Shannon Ingram's Place

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Location: So CA

Musings of a woman who left her corporate career to become a caregiver for elderly parents, wrote a book and found her way back to corporate - with love, instead of fear, leading the way.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Death in 3 x 2

I've been feeling kind of sorry for myself the past week because I had two surgeries in six days. They were pretty minor, although the bunion and hammertoe fix yesterday, while not life-threatening, is life-limiting. It's painful and I have to depend on a husband who has a cold or, like Blanche DuBois, "the kindess of strangers." Neverthelss, I'm still alive and typing this blog entry, so that's a good thing.

My superstitious mother has always believed in the old "deaths run in threes" riddle. Whenever two people we knew would pass away within a couple of weeks of each other, my mom would always be waiting for the third person to die. She used to say she held this belief because, "I was Irish before I was Catholic," whatever that means (I'll have to google it).

This week we experienced a double dose of the "runs in three's" death spree. Mom's dear friend, Anne Nelson, mother of my friend, Gaye, whom I've written about in other postings, passed away suddenly on Saturday. Anne and Gaye are pictured above. Anne was the longest tenured employee of CBS and had just left her job at the network in January. How awful it must have been to leave a job with a beloved company you'd been with for 64 years. That's like a death.

Today I learned that two other friends from church, Sandy and John (not related), left the planet too. Sandy was an entrepreneur who started a company that made choclate mousse. John was a college professor. In the realm of the famous, we said good-bye to Ed McMahon, beautiful Farrah Fawcett, and now the King of Pop.

With so many people I knew personally or via their fame transitioning this week, I wonder if I'll remember exactly where I was when I heard about Michael Jackson's death today, as every news reporter is predicting we will. I do recall where I was when I heard about Elvis, John Lennon and Princess Diana. It shouldn't be too hard to remember today's news because I was sitting in Gary's recliner feeling a significant amount of self-pity. I've claimed the chair as my "camp site" for a few days while I have to keep my foot up. I'm eating, sleeping, watching TV and working in the recliner. I get five minutes once very two hours to get up and do whatever I need to do such as visit the loo (that's a "recliner rhyme"). I was away from camp for a bit too long earlier this evening. Feeling the foot pain right now just reminds me that I'm ALIVE.

More on my dear departed friends another day. For now, it's time to enjoy all the vintage footage of Michael Jackson in his "Thriller" heyday, before he became "Wacko Jacko." I loved his music. And I'm relishing photos of Farrah's beautiful smile and great layers of curly blonde hair. I loved her red bathing suit.

Life is good.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tissues Galore

Who knew I would need an entire box of tissue for one college graduation? My heart was filled with pride and I burst into tears when Lindsey walked past us in the procession on Husky field. Thank goodness she was carrying her huge "fishy purse" with blue and white stripes that were impossible to miss. And next to her was her roommate, Shannon, wearing a lavendar halo on her mortar board. That being said, the efforts of our fashionistas weren't quite as noticeable as the ones carrying huge signs reading, "HIRE ME NOW!!" And not even the fishy purse, signs or people demonstrating against the presence of commencement speaker Robert Gates, US Defense Secretary, could stop my personal waterworks. Yesterday, I learned that the college graduation celebration of a beloved child one has supported in realizing a dream is indeed emotionally compelling.

My mom paid the out-of-state tuition for Lindsey for the first three years of her studies at the University of Washington. When Mom's college fund for Lindsey ran out, Lindsey's mom and her family, plus Gary and I, did everything we could to help her finish school because by then she was totally hooked on staying at UW. We took out loans and Lindsey went to work at two different jobs - one at the university's event ticket office and the second at Nordstrom. Carrying a full load of classes, playing in the Husky band and working more than part-time, Lindsey learned to be extraordinarily disciplined because she wanted to finish in four years. And she did it!! With her degree in Anthropology (and minor in Music), she is equipped to do almost anything in terms of a lifelong career. And she's tired of people asking her if she's going to be like Indiana Jones. She wants to work in sales, marketing, communications, the travel industry (think Expedia) or human resources. We are so proud.

