This was a typical family adventure. It started with grandkids, singing and hope for a better world, but ended with screaming, insults, dashed dreams, and lost opportunities . . . and that was just a Seattle Seahawks' game.
There was no way we could cheer on our granddaughter Laci's last soccer game of the season in Edgewood AND see our granddaughter Bella's choir sing at the Lakewood Towne Center. Laci and Bella are part of our last generation of grandchildren. We had recently seen Laci play in University Place, but hadn't seen Bella perform for some time anywhere.
Bella has her own sense of style, much like her father, but without the beard and Mohawk.
With blue accented hair and comfortable, yet fashionable basketball shoes she greets the world.
We had been told that Bella's choir would sing at 10:00 a.m. and then that was corrected to 10:30. We began packing for our weekend adventure at 8:00 and were out the door just a little after nine. We arrived early. The concert was being held at the Lakewood Barnes and Noble, which is located in the old Villa Plaza and after names changes and updating is now the Lakewood Towne Center. I think the "e" on town makes it seem classier, don't you?
People were gathering in the café. We asked if we could join two women at their table for four. They were the only seats left. Soon junior high kids in white tees were forming in a space by the windows. No Bella. It was ten and the kids began dancing. There were two dancers that caught my eye. One was a small, thin kid with black glasses. He knew the routine and was doing every step. He didn't have a fluid movement, however. Most of the applause went to a little older dancer who didn't do all the steps, but was graceful and comfortable with the steps and gestures. His family was there is support. We like that.
Barnes & Nobel donated not only the space, but a percentage of the day's sales to the Franklin Pierce School District. We love the arts and we not only support artistic endeavors, but those businesses who also support the arts.
In the time we were enjoying the performances and shopping, we saw band instruments arrive and then our son and daughter-in-law's family arrive and Bella's classmates. The event must have gone on all day long.
We bought books for the kids and I'm sure my wife, Peggy probably bought a book or two.
I contributed by purchasing a decaf latte for Peg and a cannoli for myself. The decision of the cannoli was labored over. They had a chocolate chunk cookie with three kinds of chocolate and there was a similar three chocolate browning. I offered to share my cannoli with Peg, but she declined. Obviously, I made the right decision for me. When the latte cooled I sipped it between bites of the tasty pastry.
Our daughter-in-law Johanna had posted two images of Bella's choir on Facebook, but I had to study the images for a minute to figure out which one was Bella. It should have been easy, but my eye was drawn to one girl who had brightly colored hair, but it was reddish pink. In the photo I couldn't discern brown hair with a bluish tinge.
Most of Del's family was there at the book store: Caitlin aged twenty-one, Bella aged twelve, and Sophia . . . almost eleven. Daron Ann was probably with her mom. Vanessa who lives in Seattle didn't make the trip. The only other family members missing were the yappy, underfoot dogs. Thank god.
Bella's hair, which usually has streaks of color, started dark brown at the top of the head and cascaded down to shiny blue as it met her shoulders. Bella is very determined in both her attitude and execution. Several years ago she told her dad and mom that she wanted to sing at her school and they bent over backward to get her to after-school rehearsals and concerts. She's comfortable with who she is and what she does. And she does it quietly. While others might jump up and down grabbing for attention, Bella just kind of strolls along approaching her success by her own path and in her own time. We like and appreciate that.
After the concert the overnight baggage of Bella and Sophia was transferred to our car. Later that afternoon we would be collecting Laci, who would be joining us after working at her church's bazar. With the baggage in our trunk, we drove from the Towne Center to the South Hill Mall to check out the movie times for an afternoon flick. The kids chose Pan. Peg bought the tickets. There was just enough time to visit the Food Court before the film and a scouting trip to Lane Bryant's.
If you took the classic James Barrie story of Peter Pan, the Broadway musical and the Walt Disney animation and introduced them all to the real pirate Blackbeard and finally presented a jazz version of it, you might end up with this edition of Pan, which was released in early October, bombed, and will be available on blu-ray in time for the holidays. I like jazz, however and had no expectations . . . Living a bleak existence at a London orphanage, 12-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) finds himself whisked away to the fantastical world of Neverland. Adventure awaits as he meets new friend James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). They must band together to save Neverland from the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). Along the way, the rebellious and mischievous boy discovers his true destiny, becoming the hero forever known as Peter Pan.
