A Little Bit of Animal Planet Thrills Without Leaving Town

The beach in Edmonds and one of the several ferry terminals in the area, are both about 3 miles from where I live.

Last Friday I made plans to pick up Gabriel, my 7-year-old grandson, from school so we could have a picnic at the beach.  The weather was sheer gorgeousness and I needed the beach like I used to need a cigarette.  It was my first time at the beach since before winter.  The Seattle area was having an unusually splendid warm streak for this early in May.

We settled in among the big driftwood logs, Gabriel played around in the water and I sat and watched the beach action of kids, parents, teenagers, grandparents, grandchildren.  Just the normal Friday afternoon at the beach during an unusual heat wave.  Bliss.


I brought a couple of felt pens with me so we could draw on rocks.  It was an idea I got from a photo on Facebook of painted peace signs on rocks and since I’m an old hippie who likes stuff like this, we painted rocks.  Naturally, I drew suns and peace signs, and Gabriel drew interesting primitive looking hieroglyphics on his rocks.

Rock Show

About two hours later, Gabriel and I tossed the painted rocks in random spots on the sand and into the water, we packed up the cooler, my chair, and started to head to the parking lot.  There are huge driftwood logs on the beach so we were walking slowly as I carefully stepped over the logs.

Suddenly, you know how people yell “FIRE!!”?  Well, that is what I heard from a man very close to us, except he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “WHALE!”

I turned around to look at the water and sure enough, I saw the back of a whale dive back into the water.  The whale was to the left side of this sign post in the photo shown below.


  Several of us were like little kids so excited to see if it would surface again.  We ran closer to shore, we watched…and watched…and then….we all yelled “THERE IT IS!”  In fact, the adults may have been more excited than the kids.

The whale, a humpback I learned the next day, was about a quarter-mile out in the water and spouting water.  Gabriel had the camera and we had the video going but I hadn’t hit zoom before handing the camera to him.

He filmed a speck of black in the distance.  We can see the speck of black spout water and then a speck of black which is the whale tail disappear back into the water.  It was our ‘whale of a moment’ and…

IT WAS AWESOME.  Everyone was just so elated.  Just to see a whale.  Just happy to see a whale.  Beautifully simple in an extraordinary way.  Humpbacks don’t come into the Sound all that often. 

Satiated by the experience, we picked up our things, again, to head back to the car.  But…wait…there was a crowd forming nearby.

We walked over to see that people were looking at this family.


Which included six little goslings.


O. M. G. 

So, we stayed to watch this new beach story unfold.  Mother and Father Goose were taking their six little goslings for an evening walk by the sea.

They walked over to the logs, we followed, and I took photos along the way.  We were all keeping a respectable distance from the little family.  At one point a little girl went too close and Mother Goose hissed at her, at which time I gently removed the child explaining why.


Then, Mother and Father climbed over the log to the other side and stood there.  Waiting…and waiting…

Trouble in Paradise

…while the baby goslings stood staring, on the other side, just staring at this huge obstruction in front of them.  They probably wondered, “Where are our parents? They disappeared into this log!”



Mama and Papa realize that they are not going to be joined by the kids and then changed tactics.

They climbed back over the logs to the kids and decided to walk back to right where they started.




Right back where they started from, and eventhough their evening stroll didn’t quite work out like they planned, they were seemingly as happy as geese can be while living at the beach, which is a very wonderful place to land and have babies, in my opinion.

It was just about the sweetest picnic at the beach I’ve ever had.  Except for that time in my cowgirl outfit at the beach in San Francisco when I was about 4…that was pretty sweet, too.



By the Way, Who Is Grammie?

My grandson, Gabriel, now 6 1/2, was born while I was working a long term high stress management job. I retired (and there is a more dramatic word for this, but no need to elaborate here) when he was 4 years old. It never dawned on me what he did or didn’t know about my career until I had mentioned working in a school at one time. He was floored and said, “YOU WORKED?!?” He didn’t remember coming to visit me at the college on the waterfront of Seattle. He didn’t remember when I picked him up, after work, from the apartment where his mom, dad, and he lived. He didn’t even remember that I picked him up from the restaurant where his mom worked.

Realizing he is now of the age to start assimilating what came before he sis, when we were on the way to the zoo recently, I made a point of pointing out a neighborhood I used to live in and the restaurant where his mom used to work, where he was in and out of very frquently. He looked at the outside of the building and asked, “How did I act when I was inside there?” I told him he ran around and under the tables (I picked him up before the restaurant opened for dinner) and he’d visit the chef and line cooks in the kitchen. He seemed satisfied with that little bit of his history.

I think that while racing around in my busy life making new memories, I need to think of our family’s history and what stories I can now start to share with my grand kids (age appropriate, of course).

Speaking of which, yesterday I was interviewed by a friend who now works for a BBC affiliated radio station outside London. The subject was about living in San Francisco during the Sixties and being Janis Joplin’s neighbor. Afterward, Mary-Jane mentioned that I would receive a recording of the interview once it aired. I said how great that will be for my grandchildren to hear about who Grammie was in her younger years, and what experiences I had to share. However, this particular time in my life will be shared when they are much, much older than they are now. Maybe when they turn about 30 they’ll be old enough!

There was a on Facebook of Playland-at-the-Beach videos from the old days in San Francisco. It has long since been demolished with condos and a supermarket built on the site. But what fun it was to play these videos and show Gabriel where I used to play as a kid. The roller coaster, merry-go-round, bumper cars, and more (including the infamous Laughing Sal) that were so much a part of my childhood. He was interested for as long as a 6 year old can be interested in seeing fun things that are intangible.

