Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter Time

It looks like we might have rain on our egg hunt tomorrow after dinner. Not nice. But it's sunny and mild today, and we have done our Easter preparations and will soon be off to the stadium for a Sounders soccer match. 

Now for a little down time until then. 

Wishing you all a Happy Easter, however you celebrate it, and for whatever reason. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

49 Years Together

Today is our 49th wedding anniversary.
Yep, we were young once.

Back then, in March 1969, Tom and I were teaching across the hall from each other at Mount View Elementary School.  It was my third year there, and Tom's second. He had transferred there after three years in another district elementary. 

I had my eyes on another guy that first year that Tom arrived on the scene, but that other guy thing didn't work out, thankfully. My life would have been a whole lot different with him, and not nearly as great as it has been with Tom. 

We started dating that summer after we met, just very casual stuff, and when we returned to school in the fall, we worked at not letting anyone know we were seeing each other outside of school. One little girl in my fourth grade class did see us together though, and we swore her to secrecy. 

I would say that Tom fell in love with me before I did with him, but it was about a month after he told me he loved me that I finished my careful thought process and decided I loved him too. I know that sounds unromantic, but that is how it was. I was raised to be a very practical girl, and as an introvert, I needed to be sure of myself. 

Tom was so funny. It was in November that I told him I loved him too and he immediately said, "Let's get married!" And we pretty much did. 

We shopped for rings together. He gave me my ring the night before we left for Christmas break, and we announced our engagement that last day. It was a wild and crazy day, with staff and our students, his fifth graders and my fourth graders, all abuzz. 

Christmas was divided between my family in Oregon, who had not met Tom, and his family in Puyallup. Then after Christmas it snowed, lots! We decided to get married at spring break, and we began to plan our wedding, with some extra vacation days since schools were closed for snow days.

And so it was that on Saturday, March 29th, 1969, we were married in Tom's family church in Puyallup, with our families, friends, and many of our students in attendance. We finished out the school year, and then, since married couples were not allowed to work in the same school, I transferred to another building that fall. 

Since this is the 49th anniversary, we have nothing special planned, except we will go out to dinner, after a day of our usual walking and exercising and working in the yard. 

Next year is the big one. I have no idea what we'll do. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

We Marched

Tom and I are retired teachers, the parents of a teacher, and the grandparents of young teens. We are citizens of this nation who have plenty of reason to care what happens in our schools, but not only in our schools. Gun violence is widespread in our country, essentially because guns are widespread, and we do a poor job of controlling who has those guns. 

Today we joined the young people who organized the March For Our Lives movement across the nation, and even around the world, to call for common sense gun control. 

It is easy to find the deflections to the issue of guns: it's a mental illness issue, we need to stop bullying and spread love, it's the result of bad parenting. How about: cars kill more people than guns so ban cars; why don't you march for all the aborted babies you kill; guns don't kill people, people do. I saw a great response to that last one - then why to we let people who would kill have guns? 

Mental health is an issue, and we need more health care resources to address it, we can spread love while controlling guns, and we don't need guns laying around in homes with bad parenting. We license cars and take away drivers licenses for serious infractions. While abortion has no place in this discussion, it is a choice, just as owning a gun is a choice, and both require common sense regulations. Deflect all you want, this is a GUN issue!

And so we marched! We don't have a crowd size estimate yet for the Seattle march, but it was tens of thousands, and filled the 2 mile march route with a sea of signs. Young and old and in the middle, we all carried the message for common sense gun control, with the promise to vote our message in the upcoming elections. 

My sign generated smiles, Tom's sighs. A woman came up to me and asked if she could borrow my sign and have her picture taken with her phone, because she was a new grandmother and was thrilled to be there and wanted to send the photo to family. At the end of the march a man passing by pointed to my sign and said to his friend, "That's the best sign I've seen all day". I got many smiles and thumbs up and photos snapped of me. It made me happy.

There were lots of grandmothers in the crowd today, and families with young children, people of all ages and sizes and colors. And, of course, there were the students, those wonderful young people who put this all together and made it happen. 

We gathered at Cal Anderson Park as the sky was clearing after a cold, wet, and snowy early morning. 

What are the chances that we would encounter someone we knew in a crowd of tens of thousands? And yet, as we gathered at the park, there she was, Carole, the school counselor I worked with for many years, and have not seen in over  year! She and her husband are activists too. I loved it!

