Saturday, September 1, 2012


 When I was a teenager my parents had a Pat Boone album that I played over and over.  I loved that album but several decades later I can only remember two songs from it.  I sang "April Love" over and over again because it was April, I was very young and I was head over heels in love!  "Blue Moon" was simply beautiful....

"Blue Moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own"

Fast forward 40+ years and here we are on a mini vacation.  Just the two of us, no cell phone reception and no land line in a beautiful beach cabin, almost completely isolated from the real world. The weather is perfect with clear blue skies, a light breeze and miles of almost deserted beach.

As the sun went down on our first day here, we couldn't help but notice the beautiful full moon that was shining in our windows.  Randy was quick to point out that it wasn't just a full moon, it was a blue moon-the second full moon this month. My first thought was "Wow I bet it's been crazy at the clinic!" followed immediately by the memory of Pat Boone singing "Blue Moon".

Even though the moon looked full on Wednesday and Thursday, last night was the actual full blue moon and Randy suggested that we sit outside our cabin and enjoy it.  Hmmm I thought it would be much better to enjoy it on the beach, sitting side by side with mugs of steaming coffee. We both agreed that would be new adventure for us, in fact even though I grew up watching beach blanket movies with lots of night-time fun around the fire I don't think I have actually stayed on the beach once the sun has set.

One of the things I have really appreciated about this beach on the Washington coast is that we are allowed to drive on the sand.  We walked to the beach the first two times, but after that we drove our van with our camp chairs, portable beach umbrella, beach towels, camera, books and snacks right down to where we wanted to spend the day.

Randy thought we would just walk down last night, but since I wanted to sit in a camp chair, he agreed to drive.  We packed up our mugs of steaming tea, a piece of pie to share, 2 forks and of course our camera.  We drove on to the beach and didn't see any other cars but in the distance there was a campfire burning so we knew we weren't the only crazy people waiting for the moon to rise.

Randy began to turn our van around just like he had during our day trips, but within seconds we knew something was different.  As in we weren't moving, just spinning our wheels.  We looked at each other in stricken silence and he tried again. And again. And again.  He stopped trying and we both got out to see what the situation was and found our front wheels deeply buried in sand.  We started "digging" the sand out with our hands, scooping out mounds of sand from behind and in front of the wheels, each of us on opposite sides of the car.  I got behind the wheel and he tried pushing but again nothing happened. I got the floor mats out and said lets try using these for traction so we started digging again when I saw dreaded headlights coming towards us.  Now on one hand knowing that someone was coming to offer assistance was a relief, but on the other hand we were hoping no one would notice us and we could get out and pretend this never happened.  No such luck.

The gentleman said this happens all the time and he went back to get a shovel to help us dig the van out.  We kept scooping sand out until he returned and then he and his shovel took over.  I stood back and held the flashlight and let the men work it out.  When our new friend thought it was good to go, he told Randy to get in the driver's seat and he and I would push.  We pushed from the front with the van in reverse but nothing happened so we pushed from the back with the van in drive, but still nothing happened.  So the verdict was we would have to be towed off the beach.  So now we are stuck and we have no cell phone and no land line. Our AAA card is in our cabin but we are in the middle of nowhere.  We thank our new friend for all his help and begin to walk back to our cabin.  Another car comes toward us and this time it is a Sheriff who of course rolls down his window and asks us what's going on.  We explain that we are stuck and headed to our cabin to call AAA.  The officer doesn't think AAA has service this far out, but there is a local tow company he could call for us.  He wonders if our car is inside the high water line and when high tide will be.  We wonder that too.  The officer offers to give us a ride to our cabin, but with a glance at the back seat without door handles and with a screen to keep the bad guys in, I think not.  We thank him for all his help and walk back up to the road, knowing that our landlady has just arrived for the weekend and is staying next door in another cabin.  She had already told us she has cell service.

Mary was gracious and brought out her cell phone and phone book while Randy made the call to AAA.  We found out they don't tow off the beach or out of the mountains. OK so local tow company it is.  Not too confident that they will actually find us because even though they are in the next town only 20 miles away, the person on the phone didn't know where Moclips Beach was.  So Mary got on the phone to give directions.  They agreed to rescue us and we agreed to go back to our vehicle and turn on our hazard lights so they could find us in about 45 minutes.  Mary had looked up high tide for us so we at least knew that we should be safe until 1:13 a.m.

Sitting on a dark, deserted beach without any cell phone was not romantic after all. In fact, it was almost scary...fragments of all those awful stories that kids tell in the dark came back to haunt me.  When a pickup truck pulled up behind us I didn't want Randy to get out because it didn't look like a tow truck.  It didn't look like a tow truck because it wasn't a "real" tow truck.  It was a big pickup with the company name written on the door and two slightly scary looking guys inside.  They might have been scary, but they knew what they were doing.  Five minutes and $250.00 dollars later we were driving back up the road and turning in to our parking space.

