Monday, August 30, 2010

Mr. Greenleaf is missing

Meet "Mr. Greenleaf" . . .
That's our name for a cement sculpture purchased from an artisan at the Farmers' Market in British Columbia (Kelowna) two years ago. This past week he disappeared from the backyard of our "old," unsold house.

Apparently, that's the downside of leaving a house vacant. We had hoped the new owner (when uncovered) would want to continue providing a home to Mr. Greenleaf, so we let him stay behind when we moved out. He embellished the wall; he was eye candy in the rockery! Of course, we would take him with us if the new owner proved to be a curmudgeon. Now that contingency is moot.

One shouldn't get attached to outdoor art. It's vulnerable to the elements--wind, sun, and rain, not to mention vandalism. But Hubby and I have always enjoyed adding artful touches and embellishments to the out-of-doors. Today several elfin faces and a puffy, fat cat guard the rockery. Two tall trees in our woods have faces emerging from their trunks, and a cement bas-relief of St. Francis guards the front door. But nothing quite like Mr. Greenleaf--he was special.

If you happen to see him, please help him home to Lake Forest Park.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I, Yie, Yie

As hard as I try to accept trends and changes of the 21st century to demonstrate I’m not a stuck-in-the-good-old-days crone, I cling to a few old-fashioned values I’m unwilling to let go. One such value is trying to write with correct grammar. That doesn’t mean I’m not learning to allow generally accepted changes—such as plural pronouns with singular antecedents to avoid sexism (Each contestant will find an entry form on their chair.) Even though I cringe, I’ll overlook it. But I’m still fighting the use of lay as a substitute for lie, as in, “Just lay down for a few minutes until your dizziness subsides.” (I just remembered I've already discussed my pet peeve—see my August 26, 2009, post if you're interested.)

I cringe when period TV writers have scripted characters that should have impeccable English with the sloppy stuff that passes for today’s usage. For instance, in Showtime’s “The Tudors” series (I rented the first season), Henry VIII occasionally says something appalling. I realize “The Tudors” depicts Henry VIII in his early twenties, but I am positive he wouldn’t have said, “I order you to tell Sir Walter and I about your mission.” Imagine if he used today’s twenty-something grammar to announce, “Me and the queen are getting divorced."

This week Hubby and I received an invitation to what sounded like a lovely party, celebrating a particular achievement of an academic department at our local university. We were invited because of our long-standing connection and history with that department. As I unfolded the invitation issued by two full professors, my heart began beating a little faster. Maybe I would need to buy a new elegant blouse . . . maybe I would even dig out my dressy shoes with the tiny high heels. I’d refresh my best manners and employ my straightest posture to hobnob in the company of these scintillating intellectuals and academics. What fun it would be to take part in the liveliest of conversations.

Let’s call the two hosting (and unrelated) professors Lora and Jake. As I read through the invitation, I arrived at its closing sentence. Here it is, intact:

Please join Lora and I to celebrate this important milestone. Jake

Hubby was going to be out of town that date, anyway, so it’s unlikely my fantasy would have come to fruition. But I don’t feel so bad about missing it. When I RSVP, perhaps I’ll just write, “Hubby and I are sorry, but him and I can’t make it.”

Monday, August 16, 2010


As of today, I'm married to a seventy-one-year-old guy. When we said our vows in 1962, I imagined us being old together. I was visualizing our then-cute selves, slightly wrinkled and a little bent over. I'm glad I didn't know the reality of aging--the little aches and pains that slow us down, the crabby, snappish retorts we make when we hear the same complaints or opinions repeatedly, the fatigue that settles in hours earlier than in our youth (say, right after dinner?), the loss of elasticity in so many ways. And the wattles! We both are getting them.

