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May 21, 2009

Please Say Hi to Danielle

Hi Marilyn and thanks for having me as guest blogger today. I really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your blog. Let me tell you a little about myself and my work.

My name is Danielle Buffardi and I am a full time freelance writer and editor. I hold a Masters Degree in English and I have been freelance writing for over ten years. I have edited everything from small articles, academic papers, blogs, fliers, press releases, newsletters, and even large book manuscripts.

I am also a mother. I have a three year old son. Finding time to juggle both being a mother full time and writing/editing full time can be tricky but I always tend to find a happy medium. Thanks goodness for nap times!

Please visit my personal blog entitled Horrible Sanity at www.horriblesanity.com. Also, please visit my personal website at www.daniellebuffardi.com to learn more about my work as a freelance writer and editor.

Thanks again Marilyn for having me as a guest on your blog. I appreciate the opportunity to offer my services out to your readers and their community. And readers, be sure to check out my blog at www.horriblesanity.com to see Marilyn guest blogging on my site as well.

Posted by Marilyn at 8:09 AM | Comments (1)

May 20, 2009


I remember Donel setting up his blog, "Bright Wings" before he went into the hospital five years ago. I thought anyone who blogged was a bit daft. It turned out to be a wonderful vehicle for keeping friends and family up to date about his journey. When Martin suggested that I blog when I went to Singapore, I decided not to argue. And, as you know, the blog served me well during the remodel. I know that it kept my out-of-town family in the loop and it was frankly helpful to me to chronicle my thoughts and impressions as I slogged my way through the whole process. So, blogs can be interesting or informative to the reader and therapeutic for the writer.

I have a program on my Mac called NetNewsWire which feed in blogs and newspapers I subscribe to and places them in a central location. It is really handy because I like getting the New York Times, the Seattle Times and the Bellingham Herald every day. Also, I subscribe to several blogs and Twitters from various people. The twitters are silly, but it is fun to see what my kids are saying to others on the web. I probably know more about what they are doing than I have since they lived with me. But, it is the blogs I enjoy the most.

Donel's old pal, Nancy Leson, was the Seattle Times food critic until she turned into their food blogger instead. I get her blog, "All You Can Eat" so I can read about her meanderings around the Seattle food scene. My friend KJ has a blog, "College Clips" about her art work. "Orangette" is a blog written by Seattle food writer, Molly Wizenberg, whose wrote "A Homemade Life" -- my new favorte cookbook. Dani has a blog, "Tippy Canoe" and Jeni has "Musings and Meanderings." Martin has "Hellbox" but he also has a writing blog and often writes on Trademark's blog. I have lately found some interesting writing blogs.

When our local bookshop owner, Chuck Robinson, posted a link to a blog entry entitled Library or Bookstore? I was tantalized into reading the blog and posting an entry about my opinions on the matter. Thus, I was introduced to the blog, Horrible Sanity, written by Danielle an editor with a 2 1/2 year old son. I wondered if my daughter had a secret blog. I wrote to Danielle and began a conversation with her. That led her to asking if I wanted to be a guest on her blog. This led to participation in the Blogathon Guest Post Day (an idea suggested by writer/blogger Michelle Rafter). Tomorrow is the official day. The Other Danielle (not McClellan) will have an entry on my blog and I will have one on hers. Check out her blog. It is fun to read. It is really a very, very small world!

I know you are wondering when I have time to do all this reading of blogs, Twitter, newspapers, etc. No, I am not on my computer all day -- but reading these things takes no longer than reading the morning paper or taking a half hour to put the world aside for cyber space. It is a fascinating world. Martin has long wanted me to develop my website and to post my parenting articles. I'm still pondering that idea. I'm still a neophyte when it comes to these things, but I am definitely coming along. Never too late to learn!

Posted by Marilyn at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2009


I'm about to drive to Mt. Vernon to meet two new counseling interns. The first quarter, while they do their observations in the schools, I just meet them and get acquainted. During the next two quarters, I will assess their counseling skills. This is my second time around for City University interns. You might remember from reading the blog, that I went to bed worried one evening about how to finish paying for my costly remodel and woke up to a job offer from City U. I decided not to question whether it was divine providence. I took on three interns and enjoyed it. I finished my work with them this past month and have agreed to supervise five new students for spring through winter quarter. Since I facilitate a group of middle school counselors from the Bellingham District, I keep in touch with that part of my life. They are good people doing important work. It is a pleasure to work with others just beginning their careers.

