Sunday, September 25, 2011


One of our granddaughters just turned thirteen and I watched in awe as a little girl was transformed into young womanhood. Last summer she and her friends played on the beach, built sand castles and watched cartoons. This year they lay on their stomachs reading People magazines, texting and talking. What a difference a year makes! I am so lucky that her parents did a fine job of helping her be ready for the next phase of her life. I can relax knowing that with any luck, the dangerous shoals of adolescence will be successfully navigated.

I have so many memories of my own teenage years, some of them painful, others helping to determine my future. One anecdote I can relate had to do with dating. My father had a rule that there would be NO dating until his six daughters reached the age of sixteen. Since I did not reach sixteen until December of my junior year, it seemed extremely unfair. As a thirteen-year old freshman I had a crush on a senior basketball star who seemed to feel the same about me. During the entire year our relationship was confined to dancing at school dances to which my father took me and picked me up, seeing each other in the school hallways, and watching "my love" play basketball. On one glorious occasion he came over and handed me his special school hat at a game for all to see. My heart went totally crazy. That night and for many other nights I slept with it under my pillow, the scent of "Old Spice" coloring my dreams.

It all ended at the senior prom. He finally asked me out and I decided to see if my dad would change his mind for this all important event. I picked a good time, used every persuasive ounce I could muster, and asked my father if I could go. Of course he said "no" and I remember flouncing away pronouncing that I hated him, so that he could fully experience my ire. Of course "my love" asked someone else to the dance, and to make matters worse it was one of my classmates. I carried the torch for a couple of years until I finally realized that my dad was a pretty wise guy. By the way, it never even occurred to me to sneak out, so my parents must have done something right in that department.

Here's a little poem I made up in honor of teens and their parents. Perhaps it will help to not take everything so seriously. Of course, my wisdom came too late to apply during my own parenting of teens years ago. Enjoy.

It's fun to be the grandma of a brand new teen
to watch the changes taking place and what those changes mean.
Farewell to childhood fancies, hello to distant looks
when friends mean more than family, and texting more than books.

And watching takes me back in time to my own teenage days
when life was all about "the now" and what each person says.
How wonderful and awful as we strove to understand,
rejecting counsel from our folks who tried to lend a hand.

To families of this strange new being I have one thing to say
If you laid a good foundation, you'll soon see a better day.
In the meantime, try to remember how important it was to fit in.
Use empathy and humor. . . be the parent you wish yours had been.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This is the story of K and E who reached fifty years of marriage with grace and love this summer. K and I were college roommates in the late l950s and lived together for our junior year abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. Our adventures were legion - a story to be told another time. Suffice it to say that upon our return we didn't seem to fit in with our previous peers and looked to the foreign student population at our university for socializing. Upon being invited to an off-campus house made up of students from Panama, Argentina, and Spain we found the international flavor we were missing and began a months-long relationship that ended in my leaving for Los Angeles and K's marriage to E. During this time we danced the tango, cha-cha and paso dobles, ate ethnic foods, had spirited conversations about the relevant topics of the day, and shared some of our culture with visits to family homes, tourist sights, and waking "the boys" up with coffee and pastry as we performed a Santa Lucia celebration, complete with candle lighted crowns, for our new friends. It was a magical time and indelible memories were made for all of us

Almost from the first moment they saw each other K and E fell in love. The love deepened over time and they were married within a year. K had finished college and E was working toward a doctorate degree in one of the biology fields. K's parents were disappointed as they really wanted her to take over her family's apple and horse ranches. E would not have fit in, they decided. They were worried about the kind of life their daughter would have and where they would live.

They worried needlessly because E's climb up the corporate ladder to the vice presidency of his firm allowed the happy couple and their two children who came later, to live a charmed life all over the globe. As head of the European division they lived in countries like France, England and Belgium at a level most of us would only dream of attaining. A favorite residence was in New York City where they had an apartment in Lincoln Center, allowing them to partake of every cultural event imaginable. Upon retirement they lived in Barcelona for a time before moving to Panama, E's birth country, and an ocean front estate with live-in help, and room to spare for an endless stream of visitors.

So fast forward to this summer. K and E, keeping romance alive, decided to visit every place they had ever lived, and started their trip with the East Coast and a voyage across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary II. Once in Europe they retraced their residential steps and renewed contact with surviving friends there. After a brief return to Panama to rest and regroup they set forth on the last leg of their trip to where it all started, here in Seattle. It was fitting somehow that my present husband, Vaughn, and I were part of this adventure, starting with a road trip to Canada and culminating in a cocktail party at our home in Edmonds. Here, on the last night of their stay, those old college friends from fifty years ago renewed acquaintances , laughing, remembering and listening to E who was the pianist of the group. The only thing missing was the dancing.

Perhaps the highlight for me of the road trip down memory lane was at Trout Lake in Canada, where K and E's sons met up with us, and staged a touching, sentimental tree planting ceremony in a remote section of woods. The property involved was bequeathed to K by her parents. Located near a babbling brook on a wonderfully warm sunny day, the two young men honored their parents' golden wedding anniversary by planting two small cedar trees that hopefully will grow over the years as a testimony to a marriage that has stood the test of time. It touched my heart, and I have to confess to a little envy as it is unlikely that at my age I will attain a "golden" status.

