"and presents for pretty girls" says Lucy

Many moons ago, Mr. Right read a book with the title being something along the lines of “How to be a Great Husband.” It had 100’s of ideas and tips to make your wife happy and thus create a happy family life & marriage. I am not sure if he still has the book. He has made reference to said book many, many times over the years.

“Why did you do that?” “Because the book said, that is what great husbands do.”

So, whenever I get little “thinking of you gifts” or little sweet surprises or just because presents…….they are always, always wrapped in gift wrap with a ribbon. Now, don’t get all mushy on me, the ribbon doesn’t always match the paper, & sometimes the bag the present was taken out of the store IS the wrapping paper with a bow tied around that. However, more often than not, the gift is wrapped in actual wrapping paper and a festive ribbon is tied or taped on.

Tip to new wives: It doesn’t hurt one little bit that my wrapping paper is stored neatly in one place and I have two clear Rubbermaid boxes with organized ribbons and
gee golly, a pair of scissors & tape are kept with it. The supplies are kept in the same place and color coordinated (the crazy side of me) and easy to get to.

Last night as I tumbled into bed, I scrunched and tossed and adjusted and re-adjusted and smoothed out the quilt and blankets and comforter and rearranged my pajamas, then flipped my pillow to the “cool” side before plumping……wait, my hand felt something. It felt like a present all wrapped up with ribbon!

Yippy! It was indeed a present, wrapped in pink flower power paper with a pink bow. Mr. Right had ordered these really fantastic vintage note cards from the Secretary of the State of Washington gift store. Okay, who among us even knew the Secretary of State had a store? How did he stumble upon this site? crazy.

Crazy good. The note cards and envelopes are really, really high quality paper, great saturated colors, really unique art work & the names on the labels kept us laughing for quite a while. I sort of want to frame each one. I want to figure out the right people to send a note to and use these remarkable cards.

Having a kind husband that consistently does thoughtful things, makes me want to do thoughtful things right back.

Maybe, just maybe that will be my answer, next time a new bride asks me what the secret to happy marriage is.

Be nice, it matters.

summer

Sometime ago, when I started writing this blog, I wondered how I would continue to keep coming up with ideas to write about. Then I discovered they sort of bonk me on the head.

Today, I could write about the great day we spent in our state’s capital city. Olympia Farmers Market is one of the best. We bought baby beets and greens, red and white radishes, and something new to us, Tokyo Sweet Turnips. We walked through and enjoyed a macaroon and people watched. We ate an entire pint of fresh organic strawberries then went back to the farmer and bought a flat. Just couldn’t help ourselves. Quite possibly the best strawberries either of us have ever eaten. Then we walked to the next block to a wonderful Coffee Roaster. We bought coffee and sat outside and did nothing. Did you read that? Did nothing! It felt nice.

Then I got to go to a favorite Quilt shop. Bought a special treat or two there for myself. I was happily surprised that when I went to pay, the lady said, “oh you have cash, we give a discount for that!” Yippy for me!!

We stopped at a couple more places and the day just slipped by. Of course we had a fresh summer dinner fest.

Our Sunday plans for a picnic at American Lake were full steam ahead. We did a bit of shopping first before coming home to pack our basket. When we came home and opened the back of the car to unload our purchases, I had to snap a picture. There it was stacked neatly in front of me. We bought a slice of American summer. A new flag, a sunflower, a watermelon, corn on the cob, apples, oranges….oh my.

I could write about the four Bald Eagles we saw on our picnic. One swooped down and grabbed a fresh fish for his dinner. Everyone in and around the edge of the lake, just stopped and silently watched the circle of life happen right before their very eyes. Even the folks on the dock with fishing poles in their hands that had come up empty were in awe.

I could write about the deer and the new baby deer we spotted on our way home.

