Friday, April 3, 2020

The godsend of parks

Thanks to 'you-know-what,' local parks are getting a lot more use than they normally would during the work week. I've been walking in my neighborhood and feel lucky to have interesting places to meander in while keeping six feet away from others.

Red Brick Road Park is less than two blocks from my house. It's just a little segment (.2 miles) of a once four-mile-long road that connected Bothell to its neighboring communities. I've walked it occasionally since we moved to Bothell ten years ago. But only this week, when I stopped to look at the sculptures that represent the old-time transportation one would take to Seattle, did I realize the models were created by Bothell high school students in shop classes!

What a lovely thing it is to have a handsome school project on permanent display in a local park! One of the sculptures has some interesting graffiti on it now, which might have been added by a current Bothell High student. The graffiti isn't obscene or rude, but a radical commentary about life--maybe even directed at Covid19.

I am not alone in hating this confinement we're all living with, but at least I am able to enjoy fresh air daily. And that is a privilege not everyone in my age group is enjoying, so I am filled with gratitude to be able to enjoy the freedom and fresh air of a local park. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Changing Perspectives

The things that ordinarily would have annoyed me a few weeks ago, are now amazing and delighting me. I'm sure I'm not the only person who is discovering what once was a nuisance now seems rather wonderful. Such as? Well, mole hills come to mind. Always annoying in the past, now I find myself thinking, Well, at least moles don't have to know about COVID-19, and their life goes on, as always. 

I've had similarly kind feelings about the most annoying pest we have in our neighborhood, eastern cottontail rabbits, which have overrun our area and devastated many beautiful gardens. The rabbits eat just about any flower that's colorful and pretty, so they've become the archenemy of our neighbor gardeners. Now the rabbits seem more like a part of a bigger picture of sustainable life--a life without daily briefings by the White House, without the incessant chatter about COVID-19, about what new social restrictions have been put in place. Crows, robins, even a tiny Rufus humming bird have been flitting past my living room window this morning. I'm finding comfort just from their presence, oblivious to the virus.

This afternoon a neighbor friend and I will get together out in front of my house. We'll be wrapped up in winter jackets and hats and we'll sit in chairs six feet apart, but at least we can have some social 'in person' time. Who would have thought about how draining it is to only be with yourself. Sure, I can talk to myself (and I do), make phone calls--even FaceTime calls (I'm so grateful for the ability to see my family/friend as I chat), but only to have self-company for days at a time is intellectually and emotionally depleting. 

The photo is from my midday walk. I loved how this dandelion was able to plant itself in a crack in the street and bloom! Will I be that adaptable as the corona virus spreads? I hope so.  

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Social distancing gets real

It's Saturday night, and plans have fallen through. Hm-m-m. Oh, I know, I'll take my birthday 'free meal' coupon to Ivar's, a Seattle favorite fast fish 'n chips restaurant (with lots of other stuff, too, of course), and have dinner there. 

I notice how little traffic there is at 7:00 p.m. as I'm driving, but I'm still surprised to find a parking spot exactly in front of Ivar's--that's a first! 

But walking in was a real gut punch. This is a restaurant where you place your order and pay--then seat yourself. Sometimes you have to wait for someone to vacate a table--it's so popular. Not tonight.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020


Several years ago I made a promise to myself about keeping up my blog: I would write a minimum of two posts per month! Seems like I didn't keep that promise in February, despite the extra day where I could have crammed one in. But the idea for the second February post, despite rattling around in my head for ten days, didn't seem to matter enough to stop other activities to write it. Until today.

Today, the third day of March, seeing what was happening beneath my front window, I HAD to stop everything and write.

Daffodil, jonquil, narcissus--daffadowndilly. All names for the beautiful yellow flowers blooming outside in my garden and emanating joy and hope from their vase in my dining room. Hooray for March and its birth-flower. Hooray for yellow, which has always been my favorite color.

I love daffodils, and I'm especially happy that the rabbit population infesting our neighborhood doesn't feel the same way. Daffodils are among the few spring bulbs that are not tasty to rabbits, apparently.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I'm Sorry . . . an unusual note from one usually silent

For more than nine years, I was spoiled rotten by a wonderful paper carrier. I subscribe to two papers--one local, one national--that are delivered together. The paper route is served by car. The carrier would park her car and scurry between four or five townhouses at my end of the street, tossing papers into the walkways/driveways leading up to our front doors.

In my case, she actually would toss it all the way onto my porch. Part of this fabulous service was because the parking spot she used for my end of our street is directly in front of my door. And part of it, I believe, was because every few months I'd leave her a thank you note, a little bag of wrapped candy, and a small, extra gratuity. (I always tack one on to the newspaper invoice.)  I know she appreciated this, because every now and then I'd open the door just as she was getting in, or out, of her car. When that happened, she would rush to me with a hug and a smiling thank you. Indeed, I felt a bit like royalty compared to my neighbors who had to walk a ways to collect their newspapers.

