When A Parent Must Leave Home

Charming family home, built in 1908
We have a long-time neighbor and friend named Lad. He tutored our oldest son in math. Our families exchanged baked goods, shared meals, and enjoyed conversations on our front porches. We’ve watched as our neighborhood evolved from “unsafe,” to one where even the dicey streets have been gentrified, and houses are now selling in excess of $1 million.

A couple months ago, Lad called to let me know he was planning to move. I wasn’t too surprised—there hasn’t been a better time to sell here. Seattle has zero inventory available. Houses sell in one day. There are bidding wars. Many friends have downsized from their huge Seattle homes to lofts, condos and simpler “country life” on some of the islands surrounding the city. As they sold their family homes, they amassed enough funds to buy another, smaller house, with plenty left over to see them through their retirements

But for Lad, it wasn’t just about cashing out. He and his dog have been on their own …

How We Conquered Christmas

Last month on my Wordpress blog I wrote about a somewhat zany idea I had about reverse gift-buying, and how I talked our family into trying it this Christmas shopping season.

After some initial skepticism, I think many of my family members were surprised at how well it worked.

At first it seemed weird, though, to shop for ourselves. A few of us bought things we needed. My husband bought a replacement grill for our Weber, and designated it a gift from my brother and sister-in-law.

One of our sons bought a gift certificate to have his car detailed, and made it from me and my husband.

My sister bought a pressure cooker as a gift from several family members.

I bought a GoPro camera, and made it a single gift from everyone in my family. Others chose things they wanted and needed that no one would’ve thought of, or in some cases, would have exceeded the budget limits we set up for individual presents.

But this year, no returns, no duplicates, no exchanges — all purchases were made a…

A Hummel figurine that belonged to my mother

A Hummel figurine that belonged to my mother
A friend, Annegret, and I were talking on Twitter about memories and our belongings, and it reminded me of a story.

Thirty years ago I had a friend named Kathy. She was such a happy person. She had two rambunctious nephews. One day they came over to visit while she was unpacking some very old and precious Christmas ornaments that belonged to her grandmother. Kathy and her grandmother had a special bond. I had the pleasure of meeting her one summer when I visited her family in Atwater, Minnesota.

Kathy's nephews, who were maybe 8 and 10 years old at the time, were admiring the ornaments, and she said, “Here, why don’t you choose some to keep?!”

I remember feeling shocked. Giving some very old and irreplaceable heirlooms to two little boys? How insane!

I'm sentimental and like to keep things that are dear, nearby. The idea of giving such special things to children who, God forbid, could destroy them, seemed crazy. Annegret and I agre…


"INVU4URAQT" used to be an autograph saying kids would write in yearbooks at the end of the school year.

A wealthy friend travels the world but spends most of her time alone. Another is successful but waited too long to have a baby. Another has everything except her life mate who died too young. And another goes on a dozen cruises a year to every corner of the world—sometimes taking the same exact cruise twice—for what reason? It seems like he is searching for something he'll never find.

It so happens my husband and I are surrounded by people who have made a ton of money throughout their careers. Many people believe "if only I were wealthy—it would solve all of life's problems." But wealth and resources are not panaceas. Despite the resources a person has, it doesn't guarantee life will be wonderful. Once critical issues like having food, clothing and shelter are answered, everything beyond that speaks to enhanced quality of life. But it doesn&#…

LA Story

Fern tree across from the hotel
Okay so some of you guys know I went to Los Angeles last week. There are more details about the gathering I attended on my other blog

American Express made it easy to get my flight using miles, but booking a hotel was an adventure. I looked and looked, using many of the usual sites and didn't feel like there was a significant difference between them. It's not as simple as it should be.

Basically, I know nothing about LA, so didn't feel like I could find a place on AirBNB and confidently know it would be convenient in terms of getting to the W Hotel in Westwood—the venue of the #140confLA event. So I tried to find a reasonably priced room in the W Hotel, which is across from the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA. (BTW, there wasn't a reasonably priced room, but I bit the bullet and booked it anyway since the event was taking place there.)

Being a little bit nervous traveling by myself because I usually have my trusty Sherpa a.…

Resilience. Self reliance. Resourcefulness.

Me, hugging my first dog, 1972.
A baby boomer looks back.
I think kids born in the 1950s and 1960s had the opportunity to try and fail, and their experiences engendered real, contextual learning that prepared them to succeed. Sometimes our parents would say, “good job,” but a pat on the back wasn’t the driving force propelling baby boomers to achieve.

When I was in high school, I ran track. No one came to watch me at a track meet, but it didn't make me feel bad because no one else's parents were there, either. Participation in team sports was driven by the individual child and not by parents who herded or guided kids to take certain paths.

Parents weren’t hyper-vigilant. I believe it's because it wasn't needed. For example, choosing to be part of a team meant there was an intrinsic desire to work cooperatively to achieve a goal. Improvements were based on learning from mistakes, and healthy competition provided important lessons.

These days I think it’s difficult…

How to Deal with Disappointment

It’s weird how you can be merrily be rolling along when something you don’t want to happen, happens.

