Sunday, October 29, 2006

Stadium High School

One of the things I will really miss about Tacoma is my imagining what it would have been like going to high school at this incredible place. I first discovered it when we were on a tour bus that was taking us from the Tall Ships (July 4, 2005) back to our hotel. There were huge scaffolds surrounding the building and from our vantage point we could really see little of the school but the story the tour guide was telling was very interesting. The building was undergoing a $100+ million renovation. That seemed quite amazing but more so was the history of the castle and what was to become Stadium High School.

Originally designed to be a grand hotel the building was not completed by the railroad. This was a result of a depression at the end of the 19th. The current school year marked the 100th anniversary of the school. It has been a rich history for the school and Tacoma. For the 100th anniversary the The News Tribune published a commemorative issue. Read the articles to learn more of the history of this facility. The site also has a slide show of the face-lift.

I am in awe of this building for a few reasons. First, we live in what is called the Stadium District. It is a ""reviving area of older Tacoma and has a lot to offer city dwellers. Next, I wondered why the name "Stadium" and then I saw -- a deep, bowl in the hillside overlooking the bay that serves as a beautiful football and track stadium. This is simply astounding when first viewed. Then, I look at the school with its nooks and crannies and think what it would have been like being a young girl interested in science studying in one of the corners of the upper levels. That must have been an adventure for Dixy Lee Ray who would go on to become a ranking marine biologist, US Atomic Energy Commission Chair and then Governor of Washington State.

The school is beautiful and the students should be so proud to go there. Imagine, sitting in a classroom of a 100+ year old building that is 21st Century wired and looking out the window to see ever changing Commencement Bay. What an inspiration!

I have to admit that I will miss looking out my window and viewing the rooftop of the building. I sometimes am taken back in time to Victorian Era novels and then there are times when I imagine it as an urban Hogwarts. All that aside, it always makes me think about what happens when community comes together.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bill is Retiring
Tomorrow is the day. Yes, Bill is retiring. Need I say that I did not think the day would ever arrive when he would say, "I'm ready, it's time." Well, that day has come and I would like to let the world know that I am proud that he is my spouse and that no matter what this is good.

The first job that I really know anything about was when he was in college and worked a couple of summers at Teton National Park. Bill was working on his degree in Accounting from the University of Utah at that time. After that and after college he enlisted in the Army where he was a member of the finance corps. He was stationed in several places including Fort Mead, Maryland; Fort Benjamin Harris, Indiana; and in South Korea. After his stint in the Army he went to work for Boise Cascade Corporation in Eastern Oregon. From there he transferred to Idaho Division Timber where he was the controller for the division centered in Emmett, Idaho. That was what he was doing when I met and married him.

He took a brief break (five years) from the timber and sawmill industry shortly after we wed. We purchased a small business accounting and consulting firm in LaGrande, Oregon. But, he missed the action of the industry and I believe the smell of sawdust. He went back to work in the industry and has remained there ever since. I am not sure whether it is the type of accounting that lured him or the industry itself. Whatever it is, he has spent over 35 years as an accountant working in an industry that has taken many turns over the last 35 years -- some good and a lot not so good. But, it has taken us to some of the most beautiful places in the country to live and kept us fed.

What can you say about someone who is loyal to a fault, respects and values those with whom he works, knows his place, and always strives to achieve the highest of ethical standards? Not much, other than, it has been quite a ride. It is time now to take a deep breath and move on to do some of those things he has wanted to do more and more -- more volunteer activity, more futzing around in the flowers, more time to walk on the beach, more time to go to a ball game, more time for family.

It will be a quiet walk out that door tomorrow but I hope it is without regrets. He is such a good person and he deserves more than anyone I know to hear the words, "Job, well done."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Corner of Washington Blvd and "Say What?"

Notice anything strange about this street sign? It is directly across the street from my daughter and son-in-law's house. All the other signs for 3rd ST appear to be correct but this one has a problem. I wonder if anyone should fix it or just leave it there for novelty's sake. I vote for the later.

I got back yesterday from a weeklong trip to east coast where I spent the week with Erica and Geoff and while there I made the final decision on where we will be placing our hats when we journey back there next month. We will be living in Milton, Delaware. Milton is a very small town less than 10 miles from Atlantic beaches. It is an historic village with a bit of a blue collar edge. The area is growing and is located very closely to other activity centers of the area while being away some from the frenetic pace of summertime population expansion.

We are looking forward to taking this next step in our lives. The moving van arrives on November 8 and then we start on our cross-country road trip. I would have liked to have done a Springtime trip but it will be wonderful being settled before Christmas.