So, quoting my son-in-law's mother, "Just let this be a learning experience for you" I am pondering the life lessons I learned.  Was it worth it to recently change cell phone plans to one with not only a lesser monthly rate but one with lesser service? Possibly not.  Was it worth it to stay in such an isolated area with no land line available? Probably not. Was it worth it to drive to the beach instead of walking? Definitely not.  Was sitting on the dark, dark beach under the blue moon as romantic as I thought it would be? Unfortunately not.  Would I do it again? Well maybe...once in a blue moon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time to Pick the Beans

Most of the time it seems like my life is just one giant "to do" list....time to go to work, time to clean house, time to work in the yard, time to go to church, time to wash the dishes, time to.....  My list actually goes on and on - even Sundays are full of things I need to do to get caught up and ready for the next week.

This is a story about how, in the midst of busyness and endless lists of things that need to be done, there exists perfect moments in time.   Moments that make us pause and enjoy the simple pleasures that are so often lost in the crazy chaos of modern day lifestyles.

Two weeks ago we were still in the middle of a Pacific Northwest heat wave - high 80's for several days in a row!  So my plan was to get up and rush off to early church, then come home and try to paint the back deck before it got miserably hot.  Walking past my garden on the way to church I noticed all the beans that were ready to pick and I added it to my mental list for the day.  Pick the beans, then paint the deck.

In my mind it was just another chore.  Another job to be done, another item to cross off my endless list of jobs to be done.  So I trudged down the back stairs with bowl in hand and reached out for my first handful of beans.

And in that moment something magical happened.  The brilliant blue sky peeking through the green vines as I looked up to try to find beans at the very top of poles, the buzzing of the bees, the singing of the birds, the warmth of the felt as if time had stopped and I was standing in all the gardens I have ever known. The gardens I hated to weed as a kid, the first garden I planted as a young wife and mother,  the huge gardens I planted when times were tough, the gardens of my parents and grandparents. 

Gardens filled with flowers, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, peas, beans, potatoes, corn, tomatoes.

Suddenly it wasn't just "time to pick the beans".  It was time to stop and enjoy the moment.  It was time to remember sitting in the dirt while my grandma pulled weeds, to remember pulling weeds while my own daughters played in the dirt, to remember walking in gardens with my parents while we admired their handiwork.  I wonder if someday my own grandchildren will be standing in their garden and have a moment just like this.  A moment when they remember their grandmother's little backyard garden with the row of sugar snap peas they could eat to their hearts content...and at that moment it will be about more than just picking the beans.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The thorn in my flesh....

My absolute, biggest frustration in life is ..... PASSWORDS! I more than appreciate all the modern, high-tech conveniences in our world today but I absolutely hate the password nightmare that exists to protect our high-tech identities.

Years ago - way back in the not quite dark ages - when they invented ATM cards we learned about PIN numbers (actually passwords in disguise). So not too bad - only 4 digits and my much younger brain could manage to remember one set of PINs for my one and only ATM card. Then we changed banks and received a new ATM card and I had to remember 4 different numbers. But wait - they finally made it possible to choose my own PIN. That small change saved my life (or at least hours of frustration) because I chose a set of numbers that I will remember for the rest of my life. Whenever possible I have thrown caution to the wind and used that PIN for all of my "secret" passwords. I can go to either bank and use different ATM cards without struggling to remember which 4 digits matches which card - I can use my Safeway card for groceries and gas without too much trouble although since I have to enter my 10 digit telephone number and then my 4 digit PIN I can get mighty confused....

BUT what I cannot remember is what combination of numbers and letters (upper and/or lower case) I may have used for the ever-increasing amount of internet programs I access. At work I have at least 10 websites that require password access and they all have different rules: over 6 characters, under 6 characters, a combination of numbers and letters, no numbers, must include at least one character, must not include any characters, case sensitive, not case sensitive, etc., etc. It is enough to drive me crazy if I let it! So I try to remember to keep a list of each website with the corresponding login and password (logins are a whole 'nother story!) Most of the time that works but since I have to record all passwords in order to remember them, where's the secrecy in that?

At home I only try to access my blog, Shutterfly and Facebook. Since my personal computer time is way at the end of my priority list, it can be months between visits and guess what? Big surprise - I get to that little blank square for my password and I'm stuck. Absolutely stuck. I try a few things that seem reasonable but no luck. I try the same password again with an upper case letter - still no luck. If I keep trying I can usually, eventually happen upon the correct combination of letters, numbers, caps, yadda yadda.

