omg…the sun’s out!!!

View of Mt. McKinley of the Denali National Park.

Image via Wikipedia

Here in the Seattle area, the sun rarely comes calling. This winter it’s stayed away even longer than usual. Is it still lazing in the tropical Hawaiian skies, or warming the high elevations of Mt. McKinley, or is it just refusing to pick up and move? If I were only as agile as the young man in Greek mythology, Icharus, I think, who rode his chariot up to lasso the sun, dragging it downward, closer to earth? Or was it a young Hawaiian boy who did that, housing the sun permanently in the dormant volcano, Haleakala? Sometimes too much education can be confusing. Although this particular myth may have its home in both cultures. Will have to check.

Icarus and Daedalus

Image via Wikipedia

 

Being unprepared for such an event, especially when the electricity has been out for about 12 hours, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. I don’t know where to go or what to do first. Too many choices, not enough time before darkness settles in again. What am I saying…it’s always dark around here.

I think I’ll just keep blogging until September when the sun is REALLY here!

an arthritic hawaiian who’s like a “fish out of water”…literally……… …..hugmamma.

Looking into Haleakalā Crater

Image via Wikipedia

people make the place, issaquah’s gilman village

A recent visit to Issaquah‘s Gilman Village reminded me why it’s a special place to spend a few hours. It’s always great to see my hair stylist, Zorianna. She gives me a chic cut that resembles a “Brazilian Blowout.” And I don’t pay the huge bucks larger salons charge. A mom like me, we commiserate on women’s issues, parenting, the state of the economy, the dreary weather. Zorianna’s manner is easy, befitting the quiet ambiance of her surroundings. Occupying space within the Pelage Spa, the salon sits off to one side. 

I can’t say enough nice things about someone who helps me look my very best, with the added bonus that I feel like I’m sitting comfortably in my own home the entire time.

Thanks, Zorianna……………….. for being my newest BFF………………………………………………………

A newcomer to Gilman Village is a haven for writers, wannabees like yours truly and professionals like Pam Binder, President of Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. After leaving Zorianna’s salon, I walked past PNWA’s storefront, slowing down to peer in the windows. A membership drive was underway. Joining meant “what?,” I thought to myself. Just as I’d done once before, I almost continued on my way. But the remnants of my New York “chutzpah” pushed me through the front door. As I’ve said to my daughter time and again, “All you can do is ask; all they can do is say ‘no.’ ” 

Armed with the knowledge that I could turn on my heel if I met with elitist resistance to my inquiries, I confidently greeted Pam. She rose from where she was seated behind her desk, walking forward, hand extended welcoming me, a warm smile brightening her face. I felt like Renee Zellweger‘s character in the film, “Jerry Maguire,” when she told him (Tom Cruise) “You had me at hello.”

Pam didn’t ask me to join PNWA; I told her I’d join. Probably surprised that she didn’t have to hit me with a hard sales pitch, she fumbled for a membership form. Throughout our conversation, we laughed easily, and spoke like old friends. I mentioned that she reminded me of Kristina, my exercise instructor and good friend. The likeness in general appearance and mannerisms, sold me on putting some roots down with other writers. It also helped that Pam assured me I was a writer because I wrote. She didn’t turn up her nose when I confessed that I blogged. I even went so far as to offer to volunteer for future events.

So if I do write a book, it will be owing in part to Pam Binder’s graciously making me feel that becoming an author is not so far-fetched. Her credentials only enhance my belief in the possibility. Pam is a board member for the Writer’s Program at the University of Washington, and an instructor in the university’s Popular Fiction extension program.

Thanks, Pam………………. for making me feel so welcome………………………………………………………

One of my favorite eateries in Gilman Village has always been The Boarding House Restaurant. Another cafe that served as a popular dining destination was Sweet Addition. It’s no longer in business, but was the talk of the town for a number of years. I worked there as a server when my daughter was still in middle school. That was close to 12 years ago. God, I feel old.

The Boarding House Restaurant never dwindled in its popularity, despite competition that came and went, some “stiff” like Sweet Addition. Offering a home style menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts, The Boarding House Restaurant is consistent in serving up great food, warmly reminiscent of mom’s home cooking. Walking through the beautiful, stained-glass, front door is like stepping back in time. Cozily furnished with dark-wood dining tables and chairs, a couple of vintage church pews, and a large fireplace for ambiance, I feel as though I’ve been invited to share a family meal with friends. Lunching alone on the combination Boarding House salad and soup du jour, voices of others dining nearby, I settle in comfortably, enjoying my solitude, a good book my only companion.

