Category Archives: Shopping

Inky Triptych


You know that I could not go 40 days without a post about my mother which did not also include Mother Mary.  Please indulge me.

Let me remind readers that I am not big C “Catholic”, just little “c”.  So perhaps I am a bit misinformed, not having been indoctrinated in the Marian way. This makes it all the more fun for me!  Vis a vis Mary, I have no preconceived notions.  So please bear with me as I flesh out a recent triptych that unfolded in my grief journey.

As an aside on triptychs:  One of my all time favorite museums is the Museu do Oratorio in Ouro Preto, Brazil.  Back in the day, baby triptychs were crafted for praying while traveling.  Portable, the panel doors swung open to display a central painting, sculpture or other ornate religious objet d’art.


Photo credit:  Marie Solange O. via Tripadvisor.

Another famous example of a triptych is Hieronymus Bosch‘s The Garden of Earthly Delights, hanging  in The Prado.

The Marian triptych you are going to open, however, is composed of words, photos, and music.

Left Hand Panel:

Throughout my life I have cultivated friendships with seemingly random people, people far flung from the normal parameters of my life.   Many times I have encountered these people during shopping experiences.   The Virgin Mary got an angel named Gabriel and I get a cortege of Nordstrom salespeople.  Sanctified shopping!

Last year I wrote of dear Saba, my Jo Malone saleswoman.  We have prayed for each other for several years and give each other little gifts.   My gluttonous stash of “pashminas” from Shanghai made its way to Saba in February.  Saba always wears black, with a beautiful scarf wrapped around both shoulders.  I cannot express what joy it gave me to Kon Mari those gorgeous $5 scarves – they were just waiting to be given to Saba.

Then there was Viking Queen, my betattooed makeup counter girl.  I have lost touch with her (she is moving up the Nordstrom corporate ladder) but I still think of her on her birthday.

Finally there is Bruce, who helped Thing 2 and Mr. Understanding in the Men’s Wear department.  Neither of my men enjoy shopping for clothing. Long ago, I figured out that enlisting the professional help of others when shopping for clothes is the most cost and time effective.   Bruce is in his early to mid seventies and married to a wonderful woman named Judy.

Several years ago, before I even really knew them, Bruce told me that his mother-in-law had passed away and his wife was grief stricken.  He mentioned that her parents lived in Florida.  It turns out, it is the same town where my parents and in law Understandings live.  Bruce and Judy were traveling from the Buckeye state to visit her father for his 90th birthday.  I offered up my little cottage in Florida for accommodations.  They  accepted and enjoyed the birthday party, leaving my house cleaner than it had ever been before.    They have used it a few times since, each time leaving a little gift.

One of those gifts is a little sign made of wood, an optical illusion puzzle, that says JESUS, made by Judy’s father.  During one of their visits, my parents invited Bruce and Judy over to their house for cocktails and Bruce and Judy brought them one too.  It sits on my mother’s roll top desk.

My father and I saw one of those little signs at the dermatologist’s on Valentine’s Day, the one month anniversary of my mother’s passing.  It was what my grandmother would call a “love pat” from the Universe, a Godwink, a cosmic kiss.   It had to have come from Judy’s father but no one could really tell me.  (I did recall making a referral for him a few years ago.) When MCVWasHere was in Florida for my mother’s funeral, she commented on how she would like to have one.  Voila!  Bruce delivered one for each sister to my house in Ohio.  Ask and you shall receive.

On Friday night I made Burmese Easy Grilled Chicken.  As I was leafing through the Burma cookbook for a rice recipe, I came across a blurb about Sister Mary living in an obscure region of Myanmar as part of a Maryknoll Sisters mission, treating HIV/AIDs.  (The Maryknoll Sisters were started by Sr. Mary Joseph (a.k.a. Mollie) Rogers from Boston.)  Naomi Duguid’s books are as much history as they are travelogues and recipes.  A Marian apparition under the tutelage of Sally.

Center Panel:

This week my father Big Mike received a card from Bruce and Judy.   My Nordstrom salesman and his wife were sending my father condolences.   Mary-nate on this for yourself.   Is anyone in your universe this thoughtful?   Bruce no longer works at Nordstrom so there is nothing to gain for him – no commission, nada – just angel wings.    Here is the card:


Bruce and Judy had  honored my parents with a donation to The Servants of Mary who will say mass for them daily at the Vatican.  The Servants of Mary, I discovered, have a national ministry called GriefWork.  Bruce and Judy were greatly saddened to hear of Sally’s passing.  Oh, and they are coming to visit in May – could they take my father out for a meal?

