friday fictioneers: pretty, pretty princess…

Copyright - Douglas M. MacIlroy

He was a corporate guy in a suit and tie,

but in a pink hat with matching pearls, he was just one of us girls.

By day he managed employees, sat in on meetings, and problem solved.

At night he happily chucked it all to play “Pretty, Pretty Princess.”

A couple of decades later, he’s still commuting for a paycheck. 

He’s traded floor fun for quiet, relaxed evenings in a chair, Nook in hand, head nodding. 

Memories, always fresh, still linger…of bygone days with his little girl.

All grown up, but still his pretty, pretty princess.

His pumpkin pie. Her pops.

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reminiscing…2011…up to it?

Taking my cue from fellow blogger, tinkertoot, thought I’d ask of you what she asked of her readers in an October post, http://tinkertoot.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/the-joys-of-learning-something-new-a-challenge/ .

WHAT 2 new things did you learn in 2011, and LIST 5 pieces of trivia that might be of interest to others (or not). So, I’ll begin…

Flash Fiction Forward

Image by marklarson via Flickr

NEW things I learned…

  • Wrote flash fiction at an adult ed class at the local college and…
  • Wrote a book review, uploading it to Blogging for Books’ website and Amazon.com. Sorry to say the time and effort was mind-boggling…almost a week’s worth. Haven’t done it since. But proud I succeeded.

5 pieces of trivia…

  • Bed bug bites are lined up vertically, in close proximity. According to the experts, the bug likes to feed in the same area. Bet you didn’t know, or care to know, that. But if you’re bitten, you’ll know whether or not it was by a bed bug.
  • Clicking the red “x” in an unsolicited pop-up might allow a virus to infiltrate your computer. I know. I learned the hard way…to the tune of $199 paid to TechPro to clean out the whole kit-n-kaboodle.
  • Sleeping on an air mattress for 2 weeks straight isn’t the ideal scenario for someone with lower-back pain. I found out the hard way. Many visits to the chiropractor and physical therapist, as well as back-strengthening exercises have nearly got me fit as a fiddle…nearly…but not quite there.
  • Cats can for sure have human diseases. My Sunkist has renal failure…Sitka has a slow colon…Juneau was pre-diabetic. All 3 are stabilized with the help of pills and special foods.
  • Yard work is for the birds. This has not been a good year for getting out in the garden, what with one thing after another keeping me from it. So it’s literally gone to the birds…bunnies…stray dogs and cats…squirrels…and who knows what else. But I gotta love my neighbor. When I saw her at dinner the other night and started complaining about my lackluster yard, she cut me off with “Your garden is always so lovely.” Well shut my mouth…and I did.

See, easy peasy…as my friend Nancy said about posting an image to my blog. So you take a crack at it. Have to admit it was a brain game, trying to dig deep into all the nooks and crannies, sweeping away all the cobwebs that have accumulated over the year…and some.

Image via Wikipedia

Challenge yourself to remember…new things that have broadened your mind…and trivia that you just hoard. You can use the comment boxes on my post…or create your own post…and let me know so I can check it out. But no stresses, remember…

it’s an easy peasy challenge…if there is such a thing…

………hugmamma.  😉

gray skies above, warm hearts below

Our “signature” weather here in the Pacific Northwest never goes out of style. So it’s with little fanfare that we welcome the return of menacing gray skies, upon whose heels arrive the downpour of “angels’ tears.” Our family has learned to take it all in stride.

The dismal weather gives us a chance to burrow under blankets, read a mountain of books, piled high magazines and Wall Street Journals, sup on homemade soups, play endless rounds of Bananagrams, and just recently, cribbage.

Once-in-awhile, my daughter and I settle in to watch old films on DVD, like “Anna and the King of Siam,” starring Rex Harrison and Irene Dunn. Totally different from “The King and I,” the colorized version with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr, my daughter was enthralled with the more serious story told in the older version. Unlike its successor, it was a drama, not a musical. In it the king does not dance with the teacher, nor does Tuptim stage the story of  “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

After Mass yesterday we decided to drive out to Snohomish, where antique stores abound. Enroute we stopped at a favorite haunt, Maltby Cafe. It’s not a restaurant we frequent because of its distance, and because the meals taste like mom’s cooking, which means lo-cal is not a high priority. The few times we’ve driven to partake of this gastronomical feast, there has always been a lineup of hungry customers. But everyone minds their manners. We put our names on a list, and wait patiently, the cafe’s “monster” cinnamon roll making me salivate at the thought of biting into it, melted icing escaping out the corners of my grinning lips.

The Cafe is cozily ensconced in the basement of a building. After 20 minutes or so of eager anticipation,  we were comfortably seated at a table. We took our time looking through the menu, deciding what to eat. My husband is always the first to make a selection. His pick was some gigantic omelet, whose name  escapes me. Meanwhile, my daughter and I read the menu as though it were a novel, poring over each page from top to bottom.

I started with “desserts” on the back of the menu. The “melted caramel sundae” sounded divine, and loaded with calories! Coming to my senses, I chose French toast with marionberries and creme fraiche on the side. With it I ordered a dish of red, fried potatoes, onions, mushrooms and diced ham. Of course, half of it came home in a “doggie bag.” The same was true of my daughter’s meal, homemade Italian sausages with  scrambled eggs, and biscuits with gravy.