Or I could just write down, I loved hanging out with Mr. Right this lazy summer weekend. I loved watching him throw the toy for Sweet Liberty in the lake. I loved watching him unfurl a brand new American Flag for the front of our home. I loved planning and enjoying a picnic with him. I loved just sitting and doing nothing drinking our coffee in front of the roaster.

Just in case you forgot, Life is good. Sometimes you have to be still and quiet and watch it unfold.

Smart cookie

Today, I feel rattled. My stomach is rocking and rolling. I can’t calm down.
More medical appointments on the horizon. Overwhelming and nervous are good adjectives.

Every once in a while Mr. Right comes up with a sneaky plan. He suggested I reorganize my cookbooks. It just might take my mind off of more difficult things. So I jumped in with both feet. I made a big stack for giving away, a smaller stack of papers, odds and ends & magazines for the recycle bin. I am down to four full shelves of inspiration. I dusted and cleaned and got rid of cobwebs.

I was super happy to see “old friends” that I haven’t used in a while. I have not
eaten much today, so the glossy pictures of goodness look divine. Hey, maybe I can make a quiche tomorrow? Oh, maybe Mr. Right would like some fresh cookies? Hey! Wait a minute……………….I was just going to reorganize, take stock in what was there, clean a bit.

Somehow, I came up with all kinds of main dishes and baked goods and appetizers to rotate back into the line up. Somehow in the middle of “reorganizing” I was thinking Mr. Right would like that, oh, Mr. Right loves that….

So it took my mind off my troubles, I am typing now as the oven is pre-heating and Mr. Right scores in the home baked goodness department.

He is one smart cookie.

Hello Summer

I have some potatoes cooking on the stove. I am hoping to turn them into some delicious potato salad later today. I have baked beans simmering. We have homemade Popsicles for dessert. One juiced ripe and sweet pineapple, one mango and one lime, mixed together to make the color lovely. The taste is heavenly.

I am choosing to create a picnic. We will eat in the gazebo tonight. I want to capture a happy summer moment. A freshly ironed snappy tablecloth. Dinner will be a rest stop, if you will. I will try and smooth out the rough edges of the day and the last couple weeks.

Some times are tough, super tough. I guess finding the grace to carve out a snippet of happy summer moments is the trick? We ask that life be kind.

Our hearts of heavy for a very sick friend. Times when your hands are tied are tough. You want to fix everything. You pray. You light candles and send notes. A waiting game that doesn’t seem to move in fast forward. You send e-mails and make heartfelt get well cards. You send flowers. You send homemade gifts. You use your best wrappings and put your heart and soul into each offering. You think all the time about them. You try to be creative and come up with sweet nothings that might help.

Guide us with your grace. As we ease our way into the summer, we ask that life be kind.

We will lift our glasses of icy homemade lemonade in salute. Welcome Summer, may it be kind.

Liberty

June 17, 1885 the statue called “Liberty Enlightening the World” came to America.
It was a gift from the people of France to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. In a 32 year time span 12 million immigrants were welcomed into New York harbor by the sight of “Lady Liberty”.

Before the boys and I left America to move to Germany was my very first viewing. Mr. Right’s brother took the boys and I. We were in New Jersey and he drove to a
special park. (side note: while in the park, a helicopter landed and the Governor of New Jersey hopped out and jumped into a waiting limousine, so the boys were over the moon thrilled and impressed with that.)

My brother in law is an old crusty retired 30+ year Army man. He drives a BIG truck. I made him look away while I hiked up my floral jean skirt just so I could climb in. It was worth it. So worth it. We came around a huge grouping of trees and all of a sudden, my breath got sucked away. Instantly. There she was. HUGE and mighty and impressive. A true lady. Oh my goodness, I can feel the lump in my throat again as I type. Sure the boys were impressed 7 and 9 years old. However, they were not quiet and they did not get goosebumps and they didn’t look into the eyes of their Uncle. Oh yeah, Army men don’t cry. They just pull themselves together more and straighten their clothes and start talking about historical facts. They clear their throats, a lot.

