Sicko in Seattle

Seattle held out for 48 hours. For two days, nothing but sunny skies and fall-like temps. Football weather, some would say. We rambled through the city, hitting some favorite spots and a few new ones. Lovely!

Seattle has heart.

Everyone got annoyed with me, of course, because of my obsessive need to take photos, and how I kept forcing my friends to pose this way and that. They were mostly accommodating, but drew the line at leaning against the Gum Wall, Seattle’s latest landmark, which kind of reminds me of the Lennon Wall in Prague, but not really. Sigh. Who cares if it’s among the top 5 germiest tourist attractions, anyway?

As always, Tom was as sweet as can be, patiently following us along while carrying our shopping bags, so we could shop, shop, shop, and not be weighed down with all those, ahem, purchases. And shop, we did, as Pam was wont to remind me, that it is our noblesse oblige to support the vendors of Seattle and help stimulate the economy.

But then, after two days, everything changed. And by everything I mean it rained and got cold.

Miserably cold.

Wet cold.

And then I got sick.

Miserably sick, and insufferably sick.

Greta-Garbo-as-Camille sick.

If you ask me, no one should be around me when I succumb to a cold. That’s when I sink into the depths of despair, feeling every tickle in my throat, every ache in my body and pang in my head, while the mucus steadily builds up in my nasal passages, bursting forth in a cacophony of sneezes. Woe is me!

Starry, starry Seattle.

Luckily, I had two Florence Nightingales tending to my every whim, err, need: Pam and her daughter, Twin 1. They darted to and fro between the kitchen and my death bed, aka, a very comfy chair in the living room and, as quick as the tiny fairies in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, they brought me mugs of hot apple cider, toast and jam, cough drops, cold medicine, mentholated balm to rub on my nose, tissues, and a heated rice bag to wrap around my neck. Add to that oodles of blankets, a footrest so to keep my legs up, and wooly socks to keep my tootsies toasty, I must say, there are worse ways to suffer a malady.

As you can imagine, I didn’t get to do all on my Seattle dream list, which would’ve proven difficult as I’d forgotten just how chilly and wet Seattle can be. But, true to form it was cheeky fun spending time with the ol’ gang—Pam and Twin 1 and Twin 2, who brought along her roommate; Pat, who kept us organized; and Tom, who I learned is a world-renowned collector of seashells, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Pee-wee Herman.

I also got to catch up with–for the first time in 25 years–Pam’s sister and her hubby who drove all the way from eastern Washington, across the Cascades Mountains, over the river and through the woods, just to see me! (Okay, not really. They actually came for a Husky football game, but I’m almost positive that seeing me was a highlight of their weekend. 🙂 )

And on my last full day in town, achy and clogged-headed as I was, I had lunch with Clare, who’s busy working on all sorts of writing projects!

The Highlights:

  • Alder wood king salmon at Ivar’s
  • Visiting my old place of work
  • Browsing the kiosks of Pike Place Market and adding to my collection of art and jewelry
  • Eating out a lot, once at an old fashioned hamburger stand where you drive up, park and a waiter comes out to take your order. Only thing missing were waiters on roller skates

    Signs of autumn.

  • Buying lots of chocolates at the Dilettante Cafe and then eating some, despite having purchased them as gifts
  • Discovering Miranda, a British television comedy series that is gads of fun and laughs
  • Exploring the University District
  • Seeing a movie, Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was delightful and very poignant

Biggest change since I was last in Seattle? It is now law that you must bring your own shopping bag wherever you shop, something I kept forgetting, of course. In San Diego, bringing your own bag is still mostly optional, and bags are available for free.

Seattle, being so environmentally savvy is way ahead of the curve, and if you forget to bring your bag, you can get arrested!

Well, not exactly, but you do have to pay extra for a bag that you once got for free and everyone gives you dirty looks when you do. Also, everywhere we went, in addition to the trash and recycling containers, there were containers for composting. Composting! Even in the movie theater, though frankly, I can’t see stopping to sort out all your trash while leaving the darkened theater in a mad rush for the exit.

Hey Neighbor! And by the way, have you checked out my new blog yet?  It’s called, Hey Neighbor! I write about the ordinary people that make San Diego such an extraordinary place to live.

Well, dearies, I’m still not up to snuff. So, please enjoy these photos while I go and get comfy in bed, nursing myself back to health. How about you? What did you do while I was away?

Seattle is all about umbrellas.

These decorative pieces can last up to five years, but if you want to eat them, do it only during the first two.

Love is in the air–in Seattle, too!

Can you believe it? That’s gum–already chewed! Seattle’s Gum Wall is located in Post Alley under Pike Place Market. Hey kids, don’t even think of trying this at home!

