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Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Saturday Market

Yesterday my daughter and I headed out of the 80 degree weather in the Greater Tacoma area for the coast. By the time we’d had dinner with an aunt & uncle in Shelton and stopped to get groceries in Raymond it was nearly full dark when we arrived. Fog had rolled in off the beach as it so frequently does when it is hot in either Seattle or Portland and we shivered in an ocean breeze as we hurried to the house.

This morning it was still foggy, but it had lifted some. The grass was too damp to mow right away so I puttered around the house until it was time for the Saturday Market on the Ilwaco Port Dock. As if by magic the market opened at the same time the fog burned away to reveal a beautiful day at the beach. I grabbed my shopping bag and wallet and strolled the two blocks from our house to the waterfront. Now I’d made sure to get some cash from the grocery store so I’d have it when I went to the Saturday Market, but I didn’t get but $20. There was a method to my madness. I didn’t want to have too much with me and I purposely left the plastic at home.

I made my way down the entire length of the waterfront, peering at each stall to see what they had. There was salmon chowder which sounded good, but not tempting at 10 AM and right after breakfast. Neither were the hot dogs or the fry bread tacos. I love fry bread, but tacos at ten didn’t strike a note. It was a good thing that I hadn’t brought more money. One stall was nothing but bags and there was a black one with lilacs on it that did tempt me, but since it was $20 which would have not left me with enough for that which I’d come for I sighed and moved on.

There were handmade toys, jewelry and rag rugs. The rag rugs made me sigh, too. They are dangerous because they can slip all over the place so even though they had pretty ones in colors I like I wasn’t tempted there either. It made me think of the one rag rug I have. It was given to me by my grandmother when I was in my 20s and was made by my great-grandmother. I haven’t had it on the floor in years because I don’t want it to fall apart any more than I can help and some of the stitching is coming loose. I seldom consign an article of clothing to the rag bag without thinking of my grandmother and her mother who made quilts and rugs out of the scraps of their sewing, worn out clothing, and flour sacking. Those women knew how to use it up, wear it out, and make do. Wistfully I moved on.

There were stalls with handcrafted soap which I love, but I have an enamel bowl full of soap in the bathroom now and really couldn’t justify buying more even if I have been washing the skin off my hand since this whole swine flu thing started. The fragrances coming from those stalls were alluring, but I plugged my nose and went on.

My purpose for perusing farmer’s markets is for the produce and I wanted fresh vegetables for dinner with my mother. With my money still intact I arrived at the Asis Farm stall. This family comes from Wapato to sell its produce and you take what’s in season. None of this 1,000 petrol miles produce. I bought a pound of sugar snap peas, a bunch of baby asparagus, and a fat beet to put in the crock pot with a chicken and headed home. There was just enough time to get the crockpot going so there’d be a dinner waiting for me when I got done working in the yard.

The Sixth Ave. Farmer’s Market begins Tuesday afternoon and I plan to be there with my granddaughter. I also love the Proctor’s Market, the Tacoma Thursday Market and the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market. Farmer’s markets are the reason I love this time of year. For a listing of farmer’s Markets in Pierce County click here.

Mowing Musings

It’s mowing time of year again. This is not my favorite activity, but it does allow for plenty of time to ruminate which IS my favorite activity. Whether I inherited this Walter Middy interior life from my father or it’s the result of being an only child, I can’t say. The mowing of the yard at our house at the sea falls mostly to me. This time of year I make the 150 miles drive every two weeks to mow and also to shop for my mother.

This time I thought I’d mix it up a bit and start with the section I usually leave until last. I don’t think it matters what pattern you mow in. Even as the amount you have left to mow shrinks it appears bigger and bigger. I have an electric lawn mower so it isn’t heavy to push, but its small wheelbase means more trips across the yard. I try to think of it as not only being good for the environment, but good for my blood pressure. Getting rid of the grass entirely would be even better for the environment, but someone likes play with the grandchildren on the lawn.
One thing I’ve discovered about mowing the lawn is that it’s like a virus you give to your neighbors. It used to be that when I started mowing the neighbor would get out his lawn mower and mow, too. It never failed. He’s not in good health and now he sends his son-in-law out every time I mow. The man across the street frequently gets out about ½ through my job.

