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May 18, 2010

What Happened to the Sun?

Yesterday I worked for two hours in Dani's garden with the promise of doing mine today. Not on your life. Today it rained. Even after 30 years, I can still be fooled with the promise of spring changing into midwinter overnight. It is what I both hate and love about the Northwest. No plans can be made for sure, no promise of planting tomorrow what you put off today, and no assurance of lovely weather lasting more than one hour.Of course, the green of the world more than makes up for the annoyance. Right now, at sunset, the sun is making its way through the clouds, the blades of grass are glistening, and the world is waking from a thorough cleansing.

May and June are busy months for our family. I'm finishing my Child Development class which demands some hours each week online as well as in the classroom, three of my grandchildren were in plays I, of course, had to see, Jeni is graduating from her masters' program at Seattle University and James is graduating from the 8th grade, my counseling interns need letters of recommendation for their job search, my new pastor is having his installation and his mother and friend are staying with me for several days, James has some musical activities like his 8th grade project recital, Jeni and Ron are selling their house, Dani and Charles are about to get their house ready to sell also, and there are various and sundry other items to check off my list in the next couple of weeks. Martin and Christine are moving quite steadily along towards their due date in August. It just feels like a beehive of activity all around me. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I want to bury my head in a hole and ignore the hustle and bustle. That doesn't even include boards and committees at church and stepping in to conduct the church choir when Debbie is gone next week.

So, I hope the rain settles and spring pops up once again. Somehow when the sun is shining, the busyness seems more manageable. No wonder I have trouble centering down to write. Too much stuff tugging me every which way. Martin and I went to an interesting workshop on Creative Research last Sunday. It whet my appetite for spending more time at my computer, but I think I have to handle the outside forces that I allow to rain on my parade. Maybe I like to be busy more than I like to write. I'll have to ponder that. Do I allow these other things to invade my life? Do I have any control over them? Could I call the world off and turn inward? I don't know - tune in for some of the answers at a later date. Right now, I'm going to go and smile at the sunset.

Posted by Marilyn at 7:47 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2010

Naughty Stuff

I hate to admit it, but I love Costco Polish dogs. I think they are worth about 24 points on Weight Watchers so I rarely allow myself the luxury of eating one. But, the calories are definitely offset by the cost of lunch. So, I splurged the other day when I was out shopping. In fact, I actually went to Costco just for a hotdog when I was at Macy's home store. It is rare to get out of Costco without spending more than $1.50 but I managed to pull it off by going straight to the deli. As I ate the hotdog, I kept thinking of how I should have chosen the salad instead. That train of thought conjured up the longer list of forbidden foods that I allow myself to sneak now and then.

Ice Cream!!!! That would definitely be my downfall. I would eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I could. I truly love ice cream - but unfortunately, cannot have it in the house. When it is left over from a dinner party, I will eat it every night until I throw the carton away. At times, when I'm feeling strong, I'll give it away to my neighbors so I'm not tempted. Chocolate is my favorite, but Ben and Jerry have some delicious flavors - anything with chocolate, vanilla, and caramel! I am delighted that Baskin and Robbins have taken their Jamoca Almond Fudge from my side of town to Dani's side of town. I'm too lazy to drive to Mallard's but occasionally will get gelato in Fairhaven. I really, really try to ignore ice cream on a daily basis.

I make a fabulous macaroni and cheese but never for myself because I would eat that every night for dinner until it is gone. I really like apple pie, but again I never would ever make it for myself. Strange that I could care less about candy or cake. I could have each of those around for ages and never even be tempted. Oh, maybe if the candy was See's nuts and chews - but even then I would go easy and not indulge daily. Funny how we can control some things but not others.

Sometimes it is not calories that I worry about, but ingredients. Dani and I are both severely addicted to Diet Coke. We really crave Diet Cokes and we are NOT very good when we are together. Now, I know that Diet Coke is not going to add pounds to my poor overweight body, BUT I also truly believe that it is NOT GOOD FOR YOU!!! So, I try not to have Diet Coke in the house (but I did have one with my Costco hotdog). See, my mother always told me not to hang around things that are not good for you - they lead you into more trouble!

My final downfall is portion control. Large portions and little exercise keep me overweight. I know this from my on and off trips to Weight Watchers. I am not an indulgent eater, just eat too much for the amount of movement my body gets. But, I really, really do like to eat and cook and enjoy a good meal.

I guess I can't have another Costco hotdog for a month or so -- I do have some self control!

Posted by Marilyn at 7:42 PM | Comments (0)

May 6, 2010


I was emailing my son this morning about Christine's birthday and realized that I hadn't called him on his birthday on April 1st. I presume I did call him the next day, but I simply don't remember. April 1st was the first day I taught my Skagit class and, in my defense, I didn't know if I was going to teach it because there are only 10 students enrolled. Last year it didn't go with 8. I refused to put any time into planning until I knew I was going to teach, so it all came together at the last minute and that is what I was thinking about. I told Martin not to hold his breathe because it was going to get worse as I age and forget more, or cannot hold as many balls in the air as I once did.

I was thinking about confusion the other day. I'm listening to a book on tape by Robert Parker the writer who is popular for his Spencer novels. On the tape, Spencer is researching a murder connected to a brothel owned by a girl he once knew when she was a teen. He spends time interviewing prostitutes to get to the bottom of the murder. At the same time I'm reading the newest Martha Grimes (The black Cat) which, coincidentally, is also about prostitutes. Again, the main detective Jury is interviewing prostitutes. I tell you that I get confused between the two. I listen in the car and somehow transpose the different characters until I finally get myself straight on which one that I'm currently listening to or reading. How weird that both of my worlds - reading and listening - come together at the moment on the same topic. But, since I do both quite often, I guess it is going to happen. Now, if only I can find a good prostitute movie on television, I will really be in a muddle.