Now the real fun (not) begins. We have done some packing and some things were not unpacked when I moved over here to Tacoma, but packing in earnest must begin.

Stay tuned. More to come as we move forward or is that laterally?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Connie's Day is Today!!

My youngest sister, Connie, celebrates her birthday today. I must apologize for the scratchy scanned picture but with packing and all I could find good pictures of her husband, each of her children and each of her grandchildren but none of her. That I will have to fix when we visit her next.

Connie is another one of those wondrous strong women who make our lives better just for who they are. This woman, my sister, is strong as an ox and has always been so. She is one of the hardest workers I have ever known. She has always been so too. She has also always been the most gentle of persons in her never ending love of animals. It is hard to remember her without ever having a dog or a cat. She has raised horses and pigs. She has barn cats and inside cats. But these hold a second place in her heart. For her children and grandchildren are her joys. She is the loving mother of two daughters and two sons. She is the doting grandmother of three granddaughters and four grandsons.

None of this even begins to tell what a special person Connie is. When I think of her I think of my baby sister who wrestled nightly with my brother. I think of my sister with the hardy laugh and fairly wick sense of humor. I think of a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter -- woman.

These past few months Connie has shown us all her incredible strength and resolve in the very straightforward and gentle way she has handled the care of our mother. Connie has taken the lead in this along with with my sister Carol. She has made the tough decisions and maintained a happy face. She has done this while managing numerous serious demands on her own life.

Thank you Connie for doing what you are doing. Thank you for caring so much and providing so much. Thank you for being my sister.

Happy Birthday, I hope you had a wonderful time in Denver.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

An Anniversary --

Today would have been my parents 61st wedding anniversary. They were married October 14, 1945. Dad used say with a grin that he jumped right out of one war into another.

One of the loveliest times we had together was when we all gathered to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I wish that I had the pictures from then readily available. All four of their children and their spouses were there. All but three of their 10 grandchildren were there as was their first great grandchild. Mom and Dad were very delighted to be joined by their sisters and brothers and dear old friends. It was a day that meant so much to each of them.

The year that followed would see Dad's health fail markedly and he passed away in December of 1996.

Mom continued for the next few years enjoying family and friends and doing a little traveling that she had not done before. But, mostly she delighted in seeing her family grow. As I write this I believe that there are now 17 great grandchildren -- it gets almost overwhelming when you stop to think. But until just a very few months ago she remembered all of their complete names and their parents too. I think sometimes that she did this not because she could but because she knew how much Dad would have loved bragging about each one of these little souls.

When I go to bed tonight I will say an extra prayer for Mom and Dad. They were good together and they were so good to us.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Problem Fixed --

The link to the Washington State Nurses Association Hall of Fame has been fixed. Amazing what happens when insert correctly. Please take a look.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Another Birthday, Another Special Woman

The first two weeks of October are great. I get to say "Happy Birthday" to some very special women. Today's birthday wish is for a very special woman indeed. This woman is my husband's sister, my daughter's beloved aunt and my adored sister-in-law.

I have been in awe of Eunice Cole since I first met her over 30 years ago. It could be her quiet demeanor, it could be her piercing eyes, it could be the firm authority of her quiet voice, it could be her intelligence, it could be her professional success that make this so for me. But let's get real, it could be that she is over six feet tall and if I stand really straight I am just over five feet tall. Yes, I have always looked up to Eunice both figuratively and literally.

I am not sure how old Eunice is and I am not sure that that matters. She is a retired nurse, community (local, regional, national & international) leader, ever strong advocate for women, leader in community health and nursing issues. When I first met her she was a member of board of directors for the ANA (American Nurses Association). In the time that followed we were to see her go on to become the president of that organization. She served them for four years and we fondly referred to her as "The Head Nurse." You can imagine our delight one morning in the mid-1980's when we saw her being interviewed on the Today Show by Bryant Gumbel. That was pretty exciting stuff for us and we got a few checkles as Bryant kept referring to her as "Nurse Cole."

Her demeanor and commitment to issues provided me with a superior example of a successful woman. We were honored to see her inducted into the Washington Nurses Association Hall of Fame in March of 2002. This picture was taken that evening. It was a wonderful affair honoring a "job well done." (Please take a look at the link so you can read more about her career and dedication.)

All of the above put me in awe of Eunice. But, the Eunice that we love is an adoring mother and doting grandmother. She cherishes her family and friends and they cherish her. She smiles readily, loves intensely, speaks sofly but firmly, holds us all in her arms. She is a rock. She occupies a huge part of our hearts and souls. She deserves every happiness.