These days with fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce, and countless other relationships broken within a few years, whether or not there are children involved, fifty years mean something. Something big. Something important. During our many hours on the road we talked a lot about the past and about what makes a marriage work. Here are ten golden rules for reaching a golden wedding anniversary:

1. A commitment to the concept of marriage

2. Open two-way communication with active listening, not just waiting for the other to draw breath in order to make your own point.

3. Mutual respect for the other's needs including such things as physical love, nurturing, and interests.

4. Mutual respect for the other's abilities, no matter how large or small. A lawyer has different abilities from a laborer but both lines of work are worthy of respect.

5. At least some shared interests, whether music, cards, walking, traveling, etc.

6. If children are involved keep romance alive by carving out some alone time. Think about traveling on an airline and being told if oxygen masks become necessary, take care of oneself first before attending to the children so that all will survive. Nurturing each other will help the marriage to survive and the children to benefit.

7. Touch, hug, and kiss every day.

8. Resolve angry feelings and arguments by trying to understand the other's viewpoint. Take away red flag words and hurtful accusations.

9. If you're right, don't gloat.

l0. If you're wrong, don't pout.

While I don't anticipate that my husband and I will reach a nifty fifty, here is part of a poem I wrote about us that might be thought provoking, starting with verse seven:

Now it's twenty years later and our love is still strong, though it's been tested during those years. The wisdom we've gained through much stress and strife might help someone else now in tears.

"Let him be him and me be me" is the Number One rule we apply. Respect at all times takes the sting away when cross words do ultimately fly.

We both do our bit and a little bit more for family and others as wello. And the golden rule is paramount, on grudges we do not dwell.

So hopefully these words will help to solve some obstacles on your path. And one more very important thing...take time in your day to laugh.l

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Two couples, friends since their college days in the fifties, are on a road trip, which started with an airport pick up in Vancouver, B.C., and a Labor Day picnic at Sandy Point, Washington. For one couple, now living in Panama, it’s a summer long celebration of their golden wedding anniversary, as they revisit where they met and places they lived and spent time over the years. This leg of the celebration includes areas of the Pacific Northwest and Canada, with stays in Kamloops, Salmon Arms, Halcyon Springs, Trout Lake, and Grand Forks, B.C. Lake Chelan in Washington is next, and the final destination will be Edmonds, Washington.

I am the self designated recorder of this remarkable adventure, and will be telling you more about it next Sunday. A few months ago I wrote about the importance of celebrations. In these days where marriage is often bypassed by young couples, a committed relationship of fifty years is noteworthy. That the couple's two sons flew in from Boston and D.C. to join us in a remote area of Canada so that they could plant two trees in honor of their parents is also significant. You will love the story of this romance and how to achieve long term wedded bliss. I’ll fill you in next week.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Last week my sister had a memorial golf tournament for her husband who died in December. Six of his buddies showed up to pay homage to Rusty's memory at a private local golf course. After the tournament they continued their celebration at my sister's home where she laid out a fine spread purchased mostly at Costco. Everyone raved about the delicious meal, and I, always looking for something to write about, decided that our Labor Day celebratory feast would come exclusively from Costco.

We are having our picnic on Sunday rather than Monday because some of the fourteen guests will be coming from Seattle, and this way they won't have to fight traffic or be up early for work the next day. We have a budget of $l00.00, as impossible as that sounds. This year we will also be entertaining two guests from Panama who love good food and are used to fine dining. They have live-in help including a cook who provides all meals. Will Costco measure up? Do they even have Costco there? Will the food tantalize their taste buds? I guess we'll find out tomorrow, but I have a sneaking hunch they will love this picnic. I know I will, because I've never been disappointed in the food at Costco, and the prep time will be non existent.

The meal will look something like this:


$13.00 - Assorted cheeses and dips

$ 7.00 - Two kinds of crackers

Main Meal

$ 8.99 - Kirkland all natural meat lasagna (6 lbs.)

$8.99 - Birdseye garlic chicken (includes pasta, white chicken, broccoli, carrots, cor with garlic sauce - 3 lbs.)

$ 3.59 - Parisian salad mix with dressing

$ 4.49 - Sesame poppy rolls

$ 6.00 - Corn on the cob

$ 6.99 - Kerrygold tub of Irish butter for rolls and corn


$ 9.99 - Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

$ 9.99 Old fashioned lattice apple pie

Celebratory champagne

$ 6.99 Cook's Brut California - 2 liters

The above items total $86.02, and should be totally filling and satisfying; however, we plan to add ice cream and soft drinks which will bring the total to a little over $l00.00. Cook's champagne is fine for toasting, but our Panamanian friends have a wine cellar and very cultivated palates. In their honor I will bring out some fine wines I have been saving for a special occasion. Now I ask you, what could be more special than a splendid meal from Costco in the company of fourteen good friends and relatives, at a cost that many couples fork out just to go to a restaurant on a Saturday night?

We'll critique the meal tomorrow and let you know the results. If I can push myself away from the table I'll sit down at the computer and give you the low down in time for you to rush to your nearest Costco in order to buy a similar meal for Monday, the actual Labor Day holiday. Chow!

THE NEXT DAY: Turned out we had eighteen guests who made short work of our holiday dinner. I polled several of the guests informally afterwards. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best, a score of 4 seemed to be the grade most often given. From my view you deserve a 5. The dinner was easy, fun and tasty, So. . . way to go Costco! My mouth is already watering just thinking about future menus.