One strip of grass gets mowed twice because there’s a disagreement as to whose strip it is. When we bought the place there was a stake out at what we assumed was the property line between our yard and that of the elderly lady who lived next door. The stake stayed there for about 10 years until Viola died and her nephews, who take better care of the lawn now that she’s dead than they ever did when she was alive, pulled it out. Just one of the strange things they’ve done. So there is this strip that we mow and they mow, too. One of these days we should get the property lines surveyed. It’s not like we want to put up a fence between us or anything since the nephews are seldom there, but someday the grandchildren we intend to leave the place to might like to know what they are supposed to mow. Actually, I’ll be happy when they are big enough to mow for me! They will stop wanting to come with me.
I have to admit that the yard looks nice when it's done. Well, my mowing for this trip is done and it’s time to hit the shower. Thank goodness I put a chicken along with beets from the farmer’s market in the crockpot. Dinner’s half made. I wonder how far I walk when I go back and forth, back and forth on our lawn. Maybe I should get a pedometer and find out. Maybe I don’t want to know.

I'm Dancing!

Lyme-Awareness Month Goes Out With A Bang!

I am so very pleased to announce to my neighbours that yesterday, May 29th., the Connecticut Senate passed HB 6200, the Lyme disease doctor protection bill...36-0...following its unanimous passage in the Conn. House of Representatives on April 30th. Can you see me dancing?

From the Lyme Disease Association:

HB6200 contains language that will protect Connecticut licensed Lyme-literate, treating physicians from prosecution by the State of Connecticut Medical Examining Board, solely on the basis of a clinical diagnosis and/or for treatment of chronic Lyme. The bill provides the definition for Lyme disease which includes "the presence in a patient of signs and symptoms compatible with acute infection with Borrelia burgdorferi; or with late stage or persistent or chronic infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, or with complications related to such an infection." It also defines clinical diagnosis as determined by a physician, "...that is based on knowledge obtained through the medical history and physical examination alone, or in conjunction with the testing that provides supportive data for such clinical diagnosis." In addition, it provides for updating the Lyme disease definition if other strains are found to cause Lyme disease.

The final bill was the result of months of negotiations between Legislative Leaders, the Conn. Dept. of Public Health and patient groups. According to Maggie Shaw,k Newtown Lyme Disease Task Force, who has been spearheading the Connecticut effort, "Patients in Connecticut and their families will experience some relief as a result of the passage of this bill and Governor Rell's hoped-for decision to sign it into law. Instead of having to drive for hours to other states, Conn. residents may actually be able to receive treatment in tht State for their debilitating symptoms, since the bill opens the door to a more friendly treatment climate for physicians."

Pat Smith, president of the national Lyme Disease Association, who has been working with legislators in Hartford to secure passage, underscored the importance of the bill to patients everywhere: "This bill hits at the heart of the Lyme problem, recognizing chronic Lyme infection, long-term treatment of Lyme disease, and recognizing and defining clinical judgment by physicians. Legislators are to be commended for being knowledgeable about the problem, focusing on finding a solution acceptable to disparate groups, and taking action to make this bill a reality, a win-win for patients, doctors, and the State itself."


Yes, Connecticut is where Lyme first became a big problem....named for the Connecticut town rife with the infection. The known numbers of cases are in the thousands there, crippling the state financially as residents have been struck hard by this disease. Slowly we are reaching legislators about the schism within the Medical System and the patient's right to informed consent.

Here on the west coast, California has passed legislation protecting Lyme-treating physicians because they realized the state was endemic. North of California, the taking of statistics stops, the understanding of Lyme stops...despite the knowledge that ticks thrive even more in this cooler, wetter clime of Oregon and Washington. We risk losing physicians to witch-hunts who are saving lives and returning some quality of life to suffering patients. I can't say it enough times....


I thank you all so much for walking with me this month. We push for May because it is the most dangerous month for Lyme disease. The ticks are tiny, waiting to hitch a ride, waiting for a host so they may feed. What you DON'T know, may kill you. I'm not throwing that in for dramatic effect, my friends. Three days ago we received a parcel from our incredibly courageous Lymefighter friend, Tracie Schissel, who advocates on behalf of the Lyme community despite being compromised so much by the disease and co-infections. In the parcel were two tiny brass and mother-of-pearl urns. They contain the ashes of our beloved Leslie Wermers, Tracie's sister who was taken by Lyme disease last November. We loved her so much...and this was our first physical meeting.

We have a chance to be pro-active in Washington. We have a chance to get ahead of the numbers and save lives. Olympia...I'm comin' for ya!