My brother in law is the best. He is smart and strong and powerful and kind and funny and thoughtful. He is a mans man. I respect everything about him. He is one of the best husbands and fathers I know. He is generous with things and deed. I was the lucky lady that day. He gave me a shared moment with him.

…and you thought the story was over? Once in Europe, Mr. Right took over the tour director duties. We explored and traveled and toured everywhere. While in Paris, Mr. Right took us to the Seine River. There is a replica of Lady Liberty. She stands on Swan Ally Island in the middle of the Seine River near the Grenelle Bridge. I know the name of the bridge because I was the navigator that trip. Mr. Right reminded us that we would soon go back to America and the real Lady would welcome us home. We would be able to see her out our airplane window. Yes, traveling is wonderful and amazing and we are super lucky and blessed to get to see so much, but sometimes every one misses home. The good old USA.

…and you thought the story was over? Our plane was inching closer to America. Some people ahead of us were spraying “duty free” perfume. Our oldest said out loud, that it might not be a good idea. His brother might get sick. Out of the mouths of babes. All at once, bag in hand son number two started. The plane was landing, EVERYONE cheers coming into America and touchdown, applause, applause. Bag number two in use. However, through all of that, THERE SHE WAS. She was standing steadfast, her arms open to welcome us home. Oh man, there is nothing like it. You somehow feel safe again. Somehow, you feel like you belong. You are so glad to see “someone” you know.

….and yes, I neatly folded said air sick bags under my seat. We gathered bags and blankets and games and back packs and stood and stretched after a very, very long flight with two boys. We slowly made our way up the isle.

Today, I will remember and reflect upon Lady Liberty. Pure strength and grace.

She sent us on our way, encouraged us while away and welcomed us back to Home Sweet Home.

toys in bed

Yahoo, Mr. Right came home last night and all is right with my world for now.

Last night the dog was greeted and paid attention to. She was and always is very demonstrative and shows her excitement. She missed him and he was going to know it.

The washer and dryer were doing their thing. The pile of clothes were stacked and
ready to be dropped off to the dry cleaner.

The boys called and we chatted. Ahhhh, everyone can breath easier and sleep easier. Fat Daddio is in the house! yeah.

So it is bed time, love the “before bed routine”. Lunch made for tomorrow, coffee maker standing ready to go at the break of dawn tomorrow. Pat the dog, give the dog a treat, brush teeth, make up off, lotions and potions on…..you get the idea.

Jump into bed. Now for the toys.

He and his Blackberry. Me and my spiffy new Kindle (yep, brand new to me). Silence. Laying next to each other in our (version) of jammies (read that as I had on yoga pants and my favorite Johnson and Wales t-shirt, he in a Lake Chelan t-shirt and faded plaid sleep pants) just relaxing and playing with our toys.

The dog decided to wonder in and curl up on the floor at the foot of our bed.
Ah, we are all happily together again.

Life is indeed good.

only the best

Thirty odd years ago, I went to Quebec for the first time to meet my future in-laws and Mr. Rights’s family. Oh my, I sort of can still remember the lump in my throat and the nerves, oh the nerves. I had outfits planned for events and meals and different shoes, oh the shoes. I was prepared.

I am positive (because I kept a scrapbook) that we did many things and traveled around the area and met lots of people. I kept a little pocket journal with me to write down names (and how they connected) and addresses (to send thank you notes). I even had a box of blank notes packed in my suitcase to fill out each evening.

I was asked over and over what china pattern and silverware pattern “we” had chosen. It was of interest to Mr. Rights’s family. Quite a few of his family had or were currently working at the local china shop “Cowan’s”.

When I first saw my mother in law’s china and silverware it was a life changing moment. In a flash of a moment, I grew up very, very quickly. I said, “Oh it is so pretty and quite charming.” She said (and I quote) “we only use it for good or when
special company comes”. Needless to say, you know what I am going to say, I did not, nor have I ever eaten off of their fine china.

