George & 2 Oldest Daughters

George & 2 Oldest Daughters
George, Oldest Daughter, and Me, 2nd Daughter 1968.

Caroline and Oldest Daughter

Caroline and Oldest Daughter
Caroline and Oldest Daughter in Photo Booth 1964

Boy George

Boy George
George and younger sister in 1940's

George and his Oldest Daughter

George and his Oldest Daughter
George and His Oldest Daughter 1964 in Photo Booth

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ahhh, Mother Goose

"Hey Diddle Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle, the Cow jumped over the Moon, the Little Dog laughed to see such sport, and the Dish ran away with the Spoon!"

Yes, I listened to my youngest play her viola last of her nicknames is Cat. The cow...I won't expound...:) Little Dog, my oldest was born in the year of the Dog, and was definitely laughing this morning. The Dish would be the son...his culinary class has a field trip today to Pike Place Market in Seattle...I would say the handsome young man is the Dish, running with the Spoon to Seattle for the day:) Me, the old mother? I am busy working on files and redecorating my boudoir. Quite happy so far with the results. Two walls are finished (color is Red Clay from Benjamin Moore), and then the Erte artwork is ready, along with the new bedframe and 1920's wardrobe/armoir, both courtesy of Craigslist. Time for my bedframe to be photographed to be posted there as well. Life is good...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chip off the old block...

Today marked the debut of my son's culinary arts class opening a bistro to the public. They create the menu, practice them, order for the expected crowd, prepare, serve, clean, cashier. All tips are to go to the program, and it was fantastic. A limited menu, open for one hour only, and well executed. No coffee or hot beverages though. George went with me today. He is observing lent, so he ordered the bruschetta. I had the pasta alfredo sans chicken. I have a little serving of chicken still in its to go souffle cup. Funny thing is not something I enjoy eating at all. Any fowl or fish for that matter. Bring on the beef, and the vegetarian cuisine. Those are my favorites.

It was nice to sit with dad. He just got his hearing aids, and I have to be careful what I say now. He hears everything. :-) Congratulations son! Now, lets get your web site up and running...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oy! What's that in the fridge???

Well, I work full time, single mom, and tons of other jobs that I take on...chauffeur, personal banker to three teens, green grocer, housekeeper, plumber, personal shopper, etc. So, today when I opened up the fridge, and everyone else did too, and were able to sniff the odoriferous wafts coming from the abyss....and then closed the door waiting for the next one to clean it...I finally called in the parental authority (me). The "not me" ghost struck again, yet they all cleaned out the fridge. I was informed I need to go shopping again too....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Life Lessons

Well, today is becoming one of contemplation. Viewing my own faults and weaknesses, along with strengths and fortes. Today I am laughing at things that a month ago would have really irked me. Keeping focused and staying positive is really a blessing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mom Was Here

Yes, mom came over today for the first time in years. We are mending fences it seems. After spending the day working on a common goal, things came together it appears. The kids and she are doing well, she met the oldest daughter's boyfriend and liked him (he is terrific) and had a better idea of what her grandchildren are developing into now they are all over 16 years of age. We still have differences, which is of course, only natural. I am my father's daughter.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mom and Me

I have an interesting, diverse, TALENTED, and gorgeous mother. She has always epitomized class, integrity, and left you guessing what her next move would be. I always wanted her green eyes, her blonde hair, and thought I was not attractive. She resembles Tippi Hedron in The Birds, and that cool Scandinavian look is not mine. I inherited the Eastern European dark hair, that has migrated to blonde to cover my gray strands, the whisky colored eyes with a green ring on the outer rim, and I am a bit taller with a longer waist and athletic physique. Now, my daughters want to be pretty like their mom. It amazes me how we all suffer the same malady.

Today I saw my mother, at age 68, still lovely, articulate, and intelligent, in her office with my oldest daughter. Three generations chatting about life. She commented how the oldest has my mother's grandmother's nose, which is quite true, and the Eastern European cheekbones. She also has the green eyes from my mother. The only one out of the six grandchildren. They are a lovely olive toned green, a gift from the Irish side. She has struggled with her self image until recently. She is lovely, both inside and out. We also discussed our futures. Much is going to happen in the next year. It seems my mother will once again be playing an active role in launching some young adults into life. This is a good thing for all of us, as she has excellent guidance and knowledge to offer. I believe we have a lot of years ahead of growing as individuals, and as a family together.

Here's to us!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stop and smell the roses...