Congratulations... Bellarmine's African American Graduating Seniors

I applaud you and invite everyone who reads this article to congratulate you, African American students, for choosing to take another step towards building the Beloved Community our dear brother, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, wanted so very much for his country. He wanted the United States to be a country where every human being was recognized and valued because they were daughters and sons of God. As daughters and sons of God our differences were to be consciously and heartily acknowledged... gifts of God working in the world; and our similarities were to also be consciously and heartily acknowledged. Each one of us needs to be accepted and supported as we are; each one of us needs to give and receive unconditional love. The African American Seniors, with the support of their parents, family members, social and spiritual groups, teachers and staff, become thoughtful, confident, and academically competent human beings, who, if they choose, can "make of our old world a new world."
This picture captures just a few of the faces at the African American Graduation Banquet.

Dear African American sisters, I congratulate you for choosing, mothers, other family members, friends, and mentors, to support our young women in continuing to be strong, loving, prudent, and courageous.

Here is a picture of a mother and a daughter who spoke at the graduation banquet.

I found the young woman in the film truly inspirational.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's Working: Thanks to Two Josephs!

My mom recently had knee replacement surgery at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma. Would you believe that my Mom, DURING her hospitalization, dined with fellow patients, got a massage, had fine dining, received a trophy and T-shirt, and played Putt-Putt golf?

Well, believe it.

Mom was admitted into the unique St. Joseph’s program of “Joint Camp.” Located in the circular tower on the 8th floor, all the joint replacement patients were put in the same section. In the center of the circular configuration of hospital rooms and nurse’s stations was physical therapy. Patients had their therapists and coaches right outside their rooms. Mom’s room (the Mt. Adams room which boasted a cool view of Mt. Rainier and the Tacoma Dome) was central on the floor.

Besides the convenience of having services right then and there and less than a stone’s throw away, Joint “Campers” had special events to make their recovery more personable and give them a welcome change of pace and scenery. They got a special buffet lunch and dined with other “Campers.” They had the option of getting a massage (Mom said that was heaven), and had a “special dinner” with a guest. On the 2nd night of their stay, Campers get to invite a special guest to come dine with them. I was the lucky one that got to go! We were served a very nice dinner with salad, roll, entrée, and cheesecake for dessert with cloth napkins and nice silverware. We even got a glass of wine! Of course, the patients opted for sparkling cider (I enjoyed a glass of Merlot). On the last day of Mom’s stay, she played Putt-Putt golf (a fun way for the P/T folks to introduce proper standing/positioning/etc). Mom won the trophy for golfing. And she got a Joint Camp T-shirt that read, “No Pain, No Cane!” The Campers are even offered a celebratory reunion for later down the road when they are healing. Awesome!

And what was even more awesome is my friend and “In Your Neighborhood” fellow blogger. Joseph McGowan (Father Oneal) one of the St. Joseph’s chaplains, came to visit my mom during her stay (thanks again my friend). Mom found Joseph funny, sweet, interesting, and delightful (don’t we all?) and she really enjoyed his visit. Joseph also asked Mom if she’d like a harpist to come play some soothing music for her! Mom even had the option of having someone come into to wash her hair and help her “spruce” up a bit. Wow!

And what else was a wow was the kindness that every staff member showed to my family and I. Whether we were talking to the nurses taking care of my mom, checking out the gift shop, waiting in the surgery waiting room, or eating some yummy food in the deli while Mom slept, we were greeted with kindness and extraordinary customer service and care from paid and volunteer employees alike. Everyone was so gosh darn NICE and welcoming. Mom said it made a huge difference in her recovery. For me, it made me feel great and proud to have such a wonderful and fine institution in our city.

Thanks, St. Joseph’s for your dedicated care to the patients and their families. You are making a difference.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It Wasn't On Porpoise!

THAT creature is what we saw on our boat in the bay yesterday right smack dab in the middle of the bay between Vashon Island and Dash Point. This is called a Dall's Porpoise. Their markings are eerily similar to the Orca and they are good size. I screamed "whales" while sitting on the bow with my daughter. Upon closer inspection, these friendly guys weren't what I thought but really cool to see close-up nonetheless.

This Gritizen is Easy Rollin'

Why is this Gritizen so happy? Check it out HERE.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009: Forget-Me-Not

Memorial Day Ruminations

Every year, just before Memorial Day my cousin washes all the graves in our family in Vancouver and places fresh flowers from his wife’s garden. Cemeteries keep the grass mowed, but that is about it so untended to moss will eat into the granite and marble. My mother, who lives too far away to do it and is far too feeble anyway, is very appreciative to know that the graves of her parents and older brother are tended as well as those of her aunts, great-nephew and brother-in-law .

