Got Tuesday?


I awoke with a start. What was that? I listened. I looked around the dark bedroom. Something moved in the carport below me. Or was it in the eaves next to me? I listened again. It was in the eaves. Some animal planned to move in. I could hear scrabbling and scraping.

My watch said 4:30 a.m.

No use trying to fall back to sleep. I got up and got going.

The day progressed normally. Jonathon was down in Portland for the day, so I needed to take both kids to school. I drove Zac in. We talked about the new classes he has this semester. Myths and Legends piqued his interest.

“Mom, she’s only covering Greek and Roman legends.”


When I got home, I walked toward the back door. I heard a hissing noise.

“Mom!” Ruby said. “Your tire has a hole in it!”

Yes, indeed. Either that or a large invisible snake suddenly moved into the chassis. Anyway,now what? I already cleared coming in late with my bosses. Guess I’d be a little later.

Did I mention I don’t know how to change tires? Yeah. After filling Jonathon in on the problem, he suggested calling Dad or my brother. But the mechanic I work with was closer and already at work. He agreed to help me.

“Ruby, we’re walking to school today,” I said. I thanked God once again that we live in town and nothing is far away. The day was humid and gray but not rainy.

The mechanic showed up. He pumped up the dying tire enough for me to drive to Les Schwab for repairs. Then we drove in to work together. It proved an easy fix. I drove over a nail, natch.

Last but not least, around noon I picked up my sack lunch. I peeked in the bag to discover a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, orange and Cheetos. I couldn’t stop laughing. Guess who had my lunch?

Thanking God for Tuesday.

this is the day.jpeg





It snowed yesterday. So far, this has been our Snowmageddon of 2016. We were supposed to get somewhere around 6-8 inches. The City shop prepared by filling up dump trucks with sand and gassing up the snow plows. They tuned up the road grader. They recruited crews to plow through the night. Others were scheduled to report in at 4:30 a.m. All i can say is somebody better be on coffee duty.

We got 2 inches in town, at my house, which is near sea level. And that’s just barely. Folks who live near Hood Canal got more. People fled from work early, worried about getting stuck roadside in the snow. The school district placed a special robocall announcing that they reserved the right to close early, and for parents to be ready. The snow started around 4:30 here in town. It moved up the I-5 corridor from Oregon. I love it when the weather pattern follows the paved path. Why reinvent the wheel? Makes so much sense.

I’m sitting here drinking coffee. The furnace pumps out warm air. The only ones up are me and the cats. I have no idea where they are. It’s quiet. As the snow melts, it drips. I hear rivulets coursing down the driveway and off the roof.

I’m breathing in peace. Things are turning right side up again. The snow, blanketing everything, feels like a new beginning. I’ll take it.


First and Last

back-to-school 7

It started raining in earnest yesterday. First, a light drizzle, like an appetizer, then it bucketed down. We may have a few more hot days, but the stuffing has been knocked out of summer.

The kids started back to school yesterday. No pictures, because in Zac’s case he wouldn’t let me, and I totally forgot with Ruby. Zac’s added AP Government, Honors Chemistry and Human Anatomy to his class load.

We went to Fujiyama last night to celebrate the start of school, a Japanese restaurant where they cook dinner in front of you. The chef does tricks with eggs and beef fat. You sort of have to be there.

“Mom, you didn’t ask me about my day,” Zac chided with a smile while we sat around the table.

“Okay, Zac,” I said. “How was your first day? Tell me all about it.”

“Well, Honors Chem has only 13 students. I guess lots of kids got scared off, hearing how tough it is.”

His face portrayed mixed emotions. His voice sounded a little apprehensive but also excited. He hasn’t truly challenged himself before. I think he’s kicking the tires on his abilities like some men stroll around a sports car and think, how fast will it go if I really open ‘er up? Zac is ready to punch it. I can’t wait to see how this year goes.

“And Ruby, how was your first day?”

We both pulled back from the huge metal grill in front of us as the chef lit our food on fire.

“Well, it was good. I like my Spanish teacher. She has a good sense of humor.”

I should mention here that her teacher, fresh from Spain, spoke not a word of English on back to school night nor when we dropped Ruby off yesterday morning. Intimidating, to say the least. But perhaps total immersion will get the job done.

Ruby rode with me on the first day of school as a special treat.

“Where is Dad going?” she asked as Jonathon pulled out.

“He’s going to meet us at the school,” I said. “He wants to be there with you, too.”

“Oh,” she said. “It’s kind of embarrassing.”

I chuckled. And so it begins.

I’m praying this year is even better than the last.



Winds of Change

leaves blowing off trees

Last Saturday, it clouded over. The wind chilled and blew. Prematurely dead leaves rained down, pushed from their homes into a nomadic existence on the ground. Summer, it seems, had turned a corner. This weekend proved similar. I had both the front and back door open in the morning, but the back door kept slamming shut.

