Monthly Archives: May 2013

Hello. Goodbye. Hello, Siri. Our Intelligent Personal Assistant.

Our venture into the world of smartphones began about two weeks ago when my husband Mo and I finally decided to take the plunge. We’ve come to realize that we are slow to change in the area of technology; we were the last amongst friends to go from VCR to DVR, only succumbing to that change after the ear-piercing squeaking and grinding of the videocassettes kept us from hearing dialogue on our favorite shows. So after finally researching data, hot spots, tethering—and a bunch of other lingo we didn’t understand — we walked into our cellphone carrier ready for an upgrade. We knew one thing: we wanted iPhones.

We had both boys in tow as we started to talk new mobile plans and models. As the helpful sales associate pulled up our information and we pulled out our pink and green Pantechs, I—ever the tightwad—asked if there might be any trade-in value.

“I just entered your model number,” he informed me. “It says ‘recycle.'”

We chuckled.

“Does anybody even use these kinds of phones anymore?” I asked.

“The elderly,” he replied.

We sat around and were offered Red Vines as he and another guy transferred our contacts. He showed us some of the features on the new iPhones, including Siri, the Intelligent Personal Assistant who can send text and voice messages, research and answer pressing questions and help get directions. We were excited to bring her home.

My son spent the evening asking Siri ten times if the Mariners won. Same with the Miami Heat. We wondered who the Mariners played on August 5th. She told us. (Toronto).

Soon, however, I learned that this may not be a match made in heaven. My screen would go completely black after sitting in my purse. It seemed to freeze up when I tried to answer a text.

Each day something new. Each day something wrong.

I soon returned to the store and was shown how to push the power and home screen buttons to restore.

It worked. For an afternoon.

I then tried reset all settings.

It also worked. For an afternoon.

I finally went to Apple where someone at the Genius Bar reinstalled the software and firmware.

That didn’t even work for an afternoon.

I realized that my Apple was, in fact, a lemon: my smartphone was not even as reliable as my recycle-bound, popular-with-the-elderly Pantech.

I returned it to the store the next day and left with a brand-new one.

So far, so good.

As I left Target moments later, a bubble popped up asking me if Siri could help me with anything.

I hit “dismiss.”

Welcome back, Siri. Thanks for checking in, but I think I’m going to take this smartphone adventure in baby steps.

Let’s just stick to sports scores for now.


Hope Plants A Beautiful Garden

The raised words are etched on glossy white ceramic tile that I received years ago as a gift from close family friends. They’re perched in our living room and I stop to ponder them from time to time when I do my occasional dusting.

Hope plants a beautiful garden.

A couple weeks ago my mom and I planted a garden for our family here in the Pacific Northwest. She was determined to get one in during her visit. She is what I consider a gardening expert in California, having put in numerous ones through the years. I grew up eating fresh, delicious beans, corn, tomatoes and zucchini that she simply planted in an area of the pasture or meadow. Here, we purchased two cedar boxes at Ace and eight bags of soil from Lowe’s. One hot Friday afternoon—with very limited help from my two boys—we did the planting. She ran her fingers through the soil, expressing her love for it. She laid out the plan. She put little sticks in to mark our rows. As we finished, we stood over the boxes, admiring our handiwork. We laughed as I did a goofy blessing requesting the powers of her Green Thumb and the sunshine gods from California to shine upon it. She has since returned to her home to plant and cultivate her own garden. She feels a certain contentment there; in her friends, in the home she shared with my dad for 40+ years, in walking her dog Butler, in water aerobics and film appreciation classes. I watch my garden grow and think of her.


I also often think of my elementary school friend’s mom. For years, I spent countless hours just hanging out at their house, sometimes watching Luke and Laura on General Hospital and 49er games. I once tried to dive under their couch during an earthquake. What comes to mind when I think of her? Laughter. She has this big, hearty, wonderful laugh that simply exudes joy. Her home was full of laughter. I always felt welcomed, loved and warmed on the inside when she laughed. To this day, even the way she says my name has a kind of musical, melodic quality to it. I love to be in her presence. It makes me wonder about myself. Will I be remembered as a mom who laughs? Sometimes I don’t feel like it. Like when I practically stub my toe on the dirty, streaked Under Armour compression shorts/cup that sits in the middle of the living room floor for me to trip on. Or when I have to screech “Put on your helmet” for the tenth time. I don’t feel like a laugher. I feel like a yeller. But I think of Mrs. E, and her imprint, and I want to leave that, too.


Finally there are the moms who are peers. Moms of young ones, who, like me, were wiping up spilled apple juice at Moms & Muffins at school on Friday. Who —when I asked what their plans were for the weekend— didn’t paint a picture of receiving a bouquet of flowers or having a breakfast-in-bed kind of day. Instead, they shrugged and shook their heads, letting on that a pedicure, shopping or a break from cleaning up apple juice—alone—might be on the agenda. And we laughed. We giggled because we understood. Because we all felt a little bit the same.


Like little rows in the garden, all three of these—hope, history and honesty—share a common, fertile ground: laughter. Through grief, growing up and simply growing—through joy and pain—we can share and relate through laughter.

So here’s to all the moms who’ve touched our lives that we think about and remember—may we hear their laughter and carry on their legacies.