I have been lucky with work opportunities in my life. I began earning a wage at age 15 as a weekend stock girl in a local boutique department store. I rose from stock girl to sales girl and was promised a sportswear buying job if I would stay instead of going to college. But, off I went to Pasadena City College and then Occidental College where I wavered between music and writing. Music won because California was granting credentials to musicians taking two education classes and student teaching. Part time work in the music department during the year and reorganizing the library during the summer helped pay tuition. Choral positions in schools followed graduation until I got pregnant with my first child. Teaching piano lessons was a perfect stay-at-home-mom job for several years until I was ready to do some part-time teaching back in the schools. Somewhere in there I conducted children's and chancel choirs for various churches. And, I had the pleasure of selling an op ed article to the Los Angeles Times.

When I hit Bellingham, I was lucky to teach music for a short while before I changed directions and got an English credential. Teaching Core classes in middle school and running the highly capable program led me back to school for a Master's Degree in Counseling and a counseling position which I was able to do until I retired. I resumed my love of writing and wrote three books for Enslow Publishing for school libraries. After retirement, I taught at the community college level and began supervising counseling interns.

Lots of work over lots of years. Someone suggested that more people now have to work after retirement. But, I don't have to work. I like to work. I like to earn money. I like to be useful, but more important, I like to know that I still have skills to share. I'd like to pay more attention to writing. I've mentioned that before. I have been very fortunate to make money doing work that interests me and feels more like a hobby!

Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I had picked up the writing thread instead of going into education. Or, if I had been serious about my piano or voice lessons and put all my time and talent into those endeavors. What happened to the oil painting I began in Santa Barbara or the guitar lessons that began and ended in Berkeley? What is there that keeps us on one track and derails another? Is it our personality? Karma? Did I sell out for a regular paycheck? Did I ever really believe that I had talent in these other areas? At my age, options are closed forever. But, I'm still interested in trying new things. So, who knows what the next chapter will bring?

Posted by Marilyn at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2009


I'm in Redmond today to keep Allie company. Allie has two fractures in her back and has been living with pain and frustration. Jeni and Ron had to be in Seattle all day and so grandma was on duty in case Allie needed medication or some kind of tending. Actually, she has been mostly fine. She did take some stronger medication in the morning but only Tylenol this afternoon. She is going to a Sweet Sixteen party tonight so I'll hang with Nicole until Ron gets home. Frankly, I'm not much needed -- but the possibility was there.

My grandchildren are growing up to be such nice people. Allie, at 15, is poised and very lovely. Nicole, at 12, is cute as a button and growing into a teen. James, at 13, is taller than all of us, has lost that pudgy pre-teen body and begins to look like a young man. They are all nice people. I like that. I'm sure they have their moments with their parents, but then I hope they do. How else can they grow into independent people? The girls are active in their church youth group and James allows himself to be dragged to church most Sundays. He is so busy outside of school with the Bellingham middle school jazz band, that he has not connected much with the church youth. But, he plays a mean bass guitar and is about to resume playing the standup base. Nicole is a harpist. Allie sings and plays the guitar. They are all musical which warms my heart.

And, then of course there is two-year-old Nico who fell apart with laughter the other night when I was rocking him and singing to him. He was supposed to be going to sleep. I let him lie in the crib for a good 45 minutes when I realize that the child was still awake. He normally falls immediately to sleep. So, I got him up and rocked him. The only time he will let me do this is bedtime when rocking or lying down are his only options. So, I was taking advantage of having him where I wanted him! I realized that he wasn't getting at all sleepy with my quiet songs so I decided to sing Three Blind Mice. He began laughing hysterically and asked for it again and again. He listened long enough to learn most of it and then began singing it himself. Now, there is nothing that warms my heart more than a child who has a sense of humor. He had to sing it for his parents later -- he never did go to sleep while they were gone -- and then went around singing "Three Blind Mice" over and over again. That's our Nico!

He is going to be baptized in a week and I'm wondering how on earth anyone will get him to stay still long enough for it to happen. I think this is going to be a rare challenge for pastor Jane. If I had any ideas how to make it happen successfully, I would share them. Maybe someone will come up with a clever idea how to get a very determined little guy to stay still in front of a whole audience for some stranger to sprinkle water on his head. HA! Too bad it can't happen during nap time when he is conked out. I'll let you know what the little tornado does during his baptism. This would have been a challenge even for his papa.

Posted by Marilyn at 5:13 PM | Comments (1)

May 14, 2009

Another Blah Day in the Northwest

I wonder if spring will ever come and actually stay around a few days. We have such teaser days when it is lovely and everyone sheds their clothing and runs out to garden. Then, along comes a storm or a series of dreary days. Actually, the natives do not go inside, but it does try the nerves. You see, our planting window is so very short in the northwest. In after Mother's Day and finished by October. If you don't get stuff growing, you will reap no rewards before it dies again. It annoys this California girl because procrastination is simply not an option as it was in my previous state. I could have tomatoes all year long even if I could never put the lawnmower away.

