UW Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC).  I've made plans to donate my body to the Willed Body Program in the Dept of Biological Structure and my brain to the ADRC.

They shall have to wait until I am done with both, however, as planning is well underway for a Thanksgiving feast next Saturday.  But as my friend Annie would no doubt agree, preparedness can manifest in many forms.

Now, off to yoga to clear a path for the tasks at hand.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A firm foundation

Fort construction, circa 1998.
Ours is a family of builders, though not in the conventional sense.  We can all swing a tool or two and each of us has some memento somewhere around the house or garage that we can hold in our hands and say, "I made this."

But tonight, after a feast of fine food with our family gathered round the table, I give a nod to the building of relationships.

And I believe we can proclaim with one voice, "We made this."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A certain likeness

Baby Mika, 1955, Trinidad, West Indies
Jenny at 2 days, 1956, Harrisburg, PA
Newborn Reilly, 1988, Redmond, WA
Josh at 10 hours, 1985, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Monday, November 5, 2012

Where I stand

"I stand with you."
We chose to say yes to a future together in the shade of a broadleaf tree on a late spring day.  Both formally churched, whatever that means, we were intentional in our choice to be united in marriage outdoors.  It was less a statement of turning from the church and more of a personal comfort with sun and fresh air and open spaces.  

What I want to say is this.  We were 23 and 25; you can fill in the rest.  Lest you are stumped, consider this.  We were in love, full of hope and faith and thought we had an idea or two about what lay ahead.  All of that was true.  What we didn't have was absolutes, but we had a plan and two cars and a job waiting for us on the other side of the country.  We had a friend who was willing to drive one of our cars from Baltimore to Seattle, and since we were newly-weds, it seemed like a good idea to travel together in the other car.  Are you with me here?

How we got to this day some 32 years later is a bit of a mystery.  We're still a work in progress on many levels, and that elusive notion of absolutes- well, it's still a lofty concept.  Do you have it?  Do you want it?

For today and very likely for tomorrow and beyond, let me proclaim that we have gratitude for what we've crafted, nurtured, and weathered.  Sometimes we are in love.  And yes, we still have hope and faith and some idea of what lies ahead.  And for us, I believe, that is more than enough.  

To enduring relationships, including marriage for any couple who desire it; salute!