Sunday, November 20, 2016

Walk in the neighborhood

 There I was . . .  last Sunday morning . . . an old woman walking slowly downhill after chugging uphill for half-an-hour, pulling out my phone to snap pictures of some wondrous sights. I was on my routine Sunday morning walk (the only day of the week I choose to take city streets instead of the paved trail by the river) . . . and it's always fun to notice nature's changes, despite its being an urban corridor.  Today not only did I stop to watch a chunky spider weaving its web between a lamp post and a fence (probably it isn't there even just a few hours later) but noticed these amazing colorful and textured organisms. I didn't touch or reposition anything.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

A surprising stare . . .

I can't remember the last time a face was staring at me while I was cleaning up the dishes after dinner. 

I had finished off   leftover pizza slices from a couple days earlier (as well as a delicious kale salad) and was loading the dishwasher, when I reached for the plate the cold slices had been on in the frig. I had to laugh at the image. The face seemed decidedly female, and I projected a smart-alecky remark coming from it, something like "Well, did you feel like a cannibal tonight?"

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

And one more (important) thing about Patsy . . .

Here is the family portrait Patsy created
for our six-member family. It always
makes me smile.

Patsy's take on the "pet rock" trend.
Yesterday's post may have made it sound as though the only reason I remember Patsy O'Brian is because of the earring incident. However, that is not the primary reason I think of her daily. 

Two of her lovely and imaginative art creations grace my home. Both were hostess gifts, lovingly presented to our family when she and Pat stayed with us on their visits to Milwaukee. 

No one who notices the quirky little face smiling from a table in my house can resist commenting on it. It's both goofy and creative. Patsy had her own take on the trends and was always experimenting in media to add dimensions to existing three-d objects.

Patsy's art was represented by the popular art gallery located at the downtown Frederick and Nelson, in those days Seattle's most respected department store. 

It was whimsical and beautifully crafted--much of it three-dimensional work (fabric, knitting, applique, etc.,)  but some rendered in masterful strokes of the pen or brush. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A "nothing-event" remembered forever

Isn't it odd how we can engage in what would be a completely forgettable act, but remember it for the rest of our lives?

In the late 1980s, Patsy O'Brian and I had a date for lunch at Frederick and Nelson Department store in Aurora Village. She and I had been friends since the early '70s when our husbands introduced us. They had been in grad school together at University of Washington, and her husband, Pat, became one of Jay's closest friends. After Pat died in 1987, Patsy had an especially tough time, not just because of grief for her dear husband, but because of her recently declared 'legally blind' status,the result of Type-1 diabetes. She couldn't leave her house without someone to guide her.

I arrived at her house at our agreed-upon time and rang the doorbell. As usual, she'd asked me just to ring the bell and come on in--the door would be unlocked. When I entered her house, she called to me from the upstairs. "I need your help with something, Sallie. Come on up!" As I entered her bedroom, she was sitting on the edge of the bed, cursing a blue-streak (something she was notorious for). "I can't get this #@&*% earring in," she informed me. "PLEASE help me."

"Sure," I replied and sat down beside her on the bed. I expected it would be a breeze to plop an earring into the pierced hole in her left ear. But it wasn't. I struggled, and fussed, and fumed, and failed. There was just something about someone else's ear . . . the angle of the piercing? the thickness of her earlobe? the curve of the earring itself? I don't know what it was--I'd had no problem helping my daughter a decade-plus earlier when she had her ears pierced in sixth grade. I could NOT get Patsy's earring in. But we went to lunch, anyway and had fun. I drove Patsy home and settled her in--end of story, right? Wrong.

I don't remember what we ate, what we talked about, what we wore. I couldn't even find her house now, if I tried (she departed this earth in the early '90s). But every time I put in my own earrings (and I have several pairs that are difficult to insert for various reasons), I think of Patsy and those few minutes we spent, sitting side by side on her bed. We alternately laughed and fussed (with Patsy spewing forth the unladylike vocabulary she was known for), and, of course, with me profusely apologized for failing at what should have been a simple task.

As long as I live and wear pierced earrings, I will think of Patsy.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

A new meaning for the phrase, BOOK TOUR

Yesterday I found myself doing the mental equivalent of pacing . . . trying to find something to entertain myself on a rainy afternoon devoid of any plans. I thought about cleaning a closet--ugh. Making cookies? Nah. I considered pulling out my watercolors to fiddle with them, or really fiddling on my violin. Maybe I should take a walk in the rain? Nothing appealed, and I had nothing to read, either, having just finished two non-fiction works I'd been simultaneously working on. I ended up writing yesterday's blog post.

