Saturday, May 21, 2016

Elizabeth Blackwell Lockdown, "This is Not a Drill"

"This is not a drill, please begin lock down sequence."
I shouted at my 5th grade shelving team,
"Run to my office and turn off the lights
and sit down on the floor and be quiet!"
I ran across my library and pulled both doors
shut so they automatically locked and dashed to
my office. I ran through to the storage room
and kicked out the doorstop to the outer hallway.
Bella, Andra, Semra and Anya were sitting on the floor
by my desk. I grabbed a hand full sugar-free
hard candies and settled down on the floor
and passed out the candy. I began to breathe again
and switched off from automatic emergency procedures.
The girls began whispering and pondering what might
be happening. I did not let my imagination start.
"Lock down is over." I let out a happy sigh.
"The bear has gone back in the woods."

Not the Potty Teddy!

The tiny hand tugged on mine and I
looked down with horror at my toddler.
"Not the potty Teddy!"
While coffee cans of sand are
wonderful for cigarette butts,
they look surprisingly like
potty chairs to the under three gang.
Unfortunately we had just finished dinner
at the delightful Kenmore Mazatlan restaurant
and my curly-topped child was squatting
over the top of the coffee can.
The nice staff between Stupid Prices
and the Idol Dry Cleaners had added
the butt can to keep Kookmore beautiful
but I doubt Teddy's butt was part of the plan.

Friday, May 20, 2016

KEEP OUT, Birthday

I was sound asleep when I heard the knock on my bedroom door.
"Hey mom, come have some barbecue, it's really good!"
I LOVE barbecue and despite switching to vegetarianism
two years ago, I was ready to fall off the carrot wagon.
I threw on my house coat, raced up the stairs and got
to the kitchen. Troy's frisbee golf team was standing
in the kitchen eating watermelon from my crystal bowl
and another batch of teens was at the dining room table.
"Where's your dad Troy?" I asked.
Troy laughed and said, "He didn't show up for his
birthday barbecue mom and we're hungry!"
I snatched my watermelon bowl out of Luke's hand
and he said, "But it's soooo good!"
I looked at the dining room table covered with
bowls of food and littered with the "KEEP OUT, Birthday"
signs I'd made the previous day.
Sometimes Terry goes overtime on his birthday spirit quest
to the ocean & I figured we'd celebrate when he returned.
Troy could see the smoke pouring out of my ears when I
saw the tall German chocolate cake with a large piece missing.
He had carefully cut around the frosting, "Happy Birthday Terry."
He said, "Mom, we are honoring dad on his birthday."
Khystian said, "Gretchen, I already showed everyone
where you tunneled in the back of the cake with a spoon."
I recognized defeat and grabbed a plate and sunk my teeth
into the tender barbecued chicken.
"Great barbecue Troy." I said.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cub Scouts With Beer Bottles

"Okay boys, today is Earth Day so we are going to
carefully cross the street with our buddies
and pick up litter in the park."
It was like a demented Easter egg hunt with the
little boys running around the woods hunting down
nasty old beer and wine bottles and showing them to me.
Two hours later the bottom of my navy den mother pants
were soaked with stale beer and slug slime.
Who knew slugs LOVED beer so much?
"Look Mrs. Nixon! This wine bottle is half full!"
Alex charged at me and I tried to escape but failed.
His jumping up and down motion efficiently
coated me with a new fragrance.
Ewww, Eua De Vino or
was that spit?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Sky is Falling!

I sauntered down our gently sloping backyard
with some blueberries for my quail thinking,
"Quails! They're just like us!"
"They love blueberries."
Right as I reached the middle of the yard
something flew straight out of the sky
about two feet from my face. I looked up
and something else was flying out of the sky!
"HELP! HELP!" HELP!" "Ahhhhh!" I shouted.
Then I looked down at the hard plastic frisbee
golf discs at my feet and shouted, "STOP! STOP!"
"I'm in the yard! Where are you?!"
Next thing I know Troy's blond head pops up
behind the raspberry patch and he says
casually, "You okay Mom?"
"Where in the heck are you kids throwing from?"
I asked in a disgruntled fashion.
"We go on the other side of the garage
and throw straight up and over it to the
target in the middle of the yard."
Our garage is two stories high.
It is not see-through.
At least on Mother's Day when I was
working on my quail pen, Troy walked
over and handed me a bike helmet as he
and his five friends played the course.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

There's a Lifejacket on the Playground!

I looked up at little Amelia from my tiny chair
in the front of the document camera as she gestured at me.
It was rare for a kid to come up in the middle of a
story like that and her fluffy brown wavy hair bounced
around her tiny head as she implored me to listen to her.
Her blue eyes got all round as she exclaimed,
"There's a life jacket on the playground!"
I looked at her and asked,
"Why would they have a life jacket on the playground?" I said,
She gestured timidly and wildly at the same time (if possible)
"It was on the slide!" She waved her hands some more.
"We all saw it!"
My brain stopped because it could not justify life jackets
and playgrounds in a rational thought of any kind.
I looked at her blankly.
Amelia kept waving and she pointed at the picture
in, "Ten Rules to Be a Superhero." Rule # 6.
Be Brave. I looked down at the bumble bee in the drawing.
Yellow jacket.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Lunch With Troy at Clifford's

The waitress smiled at me and I ordered a
French dip sandwich. Troy was dressed in a
dress shirt and sports coat with his blond
hair neatly combed. At seven he had grown
his big front teeth. His second grade teacher,
Jan Ottosen, had assigned the kids to talk to
someone for their community social studies unit
who had a career they would be interested in.
Troy wanted to be a chef so we went to the
Cliff side restaurant with panoramic view of
Lake Washington in our town. The float planes of
Kenmore Air Harbor entertained us with their
take offs and landings on the gorgeous sunny
May day. "And what can I get for you young man?"
The waitress asked. Troy looked up from his
menu and asked, "Does the open-face baby shrimp
sandwich mean they will be looking at me?"

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Nixons at the George Washington Inn

"Honey, next month will be the date we started
dating thirty years ago. April 11th."
I looked over at my husband and thought,
"You're such a tyrant, seems like 30,000."
Just kidding. We have had mostly fun times together.
I said, "We ought to stay at that B&B I saw in the
paper last month out at Sequim." Since he likes
to go but can't plan, I made the reservations
and off we went. Thanks to global warming,
Washington is no longer the miserable mud pit
we grew up in and the weather was sunny and warm.
When we walked in the door of the George Washington
Bed and Breakfast Inn, our jaws dropped,
not because two nights cost more than my first car,
but at the sight of the curved staircase
and historical replicas filling the place.
The owner, Janet, took us to our private entrance.
I pointed to the small door plate and Terry's
eyes twinkled at, "The Presidential Suite."
When we got upstairs and she opened the door
to the balcony, we were stunned. The bright blue
Straight of Juan De Fuca swept below our cliff-side
room as a bald eagle sailed by at eye level.
We decided to hike the fourteen mile round trip
hike to the Dungeness Spit light house in the morning.
As we got ready, I saw Terry putting on his new
boat shoes I had bought him. "Say honey, wouldn't
you like to wear your comfy sneakers on the hike?"
I asked gently. Five hours later, as I applied
some old bandaids to his huge blister he said,
"I can't make it any further with this huge blister."
I smiled and said, "I couldn't make it in the first place,
let's go back." I meant it too. We were at mile five
and I was dying. We went down to the water in preparation
to turn around as three thirty-something girls came
down the beach. Terry said, "How was the lighthouse?"
"The tides coming in so we turned around. You'll
never make it." I looked at Terry and while he smiled
at them I could see the fire in his eyes and
smoke pouring out his ears. It was like they had
waved a red flag in front of his Taurus the bull self.
I accepted that I would be tortured the final two miles in
and seven miles back and smiled at him and kept going.

(Terry is the only person I know who would be
tough enough to hike seven miles on beach pebbles
in bare feet to finish the hike.)

"Sick Simon" Picture Book Library Lesson for Cold and Flu Prevention

My lesson this week is from the book,
"Sick Simon." He loved school so much that
he went to school sick. This was the first book
in the Washington State Children's Choice Picture Book
series that I had a strong physical revulsion to.
Rivers of green snot made me queasy after lunch.
I had kid models from the class for each square.
1. wash hands, 2 use kleenex, 3 cough in elbow 4 stay in bed.
My wash hands girl looked like a baby octupus,
My cough in elbow somehow had the elbow coming out of his head,
the Kleenex ended up looking like a plank
and Emma's bed was four feet too small.
The kids were laughing so hard they
were falling off their chairs.
Embarrassingly effective lesson
in cold and flu prevention.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Our Japanese Exchange Teacher

Sweat poured off my forehead as I glanced out my kitchen
window and I spied my neighbor's red car through the hedge.
Nooooo. I wasn't ready. The carpet installers had only finished an
hour ago and I still had a kitchen full of furniture to return to
the living room. I wiped my brow and dashed down the the car
and greeted Miki with "Thank-you" instead of "Hello."
She just gave me a weary smile and followed me into the house.
Thankfully I had moved the extra furniture out of her room first.
Terry came home and I realized I had forgotten milk when I shopped.
As he shook hands with Miki and went to the door
she stunned us by saying, "Terry, can I go to the store with you?"
Right then I knew what True Grit looked like.
After chaperoning fifty teenagers from Naga high school
for twenty-five hours to Kookmore Washington,
she wanted to shop.
She came back weighted down with a whole lotta foods
I'd never seen before. "Terry, what are you doing letting
her carry so much?!" I exclaimed. He gave me a surprised
look and said, "I swear she wanted to honey and I couldn't stop her."
Right then I knew that the notion that Asian women were
passive and reticent was a myth and Miki was the MYTHBUSTER.
My neighbor girl had one of Miki's charges so she was able
to carpool up to Inglemoor high school at O'Dark hundred
every morning while I slept in. Every day after work I'd walk
in the door and smell heavenly home made food cooking.
I thought to myself that about how nice it musta been for
Terry for twenty-five years before I quit cooking.
Our first weekend we left early and had breakfast
out at Snoqualmie Falls and hiked down to the falls and back.
I snapped a picture of Miki and Terry next to the sign showing
different kinds of wildlife. She pointed to the Sasquatch on the park
sign and asked if I had ever seen one. I said, "Yes, then I married a Bigfoot."
I took her out to Walmart for cheap souveneirs and she was in heaven.
She shopped for over four hours and spent half that time just
looking at everything. When I asked her why she told me our
packaging was more colorful and vibrant than in Japan and she
enjoyed it.
The next weekend I got a letter from Hillary Clinton and
asked Miki if she wouldn't mind if Terry took her to the Space Needle
while I went to the caucus to give a speech to my delegates.
She loved the huge sign I carried and we had a long talk
about women being second class citizens globally. She said in
Japan women are treated very poorly and in China and other areas
it is worse! That made me mad because all people deserve to be
treated with dignity and respect.
I was tired one night at dinner and called Miki Kim.
After the third time my room mate Khrystian asked me why I was
calling her Kim. I apologized and asked Miki why she didn't tell
me and she said she thought I was saying, "You."
Kim is You.
My heart leaped at the pink envelope in the mailbox.
It was from Japan and our friend missed us.
We miss her too.

Air Force Cadets to Colorado Springs 1987 DEN-COS

"Please direct your attention to the forward
part of the cabin as your crew shows you the
safety features on board our DC-9."
The sea of scruffy haired and shiny-eyed men
ignored us. They were loud, rowdy and
laughing very hard. They had the energy of
a herd of wild horses. Air Force cadets.
As I went down the aisle I smiled and said,
"Would you like a beverage?"
"Gimme a coke!" "I want 7 Up!" "Got any beer?"
Eight weeks later as the airmen filed in
I said, "Hat there, fold your blazer and put it there."
A cadet looked at me and said,
"Were you a TI maam?"
After take-off I smiled and said,
"Would you like a beverage?"
"Yes maam!" Coke please Maam!"
I laughed as the sea of shaved headed,
atop straight-spined, polite airmen,
all looked up at me.
"Thank you maam!"

(A TI is a training instructor. Their
dress hats and uniforms were not getting
wrinkled on my watch ;) )