I'm not sure if it is my age - probably my diving into the world of fiction so many different ways - reading, listening, watching -- and you know I love a good mystery. However, I notice a deficiency these days of remembering things like phone numbers. I used to know every one of my friends and family member's phone numbers by heart. But, since they are now stored electronically, all I know is that on my phone Dani's number is 1, Jeni 2, Martin 3 - in birth order of course. Jeni's in-laws, the Craswells, are 4 and church is 5. That is how it has been for many, many years.

When I worry about my losing my marbles, I think about this: 1) I can listen, read, and watch different mysteries at the same time without normally getting them confused, 2) I can still do a mean crossword, Scrabble, and jigsaw puzzle 3) I can memorize the students in my class in just a few minutes, 4) I can still remember my children's birthdays and usually my own but not always my grandchildren's, 5) I am still pretty good at finances and can do my own taxes, and 6) I can still remember the words to most old popular songs.

Of course, maybe I won't know when I'm doing these things poorly because my memory will be deteriorating. Oh my. I hope I can count on my friends to let me know when I lose my edge. By then, I won't even need books on tape - I'll just have my own stories playing in my head. I won't even care if I mix up the characters.

Posted by Marilyn at 1:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 4, 2010

It's A Mystery!

I absolutely love mysteries! I have loved mysteries since the first moment I read half of Agatha Christie's "Hickory Dickory Death" in my husband's brother's bathroom on New Year's Eve sometime around 1960. I went in for a moment and came out a half hour later. The next day, I went to the South Pasadena library and got the book so I could finish. That was my first introduction to what might be considered a series - a bunch of books with the same wonderful characters. I was fully launched at that moment -- reading every Agatha Christie that I could possibly find. Then, on to Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and other British mystery writers. I began combing used book stores to put together a collection. Imagine how ecstatic I was when Martin went to England several years ago and brought back the only two Christie's that I didn't own. I haven't read Dame Agatha for many, many years but I treasure having all her mysteries on my shelf.

I was delighted the other day to hear from my old friend, Peggy, from Woodland Hills. She had met mystery writer Elizabeth George at a bookstore reading (Elizabeth actually lives on Whidbey Island here in the Northwest). She told Elizabeth that her friend, Marilyn from Washington, was mad at her for killing off Lyndley's wife, Helen, a few years ago. George told Peggy to invite me to hear her talk at Village Books and she would explain why she did it. After killing Helen, she wrote a novel to tell the back story of the boy who killed her. I refused to read it, but found it for $1.00 someplace and bought it just so I didn't have a hole in my collection. I have gone back to reading her two latest novels, but I'm still mad a her for killing Helen.

I loved hearing from Peggy. You would think that we were related by DNA. I haven't talked to her for a couple of years, yet we have been reading all the same books. She loves the same authors I love and follows the same series. She watches the same PBS British series and probably eats the same things I do, although we did not get into food. It is uncanny. Even more uncanny is my friend Siu who lives in Santa Barbara. Siu is an artist and although we exchange Christmas cards, I hadn't really talked to her in many years. For some reason she got in touch a few months ago and she is also reading the same books I am reading. We had a great chat about our favorites and how we discovered them. Here is another mystery fan from my past. It's like we are living parallel lives in various cities.

What is it about this that is so heartwarming to me? How lovely it is to hear from old friends with the same love of a good mystery. I guess there's no mystery in that!

Posted by Marilyn at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 3, 2010

Happy Birthday

I went to a 12th birthday party on Saturday evening. It was for the Abbey Garden Tea Room. Long time customers who ate in the tea room last month got a survey to fill out and an invitation in the mail to come celebrate. They served wine and tea as well as several finger foods - miniatures of what is on their menu. We sat at tables with other long time customers and talked about tea and our fondness for the restaurant as well as other chit chat. The first person I saw was my friend, Nancy, who had gotten a survey to fill out when we met at the tea room last week. She was delighted to be included. There were some regulars there, and I wish I had called others that I know are fans of the tearoom, but who probably didn't get in during the survey time. Everyone who attended got a $10.00 gift certificate and there were several drawings for tea gifts. It was fun.

My other favorite haunt in Fairhaven is the Harris Avenue Cafe where Katy and I go weekly for breakfast. I've mentioned it before - owned by our friend, Robin, it is usually packed with customers and open only for breakfast and lunch. Katy and I often share an omelet and Robin always sends over his complimentary fruit plate. He also sneaks bacon onto my order from time to time - he is a generous guy. Customer service is what these two restaurants are all about - taking care of those people who support them regularly.

For me it is the warm feeling that I get living in a small town (well, not so small any longer). I love driving through the outdoor service window at Vienna Cleaners and having someone go straight to the hangers to get my clothing while yelling, "Hi, Marilyn." I love knowing Chuck and Dee at Village Books and playing games with Dee on Facebook. I love being appreciated as a customer and appreciating the kinds of places where I choose to give my business. It was like this for me as a child living in a small section of Los Angeles where people recognized long-time customers. Appreciation and recognition go a long way to making people return to a business. They are especially welcome in our present economy.

This Tuesday, I will join some of my friends from my church circle at a local restaurant for "Maple Alley Inn night." Restaurants all over town will donate some of their proceeds from the evening to a homeless feeding program in town. Our rummage sale at church has just made almost $10,000 from a two-day sale of goods not wanted by people any longer. Much of the merchandise sold, leftovers will be picked up by various agencies in town. Then, our circle will give away the whole amount to charities in need.

Sometimes life seems gloriously full of good things.

Harris Avenue Cafe

Posted by Marilyn at 8:41 AM | Comments (2)