We helped find this homeless bear a home.

A gathering of pots on a rare, sunny afternoon.

A house of blues.

Tom and his artful collection.

And One More:

Pee-wee at sunset.

Must Be My Birthday!

Call me crazy, call me out to lunch, but I have a feeling my birthday’s approaching. Maybe it’s nothing more than a hunch. Or it could be nothing more than intuition. On the other hand, I might have a sixth sense! Where’s Bruce Willis when you need him?

Well, whatever it is, I suspect it’s true, because the birthday cards have started to roll in.

And, I just love getting pretty, colorful birthday cards, don’t you? Especially the kind that wish me a very happy day, with many happy returns. And though, I’ve yet to figure out exactly what “many happy returns” actually means, I’m pleased as punch, all the same.

But, if truth be known, these cards aren’t from family, friends, or even acquaintances. No, these birthday cards are from my neighborhood retailers, from the shops where I do business.

After all, we have an understanding. I shop and make purchases, and, in return, they take my money. Oh, and once a year, they show their appreciation, for all my wonderful business, by sending me a birthday card.

I guess they figure I shop there so often, we’re more like pals. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Clearly, they must care about me very much, don’t you think? I’m sure they don’t send these lovely cards to just anyone. Particularly not cards that come with gifts.

Oh, didn’t I mention the gifts?

My local Hallmark store sent me a “little something” with a card that had the nicest message:

“Hope your birthday is special from beginning to end. Happily celebrating another year of you.”

Hallmark sure knows how to capture the feelings of the day, which isn’t surprising. They’re the experts when it comes to greeting cards.  And, the enclosed gift was just as special–

$2 off any purchase of $10 or more!

Does it get any better than this??

Victoria Secret also sent me a birthday card, and a coupon entitling me to $10 off anything in their store. Which is great news, indeed, because now I can get my annual pair of birthday underwear!

And, Starbucks must think I could use a pick-me-up. They sent me a postcard and all I need do is bring it in for a coffee of my choice! What will it be? Java Mocha Chip Frappuccino or a Caramel Latte? Hmm…

Even the airline I travel on has gotten in on the action. They sent me a card festooned with brightly colored balloons that coincidentally matches their logo—and the card is signed by the entire crew! Too bad they didn’t think to include a free round-trip flight to anywhere in the world. That would’ve been way too cool.

My car dealership didn’t send me a card, but this morning I did get an email, wishing me a happy birthday in all CAPS and two exclamation points, thank you very much.

But, no free car. Not even a new set of tires. Oh, bother.

Seems to me, if these merchants think enough of me to remember my birthday, the least I can do is have them over for dinner. Maybe we’ll go see a movie, too, and I’ll use the coupon I received, for a free small popcorn, from the local movie theater. Just me and my retailer pals, painting the town red, assuming I remember to bring the quart-size can of paint my local hardware store sent me.  We can also go to the nearby takeout shop for a free order of Cream Cheese Wontons, followed by a complimentary dessert at the organic restaurant near my office.

Oh, the possibilities!

If you ask me, I have THE most thoughtful retailers in the whole wide world! And to think, all I had to do was shop, shop, shop and say, “Charge it, please!”

So tell me, what goodies have you received for your birthday from your usual shopping haunts?

Say it Ain’t So!

Yesterday morning Henry, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, jumped on my bed, and gave me the usual stare-down. The one he gives me every morning, compelling me to get up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head, and then make my way down to the kitchen to feed him.

That stare-down.

Only yesterday, it was a different kind of stare-down.

“What, Henry?” I groaned. “Why are you looking at me that way?”

“I’ve got some good news and bad news,” he offered up. “Which one would you like to hear first?”

I opened one eye and wearily said, “Tell me the good news.”

“Your daughter is heading back to college today, and it’s going to be months before you see her again.”

That’s not good news, Henry. You know very well I’m miserable about her departure, and am going to miss her desperately. So, tell me the bad news.”

“Okay, but first I have more good news.”

I adjusted my pillows and sat up, and looked at him with a skeptical eye.

“Okay, Henry, tell me your other good news.”

“We’re in for another hot, dry spell. It’s going to be over 100 degrees again today.”

“Henry, don’t you know anything about what makes for good news?”

“At least we have air conditioning,” he added with a wink.

“Now, that’s good news, but I already knew that. So, what is the bad news, Henry? I’m getting impatient.”

“There’s one more piece of good news!”

“Well?”

Turning red-faced, he said, “I just had an accident downstairs, so I can wait a bit before you take me for a walk.”