But I'm delighted to celebrate this family milestone! I love my old man.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tale of a tattletale

On Friday evening, a week and a half ago, while sitting on the deck overlooking the Sammamish River at our new home, Hubby and I saw an alarming act. A boat displaying a company logo, touting its professional aquatic weed clean-up capabilities, dumped a load of harvested milfoil into the river in front of our condominium. A crew member of the boat, standing on the bow of the pontooned vessel, was tossing the weed overboard by the pitch-forkful. Hubby yelled, "Cut it out!" (they couldn't possibly have heard Hubby), and I jumped up to get a pencil and paper so I could write down the name of the company.

That's illegal," I said to Hubby. "And on Monday I'm going to report them.

"Whom will you call?" he asked.

"I'll call the city of Bothell," I answered, hopeful someone on at the city (which manages the shoreline) would be interested. <

"Good luck," said Hubby. "It'll be hard to get anyone's attention about something so minor. It probably happens all the time.

On Monday when I called the City, the person I talked to was very interested. She transferred me to another worker in a different department who listened intently and thanked me profusely for contacting her. She asked if I wanted a follow-up call about the outcome. "Sure," I answered, then wondered if I'd ever hear anything.

Today I received a phone call from her, and a little later received an e-mail from the ecology department with the same information. The company that threw the milfoil overboard admitted to the incident, and has been issued a warning letter by the state. Next time, no such leniency.

The company will be fined $10,000 for each and every such incident thereafter. I was impressed and pleased that our observation of a forbidden act was taken seriously by my new city, and I love knowing the outcome.

Hooray for the power of the ordinary citizen and the prompt action of effective local government. It might sound pollyanna-ish to say when we all work together to protect the things that matter, we can make a difference, but let's hope the aquatic weed clean-up company heeds the warning. It shouldn't take too many of those $10,000 fines to change the way it does business

Monday, August 9, 2010


Riddle: What runs without feet?

Give up?

Answer: watercolor paint

For four days last week I enjoyed a complete escape from my daily life (and the angst of getting used to a new dwelling). I took an art class at a local museum!

The class was six hours Tuesday through Friday, with instruction in watercolor and ink sketching. Taught by Bruce Edwards, a local artist who does gorgeous work, it was quite the inspiration (as well as cause for a lot of sighing on my part). Although I was not one of the more watercolor-adept students in the class, I learned a lot. If I only had a quarter of the brush control Bruce has, maybe I could paint what I see in my mind's eye. Unfortunately, what I want to paint is beyond my ability. What I actually paint often goes straight to the recycle bin.

But trying something so intensely over such a concentrated period of time is tremendously relaxing, despite how exhausting it is. That sounds like an oxymoronic statement, doesn't it? When I experience something like that art class, I can understand how people who furiously paddle through white water for days, or mountain climb "for fun,"claim they are refreshed. Getting away, even if it's all in the head, is a great vacation.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yummy Recipe

Recently I took my Watermelon-Feta Salad to two potlucks. Judging from the raves (and requests for the recipe), I decided to share it with you, my blog readers. I hope you enjoy it. It sounds weird, but the flavors balance beautifully.

The photos came from the National Watermelon Promotion Board--did you even know there was such a thing? Our Farmers' Market had local watermelons last week, and delicious small cantelopes, about the size of a jumbo grapefruit--perfect for a two-person household.


• 3/4 cup halved, thinly sliced red onion
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• 1 1/2 quarts seeded, cubed watermelon
• 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
• 1/2 cup pitted black olive halves (Greek style preferably)
• 1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
The day before serving, seed and cube the watermelon, cover, and refrigerate.

Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the lime juice. The acid of the lime will mellow the flavor of the raw onion. Let stand for 10 minutes or longer.
Shortly before serving, do the following
In a large bowl, combine the chilled watermelon cubes, feta cheese, black olives, onions with the lime juice, and mint. Drizzle olive oil over it all, and toss to blend. Dig in and be prepared for a pleasant surprise!

Note: This salad, once put together, does not keep well. Plan on consuming it shortly after serving. (For instance, do not offer it at an hours-long buffet, as it seriously droops after about twenty minutes.)