I was in the eighth grade when my family moved from Seattle to Arizona. Middle school is an awkward time, and I was just hitting my stride socially and emotionally. Suddenly I found myself leaving my friends and life for a place with virtually no racial diversity—very different from Seattle. I was initially regarded as somewhat of a freak.

Even so, I managed to adjust to Arizona, and after two years, my dad’s Boeing assignment was done, so we were able to return to Seattle. When we got home, everything was different. Our house had been rented, and the yard, which had always been meticulously maintained, had been completely neglected. In fact, as we drove up to the house, Caesar, a neighborhood kid, was playing with friends and popped his head up from the tall grass that, much to the chagrin of our neighbors, used to be our lawn.

The worst disappointment was learning my parents were g…

Enjoy free books, movies, music, digital media & the Internet

Through The Seattle Public Library

The Sally Goldmark Library in Madrona is our local branch.
Sometimes I think my husband, David, and I are the only people in Seattle who don’t subscribe to Netflix or Hulu.

I guess one reason why is, we aren’t huge consumers of video content and we'd regard it as wasteful to pay for something we won’t use.

We like watching films and television series, but since we opened Alki Surf Shop, we have even less discretionary time, including TV time. We spend an average of about an hour each evening watching films or programs.

Truth be told, we’d dearly love to "cut the Comcast cord," but there are certain channels that would be a bummer to lose, like Bloomberg News, and any channel that airs "Law and Order" episodes :)

The concept of getting rid of cable became more of a possibility when David discovered a treasure trove of content available through The Seattle Public Library (SPL). He regularly visits the SPL web site, and when…

Goodbye 2015; Hello 2016

This final day of 2015 started out pretty normally. Woke up, fed the cats, put on my make-up, got dressed, then looked at my to-do list. All doable!

I needed to pick up my car from my mechanic of 19 years, and no one was around to drive me there, so I called Uber . Uber was in 50 percent surge-price mode, so I said, forget that! Opened
Lyft and put in my location and request...

Lyft did something weird.
I watched the Lyft car circle around, then was notified the car had arrived. Scanning all directions—no Lyft. The driver calls and tells me he is in West Seattle. Uh, yeah. I was 20 minutes away in Madrona. Wonder what happened? Obviously I couldn't wait for him, so I called my old standby, Farwest Taxi. They said it would be 15 minutes until a cab would reach me. No thanks. In this age of "I have no time to wait," I called Yellow Cab next. They arrived in 5 minutes.

An older East African gentleman
was driving and he wouldn't exceed 25 MPH. Drove me kind of n…

Fall Into a Savory Soup

After traveling in New York for several days to attend a Verizon Summit (#vzsummit), and enjoying meals at fabulous restaurants there, I returned, craving home made comfort food.

Just before the trip, I roasted a pretty sizable pumpkin (uncarved), yielding a two large sheet pans of delicious pieces of roasted pumpkin.

So before heading into Alki Surf Shop on Saturday, I searched for a pumpkin soup recipe, and found one that looked good, but I didn’t have some of the ingredients.

Never one to let a missing ingredient stop me, I forged on!

The original recipe, Thai Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk, called for lemongrass, fresh coriander, vegetable stock and coconut milk. But I didn’t have any of those things. So here’s what I did:

Terri’s Pantry Pumpkin Soup

2 TB Olive Oil
1.5 medium onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic left whole
3.5 lbs. of roasted pumpkin, diced*
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp curry powder
2 TB fresh minced ginger** (which BTW, was frozen—more b…

With a Little Help From My Friends

It’s been a year since my husband, Kahuna Dave, and I opened our store, Alki Surf Shop, in West Seattle. The past 12 months have been filled with lots of laughter and learning, and we’ve met thousands of great people from nearby and all over the world. We’ve made new friends, rekindled past friendships, and love being a part of the Alki Beach community.

It feels like we’ve been on a business “graduate school” crash course. We're smarter store owners now, and continue to evolve. Among some of the things we've learned: How to create a positive experience for people who visit; how to identify products that make sense; and how to work more effectively with suppliers.

My husband's vision of "Hawaii-Beach-California" is fun, and comes through clearly in our store, from the fixtures to the colors and raffia and bamboo trim.

One of the things I made a conscious effort to do is to incorporate my friends in the creation of our unique space. We’re constantly hearing f…

Life's a Beach - on Alki in Seattle

It’s been said, “Life’s a beach,” and in our case, it’s true!
Eleven months ago, my husband, “Kahuna Dave” and I launched our store, Alki Surf Shop on Alki Beach in West Seattle.

It took extraordinary effort and thinking to create such a unique place. It’s not just the fact that the “physical plant” is fun and adorable, but we go further to make sure our customers have a positive experience in every way we can. As Kahuna Dave says, Alki Beach is Seattle’s playground, and when you’re there, you’re having fun.

It starts with the music we pipe out onto the sidewalk. We actually see people outside on the sidewalk dancing before they enter our store. We have an incredible UE Boom bluetooth speaker, which acts like a pied piper, drawing them up into our space. And when a customer leaves, we often give them something extra to remember.

Our stock-in-trade is genuine Alki-branded tees, hoodies, and tank tops, but we sell all manner of beach essentials: sunglasses, sunscreen, towels…

i'm a graphic designer who loves words. - terri nakamura