Sunday, May 31, 2009

an old house

Today is Sunday and I wrote an email to an old old friend who lived in our neighborhood in Diablo California. She was considerably younger than i was. I met her when they brought home the baby girl they had adopted. We had a daughter about the same age as their adopted one and we and the two girls became good friends.

A year later we had a new daughter and they had adopted another girl and so as our families grew, our friendship grew. And then they became remarkably rich and they moved into San Francisco and our friendship was kept on hold for a while.

While they were still living in Diablo, our paths crossed in many ways. But the most fun tradition we had was that when the electricity went down, they would bundle up their two little ones and we would have supper in front of our fireplace and we would sit there talking until one baby would fall asleep and then another and suddenly we would have six children sleeping in the bedrooms. And we would continue talking and laughing until it was time to go home and go to bed. Our electricity failed one night after we moved to Laguna Beach and the first thing I could think of doing was to call our friends in Northern California and tell them to come.

This afternoon I wrote a long email to my friend and lo and behold, while I was still on the computer, it dinged and it was my friend. She had had her computer repaired by her grandson and saw my mail sent minutes earlier and she responded. She had been feted by old friends in Diablo on her 85th birthday and as they were sitting reminiscing, her older daughter came in, crying profusely, saying the Stocktons house is gone. It is torn down. When I read that, it struck me. How could that house be gone. Now it will live only in our memories and in our old photo albums. It will happen to all of us and to all our houses eventually and
bless our memories.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Peanut butter, sweet potatoes and water melon

In 1939 or 1940 a friend from School in Sweden came to America for a visit, and she wanted to see the Niagara Falls. I must have been between jobs for I went with her to see these fabulous works of Nature. I remember a remark she made as we said our Good Byes. She said 'I think you should return to Sweden before it is too late. The War has already begun in Europe and everyone thinks America is going to be in the war before long, and then it will be impossible for you to return.'

It gave me something to think about. I had no health insurance and what would happen if I got really sick? What if I never got to see my family again? There were many signs that we would enter the war on Englands side. FDR kept sending planes and money to Britain and if you read between the lines there were other signs of war in our future.

I stopped worrying about war once the thought occured to me, that if I returned to Sweden I would have to live without peanutbutter and sweet potatoes and watermelons. That was a fate worse than anything. They may have these delectable items now, but as far as I knew, in 1938 when I left, I had never tasted or even heard of them.

What brings this up at this time is the fact that I had French Fried Sweet Potatoes yesterday with lunch. The bus, with Keith driving, left at 11 am. We were on our way for lunch at Granny's Cafe. There I ordered a Hamburger with a side order of the above mentioned treats. I have only heard about this treat once before and it quickly became my most favorite food. I let my most nearby people have a taste and then I had to plan my action. I would eat my hamburger and in case I was too full, I would take all the sweet potatoes, wrapped in my napkin, for the post-lunch-trip around Lake Crecent.

We had a wonderful trip. There were a few moments when we were along side the lake, when the world gave us a perfect moment. The sun was shining brightly on the water that looked like glass. Not the tiniest ripple. The reflections from the other side were awesome. It did not last long, for when we stopped at the end of the lake, it looked as though the glass had broken, and there were ripples everywhere. I don't think I will forget that trip.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


There as a request that I tell more about Sam. His family returned from England at the time when he had two more years of High School to finish. He went to San Mateo High School. He was on the Track and Field team and covered himself with glory. When we went West the first year we were married he was happy when he found his record in a short Dash had not yet been broken. I really did not know what he was talking about, since there were so many phrases that could not easily be translated. We had followed the 1936 Olympics on the radio in Sweden, and I certainly knew about Track and Field from that. Sam's family had many silver cups on their side table in the dining room, that Sam's mother proudly pointed out to me, that Sam had won in England.

Sam's English accent had been a plus for him also, and he became the President of the Student-body. His coach made an appointment with the Track and Field Coach at Stanford and he expected to get a scholarship. And then he got mumps and he never ran again. And so he worked for a year in San Francisco for Shell Oil Company. He worked in the mailroom. When he heard about some promotional work that had to be done for the company, he volunteered. It meant roller skating into little towns in Oregon, dressed in a Penguin suit. He must have had to sing the glory of the Shell Company. I only remember him saying he had a lot of trouble with his glasses fogging over.

