Sunday, April 21, 2013

Little Red Corvette

When I hear the words Midlife Crisis, for some reason, the picture that immediately comes to my mind is a random balding man, speeding, in a candy apple red Corvette. He is smiling, maybe even a bit smug. His shoulders are relaxed, one hand casually draped across the steering wheel, and he is wearing shades. The cheap kind, you know, with the 80's mirrored lenses? He flashes to my mind every time I hear those words.

Why is he smiling? Is it because he thinks his car is cool? Is it because he knows something I don't know? Or is it because he is breaking the rules of smart finance and speed? 

I think I figured him out. I think he is smiling because he got what he wants.

Don't we all want that? Not the Corvette, but to actually get what we want in life? To get what we think that we deserve?

Going through this home renovation, let me tell you, it is very easy to want. It is also very easy to blow your budget. It is very easy to get wrapped up in small details, big decisions, and to press those stress buttons that test your patience and your marriage. It is easy to become the person you don't want to be.

Hey, guy in the red corvette, I am nearing this crisis and need a fast ride in your car. I am closer to 40 than I am to 30, and am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and living in a house that will not be finished for ages. Help. I need a ride. Not because I want what you got, but because I need to want what I already have......

My girl. She runs, climbs, sings, and reads. Her chest breaths in and out easily. Her heart beats solid, and she is growing tall like her dad. I can't even begin to tell you what a miracle this is.

She is strong, she is healthy.

 I have already won the lottery. 

I am very grateful, indeed.

My legs. They can run. I am able to write, ride my bike, garden, and paint. I can hold my camera easily and take pictures using both my hands. I can take my dog for a walk. These are thing I easily take for granted on a daily basis, things I usually forget to be very, very grateful for, and for them I am so humbled to have the ability of daily use.

Yes, I have won the lottery. My body is able.

Food. I have it. I can buy it or grow it. I can cook it, I can take it on a picnic. Water, too. I can drink it and water my garden with it, easily. I turn on the faucet, it is there. I take a shower, the water is warm. For that I am lucky, and very thankful.

I have won the lottery. The people I love, their bellies are full, and they don't thirst.

My best friend. I get to see him every day. He makes me laugh, and loves me even when I am a mad, crazy- haired, freak. He is an awesome father, and I get to raise my girl with him. He is the first person I see in the morning and the last person I see at night, and for that I can count my lucky stars, because he holds my moon.

I love my best friend like I love no other.

I have won the lottery. My best friend and I are married.

The four seasons, the yearly comfort of the routine. The sun comes up, it goes down. The trees bloom, then they let go. The air we breathe, it smells good and tastes good, and it is free. There are oceans to swim in, mountains to explore, wonders to be in awe of and a big beautiful Earth to take care of.

That is incredible.

Folks, we have all won that lottery.

This man in the red corvette. He shows up when I think I want what I haven't got. He reminds me to want what I already have. There is only one thing I can argue with him, when he takes me on this ride. There is one thing I will always want that I cannot have, something I try my best to keep in a place where I can manage it before it starts to tear my world down. It is the thing that prevents me from feeling like a whole person, that no amount of money in the world can buy, and no amount of praying can help the pain. That would be to have my Vanessa back. For me to love her, and know her, and raise her like I was supposed to. Like I was meant to. For me to kiss her face, and wipe her tears, watch her grow, and hold her close.

He shakes his head and his smile loosens a bit as he tells me, " I know it doesn't feel like winning the lottery, but, she will always be your daughter and you will always be her mother. Nothing will ever, ever change that. That kind of love, is beyond this world.

You have won the lottery, he tells me.

That kind of love is forever.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Good Times

To round out Spring Break 2013, we followed tradition.

It was time to do the city again, in pictures:

            G was curious. So was I. Curious enough to wander through the thick Saturday morning crowd to see what was in the back of the store.

                        Seattle is spooky. Spooky Seattle. It doesn't try hard to be, it just is....

And in the back of the store, there is not one, but two dead people. G said she wasn't scared, but could not stop staring, and holding our hands tight. Stare, squeeze, stare some more......squeeze some more.

                               Time to leave the spookiness behind for a bit, and do a little cruising.

On the Good time 2 to Tillicum Village on Blake Island. There, they have a traditional Native American Longhouse, and serve a Salmon dinner with a performance. Seattle Spooky, but with different kinds of spirits. Spirits with stories to be told. I had been there twice as a child, and it was time to expose G to the history, and put a memory in her head of something very Seattle.