Years later when Mr. Right was given a set of family silverware, we opened the lid and were not surprised. Some of the very fine silver with a jaunty daffodil on each piece were still in the original plastic/tissue wrapping. Never used.

If they remember or not, when each of our “new to our family” girls ate dinner for the first time in our home, they drank out of the best crystal we have to offer. They ate off the finest china we have. Sometimes, in the middle of the week, for no reason and they ask for a glass of water, it is served to them in fine crystal with a linen napkin. When my sister in law came to visit for the first time, daily tea in the morning and afternoon was served with the finest tea pots and tea cups I had to offer. Always presented on a tray.

You will never forget being treated with gracious hospitality. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. You will never forget being treated like a second class after thought.

Heck, even Eddie knows the difference…”REAL catsup Eddie? Nothin’ but the best, Clark!”

Mr. Right comes home from a business trip tonight!!!!!!!! I will have the table set with the fine china. Even if we have a simple dinner or late dessert. I want him to be crystal clear how I feel about him. I want him to know that he was thought about and he is of value. I want to go to a little trouble. I want to elevate the moment.

Welcome home, Mr. Right, welcome home.

“The fondest memories are made gathered around the table.”

airport construction

I first started driving to Sea Tac International airport 33 years ago. My Dad traveled, and traveled some more. One year he was home 56 days out of the entire year. When I got my drivers license, my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to practice freeway driving by dropping him off and picking him up. From our home, t was about an hour to get to the airport. The very first time I dropped him off, I noticed the road/airport construction. My dad said, just be careful, be aware of the changes and in a month or two they will be all finished. Little did he know.

This morning (it’s always morning, always o dark thirty) I dropped off Mr. Right for a flight to Texas to begin a business trip week. Okay, when I dropped him off it was 54 degrees and it is suppose to be 104* today in El Paso, Texas. yikes. When pulling into the airport, I noticed, you guessed it, construction. There was a different “temporary” because of construction, route. Yes, I was careful. I saw the exit for the place I wait the three minutes or 27 minutes to pick him up. In today’s world it is called a “Cell phone lot”. That means, you wait in your car for the all important call. You “get” the call! You pull out to go pick up your passenger. That is the fourth or fifth cell phone lot I have been to. They keep moving it, again, because of construction.

If my Dad were alive today, I would probably call him. I would ask him where he was this time. (Heck, Mr. Right had to call a different state to ask him permission to marry me.) We would talk politics. I would ask him since his oldest grandson is turning 29 tomorrow, does he feel old? He would ask me what I was learning. What books I was reading. What book I was reading next. He would say he had to get off the phone. I would say to him, Oh Dad, one more thing…………

There is still construction on going at Sea Tac. He would laugh and say, oh I’m sure they will be done in a couple of months.

laundry stains

I used my little trusty, handy, dandy laundry brush this morning.
I was scrubbing the seat of a pair of cream colored pants. Mine. Pretty shocking right? While Mr. Right was mowing the back yard, Sweet Liberty and I were rough housing and sitting on the ground playing tug. Pretty much goofing off and my guess is annoying the person actually working while we were not.

Oh my goodness, I can’t remember the last time I had to scrub grass stains off of pants, jeans, shirts,a variety of sports uniforms, shoes etc. Guess it was when two “embracing life with gusto” boys lived here.

Here in Washington state every stain is pretty much mud or green grass. When living in Oklahoma every thing was red. Red dirt + boys = Trouble. Now, that my friend, put to the test every laundry trick this Mom had in her brain.

Tar on the beach sand in Texas found it’s way into and all over hand cross stitched (what on earth was I thinking?) sweatshirts that each boy was wearing. Oh that was the same trip, I had to clean bird droppings off the shoulder of Mr. Right’s shirt. We decided to have a special breakfast on the beach one morning. Yep, the boys could not stop belly laughing………..and still do. I must say I did pretty good removing that stain. Hotel sink, little mini, mini bar of soap and elbow grease. It really didn’t matter. For the next few months, the boys would crack up laughing when their Dad wore that shirt. Clean or not it brought FITS of laughter.