Later when I entered my office, I had to cluck at myself. Nothing to read? Who am I kidding? These are just some of books I have chosen to keep (they made it through the first downsizing six years ago and some periodic purges, as well). Why do I think I have nothing to read? If I don't intend to reread any of these books, why am I keeping them? To loan to others? To burden my children when I'm gone? I began to look at their titles.

My grandfather's books, such as The First Year of the War by Edward A. Pollard (published 1863), provide an emotional conduit to a man I never really knew but have enormous respect for. Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again connects me to my emotionally wrought sixteen-year-old self, and my volume of Sherlock Holmes stories links me to the junior-high girl who felt entirely grown up as she discussed the plots with her father. My two-volume music encyclopedia takes me back to the fifteen-year-old musician who eschewed the frivolous silliness of wanna-be debutantes in order to practice with her piano quintet pals every weekend. Finding The Boys and Their Mother by Keith Jennison hilarious when I read it in my thirties connected me with my deceased parents in a new and wonderful way. (I'd thought it stupid when I was sixteen and my folks were reading it aloud to each other). The volume of S.N. Behrman plays makes me remember my sophomore year at U.W. with my passion for theatre and the boy playing opposite me in a scene from "Biography." Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety articulates a reality that Jay and I lived through at Marquette. The list goes on . . .

Perhaps the books line my office solely to remind me who I am in 2016. I'm not just an old woman who complains about driving in the dark and wears sensible shoes. I'm not just dabbler or opinionated elder. Nor am I just a grandmother or widow or do-gooder. Maybe when I'm bored next time I will sit down, open a book, and reacquaint myself with one of my former selves. It's been a long journey and perhaps it's time to let the books remind me of its highlights and low-spots, as well.  

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fitting Juxtaposition

Odd, I'd call it, to have two back-to-back blog posts about what one sees when one walks 'looking down,' but it's too wonderful not to share.

Yesterday as I was returning my trash and recycle cans to the garage after their weekly pickup, I noticed something unusual on the cement in front of the garage door. I don't know what the species is, but I think it is the largest dragonfly I have ever seen. I'm quite glad it wasn't flying, because I could never have photographed it (and would have been quite intimidated, too). I realized it was dead only after sneaking up on it with my cell phone to take its picture. It was VERY large, and now I wish I'd measured it.

But here's the real reason for today's post. The dragonfly made me especially grateful to my neighbor,Tom. Usually, I don't take my own garbage cans back and forth to the curb. Ever since Jay died, Tom has insisted on doing this weekly chore for me--wheeling my filled trash cans from the garage to the curb and returning them after being emptied. Although I am capable of doing this chore myself, it is a lovely gesture and I deeply appreciate his kindness.

Tom is out of town, so I was 'on my own' for garbage duty, And although I'm very glad I saw this astonishing insect, I realize how much I appreciate Tom's kindness and weekly tribute to his late friend and neighbor, Jay.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Eye-opener

On Saturday afternoon I headed to the local branch of Bank of America, hoping to get there before it closed. I made it in plenty of time—with half-an-hour to spare. I was somewhat surprised to see an armed security cop standing outside the entrance. Feeling awkward walking by someone whose license to carry arms is so obvious, I said hello as I passed him. With his arms folded across his chest, making the revolver on his right hip stand out as an asymmetrical accessory, he gave me a perfunctory nod.

As the only customer inside the branch, I took care of my business easily. I couldn’t help but remember years gone by when there would have been a line of people rushing into the bank before it closed for the weekend. I am so happy for the transactional ease of ATMs. As I pushed the door open and stepped into the sunshine, I noticed the guard had moved about a foot closer to the door, positioning himself as if ready to open the door for customers. But . . . he clearly wasn't (nor should he have been) on door-duty.

Walking toward my car, I fumbled with the receipt and manager’s business card that I'd be needing in a few days’ time. I wish I had a paperclip, I thought, as I stepped off the curb and into the parking lot. Ah, wait—I think I saw one on the sidewalk by the bank. I turned around and—because I didn’t want to make the guard nervous (I could be an old lady criminal, after all)—began to explain myself.

“Uh, I just realized I saw a paperclip here somewhere—it’s exactly what I need to keep my papers together,” I said rather self-consciously. I spied it and stooped to pick it up.

“It’s been there since Tuesday,” he said.

Four days?  I cannot imagine standing in one place for eight hours, all the while hoping that what you were there for wouldn't happen (or maybe hoping it would). The idea of staring at a paperclip, noting its presence but doing nothing about it, is puzzling to me. If a brightly colored item hadn't seen as reusable, why wasn't it perceived as trash? Perhaps that's the philosophy of the copleave well enough alone. Probably a good thing, actually. But four days? One little paperclip became a giant eye-opener.