Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Do clothes make the man memorable?

For years I gave my husband grief about his choice in casual shirts. They looked so similar! There were the blue-and-white tattersall button-downs; the blue-and-white striped oxfords, the blue-and-green tartan flannels. If you set them out in a row and squinted, it was just a blur of blues—light for summer, dark for winter. When we walked through a department store, I'd point out other-color shirts—maroon, olive, purple, crimson—colors he looked great in. Sure, he had a few different shirts, but the majority of them stayed in his preferred color palette and pattern schemes. Even the Hawaiian shirts he purchased over four trips in two decades had the same colors.

Fast forward four years to July 2018. I have just been appointed to help write a Voters’ Pamphlet statement. I will be working on the project with a man I’ve never met, so we set up an appointment with the Fire Chief to discuss the ramifications of replacing two fire stations in our city. I tell him to look for 'old with white hair.' We greet each other at the coffee shop where we’re meeting—shake hands, and get down to business. 

The next morning I am out walking on the trail near my home when a passing biker calls out, “Sallie? Hi!” The man turns around and pedals back to where I’ve stopped, and I recognize him underneath his helmet. Yes, it’s the man I’m working with on the Voters’ Pamphlet project. After we chat a minute, I say, “I’m glad you called my name—I rarely recognize even good friends underneath their biking helmets.”

“Oh, it was your shirt I recognized,” he says . . . and grins. As I laughed, I realized this was, indeed the same shirt I’d worn at the meeting the day before. I frequently wear ‘yesterday’s clothes’ for my exercise walk the next morning.

YIKES! They DO all look alike!
Fast forward to mid-August 2018. By now the man and I are well acquainted, having had a lot of communication over our project. He tells me he has watched a City Council meeting on YouTube, the very meeting during which we were both appointed to our project. He says he saw me in the audience. “Huh? I wasn’t on camera,” I replied.

“Not your face, but your back was . . . and I recognized your shirt,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. I laughed at this comment, but I could hardly believe it. Was I really wearing the same shirt then, too?  After I hung up the phone, I looked at the YouTube, saw the shot of the audience's back, and realized I was not  wearing the same shirt!  And then this whole topic came full circle. My closet rack has morphed into a monotone color scheme and similar patterns, just like my late husband’s. I may be the only person who thinks I wear a variety of clothing.

Takeaway:  Maybe the saying should be, ‘clothes make the [wo]man easy to remember,' especially if everything looks alike.'  

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

New meaning of Shoe Tree

From a distance, it's just a log. Then, as you get closer you realize there are shoes on it. What? so many? And then it abruptly explodes as a  hilarious, delightful permanent  installation. Who did it? Its clever and anonymous creator devised it to the delight of shoreline walkers on the beach near Fay Bainbridge State Park on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Was it someone in a private residence adjacent to the park? Was it a whimsically minded visitor who had seen so-o-o-o many shoes left behind on the beach? And don't we always leave them on a log when we wade in the calm waters of a summer shoreline? What a treat to enjoy a stranger's legacy of humor memorialized for beach visitors to chuckle over.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

It feels like the day before Christmas

Here I sit, a seventy-eight-year-old woman, feeling like a six-year-old on December 23. Why?

All my children, two of my three granddaughters, and two of my three daughters-in-law will be arriving in Bothell within the two days. It's been four years since all four of my of offspring have gathered in one place. And that wasn't for a happy occasion. This one will be.

Oh, I'm so excited!

Bothell is a beautiful place. Here is a picture of the morning light on a routine walk I like to take. I live adjacent to the junction of two wonderful biking/walking trails that provide year-round beauty and pleasure. I'm always amazed and delighted at the quality of light on a summer morning.

But in the next few days in my Bothell neighborhood, anyway, there will be a different light. The one that eminates from a family being together.

Monday, July 9, 2018

When your hairdresser is your therapist . . .

As I was leaving my last hair appointment, I thanked my stylist for being such a good listener, not only for that haircut but for the past twenty years.

"Thanks, Karlynne, it's great to have this time together--you're a great hairapist." It just flew out of my mouth without forethought, and struck us both as hilarious.

"I've never heard that in all the years I've been working as a hair stylist," she said through her giggles. "Can I quote  you? I'll give you full credit!" She continued to laugh until tears came.

It occurred to me that if she's using the term and giving me credit, I ought to give myself credit, too. HAIRAPIST. You saw it here first.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Looking back to 1962

In 1987, a quarter-century after the Seattle's World's Fair (Century-21), our local newspaper put out a call to its readers. "Send us your memories of the world's fair," it requested, "and we will publish the best/most memorable ones."

Even in those twenty-five years later, Jay and I still distinctly remembered an experience we had as newlyweds attending the 1962 Fair. We we were pretty sure it was unique to us. And we were pretty adhament in our hopes that it hadn't happened to anyone else.

"Should I write it up?" I asked him.  He laughed and nodded positively, so I began. Before I knew it, the memory was turning into a rhyming poem--and the next day, I mailed it to the Times (before Internet submissions). Not surprisingly, it did not warrant a place in the final picks to be published (I think 21 pieces were selected).

