Saturday, September 24, 2022

Swedish Hospital Construction
I'm probably never not going to miss the birds, the trees, and looking passers-by in the eye while on my daily walks. 

St. James Cathedral

But there are lots of things to engage the mind, and a variety of activities and sights not available when walking in my new neighborhood, rather than on a suburban bike trail. 

For instance, a huge construction project that is currently a deconstruction site. The scale of this picture isn't graspable in this photo--it needs a human standing in front of it. The height of the chunks of concrete is well over two stories!  

The gathering of what appeared to be many bridesmaids at the side door of Seattle's cathedral is something I would never see on the Burke Gilman Trail. And just one block away, I noticed something I don't remember seeing before, even as a long-time patron of the Frye Museum. The plaque explains this was a hitching post once positioned in front of the Frye family residence just a short distance from the museum. 

Hitching post
from a century earlier

Driver was unloading, gave
me permission to photo,
but stepped out of the picture

All of these items mark the interesting contrast of my daily walks from a few months ago and my life today.

Please excuse the reversed order of photos. My host for BTTM, Google's blogger, isn't being cooperative today. Oh, and there's one more picture I'll include. Who says there aren't flowers on dense city streets? These were being unloaded for the event happening in the Cathedral. 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

My Excessive Rap about UPS Excessive Wrap

If I didn't know better, I'd think that UPS store clerks get paid bonuses for using as much tape and bubble wrap as the item to be shipped can possibly accommodate. If I knew how, I'd be tempted to start an internet rumor to that effect and accuse UPS of doing its utmost to pollute the planet with excessive plastic film. The amount of bubble wrap and TAPE on a package I received today is worthy of disgust. 
After the unwrapping ordeal,
I needed a break before I
removed the inner covers.

It's one thing to protect flat items, i.e., relatively small framed pictures, with a layer or two of bubble wrap, and it's one thing to fill the crevices between them, as well as the spaces between them and the carboard shipping box with something to prevent shifting in transit. Crumbled newsprint or brown paper works GREAT and needs very little tape.

In my opinion, the package I received today could have been dropped from the top of my twenty-four story building and the contents would have survived (although it could have fatally injured a pedestrian walking below). After cutting through thick tape to open the cardboard box, it took me forty-five minutes to cut and break apart the tape and bubble wrap just to get down to the newsprint covering the five frames so I could finally unwrap them. When the person who sent them to me presented them to the clerk at the UPS store, each ktem was wrapped in paper (see the photo above). When I received them, each picture was encased in plastic--layers of bubble wrap then wrapped by tape and more tape and more tape. AND cushioned in Styrofoam peanuts.

I ended up rolling the salvageable bubble
wrap, which I will return to a UPS store.

Yes, you read that right. It took 45 MINUTES to cut/tear/pull apart the tape from the bubble wrap to release the items from their UPS wrapping. It's a good thing I'm not a troll or a nasty person who loves making negative comments on social media. Hey, I'm being nice by merely posting this snarky commentary on my blog. Maybe everyone who reads this could challenge UPS when asking it to pack something for shipping by inquiring: 

What's wrong with using newsprint (recycled newspapers would be fine once a layer of clean paper protects the item to be shipped)? What's wrong with using just enough tape to hold the wrapping in place?

PS There's an ugly ending to this tale, which occurred Sunday, September 4: UPS refused to accept the bubble wrap and the Styrofoam peanuts for reuse. When I asked incredulously how I could dispose of them responsibly if they wouldn't reuse them, the shrugged response with its implied 'duh' was simply, "in the garbage." Whether it was the words themselves or the 'who cares' tone of voice, something inside me ignited, and once the fire took over a few minutes later while transacting a withdrawal at a nearby ATM, I came up with what I thought was the ideal solution. I would simply pay to ship the packing materials back to the California UPS store that packaged the items shipped to me. My rationale was that these items are all completely reusable, they weighed practically nothing and would require no additional packing materials. 