With a husband who always, always carried a pen in his military uniform and one boy who doodled and drew constantly……every once in a while a pen or colored marker got by me. oops. Oh and let’s just make a small comment about the blood. Lots and lots of blood. Scraps, tumbles, cuts, scratches, falls….goodness gracious I guess having a family that, again, “embraces life with gusto” blood was bound to happen. I got super good in the laundry room. I worked miricles in there. I even amazed myself sometimes. Oh, it was most likely a toxic combination of this and that.

Now in a sad and quiet way, the laundry room is calm. Homemade, natural, non toxic laundry soap, dryer static cling pieces of fabric from Canada instead of toxic dryer sheets. Nothing really dramatic happens in there. Oh sure a drop of soup or melted ice cream once in a while. easy peasy.

The other day, I did happen to hear a sweet daughter in law tell an adorable grandgirlie….”this is your third outfit today! I swear it is your mission to fill the laundry basket”.

Now that my friends, made me smile.

Today, I remember

I happen to be one lucky girl when it comes to travel and touring really gorgeous and unique lands. I have had the privilege of walking across the bridge at Lucern, Switzerland. I have stood under the Eiffel tower and looked up to watch my husband running up the stairs. I have snorkeled with the colorful fish at Hanauma Nature Preserve, Hawaii. I have been lucky enough to swim with the Rays off the Bahama Islands. I have walked through the Straw market in Nassau and waited a very, very long 14 minutes for the customs guards to return my passport on the Poland border. I have been treated with kindness and friendliness at the welcome center in Ohio and walked in the beads of tar in the sand on the shore of Corpus Cristie, Texas. I have stood in the hall of mirrors in the Palace of Versailles and had my picture taken with the huge Einstein statue in Washington, DC.

This morning I woke up to a depiction of today’s anniversary. Looks sort of silly and childlike. It looks like something we would have done during our homeschooling years. I reminded me to remember.

The most meaningful and life changing trip my family and I ever took was on the 50th anniversary of D Day. The northern coast of France. My husband and I and two young boys were there 1994.

Yes, we were one of many millions of people who have made pilgrimages to Mont-St-Michel. That tour left a lasting impression. We visited Ste-Mere-Eglise. We went to the church with the parachute and soldier stained glass piece. Today, I can remember and “feel” the stillness and the coolness of the inside of the church. I have stood on the ground at Le Hoc Point. I have walked on Omaha Beach. I have felt the sand sift through my fingers on Utah Beach. I listened and learned about Arromanches. We took our boys to the cemetery to pay our respects. I can still feel the lump in my throat all day. I saw the cliffs our military charged, knowing full well the Germans would be shooting at them. I have crawled in a bunker and looked out at the sea. I have used my most horrid imagination. I watched as my husband took our boys and stood in the still visible trenches. It was his mission to teach and pass on to our boys our history. It was his mission to teach the words of Valor and Honor and Respect.

Somehow instead of creating military men, we created men that hate war and what it
leaves behind. Somewhere along the way in teaching them what it all meant, we taught them what peace is. In the end, we raised men of honor.

My husband is one of the most patriotic, military men you will meet. He wanted our boys to see Normandy. He wanted our family to be there. I will say, he planned our trip for one week after the actual 50th anniversary. He said that week was for warriors and families. We would wait our turn.

Our family was forever changed from that day forward.

We were there. We remember. We will always remember. We brought back grains of sand to give to our families and friends so that they too might remember.

In our home, we have a French crystal box with grains of sand contained in it. There is a card where the words are penned just like the ones engraved at the cemetery.

“Freedom is forever hallowed by the ideals, the valor and the sacrifice.
Normandy, France 1944-1994

It is well that war is so terrible we would grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee