Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I am sick to death of you Lorraine!

Visited my doc because I was feeling sick. She faxed in three prescriptions- two generic and one for which there was no generic. My pharmacy just called and said that my insurance won't pay for the non-generic right now, they need more information from my doc and it will take ten days for a decision. TEN DAYS. My choices: pay out of pocket $120 instead of the usual $40 copay or go without. Can this really happen? My heretofore "very good" insurance has paid for this drug in the past...but now they want more info from my doc. Like what do they want to know? Is this something like increased airport they want to know what's going on inside me? Do they want to know if I will die in the next ten days without that med? Well I won't - but shouldn't this be an issue? Would there have been anything different if I had also had medicare? Anyone? Ralph? I am so ticked off.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sad Memory on a rainy night

This is not ordinary Seattle Rain. Think monsoon. Rivers are on flood alert, or flooding, trees are falling and the landslides have begun. Basements and garages are taking on water. Pumps are in high demand. City crews are out dealing with trees and urban flooding - water pooled on the road carried a car away in one part of the region. Neighbors are vigilant about keeping storm drains clear. A bizzare accident a few years ago is on our minds. It was during a rain like this that Kate Fleming, concerned about water damage, went down to her Seattle Madison Valley basement to check on her recording equipment. There was a flash flood, the storm drains gave way, the water rushed down her hill, smashing the foundation of her home and she was trapped. She drowned in her basement December 14, 2006.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The First time I heard Peggy Sue

Getting old. If you know about Medicare, please leave me a comment. Since I am still working (half time) I have not applied for social security. But I will soon be age- eligible for SS regardless of my work. I have heard that if you take SS, you MUST also have medicare. I have heard that medicare doesn't really cover everything. How does that work if you have other (really good) health insurance? If you know this from experience or can point me to some good clear answers, I would be grateful.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Like Breadcrumbs in a Fairy Tale Forest

A few words of kindness and comfort stopped me in my tracks today. Gentle comforting words from another brought tears to my eyes. Running from place to place, checking things off the list, getting things done I thought I was doing fine. I WAS doing fine. I just hadn't realized that my heart was yearning for connection, recognition, validation. Kind eyes and gentle words, from out of the blue, released tears I didn't know were welling - and lifted my spirits that I hadn't realized were sagging. Today is my day to pay it forward.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Home, where my music's playing

My city stay will be extended until June 30 and then I will be homeward bound. I have mixed feelings about returning. I love my cottage, but there was a reason I wanted to try out the city. Living here has been such a fun adventure. I do like being a city girl, bus pass in hand. I have been blessed with the perfect space in the perfect location at the perfect price. Perfect except for one thing. I miss my washer and dryer! The coin operated machines in the basement here are beautiful, state of the art. Brand new. Clean. They are shared by only six apartments..and the neighbors who live in the other five apartments appear to be clean and responsible launderers. Still I realize that I have taken the whole laundry thing for granted in all of my past lives. The only time I used coin-ops was back in college and at that time it was fun to socialize in the steamy, sudsy, noisy laundry room. Didn't really count. But I have been there, done that - I look forward to returning to the luxury of laundry on demand in my own home. I look forward to the day when I stop searching for quarters. I look forward to being able to forget that I left clothes in the dryer. My dryer.

Just finished: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri ****(I have never liked reading short stories - till now!)

About to start: The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

Monday, November 29, 2010

Maybe I Think Too Much!

Cranberry sauce: Boil up some sugar and water, add some fresh cranberries, heat till they pop. Add other stuff if you want. Cool, serve. Who knew? Yum. Amazing. Years ago when I could still influence my kids, I made sure that they agreed with me that cranberry sauce was meant to be jiggly, and smooth and slip with a satisfying "slurp" from a can. None of that sour grandma stuff with lumps. Not at Thanksgiving, not ever. Well folks, I have been enlightened. Ocean spray go away. Come again another day. Or not.

Just Finished: Room *** A unique and unusual voice, fascinating story!
Currently Reading: Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Love you madly madly

My love for libraries began in junior high when I got my very first job as a "Page" in the Schenectady County Carnegie Library. Wearing a dusty brownish smock that seemed to acknowledge my importance as an "official" of the library, I pushed a heavy cart about, shelving books and answering questions like "where is the restroom?"The job blended my passion for books with my growing need for independence and offered me the opportunity to control and put things in order. The fact that every book had its own perfect and unique place was supremely satisfying to a girl who grew up in a sometimes chaotic house. The pay was eighty cents an hour - an astounding thirty cents more than an hour of babysitting.

Back then folks signed out books on cards bearing the full names and dates of every previous borrower. At check out the circulation librarian filed the card in a long tray and stamped the due date in the back of book. A reference librarian kept a list of questions from patrons and spent her time frowning and looking up answers. Silence was strictly enforced by all senior library staff who regularly walked between the old wooden tables and chairs glaring sternly at anyone whose voice lifted above whisper.

Today I walked to my neighborhood library to return books and pick up one that I had reserved on line. On line! In the space of a few minutes I can hear about a book on NPR, go to my home computer and reserve it at the library. My computer tells me how many copies there are in the system, how many people are also waiting and what my place in line is. I can decide which of the many library branches will be most convenient for pick up and then know that my email box will light up with a message when my turn comes. Soon the book is waiting on the shelf just for me. I type in my card number at the desk and the computer tells me to place books for sign out on the scan tablet. Amazingly the tablet quickly reads the bar codes of up to four books at a time and prints me a date due slip. Incredible!
I love my library!
Another change with the times - My local library is NOT a quiet brown smock frowny kind of place - It is a cheerfully respectful inviting space with quiet nooks and comfortable easy chairs, window seats and bright tables. It is a bustling active place of great community, tutoring corners, adult classes, computers, children's story hours, and author readings. The librarians smile and speak in a voice you can hear.
Tax dollars doing some of their best work.

Currently reading: Room

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

After Winter's Silence

Every school in the area is on weather closure.

Yesterday was a silent day in my corner of the city as Metro buses gave up and cars stayed parked. Families with kids used the streets for great sledding adventures. Lots of walkers about and more than a few have dusted off their cross country skis for street travel. The silence was quite lovely.

This morning the main roads seemed a bit better (I even saw a brave biker negotiating the ice and snow - Seattle has a powerful biking community - we will soon have bike lanes on all major streets - and by the way did you ever notice how "real" bikers look like insects?)

Just noticed - the buses are running again! This is a very good sign in a city that was silenced and paralyzed by three inches of snow and freezing winds. Though I loved the quiet, i am glad that my beloved city is valiantly returning to its noisy on-the-move self.

Time to bundle up my temporarily housebound self and bus to Trader Joe's for a pound of butter. What would Thanksgiving be without enough butter?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow Place Like Home!'s freezing in the Northwest! The snow that looked so pretty this morning is now blowing in all directions. Up north in my cottage, my tenant has not been able to get out to go to work. Here, the few cars on the road are limping along, or going too fast and spinning their wheels. I am huddled in my city home glad to have heat and a couple of good books. I ventured out earlier for a walk to the coffee shop. It was yummy to be on the inside of the steamy windows sipping Starbucks with other hearty coffee city neighbors. I loved watching people walk in, stomp off the snow, embracing the warm chatter and community of this lively gathering place. Later, walking home, the wind came up, the footing became slick, the flakes became chunks and my face began to sting. I could feel the temperature drop with each step. Tonight will be icey and windy. So glad I don't have a reason to go anywhere. Seattle is not a snow city. Everyone knows we are experts at RAIN. We are a city of Rain Dears. Tonight I am red-nosed and snow weary, I am ready for warmer temperatures and rain. Not until Thursday they say.

UPDATE 11PM - serious wind and freezing temperatures - the freeways have been blocked for up to six hours - people who left work early are still not home! They must be so cold! I vividly remember the nightmare winter driving in my years of commuting to work. This is one day I am very very glad to be retired.

Just finished: Cutting For Stone ***** (Five stars!! Best book of my reading year)
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand *** (A good read with charming characters)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose

A year or two after my husband died I realized I really didn't mind being single. My kids, my job and my friends were enough. I loved solitary walks, the freedom to choose how I would spend my days off and the opportunity to just "BE." That was then. This is now. BEing semi-retired and single, is, well, lonely. My friends say their retired husbands drive them crazy. Sounds really good to me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Like Emptiness In Harmony

My cooking gene kicks in with daylight savings time. When the fall fog rolls in I want to chop, saute, stew and roast things while listening to NPR. Is it the early darkness? Maybe the cooler weather? Who knows what makes me absolutely NEED to cook something savory, bake something pumpkiny, and sip something cidery? When I was a kid I hated the chore of starting dinner for the family before my mother got home from work. When I was a young wife, I was filled with anxiety and dread whenever I had to cook for anyone with the title "in-law." When my kids were at home, cooking dinner was what I had to do after I had worked all day. In the autumn of my life I cook because I want to.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Six days in Hawaii. Five of the six days the hotel workers were on strike. Five nights at $300 per night and do it yourself housekeeping - "the sheets are on a cart in the hall." Five days with no on-site restaurants, no pool service, no sweet ukulele music playing throughout the resort and no refund, no offer to move us to another hotel, no perks whatsoever. Five days and nights of exhausted managers listening to thousands of complaints. Day two cookies and juice in the lobby, small consolation for being awakened (each of the five days) at six am by strikers on bullhorns, picketers banging drums, pots and pans and chanting at the top of their voices. Two days of listening to ugly yelling every hour - "We're Local Five.Go home! Go home!" - Day five finally becoming crazed and joining the thousands of complainers. Day six, the strike is over. Clean sheets, sweet music, all restaurants open, silence in the morning. Alas our day to go home. I don't think I will ever stay at a Hilton again. The tired managers credited our bill with a token $250 - for the inconvenience of staying in a luxury resort without even the basics. Today I made my own bed in my non-luxurious home, put on a CD and danced the Hula.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ya Can't Win for Losing

I've been trying to help a young man who has made just about every mistake a guy could make. I am stunned by the incredible obstacles the "system" puts in the path of a person who wants to change his life. I am embarrassed by judges who sit in their robes and insult young people with their sarcasm and jibes. I am incensed by probation officers so jaded by their clients that they believe nothing, acknowledge nothing, offer no hope, no encouragement and no support. I am enraged by landlords who charge outrageous rents for roach infested rooms - because folks with records can't get anything else. I am dumbfounded by courts that impose fines that people can't pay and then send them to collections who compound them with maximum interest. I am dumbfounded by a jail sentence for not paying fines. I am furious with a system that asks a guy with no drivers license and no money to travel 200 miles from his home twice a month to "report" and then return 200 miles within 24 hours to "report" again to his probation officer in his home city. You can't win for losing.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Loves You Like a Rock

I am sorry I have been away. I am still reading your blogs if we have connected in the past, just haven't had a chance to write much.
The Northwest Summer has arrived (and disappeared momentarily ) I almost missed it. They say it will return.
This week I made several trips back and forth to Portland to help out my son and his family. Each trip I quietly blessed my ten year old Honda Civic. You may remember that I have never felt any affection for this reliable but unremarkable car. For the very first time in our long relationship I felt some respect and admiration for this little vehicle who in car years must be nearly as old as I am. Though we have traveled together for 125,000 miles it has definitely been a love/hate relationship and I have very much been looking forward to saying good-bye for good as I purchase a new car. Each trip up and down the highway this week I wondered whether the two of us could do it again - And after each round trip I was stiff and tired, silver civic just old and worn. Neither of us complained too much, but by Thursday night at 11:27 PM both of us were glad to be off the road after hundreds of miles of togetherness over the past four days. Yesterday I had a massage and then slept sixteen hours. SC just sat, quietly resting by the curb. Today I will treat her to some lovely high grade oil and a carwash. I guess I should admit publicly that we have become friends.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sit Down, Shut Up, Think about God

So today I was attacked by a crow. There he was: sitting all black and shiny and huge and evil on a fence as I walked by ON THE WAY OUT OF CHURCH!!!! I swear we made eye contact. HE (aren't all crow's male?) snarled something at me in badbird vocabulary. Really, I mean it, the critter snarled and curled his lips before screeching a menacing crowish growl...well it looked like curled lips. He flew straight up and away all nonchalant. I sputtered a silent message of gratitude. A few seconds passed. Without warning crowmonster popped a sly and speedy turn back and dive-bombed my head. What's that about? I said more than a few non church words. A dark rainbow reason to stay home on a Sunday morning.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I barely learned the tune....

Lonely Rivers was almost retired.
That was last week. Returning from a professional conference on the east coast, I was asked to consider an "interim" - with a nice pay check. With guarantees that the search and selection of the perfect real and permanent director will be swift, I've agreed to help out. The plan is to re-tire in a few months, maybe less.

Monday, May 31, 2010

We'd like to help you learn about yourself.......

From my senior citizen perspective looking back through the haze of decades, I am suddenly wondering what was real and what has been romanticized. Stories over years of telling take on a life of their own. For example, Camp Kowaunkami. Though I say I loved camp - I am now remembering a piteous week of punishment and humiliation when the counselors forced me to sit on the beach and "watch but not participate" because as a clumsy camper I had steered my rowboat into a canoe full of counselors (mature women of 17 and 18)) who screamed insults at me once they came up, recovered from the dunk and got the canoe righted. Looking back, hazy or not, they were cruel. Still I say I loved camp. I think I did. I guess I wasn't scarred for life - I went back the next year without incident (that I can remember!) and lived all these years thinking I loved camp.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I hear the drizzle of the a memory it falls

Walking to work in spring rain is pure joy! I love stepping out, pulling up my hood, opening my umbrella and inhaling the sweetness of the neighborhood gardens. Raindrops on my umbrella chant a delicate meditation carrying me back to my childhood GS camping experiences when I loved the rain on the tent while drifting off to sleep. Picture this old lady yesterday blissfully dancing in the rain singing "K-O-W-A-U-N-K-A-M-I - we're girl scouts at Kowaunkami!" - thumbing her nose at the years and years of driving white knuckled down greasy rainy freeways.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gonna Paint A Sign...So You'll Always Know

My sister gets the cool award in the department of MOM. When her kids were little she let them choose the new color for the shutters on their stately home. The boys argued and couldn't agree on the color. Wise as the ancient Solomon, sis bought the paint and the grumbly painter grimly followed her directions and grumbled and grunted, sputtered and spat. For the next decade the neighbors to the south enjoyed the red shutters - while the neighbors to the north had their own view: blue shutters. Every kid need needs a mom like my sister.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Like a Window In Your Heart

Life Choices.

J. is leaving Seattle to return to the Northeast. The Northeast of cold blustery winters, hot sticky mosquitos and grandchildren. At sixty-seven and after fifteen years of loving everything Northwest she has chosen to head east to spend her remaining years getting to know the grandchildren she has only seen three or four times a year since they were born. She chose a vibrant college town - two hours in different directions from each of her three kids and six grandchildren. Her kids lead busy lives. She doesn't want to be on top of them - just in the same time zone.

Life Choices. J is leaving her life partner whose Northwest business is thriving, who can't justify leaving this timezone to be near J's children and grandchildren who leads a busy life and likes this timezone just fine. They say it will be a long distance relationship.

Or not.
Life Choices.

Monday, May 10, 2010

And Follow Your Memory Upstream.....

A quick trip from Seattle to DC to spend Mother's Day with my siblings and my mom. Since she fell in October, mom has been wheelchair bound and less able to fully track some conversations. She is still bright and alert and sooo gracious. At ninety she is tiny and frail and needs the assistance of a caregiver eighteen hours a day. We three - her "kids" 2/3 of us gray, 1/3 of us about to retire ourselves, 3/3 of us confronting the reality of aging - took her on a memory tour which included a drive by Hickory Hill, the Bobby Kennedy compound, and then all of the DC sights by car - with the addition of Hillary's DC digs - ending our tour at the hotel that used to be the Sheraton Park.
This still beautiful and luxurious hotel is a treasured family memory - It was 1962. My young father had died after a long illness. My mom even in her own grief understood that her three kids needed something fresh in our minds - something wonderful and happy. We traveled to DC and spent a week together at the Sheraton Park - our twelve year old cousin Steve came along too because he was always funny and she said he would make us laugh. He did. Yesterday on our Mother's Day tour we called Cousin Steve (in Alaska) from the SP to remember together. It was day to say a very special thank you to our Mom.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

You Better Start Swimming or You'll Sink Like A Stone - The Times They are a Changing!

Yesterday I took the day off to pretend I was retired.

I went swimming: Daytime Adult and Senior Swim

The pool was divided into three sections: 1) Arthritis Underwater (catchy, right?) 2) Lap Swim (Three separate lanes: Plodders, Splashers, and Killers (my labels, not theirs) 3) Adult free swim. I chose adult free swim.

My companions in this area were:
1) a very nice looking younger man who held on the side of the pool for a full sixty minutes 2) A very large lady who used a snorkel and swam up and down the pool for an hour without ever once taking her face out of the water, 3) A very slim and annoyed athletic woman who should have been over with the splashers and killers 4) A lovely grandma who reminded me of SophiaGoldenGirl (without the purse!) - who told me she used to be in the Arthritis class but had graduated to Adult Swim. Maybe one day I will graduate to plodder or splasher - I promise I will never join the killers - If you are a lap swimmer, you know what I'm talking about. The best part of my pretend retired day was in the locker room/showers with the Arthritis Ladies. Lots of talking and laughing about dropped this and that, aches and pains and IRA's, Social Security and Medicare. I joined right in. Not one person guessed I was just pretending!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just Drop off the Key, Lee

As soon as I announced my retirement my email lit up. "Ah," thought I, "they want to say something nice, thank me, wish me well.." And of course they did - lovely lavish thoughts, thanks and good wishes. And then they asked for letters of reference -just in case we lose touch. Though the list of letters to be written is daunting, I will take great pleasure in thinking over my years of association with each member of my staff, as I outline their strengths and contributions for a future employer. Not sure I will ever capture on paper the times we stayed late to finish a project, laughed ourselves silly when something fell apart or discovered together a great AH HA that took us all forward. There's no room in a letter of reference for the life events we've seen each other through, the highs and lows of spending our workdays together these may years. Writing a sincere letter of reference for each of these folks gives me one more chance to remember that I have worked with fabulous people. Just in case we lose touch.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Slip out the Back, Jack

Someone figured out that I now have 33 days left to work before my retirement day. After 40 years, I am happy to step out of a high pressure but very rewarding leadership position. I am thrilled that a person I have mentored for seventeen years in two different settings is next in line for my job. I am proud of the employees I hired and have watched them grow into amazing and productive leaders, themselves. I am blessed to have worked with a group that believes in honesty, compassion, integrity and effort. I am pleased that our organization has undergone significant changes, is thriving and focused, and is ready for new, young vigorous leadership. We are all pointed in the right direction. I feel good about the work I have done over the years and know that the time is exactly right for me to move on. I am looking forward to my next endeavor - whatever that may be . I will miss the big salary, but I am intrigued by the challenge of living simply on less. I didn't expect to feel nostalgic or a bit sad at this juncture - but I do.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In Restless Dreams I Walked Alone

J and I walked around Greenlake yesterday. She had just returned from a wonderful long vacation. They stayed in a fabulous house at the trail head. They hiked in the desert and she took 200 pictures of wild things. She climbed rocks and scrambled canyons. They visited family, sailed a bit, ate port marinated figs with dark chocolate. They went into SanDiego for a few days. She didn't want to come home. Maybe they will go to Puerto Rico, or maybe they will go to Australia. Now she is looking forward to getting the boat in the water for evening sails and so they can cruise this summer, that is if the kids don't need her to babysit. Three miles we walked and for three miles she talked. And talked . And talked more. Nonstop. My few lines were strategically placed: "oh my" "wow!" or "hmmm..." She is my absolute best walking partner. She has never noticed that I can't talk and walk at the same time.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

...And with All Your Soul

B's father called her at work. A lot. "My darling daughter, how are you?" "Daddy! I am so glad to hear your voice - I hope you are having a fine day." A few hours later, he would call again. "Daddy I am so glad to hear your voice! I will see you for dinner ."

Recently I stood outside with other mourners as B's son shared a quiet eulogy for his Zayde, a brilliant scholar and leader. Throughout his life Zayde wrote several books, hundreds of articles, held a PHD and was a respected and honored religious leader for decades. And then he started to forget things.
Throughout Zayde's life with Alzheimer's his family cherished their time with him and never allowed anyone to compromise his dignity. Like the broken tablets, Zayde in his last years, remained the honored elder. His caregivers were relentless in preserving for him a quality of life, no matter what the state of his mind. He was included in every event, every celebration, every outing until it was clear that it wasn't pleasant for him. His grown grandchildren came regularly to visit, to take him on outings, or to just sit with him. B read to him daily from his own scholarly works, The New York Times, and the same sweet children's books that he had once shared with her.
The family said the traditional Jewish prayers daily. While Zayde might forget family names and faces, he never forgot the words and tunes of these ancient prayers. His soul never lost its memory.

******* From a commentary: "The purpose of wisdom is the performance of good deeds. The elderly individual while engaging in Torah study in the past, also acquired knowledge resulting from good deeds throughout his life, and for this reason a residue will always remain in his soul of righteousness and correctness.

Even if he has forgotten his learning, this only means that he has lost the details, but the pure encompassing concepts that are collected within the soul as a result of the great quantity of his former study, can never be forgotten. Similarly, even while one is in full possession of his learning, he can never verbalize the entirety of what he knows; it is only a person’s inner spirit that recognizes the truth of the pleasantness of the principles corresponding to his accomplishments.

The residue, the aura of holiness and goodness continue to be associated with a person as well as an inanimate object, regardless of the ravages of time and circumstance, and therefore continued reverence for such people and things is appropriate. "

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Springtime of My Life

I love the new blogroll on the right - just a few of the places I go almost everyday for nourishment, inspiration and connection. I love that blogs roll to the top when something new has been added. The very last tab "Dancing in the Light" doesn't roll up often - But I hope you will click on it to see a beautiful slide show of my friend Jan's photos - (make sure your speakers are on!) That girl sure knows how to enjoy retirement!

In anticipation of own my rapidly approaching retirement (June 30)I have added a few other blogging goals to my yellow notebook. Lonely Rivers began as a simple place to capture and record small moments. Little did I know that there was a "blogworld" and that I would find myself connecting with others and cherishing the thoughts of new friends.

Because I may soon have lots more time devote to writing and blogging, I am going to play around with the format a bit and continue to try out some of the things that I've noticed and appreciated in other blogs. One goal has already been accomplished: I figured out how to add a photo - at least to the header..time will tell whether I will remember how to change it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

....Sat on their park bench like bookends

Book club tonight at my house. I love these gatherings of food, years and years of shared friendship and fabulous conversation. This month our group read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - A Flavia DeLuce Mystery. It was a fun read. To be truthful, this is just not my kind of book. Try as I might, I am just not enchanted with English Mysteries,even when the sleuth is a charming, witty, precocious,quirky eleven year old. I prefer novels that stir my soul, pique my curiosity about life, challenge my understanding of human nature, and open up new vistas. I love details and metaphors, and characters vivid enough to accompany me on my morning walk. Though I predict that several of my dear friends will have loved the book, I did not. When I finished this book I was done. I like books that linger.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mr. Cellophane

My temporary home in the city is a beautiful apartment in an block of mansions. A hundred years ago the early and newly rich of Seattle built these homes and lined the street with trees. They preserved vistas of lakes and mountains. I am thrilled that on most days the sidewalks are alive with adults and children who love being in this neighborhood. I never tire of watching the bikers and strollers from the six windows of my living room. I know that I am blessed to be able to walk to work, coffee shops, great restaurants and a bus to anywhere from this wonderful spot.

I am also struggling and miserably conflicted - because recently an older van/suv has been parked on the street near my building, and clearly it is a man's home. He keeps the van clean, and he appears himself to be clean though a bit ragged. He talks to himself and sputters and coughs a bit. He is gone most of the day, and returns to sleep each night. He moves the van a few inches a day to avoid parking fines. I wonder if he is down on his luck, out of work and homeless, or working nearby and saving his money, or if he is a psychopath.

I feel like I should do something but I do nothing. I wish I wasn't a little afraid. I want to live in a country where people are not forced to live in their cars or in tents or cardboard boxes. I feel guilty that I have two homes at the moment and this guy has just a car to sleep in. I want to feel safe and at the same time I want to be a compassionate and generous human being. I wish this guy (some mother's son) would move on. I wish I was Mother Teresa.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Filling up and spilling over

LR loves the music at FO's shop!

Market studies must say that Norah Jones sells stuff. Why else would every retail establishment and most elevators play constant Norah Jones? There must be a connection between the impulse to buy and Norah's Noises. LR was one of the first early Norah adopter of sorts. But face it: it's just like the salivating dog, play Come Away With Me.. and LR begins itching with primal retail longing. Too bad longer the dark divine diva- you are now the musical muse of merchandising.

Fierce Business Owner Friend has her own approach. No market studies for her! Nope. FO personally picks all the music for her shop. Every single tune. A little bit blind opera singer, a little bit country Sara kicking Evans and a little bit Kate Smith Climbing Every Mountain. A little bit God Bless America on any day the congress passes healthcare reform. Throw in a very little bit Norah Jones and some YMCA and you have a very happy FO, and customers who are buying like crazy! Once she gets them shopping FO lets loose: KD Lang,some very old Chris Williamson and then latterday Joan Baez. Amazing. Amazing. Grace. LR likes it all. FO's music Rocks!
LR loves helping out at the shop. And she gets paid! To listen to music. By the hour.
Wake Me Up Before you Go Go.

Monday, March 22, 2010

No Catchy Title for This One.

I need to be writing about health care. Instead I am fooling around with adding things to my blog in honor of having a birthday that qualifies me for a senior citizen bus pass and Medicare. I did not sign up for medicare because right now I have excellent health insurance and fairly good health. Others I know are not so fortunate. I want to believe that the battle has been won and now no one will go without the treatment and services they need. The ugliness around this issue hurts my heart.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dappled and Drowsy and Ready to Sleep.....

Without that yellow notebook LR would be listless.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Erica of the Windy Yellow Hair

A blustery day in Seattle. LR drew the short straw. Get the balloon bouquet. Sure. No problem. Except for the gusty breeze. Picture LR...holding her hat to her flying hair with one hand, skirt dragging in the puddles..floating Mary Poppins style up fifteenth following a herd of wayward balloons. Picture LR. Stuffing balloons into the backseat of silver civic, looking like a very bad day at the Macy's parade with muddy skirt blowing in the wind. Picture LR punching at one balloon after another as each struggles independently to escape its silver civic backseat fate. Picture LR driving one handed and blindly through Capitol Hill, peering through a sea of ornery balloons and swatting them down with her free hand. Picture the relief as destination is reached with no human or balloon casualties. Lonely Rivers battled balloons today. And won.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Clock Don't Jump Off the Wall, Thelma

Lonely Rivers is not in favor of clock changing. She keeps her mind agile and her friends frustrated. Look at her clocks and know instantly: either add or subtract one hour...or trust the hour. Then add or subtract a range of 10 to 17 minutes. No problem.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Makeanewplan, Stan

Lonely Rivers has a list.

Not a bucket list or a SarahLulu list, just a list of everything she wants or needs to do. A new list begins every January 1.

List 2010 lives in a yellow spiral notebook now held together by a wooden pinch clothespin. Lonely Rivers will write one day of the virtues of the two essentials in life: a wooden pinch clothespin and a fondue fork. LR believes that success in life, business,friendship, parenting,and marriage depend heavily on having these two critters on hand. That is for another day.

Lonely mistakenly thought the list existed for the giddy delight of crossing things off. To some degree it's true - the garbage would go out whether it was on the list or not. More pleasurable to take out the garbage AND cross it off the list. The list however annoys the brain and encourages the heart.

Be careful what you write on the list! You may find yourself really really enjoying third row center seats at the opera. Be still my heart.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver

Lonely Rivers will not soon be quitting her day job.
The one with health insurance!

Gall: irritate, annoy, vex,madden, provoke
Bladder: bodily sac for liquid or gas
Gallbladder: musclar organ that serves as a reservoir for bile

So one day LR took a day off from her real job to help out at the consignment store so that Fierce Owner could have her gall bladder removed.
Fierce Owner is a strong and powerful woman. A stalwart and passionate woman. Sometimes even a tough woman. She loves her store. She never misses a day of work.
FO went to the hospital early that morning for a day surgery. We all thought she'd probably try to stop at the store on her way home from the hospital that night.

Shortly after noon, however, we got a call from fierce owner's partner who said FO wasn't doing well. FO was in horrific pain. By closing time it hadn't gotten better. She was unable to leave the hospital as planned.

Let it be said that LR was unsettled. Yours truly has only experienced the pain of childbirth...(the kind you forget as soon as you see the baby!)...never the pain of having your gall bladder sucked out!

FO was told that the pain was intense because they put a lot of gas in your system to enlarge everything before the liposucking begins...and then you have to endure the gas and enlargement for several hours after the suckery.
The rest of the story:
FO did not come to the store that day or the next. In fact she was in the hospital near death for several weeks due a badly botched surgery. Now many months later she is returning to the hospital to repair hernias in the incision.

Ok, so I think if it's not too late God, I will begin to take better care of my gall bladder. Lonely Rivers reconsiders healthy eating.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunshine Almost Always Makes Me High

When we were kids mom told us to listen to the elves dancing on the roof whenever it rained. To this day I love the sound of rain. I like everything about rain. I like watching and listening to the rain. I like being inside when it rains and I love walking to work in the rain. So it is good that I live in Seattle where one gets wet many days of the year. Truth be told however, walking in the rain with hood up and head down is not very neighborly. We walk fast to our destinations, rarely connecting with others who are doing the same thing.

But give us a sunny day or the promise of a sunny hour and the streets fill with friendly happy Seattlites strolling cheerfully and greeting friends and strangers. One of the greatest benefits of living in this rainy place is the absolute joy that fills the city when the sun does actually shine. Rainlovers have a deep deep appreciation for the sun...and today was APPRECIATION DAY!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Store Bought Food for the Mean-eyed Cat

Big city grocery shopping is all wrong.
Walkerchick knows it's just wrong to drive to any store.
Multiply the wrongness by ten since the nearest market doesn't carry buttermilk or caraway seeds.
And while she's at the drive-to grocery store looking for caraway seeds, she loses her personal parking place down the block. The one that her neighbor covets and her loyal car usually protects while she WALKS everywhere.
Behind the wheel,she stalks her city neighborhood searching out a new spot that meets her criteria: 8.5 or better on the mature woman's parallel parkability scale.
Round and round she goes.(Repeat chorus!)
Her previously petite carbon footprint now scares Sasquatch.
It's just wrong.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Deep in my heart..........I do believe

Dear Ralph,

I wanted to answer your question about whether I felt even a little uneasy years ago when we paid a lady only ten dollars a day to come to our house to make biscuits, iron our clothes, clean our home and care for our child while we went off to work determined to raise issues of civil rights and save the world from Mississippi Racism. And I have pondered that question for months and months wondering if I had a better, deeper more PC answer than the simple uncomfortable truth. The answer is, the irony is,I can't remember feeling uneasy. Mostly I remember how grateful she was that we paid her cash and how good the biscuits were. Mostly I remember that we could barely afford the $50.00 a week that made it possible for both of us to have jobs. Looking back I do know that we treated her with great respect, trusted her with our treasured child and showered her with gratitude. I wish I could tell you that I was more awake and aware! Mostly I was a young white yankee liberal trying figure out how to live in the south without getting killed by rednecks or snakes. I don't know where she is today. I don't even know her name. I do know that I am glad you asked the question.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Seeing Angels In the Architecture - Lunch Conversations with mom and her friends

"I have a toothache and that's a bad thing and a good thing."
"What's good about a toothache?"
"What's good about a toothache? The good thing is it means I don't have to go to the physical terrorist for my backache!"

"Sarah you're all dressed up!"
"Going to my son's for Christmas Dinner"
"Well you look like Doris Day!"
"Aren't you the most DAH-LING CHALD"
"Did I tell you that the chef here used to cook at the white house?"
"No! Which president?
"Well I think it was sometime after Truman.
"Did I tell you that the chef here used to cook at the white house?"

"So you're here from Seattle? Isn't that nice for your mom!"
"Yes! Have you been to Seattle?"
"Oh yes - I visited there in '40 just before all Hell broke loose."
"I am so happy to be here near my kids and grandkids. And a special surprise has been the food. Did I tell you that the chef here used to cook at the white house?"
"Being ninety and stuck in a wheelchair is tough - but having wonderful friends and wonderful food sure does make life easier!"