While awaiting our main courses, we began with an appetizer. We sliced the long-awaited cinnamon roll 4 ways. We still brought home half of it. As we “oohed and aahed” and hungrily devoured morsels of the heavenly pastry, our eyes wandered around the spacious dining room. Devotees of HGTV, we agreed that the Cafe could easily be transformed into a basement apartment. The long breakfast bar along one side of the room could serve as informal family dining, while the main room could easily house a living space, office space, dining space, and perhaps spare sleeping area. Through a door towards the back would probably be a bedroom. At the very back of the restaurant were a men’s and women’s restroom. And, of course, there was a kitchen through a door behind the breakfast bar. Beams running the length of the ceiling added to the warmth and charm of the room. I think our family qualifies for its own designer show on HGTV. My husband and daughter would probably say “Yeah, right.” They’re not as full of ideas as I am. Or am I… just full of it? Hmmm. Whatever…

Tummies full, we drove on to our final destination. Hunting for bargains in antique shops is a “high” for me. Most dealers, if not all, thrive on finding treasures for unbelievably fabulous prices, in other words, cheap. Once upon a time it was possible, and it may be again, given the current economy. But the difficulty now is that while something may be a bargain, how much of a markup can the market bear? Where nearly 2 decades ago I could double the price of what I paid for an item, I’m no longer able to do so in most cases. So the profit margin has shrunk considerably. Why remain in the business?

All antique dealers are passionate about “old” stuff, their history, their  craftsmanship, and the idea that these items are very much relics of the past. Walking through aisles of artifacts usually stirs up memories of bygone days, before all the modern conveniences like dishwashers, clothes dryers, refrigerators, computers. Instead, my eyes linger over dishracks and colorful dish towels, vintage clothes drying racks or clothes lines that unwind from a green or blue tin box, pie safes that use to store perishable foods from pesky flies, and typewriters, Royals and Underwoods.

With the holidays approaching, I opted to purchase several silver plated serving platters of various shapes and sizes. The prices were reasonable, most $12, a couple $16. They’re not in mint condition, but for the right price, customers will purchase them as beautiful accents for festive celebrations. Shabby chic is in these days, especially at stores like Crate and Barrel. Why pay their exorbitant prices for “knock-offs,” when the real thing can be bought for half the price or less? “Used” means it’s been loved in its former life.

Meandering the back roads under a threatening, gray sky in verdant Washington State, is as special as lazing under the tropical sun, on a white sand beach in Maui. 

found anywhere, blessings…hugmamma.

parenting, a forever “job”

When my daughter called asking if I’d visit with her, I didn’t hesitate. My husband quickly arranged for Southwest nonstop tickets to the east coast. I’ve been here a couple of weeks, enjoying a very relaxing time doing what I do best, mothering. Gone all day to rehearsals, my daughter arrives home to a hot meal, lovingly prepared. Cooking for her, someone who not only appreciates a delicious meal, but also the labor involved, motivates me to be the gourmet chef I know I can be. It’s not always in evidence, for I am prone to bouts of laziness, preferring to order take-out. But seeing my daughter walk through the front door, sniffing the air, “oohing and aahing” over the smells emanating from the kitchen, I relish being “Mother of the Year” to my 24-year-old, independent, career ballerina.

Scarfing down a delicious meal, clearing away the dishes and food, we settle down to playing  bananagrams. A nightly ritual, we go several rounds. Where I may have won most games when I first arrived; we are now evenly matched. My daughter wins some; and I win some. We both like the odds so much better than when my husband joins us.

Having been a voracious reader for decades, my husband almost always wins at word games, including crosswords and Scrabble. I’d given up playing these and other games, like cards, with him because he was merciless in his desire to win. He still is. My only recourse then (and now) was to threaten to throw over the game, board, pieces, cards, whatever. Threats and pleas fell on deaf ears. The man was (and remains) a gladiator in his own home, battling until he’s defeated his opponent, left whimpering and pouting, swearing never to enter into another match again…ever! Game playing is the rare occasion when being the youngest sibling in my family and his being the eldest in his, has the hairs on my neck standing straight up in defiance. Unlike the old days of my childhood, I refuse to give in and give up. In other words, I’m no longer inclined to “lay down and die.” Perhaps not engaging in game playing for decades has contributed to our happy marriage of 40 years. Hey, whatever it takes!

Time to get dinner started. Showtime is in an hour or so. Don’t want to disappoint my audience of one. She always appreciates my mothering, whether long distance or in person. It’s wonderful that my 24-year-old still needs me at 61. Parenting has always been my favorite job!

and am glad it’s, forever…hugmamma.

family fun, friends too

Our daughter introduced us to a new game she learned from dance friends, which has become a family favorite, “Bananagrams.” It plays like the game “Scrabble,” without a board.

Tiles are placed face down on the table. Players take the same number of tiles to begin play. For the 3 of us, the number was 21. The tiles are placed face down in front of each person. At the same time, everyone flips the tiles. As they do, they begin creating words connecting them to one another as in crosswords. When a player uses all her tiles, she yells “peel” and everyone must take another tile. As more tiles are taken, players can rework their crosswords to make new words. If a player gets stuck and cannot make a word using a tile, she yells “bruised” and trades that tile for 3 from the pile. The game continues in this fashion until the first player uses all her tiles and yells “Bananagrams!”

Great way to spend an evening with family and friends, learning new words, having lots of laughs. And it doesn’t require the internet, a computer, a cell phone, a Black Berry, or any other fandangled gadget. Just good old-fashioned book-learning! Let’s hear it for the “Good old days!” Hip, hip, hooray!!!

now if I can only beat you know who…hugmamma.