My uncle used to take flowers to all the family graves in Dade County Missouri—seventy of them the last year he did it. I liked knowing he was doing it and the fact he was here. Maybe one year I can be back there for Memorial Weekend and at least tend my grandparents, great-grandparents and my father’s graves.

But everyone I have loved and lost lingers here still. Whenever I look into the freckled face of my five-year-old granddaughter and see my father or recognize my grandmother’s countenance on the baby. My grandchildren are a kind of everyday Memorial Day to my family so although I can’t visit the final resting places of those I love this year, I can see them in my children and grandchildren. May you feel the nearness of those you love today and every day.

Memorial Day Walk

I headed out early this morning to get in some much needed exercise. A walk around my neighborhood I was sure would make my day. People were going to various places... I do not know where this gentleman was going... quietly. steadily walking

Some folks, hopefully, were going to make a quick stop at this flower and fresh fruit stand--

This sign stopped me for a moment. Family and friends... a very sad loss--

A Day To Remember Our Loved Ones and Watch Out For One Another


A friend was ruminating about the toll of war and all those whose lives we pause and pay tribute to on Memorial Day. He asked, "Do you think there will ever be a time when there are no veterans, because there have not been any wars to have any surviving soldiers?"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day is special to me because I was raised before it got turned into a retailer’s holiday. We got it off, whatever the day of the week, and it was about honoring those who served our nation and gave their lives for our country. It wasn’t about buying mattresses. Moving it to make a long weekend was a mistake.

I was happy this week when my son, a teacher at Clover Park High School in Lakewood, called us from school and told us to be sure to watch King5 news that night. The station was at the school covering the second year of the students making a memorial on the front lawn to those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. A white stick with the name of each fallen soldier was carefully placed to replicate Arlington Cemetery. Members of the public have stopped by and left remembrances. At least I know that those students have some understanding of Memorial Day and a visual representation of what our current wars have cost.

Thank you students of Clover Park High School, for acknowledging the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stimulating the Economy

Last night my daughter-in-law and I were talking about how ironic it is that over-spending by individuals and the nation had gotten us into the economic crisis we are experiencing and yet spending money is supposed to get us out. Are you spending or saving? If you like, you can read my rumination on the current situation on spending here.

A Cautionary Tick Tale...and what to do....

Yesterday morning (so glorious!) Rani the pup and I set out for our walk of the territory. The air smelled sweet with blooms and all was right with the world as we headed up and along the ridge. This route saves me from some of the more serious hills and my right knee was giving me a little trouble. Just before 4th. St., a little piece of cartilage or something floated into just the wrong place and I needed to sit for a minute. Right where I stopped was a giant maple at the roadside, with a very convenient little ledge of sorts, close to the bottom of the trunk. I swept some bark and leaf bits with my hand and sat down to rest. Just a few seconds later I looked down to see a wee tick nymph, the size of a poppy seed, crawling across the back of my hand.

I flicked it off and immediately stood and brushed myself from the head down, especially the seat of my pants. Next was a quick check of the forearms and legs, under pants and shirt, before tucking everything back in and continuing on with our walk. My knee slowed us up a bit but we had our full walk and Rani was ready (after her tick check) for her nap.

The next step in self-care was to take all of the clothes I had been wearing and put them in the dryer for an hour. The heat of the dryer kills washing does not. After the dryer, they went in the next wash load. That underway, I showered, then asked my daughter to help me do a thorough tick-search. All was well. There was no reason to panic because I knew the steps. Now, so do you.

To take this one step further...had we found an embedded tick, I would carefully remove it and save it. We know that the tests for ticks are much better than the tests for humans. Then, you better believe, I'd be heading to my doctor's office and demanding a six-week course (no less, no less, no less!) of antibiotics as prophylactic treatment. That's all and you're safe...good to go.

If we'd known this, nearly eleven years ago, my daughter would be out in the world working, instead of being chronically ill and on disability. With our advocacy work we've met hundreds of Washingtonians with chronic Lyme now, many of them struggling and forced to turn to the State for help to get by. With just a little bit of education, we could save a LOT of people, not to mention MEGA MONEY, in Washington.