And then we were on our way, Marching for Our (Their) Lives. 

 There was a contingent of doctors from Swedish Hospital. They deal with the results of gun violence. 

 Yes, "Change is coming!"

I told this mom I loved her sign, and that I was growling. She said she was too. 

 Between the rally at the beginning of the march and the one at the end, students poured out their hearts and the governor and other officials spoke. We were just happy to have been part of the support group. 

 We took a bus back to Westlake Center, had some lunch at a Subway shop, and then coffee in the park, while a high school band visiting from Sacramento played for us. 

We were tired when we got home, but happy, and more importantly, hopeful. 

As the government seems to be falling apart around us daily, young people are becoming activated to bring change. Many took the opportunity to register to vote today. We need to continue to encourage and support them, and to stay diligent and informed and involved ourselves. We cannot let them down. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

What We Learned From Good Old Betsy

I never really named our mini van, but when I did refer to it, it was in the feminine, as Betsy, and in later years, as Good Old Betsy. 
We bought Betsy as a used car in March 1999, nineteen years ago, from Thrifty Car Rentals. It was the district manager's wife's personal car and had just been delivered to the used car sales lot that day.  We were looking to replace our worn out mini van with a newer model, and this one had all of the bells and whistles. We bought it and then waited until it was detailed to drive it home. 

As I described in my last post, Betsy has served us in a variety of ways, including as a cargo truck. It has been a good car, but starting last fall we began having battery issues. Tom had the battery replaced, but it didn't seen to hold a charge. We don't drive Betsy that much anymore, not since I retired. I used to drive her to work every day. Lately, every time we would try to start it, the battery was dead. 

Tom bought a trickle charger to keep the battery going, but then noticed that charger was working most of the time. I went on line to do a bit of research and decided it must be the alternator. That would be a pricey fix, and there was a caution to have a thorough diagnostic work up before buying a new alternator. It could be something simpler. 

We found a well established auto electrical shop and took it in Monday. Turns out there was a phone charger left plugged into the charging port way back by the back seat, most likely left there when we transported the family to the cider bee in October. The thorough diagnostic tests gave the battery and the alternator and the electrical system a clean bill of health. But that charger was drawing a constant electrical current, which didn't allow the battery to "sleep" and drained it over and over. 

So what we learned from Betsy is to not leave phone chargers plugged into charging ports, at least not in older cars. 

And by the way, as soon as we got Betsy back from the repair shop, we began loading her up with yard debris. After three trips to the yard waste transfer station over two days, all of those piles are gone.

Good Old Betsy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pruning and Planting

We are proud of ourselves. All of those plants we purchased last Monday were in the ground by last Saturday!

We have lived in this house for almost 40 years. We did all of the lot clearing and earth moving and wall building and landscaping ourselves in the first few years after we moved in. Many things have changed over the years, in the house and in the garden. One area that had not changed was the shrubbery along the front walk. 

This photo, taken last October, shows a large mugo pine that is trying to take over the sidewalk. Behind that is a Viburnum davidii that has been hacked back various times and again wants to engulf the new hand rail. Along the front, under the Viburnum burkwoodii that has turned golden,  is a sick azalea and another viburnum that was very scraggly after the winter. 
We took most of it out and cut back the big Viburnum davidii, which regrows back for the base quite well. 

 We'll trim back the scraggly branches on the viburnum when grows new shoots from the base. There are some other viburnums that are also cut back. 
We saved a few layered starts from the old azalea and planted them back farther to see if they will survive. The new plants are in. After the Viburnum burkwoodii finishes blooming, we'll prune off a few of the branches that are reaching forward to give the new plants more light. 
It's looking a bit bare now, but tidy, and we have our sidewalk back. 
 And the pile of prunings and removed shrubs and clipped fern fronds is growing. There's another pile out under a cedar tree. The yard waste bins go out full every two weeks. 
We're thinking it's time to load up the van and make several trips to the yard waste site at the local dump. Cedar Grove Compost Co. will make good use of it. 
Since writing this post on Sunday we have begun the hauling away process. Our 1998 Plymouth mini van  serves as family and field trip transport, furniture and lumber mover, and with the seats removed and the back lined with a  tarp, a landscaper's truck. 

More loads will go out today. Gotta' make hay while the sun shines. :-)