I stood in line with the two large bags and when I was asked for the recipient's address, I gave the store number--the only identifying location on the shipping receipt. But no, that wasn't sufficient. The clerk was unable to provide the address, so I looked up the address on my phone. My inner fire had, by then, consumed my sensibility, so when I was told it would cost me $160 to ship the packing materials from Seattle Area to Marin County, I said "SURE," and continued to fume. When I got home, I looked at the description on the receipt. It described the shipment as weighing 2 lbs. 1.4 oz. with a billable weight of 95 pounds. 

Will I ever use UPS again? I hope not. 

PPS  On Thursday, September 8, I received a phone call from the originating UPS store in Marin County, inquiring why I had sent it a large box filled only with packing materials. (Obviously, I hadn't enclosed a gift card.) When I told the caller I was hoping it would be recycled, the response was, "Oh, that's great! We are happy to reuse clean packaging materials, yes. Thank you." From this hoped-for response I must conclude that not all UPS stores are as unwilling to accept packing materials for reuse as the one I patronized until last week in the Seattle area. 

Monday, August 15, 2022

One picture worth 300 words

This photo taken in 2011 popped onto my iPhone recently, as one of those uninvited events from OneDrive called "Your memories from this day." I admit to generally being lured in to look at the images briefly and occasionally becoming nostalgic at the memories they elicit. However this picture of one of my sons with his then five-year-old daughter at the Pacific ocean immediately spoke to me with a truth beyond the picture itself.

I was struck at what an apt metaphor for good parenting the imagery is. Here is a parent standing guard, while his child explores something new and wonderful on her own. On closer look, we see the child enchanted at a clear jelly fish she has found in the tidal pool. The parent is neither interfering nor narrating the adventure, but rather is allowing his child to discover the mysterious creature she is holding. The parent is watchful, but not engaged in a separate activity, such as texting or chatting with anyone. He casts a shadow across the tidal pool, but the child is not in it. She is in the dazzling light. The parent could easily perceive the child to be in a spotlight as sparkles of reflection dance around her back.

The boomerang in the parent's hand struck me as a metaphor, as well. Something we all want when we send our children into the world is for them to return to us in love the way a boomerang does (and not lose their way because of an unforeseen influence or a poorly prepped throw). The parent in silhouette--backlit--also seems symbolic. The child is in the radiant light, enveloped and partaking in nature's gifts, while the parent appears to be allowing the moment to belong entirely to the child. 

I'm a typical smart-phone photographer, but sometimes I can be surprised with what I've captured digitally. This photo impressed me with its wise and beautiful message for all of us who are parents. Thanks, OneDrive, for this unexpected surprise.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Art making without a downside

May 22, 2022
In every retirement community there can be a plethora of activities. Indeed, just reading the monthly schedule here at my new place can be overwhelming. Because I'm still needing to spend time reorganizing the drawers and cupboards in my apartment to make logical sense (hastily put away belongings can allude discovery), I've not tried many activities other than exercise. Today, however, I attended an art session that's held every Monday afternoon. 

At my house for the last five or more years I've been reluctant to knowingly make a mess because, yup, I have to clean it up. But an art class here? There's no clean up required! 

August 2022 week 1

When I stayed at this community for two nights back in May (the sales' department's recommendation to avoid  making a hasty decision about such a huge life-change), I attended the art session taught by an amazing and gifted artist, Everett, a young man I know only by his first name. He offers meaningful instruction and gentle guidance to everyone who joins his weekly sessions, finding a way to genuinely and sincerely praise everyone's best effort. Today we drew hands after warm up exercises of figure poses by Everett himself. For the main subject, we could either choose to copy pictures he provided or draw our own hands. I chose the latter.

