Lost and found, revisited

While my husband is on an eating tour of Texas (also known as Visiting His Family), I am the family chauffeur.

Really.  I’ve been all over.  In the past two days, I have driven:

  • Son to work
  • Daughter to trick-or-treat at friend’s house
  • Youngest son to friend’s house
  • Son from work
  • Youngest son from friend’s house
  • Other son to work
  • Daughter to birthday party
  • Daughter from birthday party
  • Son from work

Shockingly (not), I haven’t received a single tip or payment from any of my  passengers.

None of my kids drive yet and, yes, that skill is way overdue.  Soon, hopefully, soon, they’ll be driving, too, though, of course, that involves its own set of issues.

Today, after I dropped my daughter off at a birthday party, I decided to make the most of my freedom and so I headed to Marshall’s to celebrate by browsing the discount merchandise.  After shopping, I headed back to my car and found an older woman standing near the trunk, gazing around with that look I recognized.  She could not find her car.

She held her key fob like a divining rod and I paused and she said, “I can’t find my car.”  I said, “What does it look like?” and she said, “It’s white.”

Well, so is every other car in Southern California (except for mine).  I said, “Well.”  Then, “What direction is it pointed?”

We stood shoulder to shoulder, peering at the white cars.  I offered to drive her around the parking lot so we could check every white car–she looked frail–and she said, ” No, but if you could just stay here.  I get anxiety and I know I parked here by Sally’s and I shouldn’t have even come–I’m not feeling well at all–but I wanted a refund.”

I said, “What about that white car?”  I pointed and said, “Let’s walk that way and check.  Click your key and we’ll see if the lights go on.”  I took her hand and we walked a few feet and heard a the familiar “beep” of a car being unlocked.  We both said, “I hear it!”

So, we walked a few more steps and then I said, “Click it again” and she did and it was coming from the right, not the left where we’d been headed.  I turned and saw the flashing taillights.

“There it is!”  I walked her over to the car and she told me she’d been having so much stress–she’s moving from a two bedroom into a one bedroom, but the two bedroom hasn’t sold yet and she’s signed paperwork for the one bedroom and she’s not feeling well at all and I said, “Are you going to be okay driving?” and she assured me she was driving straight home.

And I almost hugged her–she struck me as the kind of lady who needed a hug–but instead I just rubbed her shoulder and said, “Drive safe, okay?” and then I left her.

I prayed for her as I drove away and hoped that she got home safely.

Getting old is not for the faint of heart, especially in a parking lot full of white cars.

Lost and found, revisited

Farewell, October!


As usual, Halloween Day was a whirlwind of activity.  I’ve been known to sew costumes just hours before the festivities begin, but no sewing was involved this year.

Instead, my husband left for Texas.

He had an early afternoon flight, so weirdly enough, we had a slowish morning.  He filled both vehicles with gasoline and packed at a leisurely pace while I walked the dog and strung up some decorations outside (including a giant spider I bought at the grocery store earlier this month).

He left at about 11:15 AM and I prepared homemade soup for the Crock Pot and then at noon it was time for me to work.

Meanwhile, Grace could barely stay focused on her school work.  The dog was rowdy even though she’d been walked.

I worked until 4:20 PM, then drove one son to work and another son to his friend’s house for a Halloween party.  When I got home, it was time to braid my daughter’s hair and cloak the dog in a cow-print cloth.  The dog cooperated because she was distracted by food and so I knotted two corners under her neck and then diaper-pinned the two sides under her belly.

She was a cow but she looked kind of like a Dalmation.

We drove to a friend’s house to show off the costumes, then rushed back home in the darkening evening so my daughter could trick-or-treat.  Our street was quiet at first and then we started to encounter other trick-or-treaters.  The dog/cow was feisty at first and eventually, tongue-hanging-out-tired.

Once home again, I had enough time to watch part of the Charlie Brown special (I saw my first Christmas commercial on television!) and then it was time to work again.  I interrupted my work for quick jaunts to pick up the two boys.

And now, somehow, it’s past 1:00 AM.  I’m about to shut off my television, click off my lamp, lock my sliding glass door and leave my office for the kitchen where I have to make my son’s lunch for school tomorrow.

This last day of October has been incredibly busy, yet not so unlike so many other recent days–and not so unlike almost everyone I know.

Anyway, all this to say that in November I’m going to be writing every day . . . even if it’s as dull as a diary entry.  Hey, it’s my blog and I’ll drone on if I want to!

Happy Look-Out-Here-Comes-Thanksgiving!

Farewell, October!

Lost and found


On a recent Sunday, my 11-year old and I spent most of the afternoon at a soccer-related event.

Afterward, I realized we’d have just enough time to catch the sunset, so we drove through town and found a parking place.

The first spot I found required parallel parking and normally, I am an adequate parallel parker.  I’m always kind of amazed that I can maneuver my van into a parallel parking spot but usually, I can do it without too much trouble.

Except this particular time.  I had the mini-van angled in but as I pivoted my head around and around (like the Exorcist, exactly as you picture), a man’s voice came clearly through the open window:  “Nope. Not gonna make it.”

I agreed and wheeled out of that spot in shame and circled around some more until I found a stretch on a block with plenty of space to pull into.  This space also had no critics standing nearby to mock me.

Anyway, I parked and we hurried out, down the street and toward the stairs leading to the beach.  I expected the sunset to be spectacular because a wildfire had been burning nearby.  Did you know that smoke in the atmosphere can turn the sunset more intensely red?  (Something about debris in the atmosphere scattering the green and blue light, leaving just the red showing.)

Just as we were to cross the street, my daughter noticed a wallet-type purse sitting on the street corner.  I bent to pick it up, revealing a smart phone with a cracked screen beneath the wallet.  The wallet contained the owner’s driver’s license and what appeared to be a credit card and some other kind of card.  The phone seemed to be ringing without making any sound but I hesitated to answer it.  I noticed the icon said she’d had four phone calls.

I put the phone and wallet into my purse and then we went down the stairs to the sunset.  My plan was to wait until the sunset and then to deliver the phone and wallet to a sheriff’s office near a movie theater where we’d be heading to pick up my son.

So, the sun set:


My son called, so we drove down the highway to the movie theater.

I parked and walked down the street to the sheriff’s office but it was closed.

I looked at the phone and saw twelve missed calls.  I imagined that the phone’s owner in panic, calling her own phone, hoping someone would answer, hoping she could find it somehow.  I’m acquainted with that type of panic.

I thought I’d get home and then figure out what to do. The address on her driver’s license was local.  When I lost my driver’s license at the beach a few months ago, someone picked it up and turned it into the police department.  I received a letter in the mail telling me they had my property and after I called, they mailed it to me.

I picked up my son and then started to drive away.  I glanced at the lost phone and saw it was ringing yet again.  I answered it.  Fourteen missed calls.

“Hello?”  Silence.  So I said, “Is this _______________?”  (I knew her name from her license.)

Then, “I found your phone!”

She shrieked with relief and joy.  I circled back around, waited for her for ten minutes or so and then happily delivered her wallet and phone to her.  I was so happy to be part of the miracle that young woman experienced.  What was lost was found.

Amazing grace all around.


Lost and found

Before and after

Is it just me or are clouds of fruit flies swarming your kitchen, dancing around on your apples and bananas?  I have become an efficient fruit fly murderer.  I pour a little red wine vinegar into a glass ramekin and add a drop of liquid dish detergent and swish it around.  Then the fruit flies dive in and drown.

You’re welcome.  And you thought I wasn’t a superstar housewife!  Hey, don’t judge me by the dog-hair tumbleweeds.

In other news, I put on a light sweater, socks and shoes and jeans tonight because it seemed like fall weather outside.  And then I realized it was 69 degrees.  Sixty-nine degrees in Seattle means it’s warm enough to go to the waterpark.  It’s all perspective.

What else?  Well, mid-terms are next week.  That means we are nearly a quarter of the way through the school year.  This seems impossible, though I have made enough school lunches to last me until I settle into my room in the nursing home.  (I know, I know.  I could make my boy make his own lunch but I don’t want to.  I just want to complain about making them.)

September 21 marked the twenty-fourth anniversary of my dad’s death.  I was twenty-four when he died, so my life can now be divided neatly in half.  Twenty-four years with a dad; twenty-four years without.  I like symmetry but I do not like this.  He missed out on so much–and my kids missed out on having their grandfather.  It’s not fair, but as he always said, “Life isn’t fair.”

What’s odd is that men my own age remind me of my dad.  Weird, right?  But my dad was forty-seven when he died, so men about that age–about my age–look the same age he did when he died.  Forty-seven seemed like a reasonable life-span to me when I was twenty-four.  I mean, it still seemed too young, crazy and impossible and all that, but he seemed like he’d lived a lot of life.  And he had.

But now?  Now as a forty-eight year old woman, I see that forty-seven is just getting started.

At least I hope so.  I still have a lot of fruit flies to kill and school lunches to make and soccer games to cheer and books to read and sunsets to watch and stuff to do before I’m plucked from this earth.