This morning I have my 1st free time in weeks. I just spent 3 weeks scraping the paint off this house, then painting on oil based primer by hand, then 1 incredible week of doing nothing but reading and napping in a little cabin in Idaho so this morning I thought I would try to see what friends on Facebook were up to. Wait a minute - what's my password??? Hmmm...I actually have no idea. I try a few of the standard combinations that usually work but nothing happens. So I notice the very helpful message "forgot your password?" and I click on that thinking it will ask me one of those pre-answered questions that will mean I'm really who I think I am. But I can't even get that to work. When it finally says your password has been reset and all your friends have been notified I absolutely freak out. OMG - what on earth will Randy say? The login we both use is the same email address so did his password change too? This is much more than I can deal with right now so I switch gears. This would make a good blog.....but wait, what's my password? How about !#$%&*!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's!

Some people are wild about April Fool's Day - they plan elaborate jokes and prank their family and friends mercilessly. Not me. The best I could ever come up with was "it's snowing!" and that only worked one time! I don't like playing tricks and I definitely don't like being tricked. April Fool's Day was my least favorite "holiday" ever.

Until April 1, 1976. After nine months plus two weeks of waiting - after visiting my doctor on March 31st and being told "no baby yet - come back next week", baby #2 decided to play a trick on us and prove the doctor wrong.

When my contractions began around 4 pm I assumed the whole process would take a couple of days just like it had when Michelle was born. I did call my folks to put them on alert "just in case" and by 7 pm they were at our house ready to take Michelle home with them. We watched TV for a few hours, timing contractions, and at 10 pm I called Allen and asked him to come home from work so we could go to the hospital.

We got to the hospital around midnight and went through the process of checking in and getting settled in our room. After all the hustle and bustle calmed down, Allen and I tried to make ourselves comfortable, planning to get some rest before my contractions started in full force. It wasn't long however, before something felt weird and I asked him to get a nurse. Actually I think I yelled "Get the nurse..something is wrong!" The nurse came in with a slightly patronizing attitude, trying to calm me down thinking that I was just another young, hysterical woman with a low tolerance for pain. But no....wait a minute....she became quite a bit less calm when she did her perfunctory check and realized the baby was on it's way! The rest of the event is a blur of excitement and activity as I was wheeled into the delivery room and watched the doctor arrived in time to catch Amy Kristine Carlson as she catapulted herself into our lives.

From the moment we saw Amy she captured our hearts...from her dimples to her white "dandelion" fluff of hair to her tiny little fingers to her captivating smile to her spunky determination. She changed the way I look at April Fool's Day forever - for 33 years it has been a day of celebration and great joy.

This morning when we left the restaurant after a wonderful birthday breakfast I said "Amy it's snowing!" Only this time it was no fooling....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Real Food Tastes Real Good

Here's the understatement of the year: We LOVE food! Rachel, Bobby, Alton, Paula and Guy are our role models - we watch them, believe them and use their recipes. We owned a restaurant/bakery and had the Pillsbury Doughboy body to prove it! We are great cooks, we cater parties for family and friends and we (dare I say it again?) LOVE food!

Our favorites: Sunday morning with pancakes, waffles or french toast. Saturday morning with hashbrowns, eggs and toast. Great sandwiches for lunch. Pasta, potatoes and steak for dinner. Quick and easy breakfast sandwiches or PBJ on name it - if it was starchy, creamy, dripping with butter or covered with sugar - we LOVED it.

So after a lifetime of loving food and - surprise, surprise - a lifetime of struggling with our weight we have joined the South Beach scene. We've been "dieting" for years - talking it to death, joining weight loss groups, reading every new diet book on the market, obsessing about our need to lose weight. But this time we have a more important reason - the South Beach diet is part of Lisa's treatment for PCOS and she needs our support and encouragement. We're accountability partners, sharing ideas and new recipes, tracking our progress and reminding each other that we are on the right track.

Randy and I have just finished week one in Phase One. It's actually been brutal - the drastic change in our lifestyle, habits and mindset - not to mention some actual hunger pangs throughout the week. Phase One limits our diet to lean meat, specific vegetables and some dairy. No high glucose foods - no fruit, no bread, no pasta, no grains, no carrots-squash-beets. OMG - what the heck are we supposed to eat??? We have slowly adjusted to this new menu. Scrambled eggs with zuchinni & mushrooms for breakfast. Soup (chicken vegetable) or salad for lunch. Lean meat, poultry or fish with vegetable & salad for dinner. Snacks: almonds, celery with hummus, string cheese, pistachio nuts, lowfat cottage cheese. Water....lots and lots of water.