When I met Sam, his English accent was mostly gone, but what remained made him very interesting. He was handsome in his uniform, and he stood out among his fellow Candidates when I met him. Robb, the Polo player from Chicago may have been more handsome than Sam, but Sam had better looking hands than the whole group. I carried a photo of Sam's hands in my wallet the whole time he was gone. They were very expressive. They went with his sensitivity when he read HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY on our honeymoon. He actually had tears in his eyes as he was reading. He smoked Chesterfields which drew a lot of attention to his hands, his accent and his voice were seductive, and the book was spellbinding.

When Sam became a civilian and put on his gabardine suit ( which his younger brother had worn out ) he was even better looking than in his uniform. We had a long time waiting to become parents, but you could tell from his reaction to his cousin's children that he was going to be a fabulous father. And when he would come home from a long hot trip, and he would see his one or his two or his three and four children, he would say, OK who can be the first one in the bath tub. And I would have to wait for my treat till later.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day

This Day is a big day, much more than a day making our first summer, three day week-end off. I would like to tell you about Sam. He was an veteran. He was drafted in 1942 and went through the training that draftees got. He claimed that he was sent to Officer's Candidate School in Georgia because he had a commanding voice. I met him on his first day in Georgia. His train arrived from his former deployment early on a Saturday morning. He went to his new address where he met five or six of his future OCS class mates and his future room-mates. They were to sleep alphabetically. One of them had a car, and since they had been told they were free until Monday, and since one of them had tried to move his bed away from the wall, and since they saw a huge group of bed bugs, Milton Susser said: Let's get out of here. I have a cousin at Warm Springs and I think it's only a couple of hours from here. We will all chip in a gasoline stamp Stevens, if you will drive.

You have all heard about my being asked to show the group Warm Springs. And since they were called the sixty days wonders when they graduated, I guess our wedding on that same day was a wonder too. A wonder that was bound to fail for we did not know each other. And I did not know that Sam was a republican.

We had a year in Mineral Wells, Texas. And after having a short training time in Little Rock, Arkansas in how to behave while being bombarded with Poison Gas, he left for the European part of the War. He was lucky getting to stay some where in Enland for several months, but finally the ORDER came and he had to go toward Germany and he was a company commander. He said he was extremely lucky for the company had been in the war since the African part of it. And they had invaded Cicily and fought their way to a bridge from the Low Lands into Germany when Sam joined them. The soldiers, and especially Sam's Seargant were smarter than he was and Sam claimed he never would have survived if it had not been for Sgt Feckner (Iam not sure of his name but while I am writing this I am sending him many thankful thoughts) They were fighting in The Battle of the Bulge. There the Sgt saw Sam reeling and weaving and asked him:Sir are you OK. It turned out later that he thought Sam was drunk. The Co had earlier found the supply of the Vehrmacht's supply of liquor. But Sam collapsed a few minutes later and the Hospital in Liege Holland told him he had Scarlet Fever and since it affected his heart, he was in the hospital for over a month. He had slept in dugouts left by the German soldier who had slept there before Sam did. So I send him a thought of thanks too, for if he had not been in the hospital that month, he probably would not have made it home again.

And so I send thankful thoughts to all the people who are in danger. Sam was 100% against all wars and even though he never changed his political party (how I tried) he disliked Bush 1 for his involvement in the Panama fiasco and he was very happy when the army told our son that he was 4F. (allergy to bee stings)

Sam never joined any veterans groups and he hardly ever spoke of his days fighting. After the war was over his company had to guard the German big shots who were kept in the prison in Nuremberg. He would occasionally reflect on those experiences.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Last night I was working on a project ( you will hear much more about this later ) while watching the Seattle Mariners playing the Los Angeles Angels. It was a fabulous game, low scoring, but promising something could happen any time. The score was Angels 2, Mariners 0. Both pitchers were on their game. Not the kind of game one should be be watching with divided concentration. But mine was divided. During the later part of the game the tension rose.