In this last year of college, Lindsey also learned the power of networking. She loves her work at Nordstrom and would like to stay with the company and move into management. One of her customers in the childrens' shoe department is a woman who works in management. Lindsey has enjoyed talking with her whenever she shops for her children. Long story short, Lindsey will be making good money this summer working as a five-days per week nanny for this woman, who has pledged to support Lindsey in seeking a better job in Nordstrom corporate. And Lindsey will also continue working part-time in children's shoes; however most of that money will no doubt go to paying for her own weakness - designer shoes, the occasional frou-frou purse, like the now famous fishy one.

Lindsey and her boyfriend of two years, Nels, whom Gary has nicknamed "Thor" because he's "the Norse god of thunder," graduated together. And they are staying together, too - planning to share the same address now. And although no one is pressuring them with talk of a wedding, we had a great time partying as a group. Gary and I had a marvelous time getting to know Nels' parents, Kim and Larry, their daughter, Lizzie and son-in-law, Adam. The weekend was like a big happy family reunion!

Shoes, purses, Nordstrom, boyfriend....I'm so proud of our Lindsey Lou. Excuse me while I go get more tissue!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sleepy in Seattle

Not much sleep last night - maybe two hours max - mostly because I was packing for our Seattle trip. We left the house at 5 AM for an 8 AM flight out of Orange County. Gary likes to hurry up and wait. I packed strategically in two small carry-on's for both of us. That meant only two pairs of shoes - a big stretch for me, even with a bad foot. I also forgot about the "No Liquids" rule, so I lost a really nice bottle of hand lotion and some expensive hair product. Thankfully, Gary left his torch cigar lighter in the car.

After the delay at the security check-point, we were still able to go out earlier on the 7 AM flight. I had hoped to sleep, but not a chance. Too much excitement. Gary cut his hand putting the bags into the overhead and proceeded to bleed all over his light gray Washington Huskies golf shirt and blue jeans before he would allow me to ask the flight attendant for a napkin. Another great start to a vacation. He looked as if he had been in a slasher movie.

We enjoyed spending the day with niece Lindsey and her enormous Himalayan cat, Paris. We left Paris and went with Lindsey to Burger Master for lunch - great burgers! Seattle has fabulous restaurants in my opinion. We dropped Lindsey at her house to wait for her mom and other family members who arrived this afternoon, and drove downtown to check into our hotel. I had planned to take a nap, but that didn't happen because Gary needed to go find a place to have a cigar. That's not easy in this town. We ended up in a park halfway to the waterfront where Gary could puff away along with a few dozen tatooed Goths, each sucking on some kind of cancer stick or "medicinal weed." A braless young woman with eye-popping fuschia hair and hundreds of piercings on her face and neck, sat on a bench playing a bongo drum, tapping her platform steel-toed commando boots to the beat. Several of them sported "guyliner," apparently unaware that it's now in the mainstream thanks to Adam from American Idol. Watching the Goth brigade made us think about how Seattle gave birth to Nirvana many years ago. Today, it's "Bongo Babe" and company.

After all that entertainment, we walked down to Pike Place and I took photos of the fragrant fish and flowers. Sweet peas and unusual for the senses.

Stopped for a light dinner at yet another wonderful Seattle restaurant called The Steelhead Diner. It's on the hill above Pike Place, across from the Inn at the Market boutique hotel, so it's got a great view. We laughed about the "Flash Fried Cheese Curds" because one rarely encounters those outside of Minnesota and Wisconsin; but Alec the bartender told us the cheese comes from Bleecher's Cheese Factory across the street. We'd been there earlier to watch them making cheese. And the Diner serves the cheese curds with "tangy mustard & tartar sauce." Yum. The woman next to me ordered a beautiful "work of art" dish - "Heirloom Beet Tartare with Rogue Creamery Oregonzola & Crispy Yucca Chips." I mean, we just don't get that kind of creative food in Mission Viejo. I think I'll be able to go to sleep now in joyful anticipation of tomorrow's dining adventures. Oh, and Lindsey's graduation too!!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Lovers Lane