Recently I came across the poem in some of my archived writing. It's certainly not a great poem, but it's a great anecdote. You'll know why we never forgot it when you read the poem. It made me laugh, and I hope it does the same for you,too.

It’s a beautiful day
Not a cloud in the sky.
So off to the fair
Go my husband and I.

We check out Flaminco
at the Spanish pavilion,
sip Chilean wine
and dance a cotillion.

Then it’s on to Bugaku
with actors reclusive,
imported for fair-goers—
its patrons exclusive.

No trip to the fair
is complete without rides—
carousel, centrifuge, and
cable-car glides

Last not but least
is the Ferris wheel trip.
We have saved it for last
to see setting sun dip.

We are feeling fulfilled
as we’re scooped up in air,
but suddenly raindrops
start to fall in my hair.

I say to my husband,
“Wait! How can it be?
Not a cloud in the sky
but it’s raining on me?”

“No, it isn’t,” he says
and points up above.
“Someone is losing her
cookies, my love.”

That is the reason,
needless to say,
we avoid Ferris wheels
to this very today.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

When the cut flowers and the onion start talking . . .

For those of you who read my blog on your cell phones or ipads, this post will appear completely nonsensical unless you also read the captions for the photos. They do not display simultaneously on the iphone/ipad format.
I was sitting on the living table and no one
seemed to notice. All of a sudden,
I knew what to do.

I know what you mean. I was sitting around
 waiting  forever for her to make spaghetti,
and I just couldn't wait any longer.
Good job! You made her look!
Keep going . . . maybe she'll
 learn how precious our time together is!
 And a postscript on June 7:  Who would
have thought flowers were copycats! 

The following week . . . it happened again!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Small World Unfurled

A really fun ‘small world’ story surfaced last week. I was talking to my all-time-favorite busker  at our Farmers’ Market, the man who writes poems on demand and for any occasion.  
Each poem is written to order
Since encountering Mr. C. Stavney for the first time two summers ago, I’ve been interested in following his successful pursuit of a B.A. in English from the University of Washington. 

Last week he had a little down time as he waited for his next poetry-patron to arrive, so I felt free to take up a few of his  minutes. With a big smile, he informed me that in just a couple of weeks, he’d complete his degree and then would work for at least a year. The obvious question was a no-brainer: “Do you know where you’ll be working?” I asked.

“Yes, a corporate mailroom for a local company,” he responded—and briefly told me in metaphoric language how he’d been hired. “The process was a Russian nesting doll,” he explained, and proceeded to describe how an outsourced company utilized another group to facilitate his hiring for the Seattle-area job. Of course, I asked him what was the company, and nearly fell over when he replied, “Symetra Financial.”   
ARTISTS at the market
C. Stavney, poet, composing a requested poem
and Ilona, artist, drawing a requested subject

Symetra Financial is the company from which I retired in 2005! Then it was a new company very few people had heard of. Even now, thirteen years later, I've met only a handful of people who seem to register the name when I tell them where I used to work. The common response to my answer is, "What's Symetra?" And here I was, standing in the Farmers' Market, learning that Mr. Stavney's first job out of college was to be at the my old company! 

Not only did I retire from it, but I actually worked to help create its image. Symetra Financial was created from Safeco Life Insurance Company, whcih was spun off from its parent company, SAFECO, in 2003.We  had one year to detach from the parental name and create a fresh, new separate corporate identity for the same admired and stable products. A handful of investors bought us from SAFECO, one of whom was Warren Buffet. The investors planned to hold the “new” company for a limited time until it was ready to go public. (Note: the plan was successful—Symetra Financial is publically held today.) With great care the image of the company was honed. Naming it was a huge part, not to mention creating its logo, its mission, its business plan, etc. This work became a short-term primary focus and spilled into every department. My position was in product marketing, so I was very aware of, and peripherally involved in, the task of branding the new company.

I’ve been thinking about C. Stavney and his potential career in a company that might seem remotely connected to his degree in English. I spent almost twenty-five years in corporate America, working for four different insurance companies. Unequivocally I can say that the most broadly educated people—those with degrees in traditional arts-and-sciences, non-techie fields—frequently find employment in the Home Offices of companies like mine: Northwestern Mutual Life, WM Life, Safeco Life, and Symetra Financial. People who studied History, English, Poly-sci and Sociology, Geology, Astronomy, History or Classics can all be found on the payrolls of insurance companies. I can attest to the fact that people starting in the mail room can end up as team-leaders and supervisors, managers and even CEOs. I personally promoted a number of industrious entry-level workers into more demanding and exciting positions—and a number of them have gone on to have highly satisfying careers.

As counterintuitive as it may seem for a poet to work at an insurance company, I’m excited for Mr. Stavney, and tickled to think he’ll be at Symetra. If he puts his heart into it (and if he has a good boss), the sky is the limit. Even if he spends just one year there, he'll have a great foundation for whatever he intends next. Plus, he'll likely meet a lot of interesting people and form some lasting friendships.