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Jan at Puget SoundWhether you’re family, or a regular reader, or just stumbled on this blog while searching for a “paintball” or “termite” image, I’m glad you are here.

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Thanks for reading,

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Birthday FAIL: or, Why My Husband’s Bicycle Has a Preposterous Name

He already has so many bicycles I can’t keep track of them. What’s one more?
That’s what I thought last summer, when Brent showed me an ad for a custom, retro-style Bianchi road bike. His newest bike is also a Bianchi, the first he’s ever owned of that make.

This one looked spiffy and nostalgic with its narrow steel tubing, just like what we used to ride in the 1970s, only in Bianchi’s prestigious Celeste Green color rather than Schwinn Red or whatever we had.

I encouraged him to order one. “It can be for your birthday,” I said. There was no way to surprise him with it because I’d have to take multiple height and arm length measurements. I couldn’t think of a plausible cover story to explain that, not that it wasn’t fun to try.

So I helped measure him, and he placed the order. The bike would be manufactured in Italy and shipped from a store in Ireland.

Meanwhile, our peach tree had an “off” season. It produced only a few scruffy peaches, for which we arm-wrestled the bugs and birds. And lost.

Some time later, we got word that the bike would be delayed, not shipping until after Brent’s birthday. Well, dang. I want to give the guy something on his actual birthday.

Next day’s email contained an ad from Harry & David. We order pears from them almost every year. Best pears ever. In a flash of brilliance, I ordered a box of peaches, to make up for the ones our slacker tree didn’t produce, scheduling delivery for the week before his birthday.

As summer ended, I got another email from Harry & David. Something about weather and harvest and basically, the peaches won’t get there until two weeks after Brent’s birthday, sorry about that.

Whaddaya gonna do? It’s fruit; you can’t control when it ripens.

Even at that, the fruit arrived before the bike did. We opened the box and sliced up the first luscious-looking peach.

Maybe we’re spoiled by our own super sweet peach tree, but this one just tasted flat.

Disappointed at letting him down yet again, I put down my peach slice and looked at Brent. “At least you’ll be getting your bike soon.”

“Yeah, and I know what I’m going to name it,” he said.

“Really? What?”


“Riiiiiight,” I said. “Happy birthday.”

This year I’m gonna play it safe and give him a shirt or baseball tickets or something.

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Everybody Has a Story, Thoughts on Two Wheels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Navigate THIS!

About that trip to Missouri last week…

My brother, David, and I drove to the town of Nevada from different directions. Next day, we agreed to each find our way north to Warsaw and meet at the Common Ground Cafe for lunch.

His rental car had the add-on navigation system, and my Infiniti of course has the latest version of GypsE ROSE. What could go wrong?

My route meandered up state highways alongside the Truman Reservoir before veering off onto a local road that approached town from the “back” side. At length I came to Highway 7, where I expected to turn right. But GypsE ROSE said to cross it.

The map showed me turning right just past 7, and crossing a bridge into town. Fine.

I turned off where indicated. Moments later, there was the bridge.

A footbridge.

“Not driving over that.” I pulled into a convenient parking lot to reconnoiter.

The cafe was only a half-mile away. Why not walk?

So I took off afoot. A man crossing the other way stopped to chat. I mentioned the cafe. He told me I’d see a convenience store and said, “That’s Main Street, just keep going.”

Soon I saw the store. Something stood between me and it: Highway 7 and some fast-moving traffic.”Not walking across that.” Back over the bridge and into the car. As soon as I turned to retrace my route, the map guidance changed to show me taking Highway 7 into town and turning onto Main.

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” I demanded.

I figured David would be tired of waiting for me by now, but as I parked I got a text from him. “Just got to the cafe.”

When we were seated, he told me his own nav system tale. . .

Shortly before he reached a highway turn, he accidentally pushed the steering wheel “phone” button. A feminine voice said, “Phone. Do you wish to make a call? After the tone, say ‘select a phone,’ ‘add a phone,’ or ‘no.'”

His nav chose that moment to say, “In zero point five miles, turn right onto Highway 83.”

Ms. Phone: “I didn’t understand that. Do you wish to make a call? After the tone, say ‘select a phone,’ ‘add a phone,’ or ‘no.'”