Happy Birthday, Eunice.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Commencement Bay

When I look out of the windows of our apartment I am constantly reminded of just how beautiful the Puget Sound is. Right where we are we see lots of cargo traffic since we are very close to the Port of Tacoma. When I see the ever changing color of the water I forget about the ugly rooftops.

Besides all of the normal reasons why the water color differs, the changes right here are multiplied by the changing tides and the mix of salt water and fresh water. The fresh water here is from the Puyallup River. The river originates in a glacier area of Mt. Rainer and what we see sometimes are bands of the glacial water meeting the salt water. It is mesmerizing looking at the water and this is the first place I have been that I like to watch not for action but for subtle change.

The view of the Sound is one of the things that have made this experiment in city and apartment living acceptable. We have decided that normal apartment life is not for us. It is not that it is bad or anything like that. It is that we miss having even a small yard. We also have rediscovered just how much space we each require. So, the search will be to find more spacious quarters for us to settle into when we settle east.

Yes, the stay has been much more pleasant with view of Commencement Bay here in the South Sound.

Monday, October 09, 2006

End of an Era --

Saturday, a major change happened in my life. I finally bid adieu to my life with fast, two door, red cars. That was a tough one since we got instead a new CRV which is cute enough but certainly not in the style I love. It will be more comfortable when making our trek across country. But it is not going to be as fast. Well, the one consolation is that it is not a Suburban!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Happy Birthday, Debra!!!

Today, it's October 7th somewhere, is my friend Debra's birthday. She like my friend Robin is a bit of a kindred spirit. But, that is where it ends for Debra is the antithesis of me. She is probably the most outrageous (I mean this in a very good way) woman I know. She wears flashy clothes and more flashy shoes. She is out to style. Debra is the only person I know who has "shoe condos" in her walk-in closet because she has so many shoes. In fact, she has to change them out with the seasons. That is her visible self. On the invisible self, she is conservative and I am liberal -- go figure. She is meticulous, I am a bit of slob.

This flashy woman is one of the most genuine people I have had the fortune to meet in my life. She is funny, very funny. She is happy. She respects life. She lives each day with an enthusiasm that we should all embrace. Her smile, wit and caring helped me through some pretty hard days. I miss talking with her on a regular basis since I left Spokane. She is truly one of those gems I treasure.

Happy, Happy Birthday Debra!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Curious. Yes, that's what it is....

The process of "stuff" consolidation lends itself to some strange findings. Monday, while going through some old papers and cards I came across this. It is a full copy of the December 13, 1975 The Idaho Statesman. I am still scratching my head as to why this was kept amongst some of our treasures.

Bill likes to keep newspapers that were published on the days that are particularly special to us. For instance, we have copies of two newspapers published on the day of our daughter's birth. That, I understand. I do not understand December 13, 1975.

I spent a few minutes going through the paper to see if there were any clues to be had. I had Bill go completely through it and he could not come up with anything. His thought on what we should do was this, "We have saved it for almost 31 years now so we might as well see if it will be with us for another 20." Maybe he is secretly trying to preserve the last weekend of his bachelorhood because this was published one weekend before our wedding.

I am going to go through the paper one more time and see if there is something buried in it. I am quite sure there is not but, "Who knows?" Then I am going to delegate it to the newspaper recycle pile. It is a memoir we do not need to continue to carry with us. At least I think so.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's Going to Happen

My husband Bill and I have been saying for sometime now that we will be leaving the Pacific Northwest and heading east. We had originally thought that the time would be in the early Spring of 2007. Those plans have been pushed aside and the time schedule moved up to mid to late Fall 2006. There are, however, two major decisions to be made: 1) Where? and 2) When? I hate this indecision but it is better than it was in the late summer.

Bill and I are both westerners. This move is going to be a major life changing event. Not only will we both be retired but we will be outside of our surrounding comfort areas. Bill was born in Bellingham, WA and I in Hailey, ID. He has always had an infinity to the water and loves the Puget Sound. I, on the other hand, have always been drawn to the mountains and with Mt Rainier in the background, the Puget Sound has been a great compromise for us. Yet, because of Bill's work we have moved several times and are not afraid of new challenges -- just a little scared.

How far east are going? Well, it is farther east than Idaho and maybe farther than Arlington, VA where our daughter lives. The primary votes have been cast and our choices are either Jefferson County, West Virginia or the Lewes, Delaware area. Why those two you ask? There are mountains (more like hills to me) in West Virginia and water in Delaware. At this moment the water in Delaware is leading. That all will be decided for sure in a couple of weeks when I travel out to make my decision. Bill will have to trust me on this but with digital cameras and email these days he can see almost instantly what I will be considering. The actual move will take sometime in November.