Made-from-scratch desserts are what I’d expect at the conclusion of a home-cooked meal. The Boarding House Restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Homemade whipped cream heaped high atop a generous serving of apple crisp on a chilly, winter day, and strawberry shortcake that crumbles in my mouth as a summer breeze cools my cheek, is like heaven on earth for one who savors food as I do.

And the metaphorical icing on the cake, or the cherry on top a hot fudge sundae? Jene, the charming cashier and part-owner who takes my order, flashing a beautiful smile that warms my spirit, making me feel like I’ve come home.

Thanks, Jene……………….  for feeding my soul, as well as my tummy…………………………………

Dwellings are enhanced by those who occupy their spaces. Gilman Village is very fortunate to have some real gems among its offerings. And its patrons are indeed lucky to partake of them.

for zorianna, pam and jene…huge, heart-healthy hugs…hugmamma.

please! and show your kids too…

Couldn’t help but repost what was contained previously in “magical and musical!!! but how???”

When I need a small lift, I click on the following. For a few minutes I’m immersed in fantasy and make-believe. As I sit watching the magic unfold before my eyes, it feels like a prayer without words. The accompanying music also holds me captive, keeping my spirit suspended if only for a moment, before reality releases me from my dream-state.

Come see what I’ve seen…

http://www.elion.ee/docs/joulukaart/eng/

wish there were more…even Misha agrees…hugmamma.

magical, and musical!!! but how???

Besides “guardian angels” who hover to assist when necessary, I’ve got “elves” scouring the internet day and night in search of  “magic moments,” be they that, or something humorous, ghastly, eerie, or whatever. Sharing them with you depends upon the impression they make on me. Some may hit the “bull’s-eye,” others may not. Everyone has their own tastes after all, including me. 

I am very grateful that my “elves” filter through tons of possibilities, and forward on only those they think might captivate me. The following is one such. You’ll have to click on the website to enjoy it. I think it’s worth the extra seconds. Make certain your volume’s on, to hear the accompanying music.

What the message wishes for you…I do too, wholeheartedly!!! Oh, and it’s not a virus. Trust me.

http://www.elion.ee/docs/joulukaart/eng/

technological wizardry…at its best…hugmamma. 

“sprinkling snow” and comcast

Have you noticed “snow” falling in my posts? WordPress.com’s wizardry never ceases to amaze me. Bloggers were invited to “allow snow,” and WOOSH!!! little white dots slowly descended, like sprinkles from atop a cupcake or ice cream cone. With “sprinkles falling,” December is officially here, with Christmas just around the corner.

Following that pleasant surprise, I got another. I just concluded a phone conversation with Amanda from Comcast. Having revealed my ongoing frustrations with our internet connection in a previous post, I received an unexpected “comment” from Mark at Comcast. You can read it at the bottom of the post. I decided to bypass picking up the phone, and pressing buttons to tell my problem to an automated voice, or a real one, and email Mark as he offered. Not too long after, the phone rang.

Company rep Amanda informed me that upon researching my Comcast connection, there did seem to be an issue. At no cost to me, their service person will come by to check things out. Hallelujah, for fabulous customer service! I knew if I waited long enough, the good old days of companies caring about customers would return. I don’t think Comcast has ever made me feel like I was a bother, although I don’t remember if I’ve ever spoken with them before. My husband may have had the pleasure.

As far as I’m concerned, Comcast should “bottle” their well-trained personnel, and share them with other service-oriented companies who could use some pointers. I dread having to speak with most of them, for fear that my blood pressure will boil over, or because I end up talking to myself like a “loonie” when I get off the phone. I’ve often felt like the rep thought I concocted the problem just to aggravate him. He vacillates between defensive and offensive, leaving me no choice but to do the same. Very little is accomplished, except that I continue working my way “up the ladder,” until management is involved. On a few occasions, I’ve gone as far as the president’s office. I even called the owner of Culligan’s Water at his home, because of missed deliveries.