David was about to yell “NO,” but his nav butted in. “In zero point three miles, turn right onto Highway 83.”

Ms. Phone: “I didn’t understand that. Do you wish…”

David couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Desperately trying to kill the phone and end this mechanical conversation, he missed his turn and drove two miles before finding a place to turn around.

By the time he got to Warsaw, he figured I’d be tired of waiting for him.

I thought of my ongoing appliance battles. “There’s such a thing,” I said, “as too much technology.”

Thanks for reading!

Posted in I Remember When... (my OWN stories) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Another Day, Another Diner

Last week, my brother and I met in Missouri to visit family and have our mother’s ashes interred alongside her parents’ graves. At least five generations of Mom’s people are buried there in her home town.

Despite our somber errand, the trip as a whole was actually fun. David and I had a sort of unspoken agreement to avoid eating in any major chain restaurants, not that there’s anything wrong with Denny’s or Chili’s. But we can eat at their restaurants any time.

So we searched out local places. . .

Nevada, Missouri: A small city where we lived for a couple of years as children. David remembers eating here at the White Grill and we were delighted to find it still in business. So we dropped in for coffee.

Serving up burgers, breakfast, and banter since 1938.

A waitress cheerfully interpreted signature menu items like “Mess” and “Whistle Burger.” When David told her we’d lived in Nevada more than fifty years ago and were surprised to find the Grill still open, she said, “Yeah, I don’t think it’s ever gonna go away.” We came back the next morning for breakfast, and bought souvenir coffee mugs.

Warsaw, Missouri: The Common Ground Cafe on Main Street turned out to be a charming pub-like retreat on three levels. They feature rustic furnishings and delicious sandwiches on fresh-baked bread.

Sedalia, Missouri: Knowing Sedalia had been a railroad and cattle-shipping hub, what could be more local than a barbecue place where you could eat in an actual 1920s railroad dining car?

The menu refers to side dishes as “Baggage.”

Kehde’s Barbeque didn’t disappoint. We both got two-meat combo plates, which include bread and two sides, or “pieces of baggage.” The meat was so tender I barely had to chew it. And talk about nostalgia–they’d even placed antique luggage in the overhead racks.

There were other local gems, but I don’t have time to describe them all right now.

If you’re traveling, I’d suggest seeking out local eateries. With online reviews to help steer you clear of the truly terrible, it’s pretty low risk and lots more interesting than the same-old same-old.

Your turn: I enjoy eating and discovering new places. How about sharing your local favorites in the “Leave a Reply” box below?

Thanks for reading!

Posted in I Remember When... (my OWN stories) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Some spring mornings dawn bright and clear, others start out overcast, even forbidding.

And sometimes we get cloud sculptures…

It’s as if God were stirring His finger around in the clouds to make a whirlpool.

Have a sunny day!

Thanks for reading,

Posted in A Page From My Journal | Leave a comment

Wild Things!

When I’m out bicycling, most of the animals I see are either

a) fenced dogs,
b) roadkill,
c) fast-moving birds or squirrels just trying to get out of my way, or
d) un-fenced dogs, which may or may not endanger my life.

a) through c) cause me no concern, although roadkill critters, while harmless, can still be ominous. Once, on a small back road, I passed the carcass of a feral hog. For the next year, every time I passed by that way I mentally looked for escape routes: fences or trees I could climb in case of feral hog attack.

But I’m not paranoid.

No, really.

I mean, you can’t blame me for the adrenaline rush I experienced when I pedaled around a bend and spotted this bad boy poised by the side of the road, looking kind of hungry.

“The better to eat you with, my dear.”

So yeah, I stay alert, but try not to panic.

How embarrassing would it be to crash while trying to escape from a hungry… log??

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Thoughts on Two Wheels | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Mom

My mom loved wearing necklaces. Several years ago, I realized she’d almost stopped wearing any. She couldn’t work the catches anymore. She had a few long necklaces that she could put on over her head–and double them if she wanted. The rest lay in her dresser drawer, unused.

The week before Mother’s Day that year, I visited the nearest “Charming Charlie” store. They have tons of accessories, the displays grouped by color so it’s easy to narrow down your search.