That song was one of my favorites growing up. "You gotta stop, and smell the roses. You gotta count your many blessings every day. You're gonna find your way to heaven, is a rough and rocky road if you don't stop and smell the roses along the way".

Whenever I hear those lyrics ringing in my head, it makes me stop, and take stock of myself and where I am at in life with work, family, situations. Am I judging others unfairly, am I appreciating the laughter and beauty in the day? Even death provides a certain beauty and peace, along with humor in some cases. My Uncle Robert was buried with a great smirk on his face. One that I remember well. In our grief, we all had that humorous smirk to ease our tears, and set things right.

When the roses are budding, spring is here, in full bloom of the summer, we enjoy their fragrance and color, in the Autumn, the leaves lay dormant and begin to droop, Come winter, the blossoms are gone, and the plant is asleep, waiting to reawaken and begin the process anew. That is the essence of our own lives. However, I always have a memory of the fragrance of the rose in my mind. It is up to me to recall it in the winter to bring a little summer sunshine to my day. My parents taught me this as a child. It is a lesson I will always cherish, and put to use I hope, when my attitude needs adjusting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Well, Wednesday has arrived again. My oldest is graduating high school in 4 months. All the fears that a parent has are beginning to arise within me. I am trying to quell them and move forward with life uninhibited by the alarms I keep hearing in my head. Will she be able to take care of herself, where will she live, have I shown her enough to get by in the "real world".

I detest overprotecting children to the point they are not prepared for life. I was discussing my anxiety with her advisor at school. She said "she simply needs to learn for herself by experiencing it". There we go. The lightbulb turned on. I can deal with that. I know George did with me. Holy Cow...did he ever!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunshine On My Shoulder....

Yes, today the vista I awoke to had DARK and DREARY clouds. By the time I took the kids to school at 7:30, there was a distinct border coming through of blue sky peppered with white clouds. Now, at 11:00 a.m. PST, the sun is bright, it is nigh 50 degrees farenheit outside, and I love the feel of the warmth. Crazy to think that the Winter Olympics are taking place less than 200 miles North of me this very minute. While the rest of the country is going through an extremely cold weather, we are in the middle of a much warmer winter than usual. It is absolutely gorgeous!

I have always wanted to attend an Olympic Games. This may be the closest I come to the chance. If I can make it up, I will. There is one week left, yet, loads of commitments with work and kids. My passport is in place, we shall see. Just to walk through an Olympic Village would be a delight to me.

George called this morning after his long journey with the oldest yesterday. His concern was not for himself, I did not hear a single complaint. I heard a grandfather making certain the grandchildren were happy, healthy, and had enough rest. I am learning in experience to take the knowledge I gain from life, and try to transfer it to wisdom. Wisdom and tranquility. Growing up is difficult at times, yet what a relief when you stop playing the games that others become embroiled in. When you can step away from a situation, look at it analytically and rationally, sans emotion, what a relief it is to come to a decision based on fact instead of reaction and emotion. The best outcome generally comes when this is the process used. Not always the easiest path, but ultimately, the truest and best way. Thanks again dad for giving me the example to learn from. Your grandchildren are also exhibiting this maturity. Here's to Wisdom!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The 16 Year Old

Today, my youngest turned 16. She and George call each other "My Fellow Aquarian". Papa George called the young scoundrel this morning to wish her a happy birthday, as he was en route to my oldest daughter in Yakima to pick her up from a weekend long music program. Every time I hear other people talking about the negative experiences with their fathers growing up, I count my lucky stars that I was blessed with George, and he is the grandfather my children are growing up with. I do not think it possible for a father or grandfather to love more than George.

So, midget, scoundrel, ball of fire, youngest. She is itching to drive, pestering me for a permit. I think we will have to visit the DMV this week. That will mean all THREE teens would get permits simultaneously. I think the grey hair will come in with a vengeance with that occurrance. That is all right though. It is a right of passage and a necessity as well if you want to journey anywhere here in Washington State. The bus and train only go so many places. I foresee a driveway with cars that are not registered in my name in my future, and young adults venturing off to see the world :-) The future is waiting to be written....ahhh, 16. Happy Birthday Kid!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day, Now and Then...

I have always loved Valentine's Day. The cutout hearts, the paper doilies you can embellish them with, the sentiment behind the day itself. Every day would be better if we treated people with the love that this day appears to evoke.