The long Oriental rug in our living room has become "Lovers Lane" for Bindi Sue and Oscar. Their nightly ritual is more fun to watch than "Wipe Out," that crazy summertime reality game show. It appears that Oscar plays "King" and Bindi plays "slave girl" in this new game they have invented. They never stray from the runner. It's very different from the morning ritual, which is "Tag" wherein Bindi is always "It" chasing after Oscar. We have lost several ceramic items, a lamp and two glasses to "Tag" recently. That's the cost of this particular form of entertainment.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Seahorses and Special Clams

The Monterey Aquarium is a “don't miss” on any trip to Northern California and this last week was no exception. Our good friend, Marianne, took us to see the very special seahorse exhibit that is being featured now. I used to see tiny seahorses when snorkeling in crystal waters at Christmas Cove in the Virgin Islands. This exhibit had some of those little guys, but also included some large and unusual species. My favorites were the ones that look like lacy green plants moving gracefully in the water. They looked like exotic swimming lettuce leaves. I learned something else, too – that male seahorses carry the babies and actually give birth. Amazing.

On our drive up Highway 1 the day before visiting the Aquarium, Gary and I had to find a topic of conversation that would keep us from arguing, so we somehow got into the origins of slang words that describe certain male and female body parts. We were talking about the National Spelling Bee, which had just ended, and the etymology of words when I passed a car with a license plate that included the word, “BEAVER.” Our conversation went straight downhill from there as we began trying to figure out the etymology of slang words like “beaver,” “schlong,” and “bearded clam” – but at least we were laughing hysterically instead of screaming at each other!

After that uproarious and somewhat scatological session on the foggy coastline, it was fitting that Gary would be seeking to find some bearded clams at the Aquarium, especially after learning about those poor male seahorses. The other two photos above depict the results of his pursuit.

Monday, June 01, 2009

So Happy Together

We survived another road trip....barely. Drove up Highway 1 last week to visit our friends, Marianne and Brian, in Pebble Beach and do a little business at Silverado Senior Living - Belmont Hills. Why Highway 1? Because we've never done it together and it seemed like a fun idea. Not so much.

It was foggy, cold and drizzly for most of the trip and I was driving. I thought it would be nice if I drove and Gary could enjoy the scenery. Instead, Gary chain-smoked cigars, kept his eyes on the road or me, and complained endlessly about the other drivers, my penchant for sight-seeing while driving, the condition of the highway, why we were taking that route, blah-blah-blah F-ing blah. Hoping to improve his disposition, I suggested lunch in Cambria. Ordinarily a burrito is a source of great joy, but not this time, as you can see from the picture.

Anyone who knows Highway 1 between Morro Bay and Carmel is aware of the dozens of picturesque bridges, which to a bridge-phobic freak like me are right out of the scariest horror movie scenes. I faced my fear and drove across them anyway, white knuckles on the steering wheel and pedal to the metal. At least my mini panic-attacks momentarily stopped Gary's griping. He helped by suggesting I count the bike racks on the top of the car in front of us as we crossed the longest bridge.

From now on, Gary will drive, whether he wants to or not. If I have to drive, he will most certainly drive ME crazy. The good news is, we had a fabulous time with our friends. On Saturday night, we went to the Monterey Rock 'n Rod Festival and saw a performance by one of my favorite 60's groups, The Turtles. I read that at the height of their popularity, The Turtles played to stadium crowds of 55,000 people and more. There may have been 300 at this little concert. We had no trouble finding a good seat. The Turtles are now two old guys - a fat one with long, curly hair and a bald one with a white beard. I had to close my eyes when they sang, "Me and you, and you and me, no matter how they toss the dice, it had to be..." remembering those precious days in the '60's when I loved that song.

After a delightful weekend, Gary drove us home. We listened to a book on tape that Brian gave us. And thankfully, even after five days on the road, we remain " happy together."