I ran 6 miles on Saturday. I pushed up the hill, the wind in my face. Once I turned right, the wind blew at my back. It pushed me along. Most of the time, though, it blew right at me, or sideways. At one point, my hat nearly blew off. I caught it in time, yet only just. It challenged me.

Fall is in the air. The sun put out its best show, pushing temps into the mid 90s last week. But school starts in 3 days. Ruby’s back to school supplies for 5th grade sit in a neglected pile for now, pink-and-gold binder, composition books and patterned pencils still in their original packaging. Not for long, though.

Anna’s Bay Chorale starts up again in a couple of weeks. Jonathon will be deep into rehearsals for their fall concert. Zac, sans school supplies until he gets a list from his individual teachers, will begin his senior year this week. Gulp.

I am ready for change. This has been a great summer, filled with sun and travel and good friends. We’ve eaten berries and watermelon. We’ve planted flowers and weeded in the yard. We’ve roasted marshmallows for s’mores. We’ve watched fireworks and looked for fireflies.

The wind symbolizes and summons change. Wind can cause a change in direction. Our thoughts turn to shirts with sleeves and long pants, as the wind propels. We start dreaming about rich stews and warm cookies. Each season has its own unique beauty. Fall isn’t my favorite, but it’s a good one. I plan to savor it.




Comparative Religion


I went to Ruby’s 4th and 5th grade end-of-the-year class picnic yesterday. The clouds couldn’t decide what they were doing. It was sunny, with a cool breeze, most of the time. Hordes of kids chased a soccer ball. Others queued up for the swings. One white Maltese got walked, a lot.

I found Ruby at a picnic table. She’d already started on her pre-packaged pb&j, courtesy of the hot lunch program.

“Hey, Ruby,” I said as I started to sit. I nodded hello to the sandy-haired boy across from us.

“Hi,” he said, shooting up and sticking out his right hand. “My name is Peter*,”

I blinked a couple of times. Huh?

“Hi, Peter,” I said, taking his hand. Couldn’t leave him hanging. “My name is Susan.”

“Nice to meet you, Susan,” he said, smiling. “I’m the son of Peter Johnson, of Peter Johnson Realty.”

“Oh, right. I know who he is.”

We both sat down.

“I like your manners,” I said to Peter. Highly  unusual in 10 year olds, I thought. What’s the angle? Is he into Ruby and trying to make a good impression with her mom?

“How’s your day going?” Peter asked me.

I smiled to myself. Good manners, part two.

“It’s going well. And you?”

“Good, so far,” he said.

We ate in silence for a few minutes.

“So,” Peter broke the silence. “What do you do?”

Um. I swallowed my bite of egg sandwich.

“I work for the city.”

“What do you do there?”

“I’m in public works, “I said. I explained about the water utility (briefly) and the roads, garbage service and the like.

“Oh,” he said. He paused a minute, chewing his sandwich. “Do your guys pick up the bags of trash by the side of the road, the ones picked up by the community service people?”

“No, “I said. “That’s all part of the court system, I believe.”

I chatted with Ruby about her lunch. She liked the cookie but left the carrot sticks alone. Somehow, she’d gotten too many of them in her young life. She may never eat another.

“What does your husband do?” persistent Peter asked.

“He works from home,” I said, hoping to shut this down. It was getting a leetle awkward. He wasn’t asking anyone else questions.

“Oh, “he smirked, “so he does laundry and cleaning. A house husband. Like that?”

I laughed.

“Oh no, baby. He’s got a doctorate. He works for a university, just does it from home.” So there!

Insert uneasy pause here.

“I have kind of a personal question,” he hedged.

What now, Pete, my boy?

“What religion are you?”


“Oh, I’m a Christian,” I said. Then added, “You know, in a couple of years, you won’t be able to ask that,” I stated, Mom warning face on.

“I know, ” he said, then sighed. “My parents told me talking about religion and politics make people uncomfortable.”

Indeed, Petey.

“You’re Mormon, right?” he said to the Hispanic boy on his left. The boy nodded.

“I’m a Christian, too, ” said the small boy in a hoodie balancing on a ball to Peter’s left.

So much for that.

“And you, Peter?”

“Yes, I’m a Christian, too. I attend Valley Christian Church,” he affirmed.


Ruby and I went off to check out the dogs at the dog park. But I wondered about Pete. Why all the questions? Is he an only child? Maybe the youngest in a long line of children, raised on grown up conversation? Future journalist in training, or simply precocious?

But really. What’s the fuss, after all? Can’t we ask questions and get to know each other’s true selves without freaking out? I don’t have to agree with what you believe or how you practice. But I don’t have to be a jerk about it. Heck, we could even become friends. We can say what we stand for and be accepted; no subterfuge required. Just ask Peter.

*Name changed to protect the curious.

Pinata Life

I took an early lunch Friday. Ruby’s grade school was celebrating Children’s Day and she wanted me to come and play.