I had my text of "Happy Valentine's Sweetie" and it made me smile. Today is my younger cousin's birthday, and tomorrow, my youngest turns 16. Friday was my oldest sister's birthday, and the 8th, was George's. Lots in one week, for certain. Do I expect anything today? Not at all. Do I appreciate the daily Valentines I receive? Absolutely. The day itself is, or can be, somewhat forced. The daily proof of "I love you" that I receive from family and friends is what I cherish, and this day is simply set aside to reflect and appreciate those memories.

George had a phone call from me this morning. I woke him up :-) Oh yeah, I was up first this time. That is not always the case. He enjoys catching me lying in and boasting how long he has been up. It has always been the case. The "Rise and Shine Morning Glory" that he would wake us up with as kids. Mom would always be cooking or baking something, and KOMO radio AM 1000 with Larry Nelson was always on in the mornings. Those are my memories.

Now, my kids? I have three teens that are all in high school. I stay out of their way until it is time to drive them to school. Then, when they are safely delivered, I have a coffee or tea, and the bathroom to myself, it is my time to breathe deeply, relax, and move on with my day. What will my future Valentines hold when they are gone? A quiet, a calm, a lack of bustle, but hopefully, a phone call or email telling me they love me. Again, it doesn't have to be on Valentines, I will take it when I get it, and appreciate it.

Enjoy the day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Blonde Bomber

My dad had, and has good taste. George always had a talent for finding one of a kinds. One that he found, was my mother, Caroline. They divorced in 1986, but between them, raised 5 very individual, and creative people. We always had music in the house, whether it was Benny Hill on the television with his nutty skits, or my mom and her Billie Holliday, Classical and Opera, Church pieces in Russian or English, playing the piano, French horn, saxophone, clarinet, flute, etc. All five of us played an instrument and/or sang. The radio was always going, and when it fell silent, it was generally because mom was grilling us on words for the spelling bee. "The Latin root IS????" "The Greek root IS????" It was fantastic training for learning French and Spanish in school, and remembering spelling rules. If only I learned Algebra and Geometry that well. You can't be gifted at everything though :-)

When I learned to drive, my mother was the assigned parent to my training. George did not have the patience, as explained in an earlier post. Nor, did George necessarily have the time. Carol was the driving coach by default. She learned how to drive from her dad in her early teens. She also used to drag race for local car clubs in the late 50's and early 60's. She sang at a place called The Spanish Castle in the 1960's, and I have been recognized by people who knew her from those days, because of a resemblance that she just doesn't see.

The drag racing stories came out when I was learning to drive a manual transmission in the 1980 Pinto when I was 16. It became my car when I was 21, but it was what I learned to drive in when I first started. I did the unthinkable one morning. I died at the stoplight. There my mother sat, "embarrassed" to be "left at the light". She patiently explained how to keep it in neutral while waiting, then slip it into first gear, and double clutch when the light went green. I mastered it, and have never forgotten that lesson. The Blonde Bomber, my mother's racing nickname it turns out, can drive like a Bat out of...yeah, that hot place. She is in her mid sixties now, still youthful looking and young at heart. Her exclamations of "Hot Dog" when something good happens ring in my memory archives, especially when I double clutch in a manual transmission, and don't get left at the light....

Thanks George for choosing my classy, nutty, and compassionate mother. She is definitely a one of a kind...just like you.

Memories of a Daughter

Well, it is Saturday, and I have been very productive. I picked up the paint for my bedroom (fresh clay from Benjamin Moore), did my marketing for the weekend, and took my youngest daughter to her favorite Thai restaurant. It is amazing to watch your mini-me's turn into the adults they are destined to become. The epiphany that your mom and dad also went through this with you at some point in your own growth can make one feel aged, since it was only yesterday you were your child's age, right?

I look at photos of my parents, then myself, then my daughters and son. I am reminded of Doris Day's hit Que Sera Sera. "When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what lies ahead...will I be pretty, will I be rich...?" Yes, whatever will be, will be. That is the hardest part of growing up, what IS going to be? I answer questions about that all the time with my children. Just as George and my mother, Caroline, answered, and still do, with me. I am still their daughter, and my children will always look to me (I hope) for answers, and sound advice. Or, to even just be a sounding board for their thoughts and emotions.

I remember going into labor with my oldest, not knowing the gender, and my mother, Caroline came in to soothe me. I looked at her, all modesty gone with the splitting pain, and asked her if she was crazy to have gone through this five times. Her answer was that we were worth it. That is the truth. The kids are worth it. No matter the anger or the frustration or sadness we feel as a result of the kids' actions, the joy in their coming out as their own individual with so much to offer the world, is the reward.

George's mother used to talk about her Georgie that wore a bright red hat so that as he wandered around the farm, they knew where he was at all times. His stories of trying to fly by putting wings on the wagon, hauling it up the roof of the butcher shed, and then landing in the blackberry bushes....we are lucky we survive childhood at all.

This daughter remembers laughter at stories, eating at restaurants and mixing up the soda flavors and serving them to dad, who said "wow, that's interesting" and never made you feel stupid for trying to pull one over on him. Mom singing in her operatic voice to different arias, and then transitioning to Gershwin or Streisand without any apparent effort. I remember the Girl Scouts, PTA haunted houses, elaborate costumes for Halloween, and playing softball. Dad insisted we wear long pants so that when we slid, our legs were not scarred, and I learned to hold dirt in my fists to keep my hands closed sliding under a tag. Encouragement and love abounded.

Thanks Mom and Dad. I hope my kids can all say the same one day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Grandpa George

Well, today, Papa George drove his granddaughters to Yakima, WA. My oldest is in the All State Choir that performs on Monday, and Grandpa was all too happy to make the drive, and take his "fellow Aquarian" as a co-pilot while they navigated their way over the Snoqualmie Pass with the Chanteuse as the celebrated passenger. It was the girls' first time on the Eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. I kept receiving text messages as they came to other places. We make the journey again on Monday to pick her up from her 4 day Chorale experience. Papa George will again do the driving.

He played for the Yakima Bears and the Wenatchee Chiefs, as well as the Seattle Rainiers. He and I have journeyed places over the years and I have been well regaled with stories of those days. It has never ceased to amaze me how each step in life leads us in a direction of unknown opportunities. It just depends on if we pick up the options that will benefit us, or leave them for someone else to experience. I am eagerly waiting to hear from the youngest daughter about her day with Grandpa. They are two peas in a pod and always have great times together. When I count my blessings, my three kids and my dad are always uppermost on the list.

I had a telephone call from a culinary school looking for my son. He is taking it in high school courses now. Puyallup has a state of the art kitchen and program. They are also learning the catering aspect, pricing of food, filling out their own orders, etc. How to run a kitchen basically. Son had to practice making crepes. Where did we go??? Papa George of course. He sat there, complained about the carbs of course, and encouraged him in his presentation and preparation. He did beautifully. He didn't win the competition, however, he certainly can make one heck of a crepe. Just ask George....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

George's Cars, oh boy!

My dad, George, was born in 1936 to his Slovakian farming parents. He was the 7th of 8 children, the first to graduate high school (1954). Having grown up during WWII and on the tail end of the Great Depression, he had a solid background in appreciating the value of a dollar. That, along with the values passed on to him by his parents laid the foundation for a wonderful life. Making the right decision isn't always the most beneficial monetarily, but you can definitely look yourself in the mirror with a clear conscience. Peace of mind is priceless.

Dad loves cars, like most men. I am going to be posting some of his memories that he listed in sequential order of ownership.

1936 Chevrolet 2/D Sedan
My very first car. I bought it from my dad for $150.00 that I saved up from cleaning out barns and working in the summer for our dairy neighbors, the Solers, Grabs, and Ericksons. This was a great car, and Pa bought it new the year I was born. Had one little dent in a rear fender but only had 50,000 miles on it. I didn't like its styling and wanted a V8. I was young and stupid. This car was grey in color and ran like a dream.

1931 Ford Model A coupe with rumble seat
Made a big mistake when the timing gear went out on the Chevy and I traded it straight across for this cute little Model A. Had a lot of fun in it but it certainly wasn't the car the Chevy was. Sold it to my friend Gene Remington (Jughead). This car was a faded white in color. It had a jump seat in the rear where you would normally look for a trunk. The metal floor in that section was completely rotted out, so if you rode back there, you were looking down at the drive shaft and road. I used to retard the spark, turn off the engine, and then turn it back on again while driving down the highway. It would let off a loud backfire and emit a bright flash up through the rusted out rumble seat area. This all came from the exhaust pipe which ended just below the rumble seat. Used to scare the heck out of most of the kids I would coax to ride back there so I could initiate them.

1937 Ford 2/D sedan with V8 engine and mechanical brakes
Bought this car from Mr. Soler our neighbor for $125.00. It was in great shape and very fast but had mechanical brakes that could lead to disaster and nearly did several times. I drove this car to High School, and one day, couldn't stop at my parking spot in front of the school and knocked down a steel railed fence. I am lucky I didn't get killed in this car! This car was gray in color. Another time I had three other kids in the car ,and was stopped at an intersection near Buckley. I floored the engine pedal and popped the clutch; the transmission gears dropped all over the highway. I made up some far out excuse and told Pa I should have kept his car. (True!)

1953 Chevrolet Bel Aire 2/D Hardtop
This was my very first really super nice car. I had graduated from High School and was working construction, driving logging truck and had several other miscellaneous jobs. I traded my Ford in and borrowed the balance (around $1,800) from my dad. I had this car for about two years and through my first year in professional baseball. It was a baby crap brown with an Ivory top and trim. A great little car and one of my favorites. I purchased it from Paulson Motors, a new car Chevrolet dealer in Puyallup. It was the owner's wife demo.

I always enjoy reading about other's past experiences, and seeing how they formed who the person is now. My first car was a 1980 Pinto with a moon roof. I was 21, and it had been my sister's before becoming mine. Dad taught me how to drive his 1969 Dodge Pick up when I was 16. It had a great air horn that I loved. I performed a California Stop, his knuckles gripped the door, his nostrils flared and went white, and in a quiet, even tone, he told me "get out of the car". I did. He has let me drive him maybe three times in the last twenty years...

I Am George's Daughter


George is my dad. He is now 74 years of age, retired from real estate and banking, played AAA baseball in the 1950's as a pitcher, served a stint in the US Army, and grew up on a 100 acre farm as the son of Slovakian immigrants. Yes was always yes, and no was always no, unless you knew how to negotiate ;)

I have split logs and hauled wood, helped take care of 13 head of Hereford cattle, danced with ethnic dance groups, learned to sing in Greek, Russian, English and other languages, played "burn out" with dad (basically 'mercy' to see who would give up first from how hard the throw hit the glove), competed in marketing and music while in school, survived cancer, raised 3 children as a divorced mother for 15 years, and laughed, cried, loved and raged with and at my father. This blog is a tribute to ALL the father's who encourage their sons and daughters to follow the straight path, reach for their dreams, and encourage them in their life, without victimizing them by trying to exert control. My hat is off to these men. My belief, and hope, is that there are many more men in this world like what I have just described, than we, as a public, hear about from the media stories that saturate the airwaves.

Since I am not certain where to begin, I guess I will start by sharing last year's surprise party I threw for him, at his house. In one week, I planned and invited people from his childhood, working years, and our family to "drop in" on Gorgeous George for a surprise party. We had recently lost his niece, my cousin, to cancer, and she would have loved the idea. I had experienced too many funerals and weddings where we see family, but never any recent gatherings "just because". So, with the pledge of secrecy, and everyone wanting to surprise my dad, I went shopping with my three kids, purchased the food for around 100 people, and hauled it over to his house. He was so trusting that all he asked was "gee, you better be taking this home when we are done, there are too many carbs here. What did you do? Invite your cousin Ed over?" Yeah, right guy is going to make up the difference from 5 people eating as opposed to 100.

His house is meticulously clean, so, just to make certain, I checked the bathroom before guests arrived, and started setting out food on the dining room table. Unleashed the Chinette plates and all the other disposable dinnerware, and tasked out my three teens to keep him busy while I diffused his questions. It was ready, and all the people were set to show up. I had mentioned "open house" style with no set schedule. If anyone had to leave and just wanted to pop in, that was fine. The first to ring the doorbell were two of three sisters that knew my dad since infancy. They were from a neighboring farm and our families have known each other for approximately 80 years. That was when Gorgeous George figured it out. He turned to me in shock and said "I'm going to get you". We all laughed, and the consummate host that is my dad emerged, and enjoyed himself. There were calls from Alaska, North Dakota and emails. Not a single person that didn't make it made the excuse that they had anything other than the desire to be there. I have never met anyone that balked when hearing who my dad is. I usually get the response of a broad smile, a relaxing of posture, and a special George story that they have. We had a wonderful time, and about 46 people showed in all.

This year, it was just the kids and I. Dad threatened to leave town if I tried it again :-) Curiously though, he did buy security cameras two weeks before his birthday. He returned them right after his birthday though. I believe it was really because he never wanted to be surprised on his birthday again. What do you think?????