Spring heralds fewer clothes, memories, octopus

Contributing writerMay 4, 2014 

I once discovered I was pregnant when I fainted in the swimming pool at the Holiday Inn in Bismark, North Dakota. It’s true that almost 50 years have passed since that sodden event, but it certainly discouraged me from ever going back to Bismark. It’s amazing how one experience, one chance meeting, can completely change the way we look at things.

My great-grandkids went to Disneyland for spring break. Reports have it that the highlight for our 4-year-old was the restaurant that served macaroni and cheese with a tiny octopus made from a wiener sitting on top.

What a great idea.

Gourmet food has become very important and here was something I could actually do. I just had to learn how to make a gourmet octopus. How hard could it be after all? You simply take a wiener and slice into the bottom two thirds to make eight tentacles. If you pop teeny pieces of spaghetti into the heads before you boil them, they’ll have eyes that bug out in a manner appealing to 4 year olds.

I sliced, popped and dropped the creatures into boiling water and watched as they waved their little tentacles in apparent anguish. I couldn’t bear to eat them, of course. They’re sitting on the kitchen counter. I think they’ll spoil soon. This has certainly changed the way I look at wieners and octopuses.

I saw the new musical, “A Room With A View,” at the Fifth Avenue in Seattle last Saturday night. There was a sign in the lobby promising that the frontal nudity would be tasteful. Still it was quite a surprise when the scene came where three gentlemen actors undress and splash about nude in a pool built on-stage. They end up running all around the upstage area, still quite unclothed. Talk about a trip down memory lane! Everything was pretty much where I remembered but it was a very sinus clearing event.

The point of these apparently unrelated incidents, in case you’re saying to yourself, “What is the point of these unrelated incidents?” is that Spring (with a capital S) has finally arrived. Call it “The Silly Season,” “The Season of Surprises.” To be frank. I always sort of dread it.

Spring means taking off several layers of clothing, although not as many as in the play. I like winter clothes. They cover everything, at least twice. You could meet me in winter on one of our walking trails and never know whether you had passed me or an errant bear. Except for the perfume.

Now I’m going to have to take off at least my first three sweatshirts and only wear one or two pairs of socks. When the Spring Tea comes next week, I’m going to be expected to show up in only one layer of clothing. I’m bound to be chilly when the cold wind blows. But remember, things can change in an instant.

After a speaking engagement in Lakewood recently, I met Marlene Bostic and her mother, Wilma Rosenow. Probably I should mention that Wilma is 106 years old. That’s not a typo. She’s looking forward to her birthday in July that will include her beloved Harley as always. It’s still important, even though she hasn’t actually ridden it since she was 101. The News Tribune covered Wilma’s 105th birthday party complete with a nice picture of that treasured vehicle. http://blog.thenewstribune.com/photo/2012/07/25

On the day we met, Wilma was enjoying her favorite activity, lunch out with friends, perhaps accompanied by a glass of red wine. She keeps a full schedule. Last week, Marlene told me, her mother started the day with a tooth extraction and errands, and when most of us would want a nap, still managed to enjoy lunch at her favorite Italian restaurant.

May is for Mother’s Day and remembering lessons learned. My mother used to say, “Do the great American gesture.” That meant hold your stomach in, and hike up your underwear. This was very useful advice because elastic was not reliable in those days and “Droopy Drawers” wasn’t just a fanciful nickname.

Marlene remembers more important lessons.

“Mother taught me Christianity, living my faith and giving of myself,” she recalls. At 106, Wilma still has a twinkle in her eye and lots more lessons to teach.

Dorothy Wilhelm is the author of “No Assembly Required.” Contact her at 800-548-9264; P.O. Box 881, DuPont, WA 9832; by email at dorothy@itsnevertoolate.com; or itsnevertoolate.com.

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