There's just one more step to take...and I ask my neighbours to take it with me. Please call our State Reps and ask them to sign-on to Federal Bill HR1179 for Lyme education and research, which is now in the House. Knowledge is power. Don't hide from the beautiful nature we are blessed with here just please, go into it with educated respect.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Makes Me Tick

I hope you do not mind meandering alone with me through some happy moments in my life that might be the occasion for your considering what gets you ticking...
One moment for me is getting up on a bright spring day and just being silenced by the beauty of the flowers and trees around me.

Another moment--- going to Mass, seeing three beautiful young men, receiving their First Communion (oh, what might I see if I had that wonderful gift so many people across our world have... to see the light and beauty of the Spirits around us and to see these wonderful, hopeful human beings now embracing and being embraced by the God who chose to give His all to be with us) and then singing to us.

Another: Passing a wonderful afternoon with Mark, a wonderful preacher, a very deep and open human being, who will soon be going to seminary to continue preparing to be ordained a Catholic priest... we talked about the hard times and the good times and the deep, deep challenges of life... the Black child from segregated Houston who I was never, never would have expected such a conversation would/should/could have happened!

Tears of joy came to my eyes and watched this wonderful little boy (Hi,JJ!) letting go and dancing joyfully with the Saint Therese Gospel Choir<

Monday, May 18, 2009

In Memoriam

For most young folks Memorial Day is a day off from school. For retailers it is an excuse to entice the public in for a sale. For some of us it is a day to remember those who have served our country.

Neal Gordon Beard, 61, died suddenly on April 14, 2009 in Vancouver, Washington. His passing is a great loss to friends and family. His younger sister has been my best friend since we were six. I helped her empty his apartment and put his things in storage for his out-of-state children because I love her and honor him.

Neal was born December 31, 1947 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the son of Harley E. Beard, a WWII pilot of a Liberator over Germany, and Bernice S. Menze. He moved to Bellevue with his family in 1957 where I first met him as the older brother of my best friend. Neal graduated from Sammamish High School in 1966 and attended Bellevue Community College before his competitiveness with his Air Force pilot brother and the family’s love of flying drew him to enlist in the United States Army July 24, 1967.

Neal earned his rotary pilot’s wings and was commissioned a Warrant Officer on April 26, 1968. During his Army service, Neal had two combat tours as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. It took a certain kind of man to perform the most dangerous job there was in that war. He served with the 176th Aviation Company with the Americal Division, F Troop (Air) of the 4th Cavalry, HHC 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) and the 120th Assault Helicopter Company. His fearlessness caused him to be decorated for heroism with the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star. He was also awarded the Bronze Star and 16 Air Medals. Following his separation from active service, Neal flew helicopters in the Army Reserve with the 92nd Aviation Company.

Neal was a member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Harley Owners Group. He was preceded in death by his parents and two grandchildren. He leaves to mourn one sister, Nikki Martin of Mt. Angel, OR; two brothers, Gary of Bellevue and Scott of Indian Trail, NC; a son, Neal E. Beard; a daughter, Sarah Beard; a grandson, Jesse Beard; three nephews and two nieces. A graveside memorial was held with a veteran’s color guard on Friday, May 8, 2009, at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent which he had worked to establish while a single Huey made a tribute fly-over.

Who knows how many Americans Neal and other chopper pilots saved during a war whose brutal memory still haunts everyone who was alive then? Regardless of what you thought of that war, let us remember the brave Americans who went to that war. Some came home and those who did left behind pieces of their souls in the jungles of Vietnam.As Memorial Day approaches, take some time out from the fried chicken and potato salad to talk to a veteran or read about some of the history they lived.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Travelling We Did Go

Off to Seattle on Sunday with one of my really close friends and on the way our conversation covered old memories, present concerns, and future hopes.
And at seven fifteen on a bright spring morning I was surprised to see an adventurous traveler on his way to some place that I could not even begin to fathom.

Why? Because I do not have the courage to even think about heading merrily down the freeway on a motorcycle. Really I would prefer to be in a tank on some busy hustling let's get going days. I know I can't get my head into the courage and the happiness and the skill of a person who hits the freeway on a bike... and, second reason... I rarely can get my thinking around why I do what I do... so mind reading is not one of my gifts.So I salute this gentleman who was gracefully moving on down the road and probably not even thinking that the weird guy in the car he had passed a minute or so before would put any energy into wondering who he was, why the motorcycle, and where he was going. I salute him!