During an advertisement I was so tense, I switch channels to see what was on the educational channel. It was Live from Lincoln Center "New York City Ballet's Romeo and Juliet" Peter Martins' interpretation of Prokofiev's ballet. It was the first act, and so gripping and so beautiful, I could not return to the base ball. When the first act finished, Leslie Stahl interviewed Peter Martin and though I was anxious to hear what he had to say, I returned to the game. It had just finished, and thank heavens the score had not changed, so I assumed I had lost nothing by watching the ballet. But I had gained much. I had been so stirred by the beauty of the dancers that sleep eluded me for hours. During which I could concentrate on my project.

Gilbert, if you are reading this, I hope you won't mind my using your washing machine and dryer to wash my kitchen rug. My washing machine does not hold much more than two twin bed sheets, and the machine I left you, in your house, could hold two rugs the size of mine. I had a date with Ann for breakfast at nine and while we were eating, my rug was getting clean. I went back after eating and put it in the dryer while I did the Cross Word Puzzle.

With the help of Tammy, I finally mastered the camera I bought before I went on the cruise. The problems were caused by faulty batteries. The wrong kind of batteries. And now I can send photos by my computer. I should have learned ages ago, but mechanical things scare me, I tried to learn about computers and cameras onboard the ship, but the classes were so above what I knew, it was wasted on me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lying aboout your age

There was a sidebar when I checked on my blog this morning. It asked 'Why do women lie about their age.' I tried to find the answer, but came up with nothing.

I have lied about my age at two two periods of my life. One period was when I was between twenty one and twenty three. When I first began working as a Physical Therapist people looked at me and said to themselves 'What does that dumb blonde know about anything. My back is hurting so badly today, I would rather have that older therapist work on it'. Her disappointment was so obvious when I called her name, I had to assure her of my expertise. I told her I was twenty-nine. And once she was lucky enough to have me treat her back ache, she never asked for anyone older. My looks was a detraction but I had strong hands and I knew what I as doing.

The next time I felt like lying was much later. I was 86 when good friends asked me to come along to Port Townsend to hear a lecture. We were meeting in a theatre. A few seats in the front row were screened off. We sat in the row behind the verboten ones. In came a lady, dressed to the teeth and with heels that clicked loudly enough to turn many heads. She marched directly to the front seats and sat down in one of the special ones. A young man came along and said quietly: Are you supposed to sit there? Without rising but with a loud voice she said: 'Young man, I want you to know, I'm nearly ninety, and I sit where I want.' I felt we should all have applauded. Such power! And I decided that I would use that expression. I had only four years to go, so it was nearly the truth when I copied her. I went on a cruise around the world that year and it helped me a few times. Especially when we had to get in line and wait endlessly.

I am now 89 and in six months I'll have reached that magic number. But since I moved into my current address 90 does not seem so magic. Friday afternoons some of us meet in a sewing, knitting group and one of the ladies who makes the most beautiful blankets with her crochet hook is 104. And ninety is not such a big deal.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This noon anyone who wants to can go to the John Wayne Marina in Sequim. It is a Complimentasry Picnic which I guess means that our kitchen is supplying all the food for us. I am anxious to go for I love pinics and I love the John Wayne Marina. There is a wonderful restaurant there and I know I will probably wish we were eating there instead.

The above made me think of all the picnics I remember from the time before my father was 'Lost at sea'. A little North of us, on the beach lived people we were not even rrelated to, but felt about them like aunts and uncles and cousins. He owned a plumbing supply company in the city, and they did not move out permanently until he retired. But summers and vacations they were there and the place was jumping. Their children were much older than we were. As a matter of fact, they did their romancing and later some of their weddings were held at their house. They always had music at their parties and my sister and I learned how to dance, because the young swains would invite us to dance.

Tant Elin was the most fun grown up person I have ever met. She could have been a clown. She was the dress designer at the Theatre in Helsingborg. When they moved out to the beach permanently, she was always looking for something fun to do, and most often she would include us in her merrymaking. We had a yearly custom of having children going around the village singing songs and sticking a branch of a birch tree with tender new green leaves in the window. It was sort of like Halloween here. We would either get eggs or money. It was a fun time for we were professing that Spring was coming. My mother had never let us 'sing May'. She thought it was just begging. Tant Elin said Pooh. let them go. I will dress them all up in some of my finery.

Her finery was unbelievable. I was a princess in fabulous clothes and a tiara that to my eyes looked exactly like DIAMONDS. My brother was a sailor of some sort. We had a friend who played the accordion and all of us looked like a millon dollar. There were five or six of us. We began each holding a little basket but soon found we had to go home to get a bushel basket for we got so many eggs. And a lot of money too. It's an old old custom, to wish everyone happiness in the new season.

Each one of us would sell the eggs to our mothers or, as we did, our family had many too many eggs, we gave or sold them to neighbors and friends. We made a lot of money and felt we were rich.

One year when I was between one and two, at one of our Sunday picnics I toddled away from adult supervision and fell into something that must have worked as a sump-pump and one of the young boy friends found me, gasping. I was too young to remember it and for some reason I never asked anyone what happened. It sounded so awful, I would rather not hear about it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The continuation

Did anyone notice that I never mentioned Ida in the previous story. Since her life and my Mother's were tangled in a way, I better go into a little detail about her. Ida was my grandfather's favorite and he was lucky he got to keep her home as long as he did. When she was young she met a handsome youth and fell in love with him. He said to her, let me go to America first and find a place where we would like to live and then I'll come back and marry you and we will live happily forever after.

His last name was Paulsson. He left, and came back when Ida was 50 years old. He followed the gold hysteria and when that died there were other metals that intrigued him, and that's why he was in Colorado when the urge to settle down hit him. I think there was a copper rush, but I think I may be wrong. Anyway, he found Meeker Co. the place that would please Ida, and he went back to get married. And so grandfather lost his housekeeper. He thought he still had one left, but by this time, Mother had three children, with another on the way. She was not as available as Ida had been, and he never let an opportunity pass without telling her that Ida would have seen to it that he never lacked for material or personal things to make him happy. I do not know if he had shown Ida more love when they were youngsters or if it only began when they were adults can witness to the fact that it hurts if you are growing up in that sort of climate.

Mother was the most beautiful of all the children. She was small, had a tiny waist, big black eyes and the most gorgeous chestnut colored hair. And she was very intelligent. But there was some kind of need in her. It was said that while my Father lived she felt so much more adequate. After he died, she found innocent remarks made by her friends hurtful. And then she remembered them forever. And she never forgot. She had a cat who loved her and she loved him. She had a son whom she loved, and he loved her. And she had me, and we never were on the same page, except for her last two years of her life. She tolerated me, but she never loved me.

What my mother did to me, made me what I am. I am lucky that I met Sam and that we has fifty-five years together. Most of them were wonderful, happy years and our children made us mostly proud and grateful.

If my Mother were alive I would be happy to say HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

An ode to my Mother

I know that an ode is a form of poetry and I do not know how to write poetry, I want it to be a few lines of praise for her. She had a hard life and I am sure I added to her difficulties.

She was born to parents who probably did not want her any more than she wanted me. Her parents were born in 1838 and 1840. They already had six children and in 1886 when my mother was born her mother was about fifty years old. Blenda's closest sibling, Olof. was probably still in diapers. My grandfather was the teacher for all children in a little farming community called Allrum. The job was paid for in a small salary and in totally unsatisfactory living quarters. The School and the living quarters were in one building. My grandmother had to knit socks for her whole family and I have never seen a photograph of her where she was not knitting. My grandfather retired on a pension and moved his family to a little fishing village about 20 or 30 miles away. Viken. The family had grown smaller by the time grandfather moved, for all his children moved to America as soon as they were old enough to get work.

Ivar worked in a grocery store in Walla Walla, Washington. He later worked for the Swedish American Line as a teamster. He had two horses, a team, and a cart that delivered luggage and probably some freight. Did you know that's where the word teamster came from? He later moved to upstate New York. Alma was a baby nurse or a mother's helper and I think she never developed beyond that and had to retire back to Sweden when she grew too old for that kind of work. We all felt she was a little weird and my mother always told me I was just like her. Helena we never heard of. She died young and the fact that we never knew what happened to her made her a fascinating person for us to wonder about. Olof was the only one of the children who got any education beyond the seventh grade. He became a banker. I forgot Karin who went to America like all the others. She worked as a cook till she got Social Security and moved back to Sweden.

My mother went to America when she was about eighteen. She began as a baby nurse and one day on her day off she met a Sea Captain from Viken. They had never met before and he fell in love and asked for her address. He and his ship left after just a few days, but the mail between them was hot and heavy. He and the ship returned a year later and Captain Nils Svensson asked Blenda Olsson to marry. She said: I will have to return to Sweden and begin working on my hope chest and on my wedding dress. And then I will be happy to marry you. (To be continued)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The wek after

Last monday our son arrived from Colorado. His first visit in years. Health and other issues kept him from Port Angeles. He could not have rented a car at the airport and driven here because of the Hood Canal snafu. So he had to take a flight from Seattle to our-airport here. when I saw him getting off the little tiny plane I was amazed. He was thirty years younger looking than he was the last time I had seen him. He weighs no more than when he was in college, playing tennis every day. I don't think I am being unrealistic when I say, he is positively handsome. He is still suffering pain from an accident he had playing softball when he broke his clavicle and separated his shoulder.

His first night dinner had to be at a thai restaurant and it was a delicious meal. Next night we invited his neighbors and friends for dinner here at my place and we had again the Leg of Lamb I told you about before. Gilbert is diabetic and for dessert we had fresh pineapple mixed with strawberry sherbet with a little chocolate sauce dribbled over. And then last night the same neighbors had us over for a magnificent Taco dinner. This morning we are having breakfast at Gilbert's favorite place for such a meal. The Corner House Restaurant. I doubt he can eat half of what he usually orders.

I am hoping we will see some of the cross dressers who are having their yearly convention, beginning tomorrow. They are such an interesting group. And their choice of coming here every year is astounding. This is such a 'down home' community. There is also a Holland American Cruise ship in port. It is so large, it towers over the hole harbor area. It will bring back so many memories from my cruise around the world two years ago. ( I wish I had known about Suze Orman before I took that cruise for if I had asked her 'can I afford it' she would have said DENIED ) But I have memories that I love bringing up when I have a sleepless hour at night.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

review of the week

The big event of the week was our Thursday outing. Our schedule said, trip to Silverdale. We left at ten on the bus with our great driver and friend, Keith. It was the last possible day we could go, for the next day the bridge over Hood Canal was cut in half and it will remain closed for six weeks. I read in the paper that 15.000 cars and trucks go over this bridge every day. The same paper gave us several routes to take if we should want to go to Seattle. A trip that normally would take more than two hours will now take five. Everything that is made elsewhere has to come that route. Will our groceries, already expensive get more expensive? For people who are building their dream-house, will the cost rise because everything will have freight costs doubled.

At the mall in Silverdale, things were not normal. The food section was virtually empty. A friend suggested to me that we eat in Barns and Noble bookstore. We walked for what seemed like miles and saw almost every store we passed devoid of customers. It was a depressing walk. Our lunch was good, but again, a place usually bristling with many people, was nearly empty. Two men were on our bus, one came back with big packages, one woman passenger bought new shoes and if the others bought anything it must have been small enough to fit in purses or pockets.

A large Rhododendron bush decided this was the week for it to bloom. It is standing in front of my bedroom window. A week ago I noticed that the buds looked as though they might burst open some time during the next month. Overnight it was in full bloom. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Next to it is a little Oregon Grape and its yellow flowers bloomed at the same time.

My wednesday at the Senior Center playing bridge was uneventful. Medium kind of cards all day. But the fellow players are such good friends and the opportunity to visit is enriching. Best of all was the return of a very good player. She lives in Stockton, Ca. during the winter. And two other people from Ca. had returned the previous week. One couple returned from Florida. Soon we are going to have outgrown the room we are assigned.

Today is Sunday and my plans are to go to my favorite nursery to buy herbs to plant on my patio. I no longer cook any meat or fish in my kitchen. I even cook the bacon on my BBq. When I first moved in, I used the kitchen sometimes, but soon discovered the smell would steal into the closet and my clothes would smell less than fresh.

I have been working on a Fake it in Fabric and finally took it to the framers. It is a Picasso, depicting two sides of a woman. It is beautiful and if I can find someone to take a picture of it I will send it to my granddaughter who will put it on a blog. I am especially proud of it for it took forever to finish. Yesterday I spent the day watching golf, hoping Tiger would be exciting and when that was over, the Mariners were playing Oakland and up till the last moment we had a chance to beat them again. But no such luck this time.

That's my week more or less.