This is how we are meant to engage with the world.  Inviting others out, setting aside ourselves, devoting attention.  Mihaly (“Mike”) Csikszenthihalyi writes in his epic book Flow:

“Whether we are in the company of other people or not makes a great difference to the quality of experience.  We are biologically programmed to find other human beings the most important objects in the world.  Because they can make life either very interesting and fulfilling or utterly miserable, how we manage relations with them makes an enormous difference to our happiness.  If we learn to make our relations with others more like flow experiences, our quality of life as a whole is going to be much improved.”

You do not have to be a yogi to go with the flow, my friends.

Right Hand Panel:

This brings me to my final Marian experience of the last two weeks:

Last week I was with Big Mike, Mr. Understanding, and Thing 3 in Gainesville, Florida to visit the Natural History Museum’s Butterfly Rainforest.  Afterwards, we went on a hunt for an easily accessible restaurant.  Hangry, we finally stopped by Leonardo’s Pizza by the Slice.  Although the interior can only be described as grungy (hence off-putting) the food was good.  My father declined to eat, sneering at the pizza on display (they warm it up).

At each table was a newsletter called “The Coffee News”.  Mainly advertisements for bail bonds, quickie divorces, lawn care, and funeral arrangements, it had a trivia section.  In it was the following fun fact:  the Mother Mary in Paul McCartney’s song Let It Be was written about his deceased mother, Mary.

According to  “[I]nspired by a dream the singer had of his deceased mother, Mary, assuring him, amongst the turmoil of the Beatles’ slow breakup, that everything would be all right. ”

I cannot tell you how many times in the past ten days I have heard Let It Be playing in a public place or on the radio.  I am still waiting for Mother Sally to appear in my dreams and whisper words of wisdom but perhaps this is not her preferred method of contact.

With this in mind, I will close the triptych up and pack it away for future use.

So please, Nordies, continue to put the Really Beautiful People in a sturdy paper shopping bag and walk around the cash register to hand them to me.   Leave your politics on the counter with the triple points; let it be.  These kind souls are my take away, no returns necessary.    I can see the shape of their hearts – overflowing.





















Filed under Charitable Endeavors, Family, Folkart, Friends, Life, People, Religion, Shopping, Sightseeing, Traditions, Travel, Uncluttering

Good Gifts

Warning:  this post gets worse before it gets better.  I PROMISE a laugh at the end, even if you might cry with me in the beginning.


Sally and I were born on the same day, 26 years apart.  As I was not with my mother last year on our birthday, my wish when blowing out the candles on my birthday cake was that I would get to spend another birthday together.   She had THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER.  Queen for the Day!  Me, not so much.  Mine included a full moon and a trip to the ER for Mr. Understanding.

For our  40th and 66th birthdays, my parents came to Brazil.  I had a blow out party, complete with caipirinha bar, 1964 themed attire, and a marvelous DJ.   At a group lunch on our birthday, one woman commented, “Oh, I’d hate to share a birthday with my mother.  When one would die, the other would be sad forever.”   I had never had that thought before.   I recall wanting to reach down across the table and slap her face.  I can remember exactly where I was when this woman blurted out this truism.  Fortunately, I cannot remember who it was.  Thank you, Jesus.

Ever since, though, some reptilian part of my brain has been preparing for this future day, approaching in 2017,  exactly nine months after my mother’s death, the full gestational life of a baby.  What new thing will be born then?  What was a thoughtless comment has actually made me pay sufficient attention to our mutual birthdays, particularly the ones spent together.  Of these, there were many.  Perhaps I should thank that nameless face for the opportunities we had to REJOICE together whenever possible?

When I said at the beginning of my Homage to The Radish that there was no baggage between me and my mother, I might have been fibbing.  For example:

My mother and I had WILDLY different notions about gift giving.

Here is a conversation I had in my head prior to my 4th birthday:

Me:  Why is Mommy locked in a bedroom sewing all day?

Myself:  She is making you a little leather dirndl, edged with fancy German ribbon at the top.  She is having a real issue with the plastic loops for the shoulder straps.  I know ’cause I snooped and I can her her swearing inside.

I: But I don’t want a leather dress!  How about a doll???

Let’s fast forward to my 17th birthday.

Me:  Wow!  A Merriam-Webster Dictionary!

Myself:  And a red London Fog rain coat?!  Just what every 17 year old wants!

I:  Seriously?  How about the new Michael Jackson album???  A pair of Famolares?

Fast forward again to my 30th birthday.

Me:  A commemorative copper pot!  Engraved even!

Myself: Is this a message about my cooking???  I have a nine month old baby!


It sort of became a joke.  Sally believed that the gift was more about what the giver wanted to give.  I am more about pleasing the recipient.  Both of us were thoughtful in our approach.  My mother had as many hits as misses.  Me, I mostly hit it out of the park in the gift department: French jacquard tea towels, fancy aprons, Jo Malone body cream.  If I didn’t, I’d find the item the next summer in her church garage sale bin.