When my friend and I got to St. Therese the Ladies of Peter Claver (a group of Catholic women who are, predominantly, African American whose objectives are to support each other, to promote their own spiritual growth and the growth of others, and to join other groups in meeting the needs of the African American community is companionship, spiritual growth, and service in the Black Community) were sponsoring a bake sale to raise funds to support the educational and spiritual growth of black children. And one of the adventurous travelers with this group was this young handsome gentleman who, with a lot of hugs and kisses, managed to get through a morning and afternoon without doing serious damage to those adults and children who, following the Masses, came to the social hall to chat, drink some coffee, eat some goodies, and check out the bake sale... chocolate cake with walnuts, sweet potato pies, cookies, tarts... deeeelucious, that's for sure!
And this handsome young gentleman just kept his schoolmobile moving (gruuun, gruun, gruun) I know he was enjoying exploring. He did his best to get outside but the Ladies stopped him at the door, gave him a hug, and set him loose to maneuver through the foot traffic... I salute him too...
Do you think he would let me borrow his schoolmobile sometime?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Blessed Day---One Day In The Kingdom of God

Three senior citizen moments: (experiences I often relate to over fifties folks which are the occasions for us smiling, laughing, and enjoying each other's company)
1. "You know, I am having a really good day. I got up this morning, went and got my newspaper, went to the obit page, and didn't see my picture there. I sure was relieved!"
2. "A lot of folks our age are always moaning and groaning about the good old days. Well, I spent a lot of happy times and scary times growing up in the Southwest in the forties and fifties. If those were the good old days, I must have missed something!"
3. (this happens all the time when I meet some lucky person who is still able to take nourishment in her/his seventies, eighties, or nineties) "68, you're 68? Just a pup, huh?"
Oh, well, this "young pup" was very happy to get up this last Friday, feeling wide awake and full of zip (that's right, my life has improved very, very much, since I started choosing to seriously accept my sleep apnea, use my cpap machine diligently, and turn the lights off and hit the pillow by eleven pm) and to have the chance to head on out for St. Joe's Hospital and love some patients through some tough challenges.
Here's a picture of a bright, warm (can you believe it actually was not raining) Friday morning.

Loving folks is tough, isn't it? After a whole lot of talking and listening and being together, I think we are still just wonderful mysteries to one another--- we can name and tell stories focused on our hurts and our hopes.
But there's always another dream, another story, another blunder or blessing we can move through that gives more depth to the living miracle of creativity that each one of us is.
So much more to come to understand and accept and learn... what does loving require of me: Stopping, Looking, and Listening!

So much happened today: one patient accepting that tomorrow she'll be finally going home and learning how to move a little slower and sincerely through her day; another convinced that with loving friends and a loving God he would soon be able to get outside and take those long walks he so dearly loves; two parents proudly taking their newly born baby home... some folks really did not have the energy nor patience to permit me to come and sit with them; others thanked me for stopping by. I was so grateful to have been allowed to listen to, support, pray with, and sense God's loving presence with them. I had a lot to record at the end of the day... with old time jazz playing on my radio, pin in hand, and tally sheets that helped me to note how many patients I had spent time with, in what way I had met them, and what services I had performed for them in front of me, I ended my day quietly and with a lot of good memories of a very challenging and rewarding day.

"Young pup, huh!" Well, at the end of the day, I was so happy to have been able to get up, get going, and be teased and ignored and by a whole lot of folks. I was so blessed to be able to still move and smell and hope...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Got Crud?

I am the last one down in my family; and of course as Mom, I get smacked down the hardest with the MEGA COLD. I feel like I've been hit by a bus and have hacked up a lung or two before breakfast. Ugh! I washed my hands 'til the skin came off. No good. I followed all the swine flu precautions (no I don't have THAT flu, but have some other miserable, stupid illness). But in a family, once one goes, well, we topple like dominoes.

Folks are dropping like flies to colds and other viruses around here in the South Sound.

Are you one of them?

Keep the faith and get well, Gritizens!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gritty Mama Likes Crow

Many people I know don't like crows. I think I understand why. Crows can be aggressive and can kill other smaller birds. They are pretty gross--they eat just about anything. Of course they get a bad rap from Hitchcock, horror movies, and Halloween. And I think in some cultures, they are just bad karma.

But I like 'em. I think they are interesting. I especially enjoy the crows living in my yard lately.

Two crows built a large nest in my massive maple tree in the back yard. I watched them build their nest. Instead of picking up stray twigs, I watched them snap off little branches from the other maple tree. Then they would take the branch, hold it with their talons, and break it right in half. I am talking PERFECTLY in half. Then they'd gently glide over to the other maple and they'd expertly weave the sticks together with their beaks. Lucky me, as I got to see the process from my window. Too cool.

Even better, when the crows were out, I went outside and looked at the nest from the lawn. My crows had woven these pretty delicate purple flowers all around the nest! So not only are they smart, they are groovy, too.

Now that the nest construction is done and the maple leaves are all filled in, it's harder to see the nest. But my crows use my front yard as a feeding ground. They seem rather tame as well. They don't fly off when I get out of the car in the driveway. Today, my crow had a big bug in her mouth. I said to her, "Is that for your babies?" in a tone that was fit for talking to a human toddler or a small puppy. She just looked at me (gave a little nod--so it seemed) and flew back to the nest. Awesome!

Doesn't take much to amuse and delight me obviously.

To All Those Who Nurture

Whether you're a mother, you take in strays, or you just keep pouring the love from within...the earth's gratitude is shown. Some flowers, just for you.

Liveable Community Fair

Every year, this community event grows and makes me more proud of our neighbourhood. This year we were so thrilled to have a booth set up by our friends, the nursing students from PLU, for educating the community on ticks and the dangers of tick-borne infections. Anna and I came to join them and handed-out over 125 tick tools. I was very happy to hand some over to Chuck West and other firefighters, which they all assure me will be carried on the rigs for their own safety.

The kids kept everyone entertained with lively songs, some percussion and choreography.

This is Bob Delaney who works hard for Habitat For Humanity. Right now they're building two new houses on the Key Peninsula. If you'd like to volunteer for this worthy cause, please go to and click on "volunteer link," or call Bob at (253) 884-6469

The Parks Department had great representation. We made sure they received their tick tools and thanked them for all they do. They had great Penrose Park t-shirts, so I bought one to take home to my husband.

So many booths...Friends of the Library, Two Waters, Public Works, Conservation efforts, the Key Pen News. This really is becoming a full community effort, where all neighbours become passionate for their causes and bring information to the people. Edie Morgan had a great set-up to show folks how The Mustard Seed Project is going. This is a non-profit organization, invested in helping our elders stay in their community and receive the help they need right here.

I thought it fitting to end with Edie's table...and this beautiful note (click on the pic to enlarge and read) on how to build community. By the looks of 2009's Fair, we're doing alright. Thank you to everyone who put their hard work into the event.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fire hydrant just for dogs

New Tacoma Cemetery at Chambers Creek recently opened a pet cemetery adjacent to the main cemetery for humans. Right in the middle of the pet cemetery is a bright red fire hydrant. Whether it is functional or not, it is striking in its appearance seemingly out of place in the middle of a field. It is almost certainly there symbolically as a special place for dogs to lift their legs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Livable Community Fair features fuchsias, fire trucks, fabulous food and more

The 8th Annual Key Peninsula Livable Community Fair returns on Saturday, May 9, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Key Peninsula Civic Center, 17010 S. Vaughn Road KPN in Vaughn. This unique event showcases over 45 non‐profit and community resource booths, a fuchsia and plant sale, and a variety of kids’ activities, including crafts and “Touch‐a‐Truck,” where kids get to touch real trucks.

“The fair began in 2002 as an open house for nonprofits,” Tim Kezele, event chair, said. “Over the years, it has become one of the best attended, family‐friendly free events on the peninsula. Each year we try to add something new to keep the crowds coming back. We hope this year’s “Touch‐a‐Truck” will bring in more families with kids to explore the trucks and learn about community resources on the Peninsula.”

The event will also feature an update at 1:00 p.m. from legislative representatives Rep. Larry Seaquist, Rep. Jan Angel and Sen. Derek Kilmer. Councilman Terry Lee and District Fire Chief Chuck West will also be on hand at 11:00 a.m. to discuss bringing resources to the KP in a time of economic difficulty.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Chuck West said. “Somehow we need to get the services to our citizens in this community.” Councilman Terry Lee agreed. “It's the ideas that I expect to come from the public at the Key Peninsula Livable Community Fair that will give me my marching orders for the remainder of my term in office,” Lee said.

Live entertainment will include Rhythm‐n‐Shoes Cloggers, musician and artist Matthew Hulse and the Minter Creek Elementary Choir and Marimbas. The Lakebay Fuchsia Society will host a flower and garden show and sale, and a Master Gardener will be on hand to answer questions. Food and beverages will be available for sale.

The Key Peninsula History Museum will also be open for the occasion.

