Tag Archives: #Christianity

Smooth Criminal or Just Plain Bad?

Dear Readers,

You have been SO KIND.  THANK YOU.

In today’s politically correct, frequently absurd climate, laughter is the only antidote.  So I pray you will take these family photos in the spirit in which they are offered and just marvel.

Before there was Michael Jackson, there was Sally Calligan.

Here is a photo from our 1971 Christmas card photo shoot:


Compare and contrast with the photo of MJ and Blanket below:


Next we have a classic underage drinking photo.  Note MoodRingMomma enjoying her first (?) sip of Coors:



Finally, we have a photo from the 1979? Arcata Halloween Parade.  An annual event, citizens of Arcata, California  lawfully assembled and flew their freak flags in honor of the pagan holiday.  I present to you my younger sisters, MCV and MoodRingMomma, as dreaded fruit flies.  In the late Seventies and Early Eighties, California experienced a Medfly infestation. Northbound travelers on Highway 101 were stopped at the Oregon border for inspections.  Woe to the one with the banana!  Talk about your stop and fruit frisk!  Today an errant strawberry would be granted in-state tuition but back in the day it was swiftly deported.


What is particularly endangering about this photo?  The homemade costumes complete with shower caps?  The cheery pests?  Or, the open tailgate???

MCV asked me last night, after I texted her the photo, why no one had advocated on her behalf.  Who, exactly, was on duty?  Who was to save her from the weirdness?

My reply:  “This was Humboldt County in the Seventies.  Pretty much no one was on duty.  And in the scheme of things, this was just edgy, not weird.  Certainly not out of place.”

Notice:  I am not in evidence.

I would also like to point out that, with the exception of the beer, all of the ideas were Sally’s.  This, frankly, is just the tip of the ice berg.

So, was The Radish a Smooth Criminal or merely just Bad?  Listen to Michael Jackson and decide for yourself.  Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.














Filed under Family, Holidays, Life, People, Travel

Pre-Easter Pastels

Today I am posting some of my mother’s pastel portraits.

This was the non-winning portrait of the Jane Pauley Christmas Card, Sally’s favorite of the entries.  This portrait now sits in my parents’ garage – it was one of my Sally Sightings, found during a tornado watch shortly after her death.



Here is the Blue Ribbon winner, a portrait of a niece.  Technically, the judges were correct but as I like the subject matter above, it is also my winner.




This is a portrait of my maternal grandmother, Susie, which Sally painted from a photograph.


Likewise, the Self-Portrait with Spouse.






Filed under Family, Life

Red Beard




I distinctly remember my parents coming home from their Hawaiian adventure.  I was in the swimming pool at the country club.  My parents rounded the corner of the club by the golf pro shop.  I literally could not believe my eyes.  My mother was 20 shades darker and my dad had a full beard, most of which was red.  They were my parents but they were fundamentally altered.  I was OVERJOYED.

When I had a red headed baby I recalled my father’s red beard.

For Christmas, I gave my mother an Ancestry.com DNA test.  Mr. Understanding gave me one too.  I set up my mother’s account but she did not get around to spitting into the tube. This I regret, not making sure she did the test.  I’d already given my father one (file under: What to Get A Man for a Gift).

When comparing my DNA to my father’s (yes, he is mine!)  it turns out that, genetically,  4% of my DNA comes from the Iberian Peninsula.  This I did not get from Big Mike.  From the map, it appears that I am Basque-ish on my mother’s side.  Celtic invaders from long ago???  This might explain my affinity for Galicia,  pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, and love of the Portuguese and Spanish languages.  It does not explain my distaste for fish – it must be a mutant gene.   All of my DNA comes from seafaring countries.  It also explains my mother’s dark dark dark skin due to prolonged UVA exposure.  I am anxious for my sisters to do the test – maybe MoodRingMomma is even more Iberian than I?

And to think that Spain was the country I liked living in the least …








Filed under Family, Life, Reading, Religion, Spanish vocabulary, Travel

Sunday Driving on a Thursday


Today’s post of the Skagit Valley is brought to you by the blogger WanderlustPics.  Sign yourself up today for a daily dose of travel in your virtual mailbox.

My parents lived near the Skagit Valley for over a decade. They grew up in an era of “Sunday Drives”.  As children, Mike and Sally used to trundle us girls out to the car and take us on  aimless country drives (we were not much of hikers).  I did not particularly appreciate staring out the window at cows and the occasional lamb.  As an adult, I know better.  Traveling by car, one connects with the landscape in a more intimate way than by air.

The drive from Camano Island to Laconner is one of the most beautiful Sunday Drives one can ever take.  If you go in the summer, make sure to stop by the Snow Goose Produce for a ginormous ice cream cone, fresh vegetables, and zinnias.  Now the fields are full of tulips.