All four of us enjoyed the movie. My least favorite character was Hook, with Garrett Hedlund giving his impression as a combination of Indiana Jones and Jack Nicholson. I kept waiting for him to use the British slang phrase of "Strewth," which is an exclamation of surprise, short for "God's truth". "Strewth? You can't handle the strewth." I think that one phrase might have been the difference between loosing millions of dollars and making a profit.
After the movie we went to the Fairfield Inn (the Marriott hotel in downtown Puyallup). Peg and I had a King Suite, while the girls were next door with a double queen room. The girls stayed at the hotel with us only on Saturday evening, but Peg and I had our room until Monday morning. I fell in love with the bathroom. I later found out it was labeled disabled accessible.
There were three grab bars around the toilet. Over the last few years the toilets in hotel bathrooms have become tinier and tinier. I call them "plus-fours." Plus-fours are trousers that extend 4 to six inches below the knee. They have been traditionally associated with sporting attire from the 1860s and are particularly associated with golf. I'm not saying that using the toilet is a sporting activity, but having a toilet that only comes up to mid-shin is a trial to most people over six feet tall . . . both lowering and rising.
The shower had no step to designate the showering area, but rather a tile floor that joined the tile of the rest of the bathroom. There was a drain right below the shower head AND one a few feet away in the middle of the bathroom. There are also fold-down seats in the shower. My only problem was the shower curtain. It should have been installed another foot and a half away from the shower head. Who wants to feel the cold hand of a shower curtain slap you from behind while showering?
After the four of us unpacked, we drove across the valley to Edgewood and picked up Laci. She had helped her grandmother, Nancy with lefsa sales and her cousin Marin with her earring business.
With our final grouping of five we visited Giorgio's Greek Café. When we explained what most Greek food was, the girls said, "Oh, it's Italian." We had to say, "No. Italian is based on Greek cooking. Greece offers Mediterranean food, but they colonized Italy thousands of years ago.
Bella ordered good old American chicken strips and fries along with an Italian Soda. Laci ordered a small cheese pizza and an Italian Soda. Sophia ordered a large pepperoni pizza and a Shirley Temple (Maraschino cherries, Grenadine, and Sprite or 7-Up). She's learned from me. I usually order this way, "I'll have a Shirley Temple and your tip depends upon the number of cherries." The waitress didn't fail Sophia nor me . . . even on refills.
Peg ordered the classic lemon soup, while I had the Greek version of lasagna. In addition to my main dish, I also ordered a side of browned potatoes (again, a classic Greek offering). In addition I asked for a side of butter to go along with the potatoes. What good are potatoes without butter, anyway?
As an extra, we asked for two twenty-five dollar gift certificates. Laci's older sister, Bailee was in the cast of Oklahoma at Puyallup High School and she had just celebrated her seventeenth birthday. She asked for restaurant certificates in downtown Puyallup as a birthday gift, so she can either dine by herself or take her friends out. She has been enjoying after-school activities. I was the same way when I was at Clover Park: drama, televison studio skills, German Club, sports, concert band, and orchestra. I always had something to do . . . and a car, which Bailee now has, also.
Giorgio's is just a few blocks away from Puyallup High School. We drove in the rain there after dinner (Sophia took a take-away container of pizza) and I dropped Peg and the kids off near the auditorium, while I went around the corner and parked.
This was Bailee's second production this year at Puyallup. She is really enjoying herself.
In reading the program I took exception to the comment that Oklahoma, introduced in 1943, was the first Broadway musical in which every single song had a direct relation to the plot. I mentioned to Peg, "I thought that was first done with Show Boat." I was wrong, My two favorite songs in Show Boat are "Make Believe" with Howard Keel and "Life Upon the Wicked Stage," which was a musical interlude and vehicle for the dance team talents of Marge and Gower Champion. "Life Upon the Wicked Stage" didn't further the plot.
Bailee was one of the Goon Girls, two teens infatuated with the main character Will Parker. The Goon Girls (always gooning or clowning around) add a little comic relief and have more stage time than some of the main characters.
Laci, Sophia, and Bella all enjoyed the musical, but all chimed in about the length of the first act, "That had to be an hour and a half." Peg pointed out that the second act is always shorter.
After the curtain calls, we hustled downstairs to the lunchroom, where we knew from experience that the actors without costumes would be gathering.