August 2022 week 2
After today's session of an hour-plus, Everett asked me if I wanted to see and/or keep the drawing of calla lilies I'd made back in May that he'd kept it all these weeks. By coincidence, it, too, was a charcoal piece; Everett offers a cycle of various media through the weeks. Although I had no desire to keep the drawing after tossing dozens, maybe hundreds, of old works of mine in the downsizing process, I took photos of the lilies, as well as today's drawing. Thus the pictorial subject of this post. How freeing it was to make a charcoal mess (crumbles of charcoal, and a smudgy table), yet need only to wash my own hands and depart from the studio. What a life! 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Forging a new lifestyle

In contrast to my suburban-trail walks with no curbs, few trip hazards, and lots of birdsong, I'm now learning a new morning walk routine. These photos were taken alongside my new place and down the street where a deluxe apartment high-rise is under construction. Yes, lots of sirens and traffic, cement and barriers, but even in the big city, morning brings a certain amount of calm and peace as it begins to rouse to blue sky and sunlight.                   

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Farewell to my daily encounters with Mother Nature

It's been awhile since my last post, and the month is running out. Some of you may recall I've held to the commitment of a minimum of two posts a month. If I can't do that, I should give up my blog. So here I am on countdown, but what a crazy month it's been since my last entry on Saturday, June 25!


That day was supposed to have been my first Open House on what I was anticipating to be the long and laborious trek of selling my house. Instead, I received an offer the day before (June 24) that was too good to pass up. I accepted it, so the June 25 Open House was canceled, as well as all subsequent ones. Today the sale was recorded and, for the first time since 1987, I am no longer a homeowner!

I'm exhausted as I write this. In this past month I've discarded, donated, and offered up hundreds (maybe thousands) of items. Multiple trips to Goodwill have been made and ultimately a junk service arrived at the house to cart off everything that wasn't packed up or disposed of in all those various ways. I've unpacked most of what was moved into my new apartment at a retirement community in urban Seattle on July 19. Three of my offspring sprang into helping action, so I had help of at least two of them for an entire week. Lucky, lucky me.

I admit I'm proud of downsizing and getting into a space more appropriate for an old woman. I also admit I'm regretting some of my decisions about what to get rid of and wishing I'd ridded myself of some of the things I moved. Several dozen boxes of 'stuff' and a few pieces of furniture are stashed in a rented storage unit for further review as soon as I'm able to step away from settling in. I hope to have disposed of everything in storage by year-end. Undoubtedly I'll be writing about that agony in future posts.  

As happy as I am to have made the decision to move to a retirement community before I need assistance, I'm also nostalgic about the natural beauty I left behind. I shall never forgot the fragrance of evergreens and scents emitting from the abundance of beauty our earth's covering supports. The beauty of the Sammamish River as it flowed nearby never failed to move me.

 I'll be writing lots about my new urban environment in future posts; today I'm sharing a tiny bit of that beauty I left behind.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

No lululemon for us . . .

Almost thirty years ago I was reminiscing with my sister, Judy, about shopping with our mother for our 'good' clothing, quality-wear from an upscale women's clothing store where we had help of Miss Miller, the equivalent of a personal shopper. Miss Miller would present garments she'd selected for us to try on, responding to Mother's phone call a day or two ahead, but Mother would be the tie-breaker if differing opinions arose over which garment to buy. It was she who ultimately determined what was age appropriate and becoming to her daughters. If she didn't approve, it was unlikely we would be getting it, although sometimes Miss Miller, the personal shopper, could gently change her mind. 

Because Judy and I were having trouble remembering each other's favorite items during our conversation, we decided to make renderings of them from memory to show each other. I made these twelve little watercolor sketches of my favorite items; she did the the same of her favorite outfits, and we gave them to each other as birthday gifts in 1993. A dozen years later, we traded them back so we each had a visual record of our own favorite clothes. Recently I rediscovered mine tucked away in the back of a drawer. I'm sharing them here because they may not make the 'cut' during my giant downsize endeavor. 

The four above are high school vintage, 1955-1958.
The comments are to my sister regarding what I
recalled about them back in '93. Mother enjoyed
taking us shopping, and I certainly don't remember
ever complaining about such excursions! 

The four items directly below show garments
from college days, two purchased in anticipation
of making a good impression as I went through
sorority 'Rush." Even though they didn't get
me an invitation to join the sorority of my
choice, I happily wore the clothes throughout 
 four years of college and many more years.

The outfits depicted in the last four drawings
are all about my wedding, way back in 1962.