Among companies I’ve “blacklisted” are Citibank for upping my interest rate to 23 % without my prior knowledge, and for a reason that had nothing to do with my charge account. I think it had to do with a late payment with someonelse, which I’d squared away, but which made no difference to Citibank. With the economic downturn, they canceled my card, which I hadn’t used in years anyway. Anytime I hear their name or receive an application for a credit card, I cringe, the smile on my face quickly turning into a frown.Funny thing is, when I worked in Manhattan, I often ate lunch at one of the cafes in Citicorp’s building on Lexington Ave. That was probably 25 years ago, and as far as I’m concerned Citibank is history.

I’m hoping when Comcast fixes my internet connection problem, it’ll stay fixed. But that’s not real life. In case issues crop up in the future, I hope the company will be as accommodating as they were in my current dilemma. I don’t mind complications, once-in-awhile; glitches happen. If the person on the other end is patient with me, then I can be patience personified. And Amanda from Comcast got what she gave, a completely cooperative customer, me. I can’t forget to thank Mark, who got the “snowball” rolling.

for fixing my problem, comcast, and tweaking my post with “snow,” wordpress.com…huge hugs…hugmamma.

“freddie the leaf, the fall of”

The only author I can wholeheartedly call my favorite is Leo Buscaglia. Otherwise, I select books according to their subject matter. But I’ve enjoyed reading every one of  Buscaglia’s books. A postscript to one of my favorites, reads:

“Leo Buscaglia approached life with joy and enthusiasm. He pursued a path of perpetual learning that took him to places of wonder, excitement, and enlightenment. His sense of urgency to live life now and explore all that is possible was contagious to all who knew him. His life was dedicated to the single concept of ‘Love’ and all the beautiful and positive elements that it encompasses. …He died of heart failure on June 29th, 1998, at his home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada at the age of 74. A note was found on his typewriter the next day. It read, ‘Every moment spent in unhappiness is a moment of happiness lost.’

In 2004 I was in Chautauqua, New York, visiting my daughter while she danced in a summer program. Browsing through the bookstore housed in a charming building, I happened upon “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” by Leo Buscaglia. Tucking myself away in a corner, I read it. A lump formed in my throat for the story was written to assuage a child’s loss of someone special, to death. The book, in its 20th edition, is a “beloved classic that has helped thousands of people come to grips with life and death.” I’d like to share it with you now, in the hopes that it might someday do the same for you.

Spring had passed. So had summer. Freddie, the leaf, had grown large. His mid-section was wide and strong, and his five extensions were firm and pointed. He had first appeared in Spring as a small sprout on a rather large branch near the top of a tall tree.

Freddie was surrounded by hundreds of other leaves just like himself, or so it seemed. Soon he discovered that no two leaves were alike, even though they were on the same tree. Alfred was the leaf next to him. Ben was the leaf on his right side, and Clare was the lovely leaf overhead. They had all grown up together. They had learned to dance in the Spring breezes, bask lazily in the Summer sun and wash off in the cooling rains.

But it was Daniel who was Freddie’s best friend. He was the largest leaf on the limb and seemed to have been there before anyone else. It appeared to Freddie that Daniel was also the wisest among them. It was Daniel who told them that they were part of a tree. It was Daniel who explained that they were growing in a public park. It was Daniel who told them that the tree had strong roots which were hidden in the ground below. He explained about the birds who came to sit on their branch and sing morning songs. He explained about the sun, the moon, the stars and the seasons.

Freddie loved being a leaf. He loved his branch, his light leafy friends, his place high in the sky, the wind that jostled him about, the sun rays that warmed him, the moon that covered him with soft, white shadows.

Summer had been especially nice. The long hot days felt good and the warm nights were peaceful and dreamy. There were many people in the park that Summer. They often came and sat under Freddie’s tree. Daniel told him that giving shade was part of his purpose.

“What’s a purpose?” Freddie had asked. “A reason for being,” Daniel had answered. “To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being. To make shade for old people who come to escape the heat of their homes is a reason for being. To provide a cool place for children to come and play. To fan with our leaves the picnickers who come to eat on checkered tablecloths. These are all reasons for being.”

Freddie especially liked the old people. They sat so quietly on the cool grass and hardly ever moved. They talked in whispers of times past. The children were fun, too, even though they sometimes tore holes in the bark of the tree or carved their names into it. Still, it was fun to watch them move so fast and to laugh so much.

But Freddie’s Summer soon passed. It vanished on an October night. He had never felt it so cold. All the leaves shivered with the cold. They were coated with a thin layer of white which quickly melted and left them dew drenched and sparkling in the morning sun. Again, it was Daniel who explained that they had experienced their first frost, the sign that it was Fall and that Winter would come soon.