We are really getting excited about this. We are excited about the history, the opportunities to do more things like take classes not linked to work or quiet walks in the mid-morning or making plans to do something special without a particular need to have it be on a weekend. We will be closer to some old friends. That will be nice. Most of all, we will be closer to Erica and Geoff.

More on this later, it is time for another cup of coffee and serious "stuff" consolidation.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy Birthday Old Friend!!!!

Today is my best friend Robin's 60th birthday. Good for you, you made it!!

Robin and I have been friends for 23 years now. So, you can see that we were not childhood or college friends. We first got acquainted when our children, her son Nathan and my daughter Erica, were in the first grade in Crescent City, California. Our children, including Robin's older daughter Rachel, became fast friends and we discovered that we were truly "kindred spirits."

That "kindred spirit" thing manifested itself very clearly one Saturday afternoon when we played Trivial Pursuit with other friends. I cannot remember the question but at precisely the same time both Robin and I started singing the same song. The song, mind you, was from an obscure operetta that each of us had participated in junior high or high school. The scary thing about this was that Robin went to school in Delaware and I went to school in Idaho.

Our families participated in many activities together and our friendships grew. Bill, Erica and I left Crescent City when Nate and Erica had just completed the fifth grade. A lot of time and a tremendous amount of changes have passed since then but remain we all remain very close. In fact, Robin and I still speak to each other on the every Sunday. Pretty good for a couple of old broads now separated by a continent.

This picture is one taken in February 2005 at the rehearsal dinner for Nathan and his bride Michelle. We journeyed from Washington State to the Napa Valley for the festivities. Erica flew in from Washington, DC and Rachel and her husband Joel came from Massachusettes. It was a happy time for all and was the first time we had all been together since the year before when Robin, Dave and Rachel joined us in Washington, DC for Erica's wedding to Geoff.

So, you can see by this that we have gotten pretty tight over the years. Our children all headed off to the east coast for college -- Rachel to Smith, Nate to West Point, and Erica to Johns Hopkins. We have wonderful memories of those children calling us on the first Thanksgiving dinner they prepared together. We (Robin & Dave and Bill &I) might as well have been there for we all received at least hourly phone calls on what had to be done next.

I could write volumes on what has been a wonderful friendship but I just want to let Robin know how special she is and to let her know that I am looking forward to a point in the next couple of months when I meet her Orleans, Mass. so that we can get our ears pierced (Yes, the first time for both of us) in honor of our 60th year.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I Love Her -- a Lot!!

When I started this blog I intended to focus on my Mom who has not been doing well. I have found it pretty hard to do so because I just cannot stand the fact the she is miserable right now and there just seems to be nothing that any of us can do but to reassure and comfort her. When I came home from visiting her in July I brought back with me some miscellaneous old photos that I had separated out last year with her when I was visiting her. I have gone through the photos now several times and wish that I had the other boxes that I had separated for my sisters, brother and myself. Mine is in storage awaiting an address to ship. There are lots of pictures of folks I have not the slightest clue as to who they are and then there are some real treasures of my parents when they were young and later on as we all grew up.

I like to look at the ones of Mom and think about what she might have done had she been born 30-40 years later. She is the oldest of four children and like me has two sisters and a brother. Her father was killed in an auto/farm machinery accident when she was 11. My grandmother who never remarried worked at the post office from that time until she retired at age 65. So, Mom grew up in this family headed by a single mother. She grew up during the Depression and went to high school during World War II just as parents of my contemporaries.

She grew up in a very small town in south central Idaho. She was active and prided herself in being a good swimmer, skater and basketball player (old half court days). The only problem here was that girls and athletics was not smiled on at that time. Even though she did not continue physical pursuits as she got older, I believe that her abilities and strengths she displayed earlier were instrumental in the care and love (sometimes tough) she gave me as I faced major physical challenges in my early life and thereafter.

This picture is one of Mom when she was in high school. I think that she was a junior when this one was taken. As you can see, she was very attractive and I remember my Dad often saying that she was better looking than any of his daughters. To which I would always think, "Oh, well."

Mom did not go to college but did become a beautician through an apprenticeship program. She always cut our hair and gave us perms when we were kids. Even after we were grown she still maintained a critical eye as to how our hair was cut or not and was never afraid to let us know.

This woman, this mother of mine could be tough as nails and let you know it too. But, somehow that unconditional love was always there. I miss that fight. I miss her saying "It's OK."