Last year, I could not think of anything I wanted or truly needed.  So I told her to buy me a knife, because I knew she was coming to visit me in Arkansas and would enjoy using it.  Sally had great knives and I knew it would please her to give me one, even though she always traveled with her own knives, wrapping them in dishtowels and sandwiching them between her underpants, sweaters, and books inside her checked luggage.

Here is a list of gifts I gave my mother that pleased her greatly, not all of them material.

  1. suede go go boots and green eyeshadow – my dad and I picked them out at a store called The Gas Company (?) on the Arcata Plaza.  Age 5.
  2.  wearing a German dirndl she made for me.  Age 18.  University of Oregon campus.  ARE YOU DYING FOR ME YET???? This memory is so painful I am saving it for an actual book.
  3. cutting my hair in a style Sally found short and attractive for my round face.  Age 45.

Finally, every year there was a debate about the cake.  What to have?  Who wants to make a cake on their birthday?  Not my mother.  Sometimes we had pie.  Did I mention that my mother, while an excellent cook, did not like to bake anything but bread until her late 60s?

Here, a photo of one of her cake baking efforts.


Fantastic on color theory, a little sloppy on the piping.  This would only cause her to shrug her shoulders – oh well!

I still have a copper pot I use all the time, a well used dictionary, some fancy knives, and a quilt under which to hide my oh so weary head or with which to make a tent.  As I look at the quilt, she must have had an inkling of how often I’d move.


But the best gift she ever gave me was time spent with her.  How I wish I had more of it!  This year I will make a wish that she will be with me and my father in spirit, helping me to blow out the candles, putting her hand on my dad’s shoulder to lean in and assure us we’ll see her in the blink of an eye.


Filed under Birthdays, Family, Life, Moving, Shopping, Travel

Signs and Wonders



Do you think God can speak to you through license plates?  I do.  But only if you are paying attention.   (I refer you to my previous post on my other license plate signs here).

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I took Thing 3 to the barber for a haircut.  Bill the Barber is a story unto himself, which I will save for another day.

When leaving his salon, a generous word for his work space, Thing 3 and I headed to the Mexican ice cream shop in town,  Delicias Michoacanas.  They make the most excellent ice cream with intriguing flavors. I was not going to try the corn, but was hoping they had rose petal.

As we were pulling away from the curb, I saw a license plate that said:


“Look, Thing 3.  That’s probably a lawyer.”

“Or a shrink,” she replied.

“Or maybe the Holy Spirit.  That’s another name for it,”  I said.

Fifteen minutes later, waffle cones dripping with coconut and coffee ice cream, we saw another license plate.


“Wow, Mom.  Maybe you should finally start your law career.”

“I’m not sure that’s what that means.  But now that we’ve seen two license plates, you know there has to be a third.”

On we drove to the  AT&T store, mentioned in last week’s post.  These signs were occurring at the same time as the Unconscious Coupling.  As we were walking into the store there was this one:


“Hmmm.  Well, that’s the third plate but I don’t know what it means.”  Am I too busy? Yes, due to events beyond my control.  But normally, I try to pace myself and leave space in my calendar for things that come up, such as lunch with a friend, a heart surgery, or moving a household.  You know, the little things.  This is easier for me than, say, my sisters as my nest is now empty and I don’t have an income producing job.

As we got in the car, Thing 3 said to me, “I think you really might need to reconsider the law thing.”

No sooner had she spoken those words than a car bearing this plate drove by:


I do not make this up.

I had a witness.

I will not be practicing law.

I did, however, finish all my Continuing Legal Education, so I will be renewing my law license, to what purpose, I have no idea.  I am already WAY2BZY to figure anything else out.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?

Shopping suggestion:  Mexican ice cream or my seasonal favorite, candy cane!  It won’t melt as fast if you are living in an area affected by the Polar Vortex.


















As I mentioned in a previous post, the Holy Spirit was popping during Thanksgiving Weekend.


Filed under Fine Dining, Holidays, Life, Religion, Shopping

Get Your Guadalupe On




I am going to cheat and make you click here and here  for posts earlier in the year to refresh your memory on Our Lady of Guadalupe.   It’s her Big Day!  Feast on, particularly if you are Mexican.

The Radish has had a minor setback so please pray for her today!  Our nurse today is Faith.

Shopping suggestion:

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Filed under Family, Life, Religion, Shopping, Spanish vocabulary



No, it’s not a zip code.  It’s my latest order number for (isnt’t that a cool order number?).    If you scroll to the bottom, you will find my (garbled) comment under the Share Your Story section.  In the past, I bought their blessing bracelets from a local small business retailer in my Ohio town.  There is a dearth of shopping in Tornado Alley so I recently went on to their site and saw the new  (to me) Miraculous Medal bracelets.  Apparently, this past year MySaintMyHero has been focusing on Mary.   “Be open to miracles” is their clarion call.  