I walked into her classroom, one of the portables. The door stood wide open to the spring breezes and sunshine.

“Look, it’s Ruby’s Mom!”

“It’s Mrs. Isham!”

Dozens of little faces turned towards me.

“Hi, guys!”

I waved to them.

“Do you remember me?”

One taller girl, freckled and blue-eyed, looked at me, waiting for my answer.

Of course.

“Hi, McKenzie,” I said.

McKenzie beamed.

I thought, I’ve known most of you since kindergarten. I’ve watched from the sidelines as you grew. You formed friendships and dissolved them, changing interests driving the bonds. You learned the language you didn’t speak at home, either English or Spanish. You lost teeth and grew in new, permanent ones too large for your mouths. Some of you have the beginnings of adult bodies. One of you has an adult voice, too.

I helped pass out paper towels and juice. Each kid got a concha, a Mexican sweet bread shaped like a shell. These measured about 6 inches in diameter, dusted in colored sugar. The students talked and milled around as they ate their snacks and decorated drawstring backpacks.

Finally, we reached the piñata event – my favorite. Ruby held my hand as we walked out to the basketball court. I think she wanted to make sure I didn’t leave her. She hugged me and leaned into me the entire time. I held her, one arm across her chest. How long will she want me to be close to her? For Ruby, her love language is time. And a close second is physical affection. If you’re always gone, which I seem to be these days, both of those are at a premium.

It proved a huge engineering feat to get the piñata hung over the rail in covered area. One of the helpers had to use a sneaker to weight it down. The piñata, a five-pointed star in red crepe paper covered with pictures of Captain America, bobbed and swung in the breeze. All around us, kids from other classes struck at those empty papier-mache objects with plastic bats. No candy inside their cavities, mind you, because projectile sweets are dangerous. Never mind the bats in small hands wielded with incredible passion.


As I watched the blindfolded kids strike out at the elusive star, I thought about the terminal nature of childhood. Kids want so badly to grow up. They want their freedom. They want to be adults. They blast away at the immature parts of themselves, pushing themselves towards maturity. They sneak makeup and try to drive when their feet don’t quite reach the pedals. Yet the entire setup of childhood is temporary. It doesn’t last. The shining star of tender youth glows, a fragile beacon while it lasts. That star goes supernova when beaten with the bat of relentless time. We don’t realize its ephemeral beautiful until too late.

Holding Ruby close to my side, my galloping mind settled down. I saw how rhododendrons bloomed on the edge of the playground. Trees blew in the fresh air, their backs turned to the wind. I breathed. My spirit soared, in the moment at last, ready to play. This moment would remain with me, even as the pinata hit the ground.

IMG_20160506_111148997(1)ruby's class

angel's backpack


(He really *is* cool.)




captain america pinata

February Thanksgiving

TGIF, people. I thought I’d write about what I’m grateful for today. I know it’s February. It seemed like the best time to meditate on good things, since the dreary weather continues.

Let’s start with this peaceful pond, out in back of the Public Works shop main office. Two very ugly ducks live here. But so do salmon, a woodpecker and who knows what else. Living in Shelton reminds me that we’ve only eked out this space from the woods. We’re blessed to have it, as long as the wilderness allows us.

Feb duck pond

As many of you know, I work half the day down at the Public Works shop. I am the only woman working at this facility. We have a restroom the guys and I share. It has a lock on it now (hurrah!), but some things still remind me it’s mostly a men’s bathroom. On the floor this morning, a hunting magazine lay open to a page like this:


Could be worse, I guess. I’m thankful for how they have welcomed me and allowed me to be part of their team. I don’t know anyone very well, nor do I interact much with those who ride the equipment and fix things outside the garage. I hope, given time, to remedy that.

I got on the treadmill this morning for a short run. Well, Susan, you *are* short, consequently, all your runs are short! Haha. Very funny, inner comedienne. Anyway, it felt good. Got to sweat off some irritation. I needed that. The head mechanic here, also a runner, reminded me yesterday about how much his runs help him with his attitude. Nuff said.

Zac, bless his heart, got the same flu Ruby and I had about 10 days back. I thought for sure he’d dodged it, ensconced at his computer. He’s been home from school all week.

“May I implore you to make me some tea?” he asked the other morning, very early, around a cough. Shocking, since he never drinks tea.

I had to chuckle. No need to implore, sweet boy. I miss taking care of you, now that you’re nearly grown. I will do it with pleasure. He’s shown up chipper all week long, albeit tired, coughing and feverish. I don’t think he’s missed school for one minute. So, I’m not thankful Zac got sick, but glad to be able to spend a little more time with him and help him where I can.

I apologize that this photo is rather graphic, but I’m happy about cats that work hard so we don’t have to:

Rex rat

This used to be a rat, and a fat one, too. Not sure what the decapitation is about. Extreme prejudice, perhaps?

And last, but not least…


Amen. Come quickly, spring!