Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Four Days in Seattle

In Seattle, it is always about multi-generational family. Here are the high points from the first four days of my two week sojourn. I arrived at SEATAC baggage claim 8:30 Saturday evening to a big welcome from Jeanne, Kelan and Lauren. We had a whole evening ahead of us and it was 2:00 a.m Houston time when I was finally ensconced in Jeanne's petite and very comfortable guest room. It has its own thermostat, so I am always warm. As for the rest of Seattle, it is cold and damp inside and out.

Sunday noon, Lauren and I picked Dad up for First Baptist Church of Seattle's Christmas concert. Our extended family took up a pew and a half. Caroline and Steve met Dad at the side door of the church. It is always a slow process for Dad to get out of the car, find himself stable with his walker, move up the ramp into the church and then make his way to the fourth pew at the far left of the sanctuary. Charlie and Lulu Bell were there and Kate and Laura arrived as I introduced myself to a young couple sitting directly behind us.
I said, "We're all family. Four generations." As if that would be explanation for the whispering and constant motion of two little girls. I noticed at some point during the concert, they'd left for other seating. Lauren and Lulu were sweet as they followed the three hymns we sang together.
Neither of my daughters and their families go to church, so it's strange and new for the kids. Lauren told me she'd like to go to church, so I said, "When you are a bit older, your mom can drive and drop you off." Heavens know where that suggestion will take her. These grandchildren of mine need to know more about churchgoing. They need some familiarity with hymns and Bible verses for life context, if nothing else.
The concert included Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, which of course, brought tears to Kate's and my eyes because Mom often included these carols in her Aruba Christmas concerts. Kate and I were undone by This Little Babe and Dad got a pat on his knee from me and a hug from Kate. These melodies overwhelm our hearts because they are Mom and they are Dad. They simply mean family.
Dad and I did agree on the drive back to his place, that Mom's choirs sang these carols with more joy, clarity and lightness than this choir. Mom's choirs had that unique Robert Shaw sound.
As you can see from the photo below, it's a big deal getting Dad in and out of church. Steve performed great family service on this holiday Sunday.
On Monday morning, I went with Caroline to Charlie's class for a gingerbread house project. Parents had covered pint milk cartons with graham crackers and there was one for each child on a plastic plate. Ziploc bags filled with frosting had a hole cut in one corner for squeezing. Bowls of candies lined the tables.
There were few instructions. Each child was free to his/her house led by intuition and individual design sense. When they'd finished their houses, they were told to use up the candy by making gardens/lawns/whatever on the rest of the plate. Candy snowmen, light poles, flowers and pathways appeared.
The school's cafeteria, where all were hard at work on these gingerbread houses, does not have central heating. I was freezing as it was about 48 degrees, but the kids here are so used to cold and were so involved in the project, they were oblivious. As usual in this digital age, all was excessively documented my parents and me.
Ever onward. At 11:30 we met Fletcher Mackey at Thai Tom, that terrific little restaurant on University where one can watch the cook manage six woks over intense flames. The food is always good and so is the spectacle just inches away.
Great to see Fletcher and hear about his trips to Korea, his daughter's 40th birthday and grandson Tierney. Jeanne joined us at a coffee shop after lunch, where I took this photo which Caroline promptly put on Facebook. And how did we know Fletcher was in Seattle? The day before, Caroline saw his location on Facebook and sent him a message. Ubiquitous Facebook.
After lunch I managed a surreptitious stop at the yarn shop and then went on to see Dad. Back by 5:00 at Jeanne's, so she could get to a Rat City Roller practice. My sister Kate came over for a glass of wine and lots of conversation. So, that was Monday. A very full and fine day.
On Tuesday morning, I visited Dad, but as he kept dozing off, I left for Target to buy gift certificates for his caregivers. Then stayed with Kelan, who was home from school with a slight fever and aftermath of a fall and a hard hit on the side of his head. No concussion. Jeanne was away teaching her pre-school class. At 3:00, Kelan accompanied me to pick up Lauren at their elementary school. Then I had a harried time locating the house key which had detached from the car keys. Home at 4:00, I said adios to everyone, fell into my bed and slept hard for three hours.
Staggered out of bed after 7:00 p.m., ate supper, watched a game of Rummikub and then went to bed again.  I seem to hit a wall every three days. Today, it's been six weeks since that ablation procedure, so still in recovery mode? While I slept, Jeanne made dozens of gluten/dairy free holiday cookies for her preschool students to decorate. This is all I saw of her hours of labor - cooky cutters and a rack drying on the counter. Cookies were already boxed and ready for class.
This morning, we woke to snow. And then it all turned to rain, real rain all day along. Folks in Seattle seem to pay no attention to rain. Everyone simply goes about their business. Lots of hoodies, few umbrellas. No one is ever cold, least of all the kids.
Spent three hours with Dad this afternoon. Took him old school yearbooks and two photo albums. He poured over them and I crocheted. I'd better be crocheting after buying new yarn. How could I do that when I have drawers of yarn in Houston? I definitely need to stay out of yarn shops.
After 5:00 I headed to Charlie's wrestling practice - pictures not downloaded yet. Tomorrow morning, I'll go with Lulu to an adult home near their school, where her kindergarten class all have 'gran-pals'. To be sure, there will be photos of Lulu and her gran-pal.
This is my Seattle. Family is wonderful, yet I am very happy to have this comfortable little guest room for retreat. Need to begin gift wrapping soon. Still have a gifts to buy. It's been years since I've been organized for Christmas.

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