“HENRY! I can’t believe you think that’s good news! I’m guessing that the bad news must be really, really incredibly bad. ”

Henry nodded and blurted out,

“Amazon just started charging tax in California today!  Your free ride is OVER!”

“What???” I demanded, with a sense of panic overcoming me.

“Kaput, gone, finito,” he sighed. “It’s hasta la vista, Baby!”

“Henry! This can’t be true!  Say it ain’t so! Amazon’s been fighting the state of California about this tax for years. No way. NO WAY!”

“Way,” Henry replied solemnly.

Which is when I bolted out of bed, turned on my computer and headed to the Amazon website, where I have at least 20 things in my shopping cart, and about double that on my wish list.

As I prepared to make a purchase, to see if Henry was right, I took one look at the total, which included the estimated tax, in bright, bold numbers, and screamed.

“NOOOOOOOO!!!”

Henry, seeing my pain, put a paw on my shoulder and said,

“Look at it this way, Cook. At least now you’ll be contributing to a good cause, helping the state balance its budget.” He flashed his best smile at me.

“Henry, ever hear of the old adage, ‘Kill the messenger’?”

Which is when, Henry jumped off my bed and hightailed it downstairs, retreating as quickly as he had appeared, leaving me to begin my 16 stages of grief.

  1. First, I cried.
  2. Then, I sobbed.
  3. My sobs soon turned into giggles which just as quickly turned into maniacal laughter, while a nervous tic developed in my eye.
  4. I climbed the walls and injured my tailbone when I landed on the floor.
  5. I suffered a nosebleed.
  6. I tore my hair out.
  7. I then scrapbooked my Amazon invoices from past purchases, where the tax line item still said, “zero.”
  8. And, I devoured a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, not noticing I was eating a flavor I didn’t like.
  9. I reflected on the old days when I could make any purchase and not think about the tax.
  10. I buried my head in my pillow while holding a printed version of my Amazon wish list.
  11. I belted out the lyrics from a song by Bad Finger, “I CAN’T LIVE, IF LIVING IS WITHOUT YOU…”
  12. I then watched a marathon of The Brady Bunch and cried for the Brady kids who lived in a time when shopping online didn’t exist.
  13. I listened to the song, “Free Ride,” by the Edgar Winter Group and cried when it was over.
  14. I watched a documentary about the Amazons and got another nosebleed, when I realized it wasn’t about the online retailer.
  15. I wrote a letter to Jeff Bezos and begged him to give me one more tax-free day.
  16. And finally, acceptance. I tried to accept the new tax charge, but instead fell back to square one, thus starting my stages of grief all over again.

And here, I was hoping California would legalize marijuana and get their much-needed tax revenue that way. But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. That bill didn’t pass the electoral vote.

Amazon, it was a good ride, but now it’s over, and I have a feeling my life will never be the same again.

How about you? Have you ever had something you’ve secretly enjoyed, taken away?

Old Friends

This photo was snapped about 15 years ago.

There’s nothing like old friends.

In May, I got together with a few old friends in Seattle, who I hadn’t seen in practically forever: Pam, Clare and Pat. We had such an amazing time together, falling back into our own rhythm, much like the way we were back when we’d see each other all the time. It nourished my heart and my soul to be with my longtime friends, so much so, that I plan to go back this fall for another round with them, just hanging in the Northwest.

This past weekend, I got together with another old friend. Christine.

Years ago, Christine and I worked together, right here in San Diego. Then she moved away and we lost track. A couple of years ago, she came back into my life (Thank you, Facebook!), and we haven’t missed a beat since.

I have so much fun with Christine. She’s smart, cheerful, hilariously funny and oozes joie de vivre, to boot! Her happiness can’t help but rub off on me. Which makes me very joyful, indeed!

So, though I don’t see Christine often—she lives two and a half hours away, for crying out loud—when we do get together, we’re guaranteed to have a blast. Make that an explosion of fun!

This weekend, we met halfway, and spent the entire day losing track of time, by doing the following:

1. Shopping to our heart’s content at our favorite department store.

Isn’t she lovely?

2. Trying on expensive makeup from Australia. Talented makeup artist, Tim, worked hard to make me look halfway decent, but had a much easier go of it with Christine, who is beautiful, with striking eyes, a gorgeous smile and flawless skin. He sold her two products to get that look (see photo, above). He told me I needed 15 different products and a prayer, and that I should “hope for the best.” Sigh.

This is Christine, holding her brand new shoes, and starving while waiting for me to pick a place to eat. She graciously allowed me to snap gads of photos.

3. Laughing and giggling while shopping for a travel purse (for me), a pair of pink wedge shoes (for Christine), and a blouse from the sale rack that was such a good price, it became a must-have! (Christine, again).