Mr. Understanding and I recently enjoyed watching the Netflix series Versailles.  On her death bed Princess Henriette, Louis the 14th’s sister in law, proclaims, “The flowers are singing”.   If that is not an entree to Heaven, I do  not know what is.  If you were a flower, wouldn’t you want to lift your face to the Son and sing?  To feed butterflies?  To REJOICE?

Here is one of my favorite Sally  Skagit Barn photos:





Filed under Family, Life, Religion

Amazing Grace



Photo credit:  The Expat Princess, University of Florida Natural History Museum, Butterfly Rainforest


Fifteen years ago today I broke my ankle in several parts in my living room in Brazil.  We had moved there two months earlier.  My household possessions had still not arrived.

It took my mother two weeks to get to Brazil  (she needed to get a visa) but then she stayed for ten weeks to take care of me and my family.  Can you imagine giving up ten weeks of your life to nurse a bedridden, super cranky daughter?   In a foreign country?  She left Big Mike alone to fend for himself for 7 weeks.  He was gracious about lending her to us.

Sally did have a driver, housekeeper,  and a personal trainer so she was not feeling too sorry for herself.   She cooked, picked up the three year old from nursery school, supervised homework, and  brought me diet chocolate and two whiskeys every evening, one at 6 p.m. and one at 7.  (I was not given any pain killers when I left the hospital).  She and Mr. Understanding wrangled me into the shower every couple of days, a garbage bag up to my hip.  When I bathed my mother after her surgery, my thoughts returned to this most hideous period of my life and how generous she was with me.

And this I would say is the joy that cometh after a dark period.  One is never the same.  Being still and knowing Who Is In Charge fundamentally changes one in ways indefinable – until the next period of darkness. It creates patience.  Endurance.  Empathy and sympathy.  The kindness of virtual strangers and love of family members does carry one through.  I am a better person because of a broken ankle.  I will be a better wife, mother, and daughter because of this broken heart.   We learn by doing.

I did not cry this morning in yoga when Amazing Grace came on over the speakers.



Filed under Family, Friends, Life, Religion, Travel

Angel Island


In 1971 – 72,  Mike and Sally attended Lamaze classes at Humboldt State University.  There they met another couple who introduced them to recorder music.  My parents played fancy wooden ones, not the plastic ones we all played in 5th grade.  After class, they headed to the Arcata Plaza and had martinis at the smokey bar Toby and Jack’s.  Hee hee hoo hoo.

My youngest sister, MCV, was born in April of 1972.

A few months later she was baptised by a Presbyterian minister on a sailboat.  This happened after the regular service up on the Sausalito hill.  After church, we trooped down the wooden stairs to the harbor, stopping by the deli to pick up mini ham and cheese sandwiches, and proceeded to my grandparents’ boat slip.

Anchored off Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay, my parents played a tune on their recorders – hoo hoo hee hee – and wore berets crocheted by my mother as the minister poured water over the baby’s head.

This is as close as my parents got to being hippies.


Filed under Family, Life, Religion

Lorica of St. Patrick


Today my father is 78.25.   He is officially older than my mother.  This is bittersweet.   Tonight we are going to REJOICE!  My mother would be shouting HALLELUJAH (even though it is Lent).  Traditionally, we break all fasts for St. Patrick’s Day, paying homage to the great British/Irish Saint and our family heritage.

You know there will be no cruciferous vegetables on the menu, no traditional stinky cabbage.  I won’t go that far.  My dad is making soda bread and corned beef. Ta da!  Can you believe??? If you don’t know how to make corned beef, click here for Sally’s crazy easy corned beef recipe from 11 (!) years ago!  Slante!  We will be toasting my mother even as we mourn her absence.  A mini Irish wake.  One of my favorite trips with my parents was several years ago for Spring Break in Dublin.

My sister MCV sent me a gift this week, a CD  entitled Inheritance by a singer named Audrey Assad.  In reading the liner notes to Be Thou My Vision, I noticed that it is sung to an Irish tune.  According to some sources, the words of the hymn are attributable to St. Patrick. I researched other Irish melodies in the Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal and came across what is known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, also known as a lorica.  A lorica was literally a piece of body armor in Roman times; it is also referred to as a chanted prayer of protection.  Both guard the heart.

For your listening pleasure tonight I recommend starting out with Audrey Assad‘s lyrical Be Thou My Vision, moving on to St. Patrick’s Breastplate by Trinity Music and Marty Reardon.  Finish up with Cooley’s Reel and Whiskey in the Jar by The Dubliners before downing your decaf Irish coffee.   When it is time for bed, sing Danny Boy and let the tears flow.  REJOICE.

My little Ireland (Thing 3) arrives tomorrow for Spring Break.  I’ll be invoking St. Patrick to make sure she gets here safely.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Life, Religion