I am waiting on several miracles so this greatly appeals to me.  Miracle #1(?) was the removal of the vise grip on Thing 1’s brain and her working in an, albeitly underpaid, job in a fun city where her besties live. I do not know how many times we heard it was well nigh impossible to get rid of an intractable migraine by the “experts” but voila, we had a miracle, Thing 1’s second major healing miracle.   God rolled out the red carpet for Thing 1 in Boston back in September – ROLLED IT OUT.  The miracle itself was slow-rolling, a process, establishing that while some miracles are instantaneous, others take their time.

My heart is very tender towards mothers whose children are in distress.  We have neighbors whose youngest granddaughter was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.  Little 8 year old Emily Anne is past her 100 day mark bone marrow transplant procedure but has to spend the year inside the house.  So do her tween sisters and mother,  to keep the environment clean and stable. This means a year of home schooling.  Her father travels a lot, putting bread on the table.  Sounds like a whole lot of sacrificing to me.  Guess who is getting some Miraculous Medal blessing bracelets from MySaintMyHero?  Emily Anne’s is made with rainbow colored cord – a reminder that God keeps His promises, even if we don’t know  what those promises look like.  It’s always better than we can imagine!

I leave you with the Scripture that has been my phone cover for over a year:

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord  would fulfill all his promises to her!”  Luke 1:45 NIV

It’s Cyber Monday.  Get your shop on!


Filed under Family, Friends, Holidays, Life, Religion, Shopping

True Story (#2)




Last September, at about the same time as Thing 1’s migraine was ramping up, my hairdresser, Miss Responsibility, had to have emergency abdominal surgery. The doctors were not quite sure what they were going to find. Tumors were not out of the realm of possibility. Miss Responsibility has a family riddled with addiction, mental illness, and unemployment. She carries the weight of the family.  This was a devastating situation.

Rather than send her flowers, I wanted to send her something a little bit more concrete. By this time, I had already given away the 50 medals I bought at the Chapel in Paris. So, I ordered her an Alex and Ani Mother Mary bracelet from America’s favorite online retailer. While the Alex and Ani Company doesn’t print the whole story of the Miraculous Medal, which dangles from the bracelet, it is enough.

You can imagine my surprise when I opened the package from the retailer and discovered an entire packet of  bracelets, 25 to be exact. I had paid for 1.

I called the company and explained the situation. They were of no help. I could send them back (to a different location) but it would never be registered that I had returned them. Also, they could not send me a prepaid label with which to return the goods. For a company that can deliver by drone, this seemed a little ridiculous to me.

So I kept them, waiting for the company to ask for them back. I certainly, at that point in my life, did not have the time to go to the post office. I felt bad about them sitting in my office. But then someone (Polly Positive? MCV?) pointed out to me that perhaps I was given the bracelets so that I could pass them out to those in need, since I had run out of the other ones. Da-ding da-ding da-ding! Mental jackpot! This was the second, miraculous apparition, in effect, of the medal.

Since that time, the bracelets have been primarily given to mothers and daughters. One young woman was in a coma for several weeks and has since come to; even though she cannot wear it yet, it is there for her when she can. Her mother got one too – healing via proxy. I sent another one to a dear friend and her daughter whose lives closely parallel ours; the teenager is also suffering from  headaches.  Thing 1 sent a pair to a friend and her mother; the mother is battling Stage 4 cancer.  I don’t know if Miss Responsibility ever wears her bracelet but there were no tumors and her innards were fixed.

After going to the Chapel in Paris, Raftbuddy and I went to a jewelry store to buy “real” medals. My parents gave me money for my 50th birthday and this was how I thought I wanted to spend it – I could continue to loan out my big Mexican medal and have one for me. That day, however, I just could not do it. I could loan the medal but I couldn’t replace it. I bought something else instead.

And now, the Medal miraculously multiplies! I am a little anxious about what to do when the bracelets run out but have to trust that Mary, via the Holy Spirit, will provide  some sort of replacement. Either that or I’ll have to go back to the Chapel and buy a whole lot more.  50 was rather short sighted, on many different levels.


Filed under Charitable Endeavors, Family, Friends, Life, People, Princessdom, Religion, Shopping, Travel

Sister Mary Chanel Carousel

Here are the promised photos of Ms. V, she who works the Vegas Chanel counter.



Here is a photo of a beautiful floral installment at the hotel in which I stayed.



Here is what we saw leaving the hospital this morning after Thing 1’s best blood draw EVER.  The inscription at the bottom of the statue is the same one on the back of the Miraculous Medal.  We both just laughed.

What do all of these things have in common?

Herewith concludes Day 27.


Filed under Cosmetology, Holidays, Life, Princessdom, Religion, Shopping, Travel