4. Searching like crazy for a place to lunch. (We’d waited so long, we were famished!) And confiding, and laughing over avocado egg rolls, once we found the perfect spot.

5. Trying on all sorts of clothes in the women’s department, which was seemingly deserted–not even a salesperson in sight! It was as if the store had closed and we were accidentally trapped inside to wreak havoc. What fun!

6. Finally, when we were so exhausted we could have fallen asleep right there, between the dresses and the pants rack, we stopped at a café for refreshing Frappuccino’s, and used it as another opportunity to chat some more. While we were at it, we set a date for our next encounter, thank you, very much.

Then, regretfully, we hugged and said our goodbyes, with neither of us looking forward to the long drive ahead that awaited us. Me heading south, and Christine, due north.

One last chat before parting.

Until next time, Christine!

So, tell me. What’s the best day you ever spent with an old friend?

This is us just before heading home. What a day!

Do I Look Like a Mr. Chewy?

Dear Diary,

I have my undies in a twist. Oh, yes, I know what you’re thinking. I don’t wear undies. But if I did…well, suffice it to say, I’m peeved with Cook.

In your humble opinion, do I look like a Mr. Chewy to you?

For, ever since she discovered a new website where she can buy pet food, snacks, and all the other accouterments which dogs and cats crave, she’s taken to calling me by the site’s name. And, all I can say is, I won’t have it!

After all, I’m a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and I descend from royalty. I am Henry, master of this most humble abode. And yet, Cook insists on calling me, ahem,

“Mr. Chewy”

Yes, that’s right. Mr. Chewy!!

In my estimation, Cook has gone bonkers. Yet, I am helpless when she says,

“Mr. Chewy, it’s dinner time!”

“Oh, Mr. Chewy? Are you ready for your constitutional?”

“My, my, Mr. Chewy, looks like you could use a bath.”

When she calls me Mr. Chewy, I look at her with mock disdain or pretend she’s caught me in a yawn. But, if truth be told, I find it rather hard to resist, for I just adore the food, the snacks and all the lovely things she’s procuring from the Mr. Chewy website—all to make my life more pleasant—at least, pleasant enough until I can make it back to my birthright, my England.

Frankly, I have never seen Cook so happy. Though, me thinks, the woman doth protests too much–or did, before she discovered the ease of having my 15-pound bags of dry food delivered right to our door.

Now, she’s utterly jubilant!  The prices are reasonable, she says, and the shipping is free when she spends $49 or more.

Ho hum, I say.

Makes her job easier, she says, as she rarely has time to drive to the pet store, make her purchase and trudge home with the loot. Saves money on gas, too, she adds, as if I give a hoot about gas–whatever that is.

Which is why I say, “Since when, Cook, have I been keen on making your job easier?”

If anything, she is here to serve me, and that’s why I pay her the big bucks!

Note to self: Find out exactly how much I pay her. Perhaps my valet can answer that? What? I don’t pay her at all? Oh, bother!

She’s even taken to liking Mr. Chewy on Facebook, all because they post pictures of what she calls “adorable” pets. I say, I defy her to find one as handsome as me.

What’s a Cavalier to do about this, anyway?? Count the days, I suppose.

Yes, while Cook enjoys her new find, I continue to count the days, and Diary, it is Day 1,780. Which has me stricken to no end.

Why? Because, after all this time, I have yet to take my rightful place by the throne. I just know that my queen expects me to overcome this barrier, otherwise known as America, and make my way in time for her Highness’ Diamond Jubilee. It just isn’t fair that I have been unable to secure my passage. I asked Cook, what is the holdup, and she shrugged and threw her hands  in the air, muttering something to the effect,

“Why, Mr. Chewy, I know not what you mean!”

Which I can only conclude to mean that she is as baffled as I, that I have yet to find my way home. Each night, I look at the moon–the inconstant moon!–and imagine the Queen is looking at it, too, whilst thinking about me.  Alas, I pray all is not lost.

Perhaps if I go to mrchewy.com myself, I’ll find the solution to my most pressing dilemma. After all, I know that site has everything a dog of discriminating taste could possibly want!

Until next time, Diary.  I must go post-haste, for I hear a truck rounding the bend!

A Word from Cook:  Henry really is pleased that I am enjoying the convenience of shopping for him at the Mr. Chewy site and Mr. Chewy, himself, has compensated Henry handsomely, with bags of delicious dog food. But even such generous gifts cannot influence royalty. Noblesse oblige, and all that. Therefore, Henry’s opinions are entirely, ahem, his own.