I must say that I have come to enjoy the seasons. I like the rhythm, the drama, the sheer joy of the first spring blooms, the long summer days, the autumn colors and the promise of snow. I never noticed the sun changing directions in California. It was just always there. But, in Washington, I am so aware of the setting sun glaring directly into my living room during the summer because it shines through the side windows in winter. One phenomena that my California visitors notice is that people shed clothing here when the sun is out even if it is chilly. My visitors are sitting around with sweaters amazed at joggers running in shorts and halters. In fact, the kids here wear shorts to school with leggings during snowstorms.

I love my adopted state even on days like this when I'm annoyed with the teasing weather. The colors these days are amazingly vivid and a walk in the neighborhood is a visual treat. Rhodies and Azaleas as well as flowering fruit trees are simply gorgeous. The newly budded trees and rekindled lawns contain every nuance of the color green. The long and sometimes snowy landscape of winter is worth this blessed awakening in nature. I could count on most days in California to deliver. Here, I can count on being reborn each spring. Both were satisfying. But, it is much easier in California to be complacent. Here I am continually reminded of gratitude.

This is my thought for today. I began to write about something else. But, sometimes joy just has a way of leaking out of your thoughts!

Posted by Marilyn at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 6, 2009


My writing group met yesterday morning after a bit of a snafu where Margie and I both thought it was at our respective houses. Since Bev and I were both at my house, Margie packed up her goodies and brought them over. We used to meet four times a year and decided that we needed to meet more often. It would nudge us to write more. Before they came, I was lamenting that I had nothing to share. I have procrastinated all month and did not get back to my latest project which is to write some articles based on my blog about remodeling. I shared a few pages last month and received some excellent suggestions which I shelved and ignored these past weeks.

After my bout of feeling annoyed with myself, I suddenly realized that I have written quite a bit. I think I wrote five or six blog entries and the sermon for laity Sunday. Wow! I haven't been so very lazy after all. I tend to think of writing as more formal and discount my blog -- but there it is in black and white -- the fruits of my writing labors! So, I shared some blog entries and felt much better about my ability to get something done.

Isn't it just point of view? Sometimes I feel so lazy and then realize that I have cleaned a closet or spent time with a friend, or did some bills and realize I wasn't so lazy after all. I might not have gone to the gym or taken a walk or whatever else I neglected that made me feel guilty, but I certainly wasn't lazy. I have such a work ethic. I cannot do nothing. I wish I could. I used to spend hours listening to music or just reading a book when I was younger. That was probably the time stolen between getting children here or there or waiting for Don to come home after meetings. Having a big house means that there is always something to do. I'm now experiencing the downtime after remodeling when I was constantly busy or making decisions. It still feels like I should be doing something about my house every day.

A good writer will write daily. Creativity needs some time and space. I would like to improve. But, after looking over my blog, I realize that I'm not so bad after all. Hooray!

Posted by Marilyn at 6:47 PM | Comments (2)

May 2, 2009

A Blah Saturday Morning

James spent the night and is still asleep. Kinsey, his dog, is sitting at my feet hoping that I will save him the last of my omelet. Dani and Charles and Nico are on their way home from Seattle and it is windy and cold. I pushed the envelope yesterday afternoon and got the front yard mowed and edged. It was the first edging and took time and extra energy. I'm coming close to having the beds cleared and ready for planting. But, not in this weather. This morning is indoor time.

Esther Crane's memorial service is today. I'm helping the Hospitality committee for the reception. Vince Crane was the pastor before Don and Esther was his wife. She was the ultimate pastor's wife -- greeting everyone and learning their names. She was ever so much better at that duty than I ever was. I'm lucky to get across the narthex on Sunday morning after stopping to talk to people I know. I don't have radar to search out new faces and I absolutely hate being a greeter. We all have different gifts and I can't waste time worrying about those I completely lack. Esther was so good at it that Donel suggested she just keep going after Vince retired and then died. She was a very lovely lady.

Hating small talk carries out of the church door into other areas. I do not like cocktail parties where one is expected to roam and visit. Give me one good and interesting male or female and let me sit in the corner talking to them. Never mind that the person I have cornered might actually prefer to mingle. Having to figure all that out is exhausting. I like my natural friends that I can relax and enjoy. I don't mind making new friends, but I don't like seeking them out or all the time it takes to get to know them better. It is not that I am shy or nervous about meeting people.

I wonder if the phenomena is related to shopping. I like to peek in a shop door and decide if I want to go in or not. I don't have the energy to finger through uninteresting piles of stuff to find bargains. Give me a store like the Greenhouse to wander through and aesthetically enjoy -- it is a creative experience. Otherwise, I'm in and out to get what I need. I really appreciate people with more tolerance than I seem to possess. I appreciate those who can sift through the silt to filter out the gold. I appreciate people who are natural greeters and who are genuinely interested in the world around them.

I don't know where I was when those gifts were handed out. But, I salute people like Esther who had them!

Posted by Marilyn at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)