Each of our girls had roses to present to Bailee for her performance. Although actors love the adoration for their fans, in high school plays, they are usually thinking, "Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . thank you thank you thank you . . . I gotta go see my friends to have some fun.
Been there. I was the star of my Senior Class Play, My Three Angels at Clover Park High School and a year later my cousin Lindy was the star of Saint Joan, her Senior Class Play at Puyallup High School. I enjoy producing and directing industrial videos, while Lavinia Moyer-Hart ran one of Detroit's best theatres for years and now teaches drama (and still acts) at Wayne State University.
Peg and I were so proud as we watched Bailee sing and dance in the musical, Oklahoma.
Saturday night ended with the girls in the pool at the Fairfield Inn. Peg took her books and art supplies to the pool, while the girls swam. I went to bed. After the pool Peg returned to our room for her jammies and then she joined the girls in their room who all stayed up past midnight.
Sunday morning the girls found me at the "Business Center" in the lobby of the hotel. I sat with them as they ate breakfast and then it was time for their morning swim. While the girls frolicked in the pool I took up residence in the exercise room. I could have throttled a woman as she ran non-stop on the treadmill for twenty minutes . . . show off . . . the nerve of some people. As soon as she left, I jumped on the elliptical machine for two and a quarter minutes. I felt so proud.
After two hours of cavorting and swimming in the pool the girls were hungry. We had to drop off Laci at her church in Auburn by 11:45. She had a play rehearsal, herself.
We visited our favorite fast-food burger place in Puyallup, Don's Drive-In. Besides offering great food at reasonable prices, they keep a locked tip container. The tips go back to the community. I love places like that . . . and good soup.
Don's has a great selection and their pies are outstanding. All of the kids had been there before, so they don't need our help anymore in making selections. They can have whatever they want. Me too.
While we waited for the food, Bella and Laci locked heads as they surfed the net . . . or maybe they were playing games. Who knows. They were quiet and were enjoying themselves, so you never want to bother a good thing.
I enjoyed watching the workers at the burger heaven. There are always about three or four of them and they are in constant motion. They take orders sitting at the counter on an old kitchen chair with duct tape holding the stuffing in. They write the order out. They never mention the tip jar, but it's just in front where they are writing down the selections.
Delivery doesn't take long, but with a big order you have to have some time to appreciate the ambiance.
While we waited Sophia sat quietly and just looked beautiful.
Sitting quietly is difficult for Sophia . . . well, I don't know if it's difficult, but it certainly is rare. Sophia stands out. She's much taller than Laci, but only about six months older. She's also taller than her older (by about a year) sister, Bella.
With her strawberry blonde hair and freckles, Sophia sparkles. She's always on the move and can talk a mile a minute. I think she'll be a fashion plate when she becomes a teenager.
At Don's I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, which I've never had there and my favorite dessert, Rhubarb Pie. Actually, it was still a toss-up. I thought really hard about getting the sour cream lemon.
Although I would have liked it spicier, I really enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich. The pork was cooked perfectly. They have a bottle of hot sauce at Don's, but once you start on a pulled pork sandwich with pork falling off as you handle it, you've got to go through with it. I didn't want to put it down. There was just enough slaw on the sandwich to make it interesting. The only variation I would like to try on a pulled pork sandwich would be perhaps a green papaya slaw. That might be worth the twelve mile trip for our home to downtown Puyallup. I'd do it, now.
Nancy, Laci's other grandmother met Laci at the church door and had a couple of bags of lefsa to sell us. Peg and I love to eat lefsa as a roll up with meats and cheese, and bell peppers or cucumber strips.
For some reason our son, Patrick doesn't like lefsa, but then perhaps he sees it much more than we do. Daughter-in-law Wendy helps her mom make lefsa for thousands prior to the fundraising event. For Patrick lefsa is a trial, for us it's a treat. Oh, well such is life . . . or life-sa.
After dropping off Laci, we took Bella and Sophia to their home off Canyon Road. Our son, Del was sitting in an easy chair with crutches nearby. He had just returned from the emergency room with a hamstring injury. At his home it's difficult to follow who is there. Their dogs constantly yip and bark and get in my way. Del grew up with allergies and we didn't have pets. I know he still has allergies, but puts up with them in order to have pets. They have dogs, cats, chickens, goats, and a couple of wandering and shrieking peacocks.