But all good things come to an end. My trusty carrier retired--an event announced via email from the Seattle Times, with a plea to be patient with the new carrier because learning a route takes time. I would have known there was a new carrier without an email, because beginning in February, my paper began being delivered curbside, not to my porch. A neighbor who is up earlier than I told me the new carrier was just driving slowly while tossing papers out the window. For the first time since living in my current home, I was walking the length of my walkway on cold, dark, and sometimes rainy mornings in my pjs and slippers like everyone else in the neighborhood! Welcome to the real world, huh. But I couldn't complain about it--no one is entitled to special treatment. I'd just become spoiled.
But then--yesterday I only received one paper. I looked behind bushes and even under the porch for it. And while I'm happy to overlook an occasional oversight, the cost of daily newspapers has increased considerably over the last couple of years. For that reason, I decided to report the oversight, knowing I would get a one-day credit on my bill. This morning I opened my door with my coat on, ready to trek out to the curb. Not only were today's two papers delivered to my doorstep, but this message was facing me when I opened my front door. I've never received an apology for an overlooked delivery of anything before. Wow! I'm intrigued and impressed. What will tomorrow bring? I'm guessing my new carrier is wondering the same. I think we may be starting a good chapter in our provider-consumer relationship.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Just women's work . . . nothin'' much . . .

Ah, it's just women's work. You know . . . menial, mindless, no lasting value.

Glass protector
Really? Take a look at these works of art--most of them created by great-grandmother, Mary Sprague Elwell Elmendorf and a few created by her mother. They're just table linens . . .what a waste of time and eyesight. Does anyone even care anymore?

Yes, I do, and probably lots of others care, as well, people who've received samples of this amazing work handed down from their female ancestors.

Close-up of table runner
Table runner or dresser scarf
Close up of glass protector
When our mother died more than fifty years ago, my sister and I each took a good measure of the treasured handcrafted lace and thread-pulled table-works created by the great-grandmother we never knew, plus a sampling of handwork by her daughter-in-law, our own dear grandmother Elmendorf. Imagine making time for this activity--especially if your house wasn't yet lit dependably with electricity!

Not that my sister and I were going to use them in our daily lives, but because we were (and still are) in awe of the work that had gone into them. Yes, even back in 1969, this handwork was incredibly out of fashion (although of few of our mother's friends still used antimacassars on their chairs). When Mary Elmendorf became a widow at age thirty-seven in 1880, she supported her family of three young sons, ages ten, twelve, and thirteen, by doing this type of needlework for hire.

Once in awhile, I take a trip down ancestor-reverence-lane by pulling these treasures out of their storage pouches, setting them out, then just admiring them. I have a lot more samples than pictured here, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

My godmother, Genevieve

My godmother, a woman I didn't meet (except as an infant at the Christening service) until I was twelve, was always an enigma. Never having her own family, the gifts she sent me for Christmas and birthdays were things she herself probably enjoyed. But a child doesn't necessarily appreciate sachets or small jars of jams and jellies. In fifth grade she sent me earrings, a gift that shocked my mother! No 'nice girl' in the 1950s wore earrings! I still have the sterling silver earrings and wore them a lot in my twenties and thirties, until I finally had my ears pierced.

Sadly, throughout my grade school and junior high years, Genevieve was just a woman to whom I had to write thank you notes twice yearly. When I was in junior high, she lived less than seventy miles away, and my mother periodically arranged for luncheons for the three of us at a restaurant in her city, so Genevieve and I could become better acquainted. But by then, even my mother had little in common with Genevieve, so as I recollect, the lunches were formal, restrained, and awkward. What they were not was fun.

To make matters worse, from first-grade until I was in college (!), I could never remember how to spell Genevieve when it came time to writing a thank you note for a gift I couldn't yet appreciate. Even now, when I just typed her name, I could still hear my mother loudly calling out the spelling rhythmically in reply to my question as I sat at the desk in my room: "G E N . . . E V . . . I E . . . VE." In fact, even now, that rhythmic breakout is the way I remember the spelling.

But in 1971, two years after my mother died, and long after Genevieve had reduced her remembrances of Christmas and birthdays to small, densely handwritten notes with well wishes and weather news, she sent me an amazing gift. It's a treasure that I recently came across wrapped in acid-free tissue in a draw in my dining room chest-of-drawers. I have transcribed the accompanying note (at least, the part describing the gift). I was absolutely thrilled to be the recipient of such an amazing treasure, and wrote her a note oozing with genuine appreciation.

February 23, 1971
Dear Sallie: Under separate cover I am forwarding to you an antique linen buffet scarf woven in 1850. One of my father's aunts held the royal patent to furnish all the linen for Buckingham Palace. The mill was located at ______ [ed. note: I cannot make out the name--it looks like Lapham, but there is no such place. Is it Harpham?], England. I have in my possession several pieces and would like you to have one. I don't know whether you have your mother's love of antiques, as I know so little of your interests, hobbies, etc.; since it takes 12 days for a package to reach Seattle, I am mailing early with the hope that it reaches you around March 8.

Needless to say, it did reach me and I love that it was entrusted to me by Genevieve Bale, my godmother.