Setting the Pace

I spent most of the day with my parents (that’s my mom with me in today’s photo). About two weeks ago my dad fell while on a hike. After a visit to his doctor to see what was up, it was determined he should see a cardiologist, which he did yesterday. The cardiologist discovered his heart wasn’t beating as it should and recommended a pacemaker be implanted, scheduling the surgery for today, less than 24 hours after seeing him. I met my parents at the hospital just before my dad was wheeled in to surgery, and then spent the rest of the day with them there.

To cut to the important part of the story, everything is fine, exceptionally fine, in fact. My dad returned from surgery not only awake and alert, but lucid enough to joke with the nurse that what he’d really like in terms of pain medication was a beer (okay, to be honest, he referred to it as a “microbrew”). Shortly after that he was able to take himself to the bathroom. And by the evening, after he had devoured a dinner, we watched a very entertaining Seattle Mariners baseball game (and “entertaining” and “Seattle Mariners” have not been used in the same sentence much around here lately).

I took this picture with my borrowed cellphone, trying to capture some of the Bellevue city skyline behind us. My mom and I had walked across the street from the hospital to grab a bite to eat at Whole Foods. Having not been in Bellevue for well over a year, I was stunned by the changes.


Sitting between Melinda and me in this photo is Mia, one of our former students (from last century!!) at PSCS. It’s always so much fun to meet up with former students, seeing how they’ve blossomed as adults. How is it that they’ve gotten old enough to be called adults? To be married? And in some cases (not Mia’s), to have kids?

It’s crazy.

We sat near Mia at the wedding of Sorrel, another of our former students. This was a couple of weeks back, soon after we returned from France. Sorrel and her twin brother Gus were the first students ever enrolled at PSCS so seeing them both, and their parents, recently brought back a flood of memories.

One of these involved Chloe. She was a toddler when PSCS began and was often in the car when we were taking students places. One time, Gus, 13 at the time, kept trying to get her to talk to him. He said, “Say Gus, Chloe. Say Gus.” She sat stoically, saying nothing. Arriving at his house, he hopped out and ran up to his door. Immediately, Chloe said, “Bye, Gus.”

Speaking of Chloe, on Friday we deliver her to college. Does that mean that she, too, is blossoming as an adult?

Ella Painted the Mona Lisa!

Hmmm… How to make sense of this. Yes, that’s Ella on the left, posing next to our TV. We were watching a video (yes, a video as in V. H. S.) that my parents had created for her when she was probably 3 years old. We found it in a box in our basement. You see, Ella wanted to go through some old boxes to find photos and mementos to consider as decorations in her pending room remodel. And in one of the boxes was the old video tape.

The concept of the video was to feature a preschooler interacting with other characters, the preschooler considering different careers. The parents (or grandparents in this case) sent in a photo of the child that was manipulated to be superimposed in different scenes. So tonight we got to see Ella as a police officer, a firefighter, a teacher, the president, and in this picture, an artist.

Frankly, I didn’t know Ella had painted the Mona Lisa.

I apologize for the quality of the photo and am hoping it gives you a sense of how funny this was for us tonight. Oh, I chose to feature this photo over one of Ella as the president (or sliding into home as a professional baseball player) because of its French connection.

Blackberry Pie Recipe

Let’s see, there’s got to be flour and butter and sugar. I know that. And blackberries, of course. Maybe some cinnamon and baking powder (because I always use those in my baking recipes). I heard lemon juice is useful. And then more sugar and butter. Lots of butter and sugar. And more blackberries.

What else?

Well, judging from this photo you need blackberry pickers. That’s Chloe’s friend Alex, there on the left. You may recall that he visited us in Nantes in May. In fact, he attends Quest University, the college to which we will be taking Chloe on Friday and for which Chloe and Melinda made a huge Costco trip today to pick up sundries and things. But sundries are not part of a blackberry pie recipe. And what I was trying to get at when I started this paragraph was the missing ingredient.

Friends. To fully have a good blackberry pie you need to share it with friends.

Last night we had dinner with Alex and his parents, they having invited us over. Deb, Alex’s mom, made an incredibly delicious blackberry pie using blackberries they had picked with Chloe yesterday morning.

6 – 2

I’ll say it again. 6 – 2.

That was the final score of today’s Seattle Sounders soccer game, our local team hammering the visiting Columbus Crew. The team set all kinds of records, and one player, Lamar Neagle, scored 3 of the 6 goals, a hat trick.

Why am I telling you this? Because Melinda and I were at the game, that’s why! Can you imagine a better way to spend an 80 degree summer afternoon in Seattle than watching the home team lay waste to the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference?

I can’t.

Want to know something else? The last soccer game we attended was exactly one year ago today and it was when we saw FC Nantes win. That’s right, Melinda and I know how to attend soccer games.

On Thursday at school, teaching staff member Liana asked if anyone wanted her two tickets to today’s game. A quick check of our home calendar indicated the appropriate void so I snatched them up. Melinda & I bussed into town, saving the hassle of driving and parking. The craziest expense of the day was paying $8.50 for a beer (but, hey, it was a “Kilt Lifter”).

Mango Sticky Rice

The title of this post explains the picture and there isn’t a heck of a lot more to add. One signature dish in our neighborhood that we missed while in France was this dessert from Bai Pai Restaurant, mango sticky rice.

I stayed at work for two extra hours tonight, so much is there to do to prepare for the new school year. By the time I got home it was well past 7. Rather than put together a dinner then, Melinda, Ella & I decided to head to Zeek’s for a slice of pizza and then to Bai Pai for the sticky rice. Chloe has a babysitting job.

The sticky rice did not disappoint. An uncanny combination of sweet and savory, it’s the kind of thing that hits some sort of spot that is best described as “right.”

Romain’s Travel Day

What I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post was the fact that when Melinda and Romain arrived at SeaTac Airport yesterday, they discovered that something was amiss with his scheduled flight. You know, the one for which he has had tickets for months. The short of it was fairly quickly determined. His flight had been cancelled. Now the airline was trying to accommodate a large number of stranded passengers.

To Romain’s advantage was the fact that he was a lone passenger, much easier to place on other flights. Still, the first option given him was to wait several hours at SeaTac and then fly to Boston for a 10 hour layover before catching a flight to Paris.

Um, you can do better than that, right?

Indeed. In the end, he left Seattle two hours later than originally planned and flew directly to London. He waited four hours in London and then flew to Paris. We are happy to report that he caught a Paris to Nantes train and was reunited with his whole family at our beloved train station in Nantes a little before midnight (3pm in Seattle) today, as evidenced in today’s photo, sent to me by Laurent.

If you haven’t, you might want to take a look at the blog Romain kept while he was in Seattle. In a word, it’s lovely.

“Thank you for the place you gave me in your family.”

Romain left this afternoon and we are all a little sad. Melinda took him to the airport after some staggered goodbyes this morning. Not only do we absolutely love Romain, we like what he brought to our lives in Seattle. He’s fun, funny, thoughtful and kind. He left us a touching goodbye note that included this line, “Thank you for the place you gave me in your family.”

And with Romain’s departure, we feel a little farther away from France…

To feel a little closer to being fully back home, Melinda & I hooked up tonight with our longtime friends Kevin & Lynn (that’s the 4 of us in today’s picture). We credit Kevin (and another friend named Bruce) for Melinda and me meeting. He & I went to high school together. And Lynn has known Melinda and Brenda from single digit grade school.

Lynn is a filmmaker gaining serious attention in the world. She told us her most well-known film, Humpday, is being re-made in France with a bigger budget and famous French actors and everything. That’s exciting, to say the least.

As if reconnecting with Romain and everyone else in France wasn’t enough reason to go back…

Our Last Night w/Romain

So at the end of our fancy Italian meal last night, the one we were treated to by Romain, we asked him what he’d like to tonight, his final evening in Seattle. Without hesitation he said he wanted to return to the Mexican restaurant in Ballard where we went on August 5th.

For the sake of accuracy, I made a point to get the name of the restaurant this time. Just don’t ask me to pronounce it… It’s spelled “La Carta de Oaxaca,” and I think the X sounds like a W or something. And I thought the French R was difficult. Whew. Anyway, you can learn more about the restaurant at its website.

I caught Romain in mid-bite of his Lamb Birria with this photo. He wanted to make sure he ate something that came with the restaurant’s delicious homemade corn tortillas. I think he was quite satisfied with this choice. When I asked him what he thought of the meal he said, “I love.”

I asked him if he would miss Mexican food once he was back home and he said yes, but that he would miss other things more. I think he was referring to us. It was such a sweet thing to say.

We will certainly be missing him, too.

Mamma Melina (& Family)

Romain took this picture just as we were heading out this evening for dinner. After nearly 4 weeks with us in Seattle, he insisted that he treat us to a dinner out and suggested Mamma Melina, an Italian restaurant, as the locale. He has heard us talk repeatedly of it, and specifically for two reasons.

One, just as we were leaving for France last July the restaurant was moving from its longtime spot in the University District, not far from Melinda’s parents’ house. The new location is close to our house, on the corner of 25th & Blakely near University Village. They have a swanky new outdoor eating area that has been beckoning us since our return.

Two, every time Melinda sees the restaurant she tells us she is going to drop the “D” from her name and go by “Melina.” In fact, when the girls were younger and we’d drive by the old location, I would start calling her “Mamma Melina.” It just has never stuck.

Regarding that outdoor eating experience we were hoping to have, it was a no-go tonight. It’s been raining on and off all afternoon and evening. Go figure. Rain in Seattle. Still, the meal was excellent and the company divine. Romain was the perfect host, insisting on everyone having whatever they wanted and having us practice how to say thank you in Italian before we left home.