Before and after

Bright, bright sunshiny day

Last Tuesday, I dropped my daughter off at soccer practice and then drove ten minutes to the beach.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that I can just drive to the beach.  When we lived in Washington, the ocean was at least two hours from our house.

One hot summer day back then, I drove the kids to the beach, imagining the memories we’d create, the photos we’d take.

We arrived to cold, foggy wind.  I wanted to lay flat on the sand, not to get a tan, but to escape the worst of the fierce wind.

Now, as September ends here, I can just put on a pair of flip-flops and be at the beach in a matter of minutes, no coat required.  The tourists have gone home and it’s unbelievably lovely.

Last Tuesday, I walked along a stretch I don’t visit regularly and had the beach almost all to myself.  I did encounter a man and woman–and tried to avoid intruding in their moment–until they asked me to take their photo.  He gave me his phone and then they posed twice.  They went south and I continued north.


* * *

At 8:30 this morning, I was at the soccer field, waiting for the game to begin.

I wore socks and jeans for the first time in a long time.  You forget how socks feel after awhile when you live in southern California.  In fact, you kind of start to wish you had a reason to wear a fleece jacket.

I had my big beach umbrella with me to shield the bright morning sun.  When we first arrived here two years ago, I scoffed at other parents who had giant umbrellas at soccer games.

I arrived so sun-deprived that I couldn’t imagine that anyone would need a giant umbrella at a soccer game.

Back in Washington, soccer season involved huddling under a rain umbrella, blanket covering my lap while cold rain drenched my shoes.

Now, we hide under umbrellas because the sun makes us too warm on the last Saturday of September.

If you’d asked me to predict my future five years ago, this would not have even made my Top Ten list.

Life is like that, isn’t it?

Bright, bright sunshiny day

How to get kicked out of Bible college in one easy step

Please don’t take it personally, but I don’t want to hear about your dreams.  My daughter likes to tell me about her scary dreams and I try to follow along, I really do, but I just can’t keep up.  I get distracted.  Is a dream really interesting to anyone other than the dreamer? Not really.

But . . . I have to tell you about this dream I had.

I am a hypocrite, an inconsistent weirdo.  But this dream made me laugh, even hours and days later.

In my dream, I was crowded into my Bible college cafeteria.  Why?  Who knows.  But in the dream, I said, “It’s so crowded in here we’re all going to need birth control!”

(I woke up thinking that was hilarious.)

In my dream, I ended up getting interrogated and then kicked out of the Bible college because of that joke.

Getting expelled (in my dreamworld which was not a dreamworld at all but more of a nightmare-world) was traumatic and upsetting and distressing . . . but then I’d think, “It’s so crowded we’re all going to need birth control” and amusement would tamp down the anxiety and I’d admire my subconscious mind’s sense of humor all over again.

Does your sleeping self ever make jokes?

How to get kicked out of Bible college in one easy step

A sign I might need professional help

Now, in my spare time, I have something new to worry about.

I worry about Annabelle.  Is she lonely?  Does she have enough to do?  Does she need company?  Is she comfortable?  Is she happy?  Does she need a companion?

Yes, I have spent valuable brain power pondering the emotional state of the guinea pig that lives in my daughter’s room.  I feel responsible for the rodent’s happiness; nevermind that Annabelle doesn’t speak English and doesn’t know what “happiness” even means.


Meanwhile, Roy is clearly unhappy, judging from the stink eye she gives me when our paths cross.  Roy the Girl Cat slinks around like a schizophrenic striped ham with legs (no tail!) who is trying to avoid a coyote.  Roy has a personal problem, some mysterious angst she expresses by peeing on dirty clothes the boys leave in their room.

At least that is my theory.  How else can you explain cat pee on the boys’ laundry?  Surely Chestnut the semi-sane cat isn’t doing that?  Though who can tell?  If you have more than one cat or child, you never really can get to the truth of things without a little cooperation.

When I was a child, someone in my family left the back gate open.  I don’t know why that was such a crisis–maybe a dog sneaked into the back yard and left a deposit?–but my dad was so upset with us and demanded to know exactly who left the gate open.  I know it wasn’t me.  And my brother and sister also denied responsibility.

So, my dad spank*d each of us with a ping-pong paddle for the first and only time I remember.  When no one takes the blame, everyone feels the pain.  (Hey, that sounds like an actual slogan, but honestly, I just made that up.)

To this day, no one has confessed.

(I blame the cat.)

A sign I might need professional help