Sunday, December 30, 2007


The end of the year brings thoughts about things past. At the moment, I am alone and I should be cleaning our horribly messy house. Being sick and without energy to do anything reveals just how much I do do around here--if that makes any sense. To be honest, it makes me feel good about myself. Sometimes, I think I am lazy and when I get sick, I realize I am not lazy at all as I watch the fluffy Golden Retriever hair piling up in the corners.

The reason I am alone is that Dave and Kaley are attending the Seattle Symphony's performance of Beethoven's 9th. Dave was jealous that I took Kaley to Jesus Christ Superstar without him so he bought Symphony tickets for Christmas for the two of them. Kaley is the double beneficiary. Lucas threw a little envy tantrum about it on the phone on Christmas day but somehow I do not feel sorry for him. He is staying at a vacation home in the French Alps as I write this with Magali and her family.

Before the concert, I joined Dave and Kaley at Cafe Campagne in downtown Seattle for brunch. It was delightful. My French "fines herbs" omelet was wonderful and with it I had a gigantic cafe au lait. See, I guess we are jealous of Lucas. After brunch, we went into Le Panier bakery in Pike Place Market. The place is authentic French and the smell hits you in the face when you pull open the door. For us, the aroma transports us back to times we have spent in France. Instantaneous euphoria!

Smells seem to trigger memories in vibrant ways. I asked both Dave and Kaley to tell me what smell takes them back to childhood. I decided to list some of my own in addition to theirs.

1. Lemon Joy dish soap. On Christmas Eve we ran out of my normal Dawn blue detergent. We had eaten greasy goose for dinner and not all of the dishes fit in the dishwasher. We needed to wash some things by hand. I was too sick to go to Christmas Eve service so Dave and Kaley went and picked up some Lemon Joy on the way home. The mixture of the goose grease and the dish detergent in the kitchen sink took me instantaneously back to Christmas in Paris two years ago. We must have had the same dish detergent in the apartment there.

2. Split Pea soup. Dave had just been asked by our friend if he liked split pea soup because she was planning on serving it last night at a party for her husband and me. We share birthdays a day apart. He responded it was not his favorite. The smell of it takes him back to kindergarten/day care in Helena, Montana. Dave's Mom worked on and off in the family jewelry store and found places for little Davey to stay. I guess this place served split pea soup and it pretty much made him feel like throwing up everyday. Seems odd to me to serve split pea soup to 4 and 5 year olds. Add on to it a layer of separation anxiety from his Mommy and you end up with a smell associated with bad feelings that lasts a lifetime. Needless to say, our friends served chili instead.

3. Lilacs. The lilacs are overwhelmed around here by rhodies and azaleas. Rhodies and azaleas can be evergreen. Lilacs are not. Also, lilacs need more sun than we have to offer. But some people have successful lilac bushes. There are several along my walking routes. In Montana, the lilacs bloom the middle of May to the middle or end of June. Here, they bloom a couple of months earlier. Always, when I pass a bush in blossom, I reach to sniff. In an instant, I am carried back to the last day of school at Ray Bjork Elementary school in Helena. I do not quite remember but my Mom must have sent me to school with a bouquet from our back yard to give to the teacher.

4. Cigarette smoke. For Kaley, this is a positive smell. Luckily, for most of her childhood in Seattle, she was not exposed to much second hand smoke. But, when we went to France the first time, she was only seven years old. The restaurants and other public places were not smoke free. So now, if she smells cigarette smoke on the streets downtown, it takes her back to Paris in a second.

5. Emeraude perfume. I haven't smelled this in many years. This was my Grandma's favorite perfume and she wore it everyday. All of her things smelled of Emeraude. If I see it in stores and smell the sampler and close my eyes, my Grandma is right there in such a powerful and wonderful way.

Ok, I need to get off the computer and go upstairs and put that lemon Joy to work. There is a greasy goose pan still unwashed from Christmas--I am not kidding (it needed to soak, right?)

And I can pretend I am in Paris while I clean house.