On Saturday I was fixing lunch - not so easy without the standard quick and easy sandwich - but still possible. What's in the fridge??? Left over stir fry without the rice, some shredded cabbage, lots of chopped veggies. How about this - stir fry over shredded cabbage. Bless Randy's heart - he is very open to any food idea I have. So "sure" is his response. I put cabbage on the plate, then top it with the stir fry and microwave it for 2-3 minutes. Hmmm. Sounds pretty wierd, looks it too. But actually very tasty. We both are pleased with the crunchy texture and blend of flavors. I look at Randy and say "Wow - real food tastes real good!" He agrees with me.

Today marks the beginning of week 2 in Phase One. We are more prepared for the new menus and limitations we will experience - we won't be able to eat all the food we prepare for our Wednesday night Lions Club dinner - but we are more encouraged than ever. This morning we got weighed and together we lost 12 pounds in one week. So real food not only tastes real good - it looks real good too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Divine Retribution

It seems to be impossible to drive anywhere these days without being surrounded by idiots. I know my husband and at least 1 daughter have serious issues with anger when they are cut off or almost hit by careless drivers. I would say road rage, but that is a little too extreme for the frustration they feel. Just lots of comments about stupid idiots and morons. I try to set a good example by responding more appropriately, turning the other cheek and have only rarely flipped anyone off.

No matter how often I see horrible, dangerous driving I NEVER see any of them pulled over further down the highway. Well that did happen once when someone was pacing me and I couldn't merge on the freeway. They speeded up when I did and slowed down when I did and I finally had to come to almost a complete stop when my lane ran out. I was probably talking out loud at that point, maybe even using the word "idiot" myself when a State Patrol raced past me and nailed them. Talk about payback....I loved it! But one time out of all my years of driving isn't much.

This morning I was driving to Seattle to spend the day with Jack and Micah. I was in the fast lane behind at least 3 other cars and we were all passing several semi trucks in the middle lane. We were going 65 in a 60 zone (par for the course) when I noticed a car speeding up behind me. It was a lovely little silver car with a distinguished looking man with silver hair and the ever present blue tooth. He was obviously irritated that he couldn't get past me but since I couldn't get over yet and WAS going 5 mph over the limit I didn't care how irritated he was. I saw him glance over his shoulder and edge his car out into the HOV lane. I guess since it was clear sailing he decided to use that lane even though there was obviously no one in the car with him.

As he sailed past me I shook my head and thought "where are the cops when you need them?" Since they were nowhere in sight I then said to myself, oh well God can deal him later. The next
instant he pulled in front of our little group of cars and I noticed a cloud of smoke coming from him. I thought he had slammed on his brakes and was burning rubber so I prepared to make a sudden stop too. But wait a minute, he's moving into the next lane and then the next lane and I see bits of tire flying everywhere. He absolutely lost his freakin' tire and all I could think of was "Oh man, God doesn't mess around!" The hubcap sailed across all lanes of the highway and just missed me by mere inches - but even that couldn't wipe the smile off my face....

Wherever he was going in such a hurry...I don't think he made it there on time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jesus Loves Me

Sorry, I'm embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, but I haven't liked that song since I was about 6 years old. Too simple, too boring, too childish...growing up it seemed like a song that only young children should sing, but oh no - Sunday after Sunday someone asks for it and we sing it. I sing by rote, not even thinking about the words because I've heard it so often.

Then along comes Rory. Rory loves to fall asleep with someone singing to him. Even at a few months old, he would make a humming noise if no one was singing to him when he wanted to take a nap. When his mommy begins singing he especially loves it when she sings her favorite hymns, although he seems to enjoy all different styles of music.

When Rory was 3 months old, he began to spend Tuesdays with me so Lisa could return to work. He is easy to take care of and he loves to fall asleep while we rock on the front porch swing and I sing him my limited repertoire of songs. My standard songs for children and grandchildren have always been "You Are My Sunshine", "Hush, Little Baby" and "K K K Katie". But since Lisa told me Rory really settles down with hymns I tried "Amazing Grace" and finally settled on one song I know all the words to: "Jesus Loves Me".

Hmmm, it actually doesn't sound boring when I change the words to "Yes Jesus loves Rory, yes Jesus loves Rory, yes Jesus loves Rory - the Bible tells us so". Rory has heard this song every Tuesday for the past 5 months and he falls asleep to it every time.

A few weeks ago in church Rory was getting fussy and was being passed from grandparent to aunt to cousin to parent to grandparent...then he got to me. I put my mouth against his ear and started whispering "Jesus loves me this I know...." Rory froze - no movement, no sound for a few seconds then he put his head down on my shoulder and listened to me whisper the whole song to him while he fell asleep. It was a magic moment.

We spend one Sunday each month bringing a worship service to elderly residents in an assisted living center and "Jesus Loves Me" is the one song that everyone knows and wants to sing. They remember all the words and they sing with joy. I think it's possible that, once upon a time, these dear people were rocked to sleep while their grandmothers sang "Jesus Loves Me".

Suddenly I don't hate this song anymore.