          The ride was choppy in the strong April wind as we left the city behind. It was going to be a stark contrast, trading the energy of the streets for a 50 minute boat ride to a lonely little Island.

After we docked, as we disembarked, we were each handed a steaming hot mug full of clams. G had never had clams right off the shell before, and she was excited to try, so we sat and dug in.

                                                                           Slurp, slurp.

                    She likes it. So much, that she downed the broth it sat in. Mmmm. Clam breath. : )

We are told to get rid of the clam shells by throwing them on the ground. The paths that wind through the front lawn of the Longhouse are littered with years and years of shell remains. Somewhere in that pathway are the shards of mine and my brothers clam remains, where we did the same as children, and now G 's are mixed in there with them. That makes me smile.

                                                       G and her new buddy, Frank.

          The grounds of the village house works of art. Blake Island is but a stones throw away from the Island we live on, a sister Island, yet they are worlds apart. It flies under the radar. You'd almost never know it's there.

                                                               Beautiful Longhouse.

                                                           Inside, our meal was cooking.

We were ushered into the Longhouse and treated to a large buffet. I have to say, the food was delish. Usually, when I hear the word "buffet", I am instantly disappointed since I have very rarely been to a tasty buffet.

  We were a large group, and I was prepared to wait, but the waiting was very minimal. They ran it like a well oiled machine.

                                             The star of the food show. What a show off.

                                                                 G waiting for her hunk.

                                          Tasty dish. And the service was very friendly, too.

And then it was time for dessert and the show. It was different than I remember, but we all enjoyed it very much.

After the show, G had a little conversation with Bird. "Do you like Justin Bieber?" she asked. "Who is your favorite girl singer? Taylor Swift? Selena Gomez? Taylor Swift is mine, I like Taylor Swift." she says. Bird just shrugs his shoulders.

      Then we have about 40 minutes to go explore the Island before being sent back to the city.

There is a hunter hiding on the beach. Just like Where's Waldo, he wears stripes but is much, much meaner.......

                                      And just like that, the tour is over, and it's time to go.

                 Thank you, Tillicum Village, I am sure we will be back. Maybe I will be holding my grand children's hands by then, keeping tradition, we'll see. One can hope.

And then it was back to the city. We asked Dwight where we should go. He totally ignored us. Rude.

                  We couldn't talk ourselves onto the great wheel, so off to the market we went.

I was in need of four things:  A soy sauce dispenser, ground chili pasilla pepper, these guava or lychee hard candies in a green wrapper I couldn't pronounce, but wanted a boat load of, and a large loaf of braided Challah. We were on a mission.

One thing about Pike Place and Seattlelites. Rain stops no one. A rainy Seattle Saturday was no different than a bright sunny Saturday. It was packed inside.

So, first things first: Pasilla pepper. We went to four different spice stores before we found some very overpriced powder that barely passed my inspection. Done.

We tried some other stores to track down those hard candies, but couldn't find them, and no one knew what they were as I could only describe the packaging. We did find a soy sauce dispenser, though. Check, check. As G sat and worked on an ice cream cone, I wandered a bit and lo and behold my eye spied that little lime green packaging poking out of a strange iron bin off to one side of one of the vendors counters. On closer inspection it was a bag full of those crazy little candies I lusted after. Word. I bought the whole bag and now I have 350 pieces of sweetness for my office candy. And, I found out they were Guava, and I don't even like Guava. It's amazing what a little artificial sweetening can do. ; )

After we passed hula hooping, harmonica playing, backwards guitar strumming, singing guy, the grey sky turned brown, then storm blue, and opened up it's late Saturday revenge.  A hail of all hail storms. It made a lovely memory of hiding under the eaves of Seattle amongst strangers with smiling faces.

And, that braided Challah was found at that gorgeous very French bakery. It was made into this mornings french toast with cherry compote. A fine way to savor the city the day after.

And our city adventure ends, but not without the city pushing itself a little farther into G's country girl heart.

                                         That country girl may not be a country girl after all.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dreaming in Yogurtland

Spring break??

This is the start of spring break? 45 degrees outside, huge puddles in the driveway, sudden torrential downpours, and the first fire we've made in the wood stove in weeks? Ugh.

I am not surprised, at all, but have not been distracted enough to not have the gloom and doom bring me down. The April mopes have begun.