Almost at once, the whole tree, in fact, the whole park was transformed into a blaze of color. There was hardly a green leaf left. Alfred had turned a deep yellow. Ben had become a blazing red, Daniel a deep purple and Freddie was red and gold and blue. How beautiful they all looked. Freddie and his friends had made their tree a rainbow.

“Why did we turn different colors,” Freddie asked, “when we are on the same tree?” “Each of us is different. We have had different experiences. We have faced the sun differently. We have cast shade differently. Why should we not have different colors?” Daniel said matter-of-factly. Daniel told Freddie that this wonderful season was called Fall.

One day a very strange thing happened. The same breezes that, in the past, had made them dance began to push and pull at their stems, almost as if they were angry. This caused some of the leaves to be torn from their branches and swept up in the wind, tossed about and dropped softly to the ground. All the leaves became frightened. “What’s happening?” they asked each other in whispers. “It’s what happens in Fall,” Daniel told them. “It’s the time for leaves to change their home. Some people call it to die.” 

“Will we all die?” Freddie asked. “Yes,” Daniel answered. “Everything dies. No matter how big or small, how weak or strong. We first do our job. We experience the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. We learn to dance and to laugh. Then we die.” “I won’t die!” said Freddie with determination. “Will you, Daniel?” “Yes,” answered Daniel, “when it’s my time.” “When is that?” asked Freddie. “No one knows for sure,” Daniel responded.

Freddie noticed that the other leaves continued to fall. He thought, “It must be their time.” He saw that some of the leaves lashed back at the wind before they fell, others simply let go and dropped quietly. Soon the tree was almost bare. “I’m afraid to die,” Freddie told Daniel. “I don’t know what’s down there.” “We all fear what we don’t know, Freddie. It’s natural,” Daniel reassured him. “Yet, you were not afraid when Spring became Summer. You were not afraid when Summer became Fall. They were natural changes. Why should you be afraid of the season of death?”

“Does the tree die, too?” Freddie asked. “Someday. But there is something stronger than the tree. It is Life. That lasts forever and we are all a part of Life.” “Where will we go when we die?” “No one knows for sure. That’s the great mystery!” “Will we return in the Spring?” “We may not, but Life will.” “Then what has been the reason for all of this?” Freddie continued to question. “Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?”

Daniel answered in his matter-of-fact way, “It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in Fall. It’s been about seasons. Isn’t that enough?” That afternoon, in the golden light of dusk, Daniel let go. He fell effortlessly. He seemed to smile peacefully as he fell. “Goodbye for now, Freddie,” he said. Then, Freddie was alone, the only leaf left on his branch.

The first snow fell the following morning. It was soft, white, and gentle; but it was bitter cold. There was hardly any sun that day, and the day was very short. Freddie found himself losing his color, becoming brittle. It was constantly cold and the snow weighed heavily upon him. At dawn the wind came that took Freddie from his branch. It didn’t hurt at all. He felt himself float quietly, gently and softly downward. As he fell, he saw the whole tree for the first time. How strong and firm it was! He was sure that it would live for a long time and he knew that he had been a part of its life and it made him proud.

Freddie landed on a clump of snow. It somehow felt soft and even warm. In this new position he was more comfortable than he had ever been. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He did not know that Spring would follow Winter and that the snow would melt into water. He did not know that what appeared to be his useless dried self would join with the water and serve to make the tree stronger. Most of all, he did not know that there, asleep in the tree and the ground, were already plans for new leaves in the Spring.

The Beginning.

Having purchased the book as a keepsake for my daughter, I turned to the first blank page and penned the following inscription.

Summer 2004

Dearest daughter,

I discovered Leo Buscaglia in Chautauqua this summer. Reading his  words was like looking at my soul through a mirror. He wrote, and lectured about, and lived a life of love, always having a positive attitude. “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf ” continues Buscaglia’s outlook thru to the final stage in life. 

 Live each day to the fullest, love hugely and passionately, strive always to have a positive attitude toward yourself, others and life. These are what I leave to you, when I fall from the “Tree of Life.” And I know you will do the same for your children, when your turn comes.

I will always be with you in spirit until we are together again, where all leaves spend eternal springtime together. Think of me as your “Daniel.”

All my love, forever…Mom

my sentiments for you, as well…hugmamma.