Peg and I retreated to the hotel for a nap. Son Patrick picked us up at four and took us to his home in Edgewood.
Patrick started working on dinner. Wendy was ushering at the Seahawks. Patrick had our grandson Riley fetching and putting away ingredients and appetizers. I sat and watched as Patrick sliced up a couple large white onions and then sprinkled them with flour. While he made the beer batter, his father-in-law Brent came over. Brent fried the onions in a iron skillet and set the cooked ones onto a cookie sheet with paper towels soaking up the grease.
I took King's Hawaiian rolls and sliced them to make slider buns. Riley cut pieces of Cheddar and Havarti. Soon the production line was frying slider burgers, adding cheese, and finishing up the onion rings.
In addition to the sliders and onions, we had Ritz Crackers, Rondelle, and pepperoni as well as a green salad. Everything worked like clockwork. The Seahawks game started at 5:30 and the guys: Patrick, Brent, Riley and me were joined by Laci in front of the large screen flat-screen to cheer for the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks played pretty much as I expected them to. Patrick was hoping for a 24-21 win by the Hawks over the Cardinals. When the Seahawks were winning they had a lot of penalties for being aggressive and they could be forgiven because both their defense and special teams were scoring touchdowns. This year the offense hasn't scored much at all and the defense, which is worn out by the three and out play of offense was unable to stop the opposition in the forth quarter. The running game this year has been anemic and the passing game pretty much an afterthought. While we finally got some defense scoring, the offense piddled it away. We lost 39-32 . . . again a fourth quarter fold with virtually no hope for the rest of this season.
While the guys were in the family room watching the large screen and football, the gals Nancy, Peg, and Bailee were watching Annie Get Your Gun. I watched my favorite scene with them before heading downstairs.
In the movie, Annie Oakley (played by Betty Hutton) a rough frontier woman falls head-over-heels for Frank Butler (played by Howard Keel). He's as beautiful as she's plain. She's asked him about marriage and what kind of woman he would like to marry. He sings, "The Girl That I Marry". With each verse he sings she becomes more and more crushed as she realizes that the girl he's looking for is just not her. It's one of the saddest scenes in films. Betty/Annie follows up this scene with her outstanding humor and delivery in "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun." Betty Hutton is one of my favorite stars. She sings Frank Loesser tunes with all her heart like "Murder He Says" and my favorite sad, sad song, "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" from the film The Perils of Pauline.
The third quarter of the football game ran almost an hour. I think the Seahawks lost more yards via penalties than they scored in points. The good news was that the gals, were able to watch an additional movie, Singing in the Rain. I don't think Nancy nor Bailee had seen the film before.
Like Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Kiss Me Kate, Guys and Dolls and Singing in the Rain were all produced in the 1950s. Four of the seven starred Howard Keel. All of those musical are still being produced around the world today. With Guys and Dolls being the most produced musical of all times.
Singing in the Rain has iconic numbers throughout with "Good Mornin'", "Make 'em Laugh," and "Singing in the Rain." We were lucky enough to see it in October at the Edmonds Art Center on the big screen. It never gets old with its humor, songs, and dance.
After the disappointing football game, the gals joined the guys. I got some funny birthday cards, and we gave a couple birthday cards to Bailee, her gift certificates to Giorgio's, and Bear flashlight that straps onto your head (a gag gift). There were hugs around and then Bailee drove us back to the Fairfield . . . and bed.
Monday morning I was up early. Any normal day I read the Seattle Times and The News Tribune, quite often over coffee with Peg. Monday I left her to sleep in, while I visited the Business Center just off the lobby of the Fairfield. At home I pretty much just drink black coffee, but since they have other "free" options at the hotel, I trade off. I love the packages of spiced apple cider, but one is not strong enough . . . two doesn't make it either. I pour three pouches into a paper cup and then add hot water. A little sweet, but I like it. I also like to pour two packages of hot cocoa mix into a paper cup and add dark coffee and two containers of hazel nut cream. Usually one cup of either the cider or cocoa is enough to get me going.
Peg slept in until after ten. We packed up and since she missed the breakfast buffet, we visited Don's one more time. Peg had the chicken and rice soup, while I had another pulled pork sandwich sprinkled with hot sauce. We also shared a piece of the sour cream lemon pie. What a nice weekend adventure.