Saturday, July 21, 2018

Errand Reward

Jeni's Ice Cream. Bangkok Peanut in a Buttercrisp Waffle Cone. 

Helping my second born move to Ohio has been a productive and satisfying experience. Though I openly confess I enjoyed a fair share of poolside down time, my primary mission here was simple.

Unpack boxes.
Run errands.

The unboxing tasks were straightforward.

I scrubbed down the apartment first, to be obsessively sure we were starting with not just a blank but a clean and hygienic slate. And then, with a minimum of daughterly instruction, I just put things where they naturally belong.

Sheets on the bed.
Dishes in the cupboard.
Countless pairs of shoes laid in rows across the closet floor.

Though I had my hands full settling all my daughter’s possessions into logical new homes, that half of my job description was easy and clear cut.

On the other hand, the errands posed a series of considerable challenges.

Not just in sheer number but in scope, complexity, and wacky degrees of randomness:

  • Finding a nail salon that was actually open on July 4. Holiday or not, we needed pedicures stat. 
  • Troubleshooting with the Home Depot pros about which tool would most effectively help me remove a stuck screw from an upside-down bracket on an IKEA dresser I was assembling.
  • Convincing a Crate & Barrel lady to let me swap out a marble utensil canister for another shade of stone, even though I had no receipt and had bought it at least 18 months ago. She agreed.
  • Tracking down a recycling station that accepts cardboard. Ohio, really. It's time to get on board with a curbside program.
  • Mourning the fact that our beloved Tillamook dairy products are not available in the heartland, and tracking down reasonable cheddar cheese and sour cream alternative brands. 
Over the course of the two and a half weeks, I ran dozens and dozens of errands.

So on my last day in Columbus, as I finally wound down my lengthy errand to-do list, I decided that a reward was clearly in order.

And nothing says, "Well played," like an ice cream cone.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Franklin Park Conservatory

Buried deep within my genetic code, there is one thing about me that I’ve always known to be true:

I am born to farm.

Ever since I first

picked out and planted pink petunias with my mom,
nibbled fresh strawberries in my grandmother's garden, or
ran a hand cultivator under our hostas and then turned the hose on them to watch the running water seep deep into the sandy soil,

I have felt a special energy surging through my soul.

I love growing things.
I love to tend growing things
I love to surround myself with big, beautiful green growing things and drink in their majesty.

My second-born has inherited the same green-thumb DNA, to be sure, so when we found ourselves with a free afternoon in Columbus, we knew exactly what we wanted to do.

We headed to the local conservatory to visit some plants.

^ Greenery bursts through the fence, a welcome sight.

^ Visitors lounge among the plants in bright light.

^ Tender green creepers spill against the sturdy stone.

^ Topiary elephants. My mind was blown

^Huge curvy leaves as big as my hand.

^ Vines spill down and fronds rise up in this airy land. 

^ Split leaves 4 dayz.

^ Purple orchid haze.

^ Me walking through, amidst the deep green.

^ Plump little jade plant, fresh and clean.

^ Green and white ribbons shoot out from the center.

^ White dots on green fingers stand up together.

^ Chunky barrel cacti, in the sunshine they doze.

^ A pot full of succulents feature my toes.

^ Prickly cacti with a single pink bloom.

^ A rusty old smokestack attached to a room.

^ The form of the old sturdy greenhouse stands clear.

^Among the white pipes trail tiny ivies dear.

^ The trees in the palm room soar to great heights.

^ And the look from the outside is plain out of sight.

^  These sculptural sails look ready to fly.

^ Pink flowered flamingos nod and wink their eyes.

^ Every green thing I saw at the conservatory park
Reminds me that I am a farmer at heart.

* * * * *

In my opinion, you can never have too many succulents, and you can never have too many stories about succulents. Here are a few to choose from:

Friday, July 13, 2018


Today is Day 10 of my adventure in Ohio and you better believe I’m missing my dog.

I’m not exactly worried about her - I know the rest of the family is perfectly capable of keeping Gracie happy and she’s been two weeks without me before. Still, I’ve been dreaming about her most nights and just feeling a tad bit lost without my mischievous red shadow at my side.

So it was with a bit of melancholy that I radioed  in to my fourth born tonight and asked her for a report. “How is my dog?” I asked.

Instead of a verbal response, I received this:

A picture is often worth a thousand words but sometimes it needs to speak only one.


My dog is doing just fine without me. All the same, I can’t wait to get home and see her soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Learning To Swim

Today’s pool dwellers reflected a lovely diversity of languages and skin tones. But yesterday’s family of long and lanky Norwegians was nowhere in sight. 

I was swimming along toward the shallow end of the pool when suddenly, he crashed into me. He was six or seven years old, given his missing front teeth, and the youngest of four siblings. His teen brothers were handsomely built, tall and athletic with remarkably long arms and legs, highly capable swimmers.The third-born sister was not far behind them, effortlessly employing snorkel, mask, and fins as she confidently plied the waters.

In a flurry of thrashing limbs and spluttering splashes, the youngest disentangled himself from me and settled himself back on his feet, all the while gasping for air. Recognizing the fact that he had thoroughly body slammed me, he cheerfully explained, “I can’t steer yet!”

I tried to hide my smile because I know for a fact that fourth-borns appreciate being taken seriously.

“You”ll get it figured out,” I said. “You’re almost there.”

“I know,” he replied with a sunny confidence.

I stifled another smile.

Then with a flip of his wet blonde head and a flash of red Hawaiian flowered swim trunks, he splashed back under the water and swam off.

And I headed back out to the deep end, grinning from ear to ear.


If you are in Columbus, Ohio, and looking for an al fresco dining experience with some cutting edge hipster Mexican food, let me recommend Condado. I promise you will enjoy the cool aesthetic, the relaxed ambiance and the ridiculously delicious food.


If you choose to order a blackberry margarita, the “Elote” queso and chips, and two “The Mantis” tacos, I guarantee that  you will be so full of south of the border goodness that you will nearly burst.

So by all means, come to Columbus and try some Condado tacos. But just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Coming Home Again

My daughter brought her air plants to Ohio but had to leave all her potted babies at home; my sister-in-law graciously provided the first specimen to her new collection. 

Thirty plus years ago, my husband and I pulled up our Midwestern tent stakes and moved across the country to Seattle. In doing so, we left our extended families several thousand miles behind and consigned ourselves to a life where visiting relatives was a both a rare luxury and an arduous journey.

So imagine how mind-blowing it has been for me to find myself here in the Buckeye State, just two hours away from my husband’s sister and her family in Cleveland, and a mere forty-five minutes from his cousin in the central Ohio cornfields.

My rental car and I had a busy weekend zooming around the state and dropping in on these relatives, just like most normal people do alll the time. The folks are glad to hear of my daughter’s new Buckeye status and are happy to help her however they can.

I feel much better about leaving my second-born here in a place where our kinfolk are just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Though we will continue to anchor our family in our beloved Pacific Northwesr, in a way, this new adventure for my daughter feels like we are all coming home again.

One Year Ago Today

It was exactly one year ago today that I opened my front door and this bonnie lass bounded into my life.


She sprang through the doorway and flashed from room to room, exploring every corner upstairs and down. Eventually, she caught up with me and her foster mom, Kelly, on the back patio, and ran another careful investigation of the back yard.

I offered her a baby carrot. Eagerly she slipped it out of my hand, bit down once, and then spit the two pieces in a graceful arc across the bricks.

Baby doesn’t like carrots. Point taken.

After a half hour of visiting and plenty of assurances that we would love this crazy redhead forever, Kelly made her way to the door and slipped away.

Our new dog noticed and immediately set up mourning for this human she had known just 24 hours.

In a classic diversionary tactic, I clipped a leash to her collar and set off on a walk.

I decided to stop by our Irish Setter loving neighbors (who in fact had steered Kelly and this orphaned dog in my direction) only to discover that Kelly had had the same idea.

Oh dear.

So we kept our visit short and soon headed off on our first walk together.

My new walking buddy heeled like a champ. She was bouncy and full of frisk,and I was more sure than ever that I’d found a dream companion.

Once we got back home, however, the whining set up again. I’d never had a dog with separation anxiety before and honestly, it broke my heart.

For lack of a better idea, I curled up on one end of the couch, patted the other end till my girl took the hint and claimed her place.

Then we both fell sound asleep.

I don’t recall how long we slept;

At least thirty minutes.
Not longer than an hour.

But I know for sure that when we awoke, there was no more whining. At that exact moment, one year ago today, my new dog and I were bonded, and our new life together had officially begun.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Arriving In Ohio

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” -Laozi

^ Technically, ours is a journey of somewhere around twenty four hundred miles, and it started with a single truck: a moving van, to be exact, packed full of my second-born’s worldly belongings and headed east to Ohio. 

^ And for us, a red eye flight to Columbus and an early morning sky full of pale golden light and the promise of a hot Midwestern summer day.

^ We spent the first afternoon exploring shops in the neighborhood including an on-trend cold press juice shop called Zest. Their product was delicious but overpriced; I preferred the cool cave of their rest room.

^ Our arrival coincided with the Fourth of July; we celebrated with a bag of Red Vines, some borrowed bug spray, and our sweatshirts spread out on the grassy lawn at New Albany High School for a small town fireworks show.

^ Morning of the second day was equally as hot and steamy as the first. Towering thunderclouds rolled through the skies, offering the cooling promise of a drenching rain but refusing to break open. Sigh.

^ Afternoon of the second day I spent poolside, or more accurately, inside the pool. I caught this photo in a rare moment of solitude; 99% of the time, this rectangle was packed with water-crazed kids and their obliging parents. So fun to watch all the younguns put their folks through all the time-honored jumping, throwing, and catching antics that families play in pools, and after putting in my fair share of such parental workouts, so relaxing to simply float and watch.

^ Evening of the second day: after my daughter wrapped up her first day at work, we wandered through the shopping district of Easton Town Center and enjoyed the sights and sounds. Honestly, this place is like a retail Disneyland complete with shiny trolleys, vintage architecture, and loads of cutesy cobblestone streets.

^ Pink hydrangeas blooming just outside our hotel door. Mhmm that’s what I like.

^ Old Glory hanging here, there, and everywhere around town. Festive and fun and so quintessentially Midwestern.

^ Dinner on the second day: two plates of Pad Thai at Northstar Cafe. Beautiful, delicious, though perhaps not entirely authentically Thai. But that’s okay because this journey was not meant to lead us to Asia. We set out for the heartland country of Ohio, and that is exactly where we have arrived.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Woman Full Of Dreams

Once upon a time there was a young woman - barely older than a girl - who was full of dreams. 

She dreamed of a house full of children and a garden like a storybook with a pink rose that climbed all the way up the house to the upstairs bedroom. And she dreamed that one day, the children in that bedroom would lean out the window and cut fresh roses right off the bush, without even going outdoors.

So she planted the rose bush and watered it well. 

Years passed.

Children came and grew.

The rose bush grew too.

And now, many, many years later, the rose bush does indeed reach all the way up to that second story bedroom. And the girls who live there - definitely old enough to be young women - can indeed reach out and trim fresh pink roses from that very window.

And the woman full of dreams smiles.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Seattle>The U District>The Ave>Thai Tom's>#15>Nirvana

This is literally the whole restaurant. 
In front of the window, the counter bends around to the left with another three stools; 
a series of two-tops run along the wall to the right of the door. 
I'm sitting at a three-top and there is one more behind me. 

I've said it before and I'm here today to say it again: Thai Tom's is a tremendously delicious experience in authentic Asian eats.

This is the view of the kitchen, as seen from the counter. 
Sit here and you are literally within arm's reach of the finished plates. 

Every plate that comes out of this kitchen looks superb, and someday I hope to try them all. For now though, I am stuck in the sumptuous rut of #15, the swimming rama.

In heaven, I will eat this every day.


a savory peanut sauce,
swimming with bits of chicken, shrimp, or crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside tofu,
poured over a bed of barely wilted spinach and sprouts,
with just enough white rice to soak up all that sauce,
and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts on top.

Now as I have also said before, Thai Tom's cooks amazing food, but the rest of the dining experience leaves plenty to be desired. As we strolled up to the entrance on a summer Sunday mid-afternoon, hoping for a lull in the typical gonzo rush, we were dismayed to see a crowd waiting on the sidewalk.

Fine. We gave our name to the waitress and settled in for the wait.

Thank goodness for people watching; the Ave offers the best in bizarre entertainment. Imagine a man with a big white beard and his little golden fluff of a dog, inexplicably marching repeatedly up and down the sidewalk without benefit of a leash but every bit as companionable. They were our favorites.

After twenty minutes or so, the waitress came back to take our order.

Another ten minutes later, she beckoned us inside to our table and presumably, a further wait for our food to be presented.

Imagine our delight and surprise when we were led to a table, not only clean and freshly set for our meal, but with the steaming plates of food already at our places, cool water poured and chop sticks ready for lift off.

All that was left to do was for us to sit down and eat up every tantalizing morsel.

And that is exactly what we did.

* * * * *

Thai Tom's is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the Ave in Seattle, and if you ever have the chance, go there. In the meantime, I highly recommend you read all about it.

Flower Child

"Just living is not enough ... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." 
-Hans Christian Andersen

"I am the flower child who will not wilt. You couldn't have asked for anything more." 
-Annie Golden

The lavender is blooming at the Mukilteo beach.

So if the adorable lighthouse, misty marine air, and saltwater scenery aren't enough to tempt you down, then by all means, these purple spiked and sweetly scented beauties ought to do the trick. 

And if you still haven't grabbed your car keys and run out the door, let me show you what you're missing. 

Beautiful, right? I'm hoping to go back tomorrow so watch for me; I'll be the one standing in the flower beds with a great big smile. .