A trip to Rite-Aid this afternoon was worthwhile as many items I bought were at sale prices. I stocked up on Wet Ones antibacterial wipes in individual packages, pocket size Kleenex, Vitamin C (I will only take C, Echinacea, and B), Pepto Bismol tablets (before Costa Rica last year, I got some booster shots from the Health Dept and the well-traveled nurse told me to take one or two BEFORE a meal to ward off an upset stomach), immodium (in case the Pepto won’t work every time), gauze and tape (small packages), travel size deodorant, floss, moleskin (thanks, Mary!), and a leftover Easter chocolate covered marshmallow on sale.

Then, I rushed out (it’s always when you’re in a hurry that the cashier has trouble with the register) to pick Gabriel up from school (got there in the nick of time), and with snacks ready in the car, we were off to Hobby Lobby (I printed out a 40% off coupon before leaving home) for the fun stuff. One for Gabriel, one for Jordan, and so on. For the flight, Jordan has a new pink sparkly journal (small notebook), fairy stickers, pointed washable felt pens, and a princess coloring book with some dot to dot exercises and mazes included. Gabriel picked up an Iron Man coloring book, felt pens that smell like various fruits, a small plastic skeleton and skull for learning purposes, and a Phineas head Pez holder. Luckily we didn’t have to pay for the Minnie Mouse lawn ornament he accidentally dropped and broke into 4 large pieces which he then went to fess up and tell the floor staff person.

Back to packing….and only 3 days left before the Spain and Portugal trip which will create a whole new set of memories for a 3 1/2 year old. But, will she remember? I think that with reminders via photos and conversations, she will remember, as even now, she still recalls the Capuchin monkey who stole her “pasas” (raisins) out of her hands on the beach in Costa Rica a year ago.

It’s now in the forefront of my mind to remind my grandkids of their history with me, as their grandparent, and slowly tell stories of my life and who i was before they were even a whisper of whom they have come to be.











Uh-oh…Freaking Out a Little

This week was Spring Break and I had a Groupon certificate for adult admission to the zoo which would expire during my trip to Europe. So, I took 6 year old Gabriel under the rain threatening skies, umbrella in hand. The word is that “real Seattleites” don’t use umbrellas…but since ours was a child-size version with stars on a deep blue background, I felt it was more a fashion statement. But, besides having lived here for 18 years, I still consider myself a true San Franciscan native.(BTW, it rained a drop, literally so the umbrella was a bit of an annoying appendage.)

A couple of months ago I bought new shoes for the trip and have been wearing them on short excursions around town. There was a little slippage so I bought little Dr. Scholl’s heel guards. Waste of $7.00 as those won’t stay put. Now, with one week to go before I fly to Denver to meet up with my son and family for the flight to Spain, I discovered that walking miles at the zoo (wish I had brought my new Groupon deal pedometer to prove to myself how far we walked! I like little stats like that.) in these shoes was not going to work for The Big Adventure. I’ve walked enough miles to recognize how ill fitting (and expensive Josef Seibel, no less!) shoes not only wreak havoc on my feet, but also my back. And…keeping up with a six year old is another subject altogether.

I came equipped with a Rick Steves’ over the shoulder day pack carrying a water bottle (permanent refillable type), peanut butter sandwiches, and cookies. After relinquishing my adult fare coupon and paying the child price for G., with map in hand, he was raring to go.

“Penguins are here, Grammie! Hurry!” Um…and why are we hurrying already? Well, I’m thinking, he’ll slow down. Ha!

“Can I please have my picture taken in the booth?!?” OK, so, this is a treat trip after all. It’s Spring Break, Easter Bunny is coming in a couple of days (Although he did just mention how the EB isn’t real.), and I am leaving him behind for 3 weeks as I trot the globe with his 3 year old cousin, whom he still likes to call “Baby Jordan.” (I can just imagine him saying that when she’s in high school and he’s in college.) So, he chooses a gorilla for the photo background, takes the $5.00 shot, and we are again on our way.

Gabriel studies the map and asks my advice for the direction of the gorillas. We’re on the ‘skip’ again. I never really fathomed how fast a long legged child can skip away! I lose sight of him and call his name. He answers and I finally catch up. I ask him, OK, I TELL him to keep in my line of sight and to let me know when he is changing paths. He agrees, skips off, and 3 or 4 massive skips later I hear “Switching paths!!”

Three hours later, after seeing all 600 miles of zoo animals (OK, so I exaggerate a little), and have to double back at one point to find the Bug House, we are ready to leave. At least that’s what I thought. He pleaded with me to stop in the Zoo Store. Oh, this commercialism! Oh, these crazy prices! I told him he could buy one or more items as long as he didn’t go over $3.00. After much too much time, he managed to find two items for a little over $2.00. What a good boy!

This little afternoon at Woodland Park Zoo is only a precursor to what I am going to experience on the upcoming trip, I just know it. But what I’m really freaking out about is not so much how Jordan may be skipping off down some narrow Spanish cobblestone road that branches off in a multitude of alleys which I won’t be able to see as I round every bend, it will be the feeling of being lost as my long legged 42 year old son and daughter-in-law leave me in their road dust.

Now I need to definitely find a new pair of shoes with only a week to break them in.