For more information, or to volunteer, call 253‐884‐3456, or email:

PR nightmare for Oprah and KFC

Oprah & KFC have a PR nightmare on their hands after her "free 2-piece grilled chicken dinner" coupon printing promo two days ago. (Mizu, you're lucky you went when you did!)

We waited in line more than 20 minutes at the drive-thru last evening only to be told upon arriving at the menu board that "Due to a national shortage of chicken, we are unable to honor the coupons at this time." KFC needs to put up some easily visible signage stating that prior to when customers are trapped in the queue with no way out. Bait and switch. After having been stuck that long in line, instead of a free meal, we felt trapped, unable to back out of line or move ahead so we ended up ordering other menu items. (see below for the irony of what was or wasn't available)

A "national shortage of chicken" in 24 hours?!? This was just the day after the show aired!

The coupons were to be redeemable until May 19th with the exception of Mother's Day; however, now they state that they will be unable to honor any of the remaining coupons during that timeframe. What kind of planning went into the promotion? A well-intentioned roll-out for the new grilled chicken at KFC swiftly disintegrated into a national embarassment. Heads will roll...not just chickens' heads either.

Instead, the restaurants are handing out a mail-in request for a raincheck coupon that can be redeemed "at a later date" (no specified date has apparently been determined) customers must complete the raincheck form, mail it to KFC, then wait for their new coupon to be mailed back to them. What a fiasco!

The greater irony was that even though they could not honor the coupon for the "free 2-piece grilled chicken," if you wanted to place an order for a 9-piece bucket of grilled chicken, they were able to provide that. So, if there was a "national shortage" of chicken and they could not honor the free 2-piece grilled chicken coupon, how was it then that they had no problem with filling a $15 order for a 9-piece bucket of grilled chicken?

Go figure...

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Never a dull moment in my little patch of sky!

This made me think the clouds blew a bubble.

"Why worry...there's always laughter after pain...there's always sunshine after rain...these things have always been the why worry now?" Mark Knopfler.

This I Believe

NPR just completed a four year run of This I Believe, a revival of the Edward R. Morrow series of the 1950s. I’ve enjoyed listening to the episodes of essays written by Americans about what is important in their life.

More than once over the past four years I thought about writing down what I believe. Since I enjoy writing it seemed like a natural fit, but I had trouble crystallizing the overall factor that is at the root of everything I believe. So the run of This I Believe came to an end with no submission from me. Then I received a forwarded email that both raised my hackles and brought my life into focus so this is what I believe. If you are interested check out my beliefs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Savoring A Free Meal Thanks To Oprah Winfrey And KFC!

Like millions of other Americans who've stopped to read the major headlines of the day, as a reader I have been aware of how Oprah Winfrey has single-handedly changed the face of the world as we know it.

On occasion I have been often moved or otherwise impressed by the range and scope of topics tackled and variety of guests and stories told by this remarkable woman who has invited her television views to accompany her on the truly fascinating and inspiring journey which is her life.

Left: Mmmmn! Thanks to a limited time offer announced on Oprah Winfrey's television show, I enjoyed the delicious grilled chicken meal (sans soft drink purchased separately) shown here! Photo by Mizu Sugimura.

But never in my wildest dreams had I thought I'd ever had occasion to thank Oprah for a free meal until this very day.

However my son Bryan and I just happened to be home this afternoon viewing television when the show came on. And when she announced the availability of a down loadable coupon on her website which would entitle the bearer to exchange it for a limited time offer of a free 2 piece grilled chicken dinner with 2 sides and a biscuit at a participating Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, he was happy to leave his seat in front of the tube, head in the direction of our family computer, log on to and print out the offer.

In so doing, my son was able to secure an opportunity for us to be part of something larger - an unexpected (from our side) nationwide television audience giveaway. A few hours later after running errands I stopped at our local KFC to redeem my coupon. After placing my order I waited briefly seated at a nearby booth. While passing time I would say a total of 3 out of every 4 persons I observed enter the premises through the doorway of this local outlet clutched an otherwise identical coupon in hand. Adding them up, it was easy to imagine similar scenes unfolding across the county.

In this manner, I along with possibly millions of my fellow Americans are no longer immune if any of us were before to the Oprah effect having now personally witnessed first-hand the power and influence her show and offer a free meal has on the public. Thanks to Oprah I know just how ho-hum memories of an otherwise ordinary day in a busy, stress filled week in the shadow of disease and continuing gloom of a down and drawn-out world economy can be quickly transformed into a wonderful moment and permanently engraved culinary repast.

It's also an example that we can all draw equal inspiration of the power to change.