Mom loved turquoise, blues and greens, so I trekked back to the blue-and-green color families’ corner of the store. In minutes, I’d found the perfect necklace: Blue, aqua, teal, and green beads, all different shapes, with silver accents. It was long enough to wear doubled or even tripled, and not a catch in sight.

Only one thing kept it from being the perfect gift: It came in a set, attached to a coordinating pair of drop earrings. Pierced earrings, and Mom never got her ears pierced.

Ah, but I have pierced ears, and I also love blue, teal, and turquoise.

So I gave Mom the necklace and showed her my matching “mother-daughter” earrings. I’d wear my earrings when I went to visit and, as often as not, found Mom wearing her Mother’s Day necklace. I kept the set together after Mom died, but hadn’t worn the necklace anywhere.

We spent this Mother’s Day weekend with Brent’s wonderful mom, Jeannine. I brought a floral print dress in burgundy, green, and turquoise, and packed my earrings and the necklace. I’d wear them to church to honor my mom.

Sunday morning, we gave Jeannine our gift, then Brent presented me with a small box. Inside was a beautiful, delicate pair of earrings. “Look, they go with your dress,” Jeannine pointed out. Sure enough, the dark red stones picked up the burgundy flowers.

But I couldn’t decide.

We got into the car for church, me still wearing my mother-daughter set… but with the little box tucked into my purse.

We got within three blocks of the church before I made up my mind. I slipped off the beaded set and hid it in the pocket of my back-seat door. Out came the new earrings. We parked just as I got the second one secured.

Brent opened my door and said, as I got out, “Oh, you’re wearing your new earrings!” I smiled and nodded.

After church, I thanked him again for the earrings. “I’m glad I wore them today. I’d planned to wear my mom’s necklace set for Mother’s Day…”

He gave me a sympathetic, almost regretful look. “Aww, you could’ve worn them for your mom.”

“Yeah, but I have you with me now.”

What I meant was, I loved my mom, and she knew it. I don’t have to prove it to her now. She is not looking over my shoulder or keeping score.

I’ll never forget my mother, but as near as I can figure, now is the time to appreciate and celebrate the loved ones who are still with me.

By the way, I’m not trying to tell anyone else how to grieve. We all deal with loss in our own way.

Thanks for reading,

I welcome your comments in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

Posted in Grief Anticipated, I Remember When... (my OWN stories), Near As I Can Figure... | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A “Cutting-Edge” Mystery

Exhibit A

Last week, Brent pulled this broken juice glass from the cabinet.

Neither of us remembered putting a broken glass into the cabinet, which gave rise to questions like,

How did it break?
When did it break?

I recalled, early in our marriage, pulling half a plate out of a kitchen cabinet. After blinking at it a moment I’d reached in again and found the other half. The plate had somehow split in two after being put away. Maybe that’s what happened to the glass.

Was the broken-off part in the cabinet?
>searches< Nope.

Maybe it broke in the dishwasher.
>opens dishwasher door, scans top rack< Didn’t see it.

Ummmmmm. . . somewhere in our home, a sharp and jagged chunk of curved glass is hiding. . . just waiting for a bare foot or an inquisitive doggie nose to wander by.

Whenever we were in the kitchen, we’d peek under the fronts of the lower cabinets with deep suspicion. I’d get out the stepladder to look in the juice-glass shelf one more time. We checked the pantry. Looked in the cabinet “one more time” again. Pulled out the lower rack and examined the dishwasher floor. Asked each other, “Where could that stupid piece of glass be???”

We were just waiting for one of us to step on the missing shard. I wore shoes at all times.

Gradually, though, the sense of danger faded. Perhaps the shard had walked away, or fallen into the trash of its own accord.

We both tend to use the same drinking glass over and over, so the top dishwasher rack doesn’t fill up very fast. It was days later that I pulled out the rack to load some glasses and coffee cups that had collected. There, in the rear corner, curved over the rack and nearly invisible unless you were looking straight down at it, lay the missing piece.

What a relief!

But I still wear shoes in the house. . .

Your turn: Have you dealt with mysterious household gremlins like we have? I’d love to hear about it in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

Thanks for reading,

Posted in I Remember When... (my OWN stories) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment