Thursday, June 8, 2017

Final Posting

Final Posting

6/8/2017 This will be the final post to 85 Shades of Gray. Jean Walsh passed peacefully today at 1:15 pm following a devastating seizure, her heart gave way and took her without pain. She was 89. Just last week, my wife and I went out to lunch with her and Val trimmed her hair for her and she was as happy as I had ever seen her.

She was an original.

I will leave this photo here that I took of her just this last Easter and say goodbye. Thank you to all who stopped by.

We love you, Mom. We always will

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson: A Round Robin Folly

Recent events have me seeing circles every where

One definition of folly is: an inordinately costly and often unprofitable undertaking. Was this particular folly preventable? Who was at fault? Where did the Round Robin begin? La Ronde? And where will it all end? Who killed Cock Robin? The events leading up to the Michael Brown killing did not begin that night.

Who is more frightening? An armed white cop or an unarmed black man? It was said Michael belonged to a gang. Why would a young man of color want to belong to a gang?  For protection, to be part of a group, to be tested, to feel like a man, because he can’t find a job? Because his Father left the family or is in jail? Did Michael have “cop killer’ tattooed on his arm? Did the cop have a swastika tattooed on his? Did he belong to the Klan? War, football games and street fighting seem to be have something men have in common. Men have a need to compete, to be king of the mountain, to be the gladiator.  Women cannot stop this tide. They can only wait and be available to pick up the pieces..

The red marks on the cops face did not appear to be bruises. The same marks could have been made by someone slapping him. If he was 6’5” and Michael was 6’5” how could the cop say he felt like Michel was a giant? If Michael had been robbing a convenience store what did he do it with? His finger?  Why did the cop shoot Michael so many times even if he felt threatened? I would think five times would be enough.

Was the Prosecuting Attorney in cahoots with the Governor and Mayor? He was certainly given a free hand to totally control the whole event in such a way as to create the most anger and frustration. What else did he create?

Racial bias is an important aspect of this combined media circus and tragic event. Minority schools are not a popular place to allot public money. That is one way of keeping  those children  from learning that they have equal rights and should vote in their own best interests. But it must be very discouraging to then  be unable to vote because of political manipulating. As a white woman I have never been afraid of being pulled over by a cop because I looked suspicious. And experiencing this on a regular basis.

There are so many causes of such deaths and we all have a share in the blame.  It is a complicated web. History tells us, you get nothing if you don’t ask for it and then demand it and most important of all, organize. If it takes another group of black Panthers to make it known that they are fed up and aren’t going to take it anymore, so be it.  It is unfortunate that one can only mourn for a lost love for three weeks then no one, neither best friend nor media, wants to hear about it anymore. Demands for better schools and honest voting rights, making politicians answer for their actions, help minorities find jobs or create businesses, pass a law making all policemen  wear cameras on their caps are some ways to take action. Some things are being done but it is not loud enough. Prayer helps but people must vent. Venting can be aided by taking action.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Joan Rivers

Say what you want about Joan Rivers. She was kind to my mother. For that, she ranks mighty high on my short list of celebrities I have a full measure of respect for. I'll let Mom tell it...

“You look good.” she said, but I knew she meant ‘for someone your age who could use a nip and tuck’. I had told her my age. Five years older than she. Standing right beside her I looked closely at her face and thought to myself “You look really cute!”

I probably first saw her on Jack Paar but she didn’t register with me until she came on Johnny Carson. She was remarkably unattractive but she had her blonde hair in an elaborate hairdo and was wearing a designer dress to compensate. She was also very funny in a gossipy, yenta sort of way. Johnny kept inviting her back and she became a household name.

Besides her TV appearances my husband and I began to see her in small clubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I think he liked her as much as I did.

My husband passed away in 1980 and in1987 I moved to Ireland. When I moved back to Seattle in 1990 I noticed this ridiculous TV show that asked you to buy stuff from them and give them your credit card over the phone. Anyone would have to be nuts to do that. But shortly after that I was channel surfing and noticed Joan Rivers was on that show selling jewelry. JR and jewelry was enough to make me stop and look. I bought a Chanel copy of a gold chain watch with white leather woven through it. In the next 24 years, and counting, I made a notable contribution to QVC’s success and to Joan’s large estate.

When she first announced she was having a facelift it was quite shocking. No one admitted that. But she made it OK. And she could hardly hide the fact that her face was changing. She might have gotten addicted to it but in the long run she was proven right and she must have had a very good plastic surgeon.

She always said if any of her QVC customers ever came to one of her live shows she would welcome them backstage afterwards for a greet and meet. A few years ago she was making an appearance at a casino not far from where I live. My daughter-in-law, Sue, and my son Doug agreed to go with me. Sue was also a big fan. Doug was just indulging us. I told them we would go backstage after the show and meet her. Sue hoped it was true. Doug was sure I was dreaming. I wore a black coat and hat, because Joan always wore black, and a big pink leopard print scarf which I knew Joan would recognize, and a bracelet. Sue also wore some jewelry. We came early and got to our seats before the crowds. I saw the head usher across the room and said I would arrange our meeting. I could sense Doug scoffing. I told the usher what Joan had said about her customers and said we wanted to meet her. He said he would look into it. I sat down and could see Doug was still doubtful. I knew I always got what I wanted if I knew the game and how to play it. In a few minutes two men came up to us, took our names and very cheerfully and politely told us, after the show, to stand by the stage on the left side, and when Joan was ready we would be escorted backstage. She was her usual outrageous self and we all loved it. Sue was excited and Doug was beginning to think this might actually happen. We rushed to the stage and a number of well dressed people lined up behind us. We were first in line. Someone came up to the attendant and said we were VIP’s and were to be treated accordingly. This was even better than I thought it would be. Joan had changed her clothes and when we went in she was the charming, kind and thoughtful person her friends all said she was. We introduced ourselves and I showed her the bracelet I was wearing. She seemed very excited and grabbed my wrist. She asked the photographer to take a picture. She said she owned the original and it had been designed by the father of the famous Faberge. Joan was a huge Faberge and Russian admirer. Much of her stuff was inspired by them. She must not have made many of the bracelets. It was only on once and never seen again. I bought it because I loved it but didn’t bother to learn about it. It was gold plated with turquoise stones, turquoise enameling, pearls and faux diamonds. That night was the only time I have ever worn it. A week before Joan died I bought a very elaborate necklace in gold and turquoise. I was going to send it back because I thought I would never wear it. But it has become the perfect memento.

It seemed she went in the snap of the fingers, but she was at the peak of her career and we will always remember her at her best. When you get to eighty you know it’s coming but you don’t know when or how. You just hope it will be quick and painless. She got it right.

I nominate her for Woman of the Century. She totally created herself and kept rising from the ashes, never letting pain or failure stop her. An example for all of us. It is so hard to believe she is gone.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


At 86, my Mom decided to zip-line her way through a local rainforest. Damn the aneurism and seizures, this is a bucket list mission and she shall not be swayed. Of course, she aces it, like she has so many things in life. But let her tell it...

If I write something down on my bucket list I WILL do it. WHY I SHOULD NOT DO IT: I have a serious case of acrophobia. My doctors say don’t do anything stressful, climb ladders, etc., [aneurism in my head, seizures]. WHY I WILL DO IT: If I die I die. I like to do things that scare me. I don’t ever do anything twice. It seemed like an interesting idea for my sons to be able to say “Our father died in Mandini S. Africa and our mom died on a zipline“. I had heard about the one on Camano and thought it was the perfect opportunity to do it while visiting my sister, Pat. Greg was to have dinner with us on Wednesday so I asked if he wanted to come early and go with me. He offered to bring his camera.

We arrived at two without a reservation. We had to fill out forms. On the form it asked if we had ever had a seizure. My heart sank. I turned to Greg and said “Guess we have to skip it.” But you know me. Always truthful and always TMI. I told the receptionist that I had had a seizure two years before but was taking pills and had not had a problem since. She called the owner who took me aside to talk in private. And to judge my mental capacity and asked if I had passed out during the seizure. I said yes, but I had strong arms and loved speed. My legs were weak so I was concerned about the bit of hiking but I was sure I could handle it and I had wanted to do it for a long time. She decided I could go and said the guides would go as slow as I needed.

Our two male guides were young, charming, patient, and very capable and experienced. The course was 5 star rated for safety. They helped us into our harness and gave us hardhats and instructions. Namely: FOLLOW OUR DIRECTIONS. Our 5 other teammates looked like a pleasant and intelligent group. No bratty kids. It had been raining so it was cool which was very pleasant. All systems go.

We loaded into the van and drove to the first line. There were six lines in all, some short, some long, some fast and some slow. Between the 5th and 6th line was a log bridge. But I would cross that when I came to it.

We stood on the first small platform while one of the guides hooked our harness to cables which were attached to a Douglas fir younger than I. We were to pass one tree that had been split in half by wind and another by lightening - a reminder that M. Nature was in charge after all. While the others hooked up and took off, I watched them and looked down at the deep wide view and told Greg there was no way I could go. He said whatever I wanted to do. But while my mind climbed down and went home I told Greg to go ahead, and in an out-of-body experience let myself get hooked up, stood on the edge of the platform, took Greg’s advice and did some yoga breathing. The guide said to sit down into the harness. It consisted of straps around each thigh, up the backside and around the waist. Zombie like I sat down which was surprisingly comfortable and supportive, closed my eyes and took off.  About half way I realized I loved the sensation and opened my eyes. Which was a good thing as each landing was a bit tricky and required a different technique. But the guides were there to slow us down and stop us. Then to get hooked up to the next cable and go again. Now that I was an old pro I could open my eyes, kick my legs, let go with one hand and wave. 

The team was very encouraging. At one point we did have to hike up hill for a bit but one guide stayed behind with Greg and me, and let me go at my own pace. After 4 rides I was almost bored. Been there, done that. However, the dreaded bridge came up between the 5th and 6th. It was like those very tippy, swinging rope bridges so cringeworthy in adventure movies. This was made of about 6” diameter, debarked logs made slippery by the rain and spaced close to 8” apart. OMG. No rope handles, just the cable. Directions were to stay in the middle, step on every other log and go at a steady pace. I followed the directions very conscientiously and still wriggled a bit at the end. But, once across, I realized I had really enjoyed it and would never have to do it again.

The last platform had a hole in it large enough to drop a body thru. Oh yeah. Von was unhooking the back of my cord so he could put the new gear on and I said “It has been years since a man unhooked me.” My day would not be complete without embarrassing my son at least once. We were each lowered thru the hole to the ground and the adventure was over. It was great!

So what’s next? Not parachuting. Not bungee jumping. Not hanging from a trapeze by my knees from an airborne biplane. Not fire walking, but I would if confronted with it. No tats, no face lifts, (who cares?), Not crossing the Bering Straits by Kayak. However, I have never done a 20 minute shtick in front of a loud, drunk, noisy, group on open mic. As soon as I get the material together it WILL be done. It shall be done. It is practically a done deal. It is next on my bucket list. But if you think any of you bozos are invited, fahgit aboudit.

Mom gives herself a well deserved pat on the back :-)