I don't think I have ever been anywhere cool on spring break. Like, ever. Those of you that do and have? Uh, good for you? Please excuse my sarcasm, I'm a bit jealous, I suppose. One of these years I will join the throngs of you flying, driving, and running toward the sun to shed the winter skin. This is about the time of year when I've had enough of the weather, and look at the calendar and flip through the pages to see where the real heat begins, where I can wear a t shirt without reaching for my hoodie. And I flip and flip, and flip, and come to....July? That seems so far...

For G, spring break means "Whoopeeeee!!!" And, that is all. There is no need for heat, sunshine, or tropical adventures. The fact that she gets to sleep in, have sleepovers, go on  little mini city adventures is plenty enough for her. Happiness abounds in the spring break of an eight year old with little to no expectations. I think I will board that train and forget the lack of sunshine blues. Let's blow that big train whistle, shall we?

We start with this past Friday. There is a half day at school, with an early dismissal planned. I have made plans to walk across the ferry with G, and go to my sister's house for an overnight visit after school lets out. The night before, about midnight, Jeremy and I decide does she really need to go to school tomorrow? For two and a half hours?


We feel like the coolest parents ever.

 Let's all start spring break a little early, shall we? So I sneak into her room and shut off her alarm. At 8:04 the next morning she comes paddling into our room messy haired, wide eyed, and in a small panic. "We are late! I am late! My alarm, it didn't go off!!" She says. I tell her I turned it off last night and she is welcome to go back to bed. "Spring break starts right now, okay?", I say. She says nothing and goes back into her room and doesn't come out until 9:45.

My sister lives in Duvall, which, when we pronounce it, it comes out as a drawl and a question; Dew-vawl?  It is fun to say. We take it a little too far sometimes. G is very excited. It will be our first sleepover there, and her first sleepover with just me. Maria picks us up at the ferry, and wants to take us to her favorite teriyaki joint, Yummy Teriyaki, for lunch. The place is clean, busy, and there are pictures, nice pictures even, of the food on the walls. We grab our table and our order number happens to be my favorite number.

As we wait, we talk. It is so nice to see my sissy, as I don't get to see her nearly as often as I'd like.

Our food comes, and it is indeed, Yummy Teriyaki.

So, living on an Island like I do, you are not exposed often to the culture of the mainland, and, as in culture, I mean fancy strip mall franchises. After tasty franchise number one, Maria took us to tasty franchise number two, which completely blew this country mouse mind. Cue the angel choir and behold all that is good.


I have never been to a frozen yogurt joint before, so I walked in and immediately started gawking. The embarrassing kind of gawking. Yogurtland was tidy, warm, user friendly, self serve, and very visually pleasing. Willy Wonka like, except y'all get to carry the golden ticket.

The choices of froyo and toppings is a bit overwhelming at first, but once you spy your guilt, it is easy to pile it on.

We eat and I am still gushing about the store between delicious bites and so very much want to own my own Yogurtland, and bring it to the Island, I decide. I am so serious about it that we visit the website and crunch numbers when we get to Maria's house. The big picture starts to form, and soon, the Yogurtland dream reluctantly flies out of my head in a small black poof cloud. The Island would be just too small of a population to support it we conclude, and my yogurt dream  fizzled away.

 Oh well.

 I will be a connoisseur of froyo joints instead. Watch out froyo. There is a new stalker in town.

Yogurtland, I love you mucho, mucho.

When we get to Maria's, G plays and plays and plays with her cousin Bina.

Sergey makes us fajitas as we dodge raindrops and play outside Northwest style.

              This picture makes my heart hurt so bad. She is so big. The time, it just goes by way too fast.

       Have toddlers? All you need is dirt, water, rocks and a bowl to keep them entertained. Truly.

I get to watch my sister be all grown up as I visit. Staying at her house, I observe her being a mother, a wife, and a adult.  I am so much older than her, and she is a grown up already? How?  When did that happen?  In the midst of all this time that has flown by at warp speed since the day I turned thirty, I suppose.

We stay up too late with Maria and talk and talk and talk. G is so tired that when we go to sleep in the guest room that night, she doesn't talk my ear off which is what I was fully expecting. A tiny arm that tickled my arm pit in the dark was all I got.

Thank you, sissy for a wonderful stay, and a great start to our spring break.

xxx's and ooo's.

 I have other day adventures planned for the rest of the week that don't necessarily require the sun. It does require stalking another frozen yogurt joint, though.

Sunshine can be found in many places besides the sky. A stray ray of it boldly broke through our spring break on Friday, even though the day was cloudy.

All is not lost.

It is just begging to be found.