If Mildred Could See Us Now

Growing up, Jeff was very close to his grandparents. Both sets. On his mother’s side his grandparents were 100% Norwegian. It’s why he’s so tall. And his Norwegian grandfather was a fisherman all his life. After coming to Seattle he moved to Ballard and married his Norwegian wife, Mildred. Ballard is like Little Norway. People used to speak Norwegian or Swedish there and had no problem being understood, as there were so many Scandinavian immigrants. In that part of the city they still celebrate Norwegian Independence day every May 17th with a huge parade. People by the thousands line the streets waving Norwegian flags.

His grandfather owned a fishing boat moored in Ballard and made his living on the sea. He would eventually die of retinal cancer from years of staring at the glare off the ocean. As a boy, Jeff spent summers with his grandfather on his boat. It’s why he doesn’t eat fish anymore. He got enough of it as a kid. And lutefisk? The mention of it sends a shiver down his spine.

His Norwegian grandmother, Mildred, was a nurse in Ballard, and a tough cookie. She had to be as her husband was often away chasing schools of fish off the coast of Alaska or California. They lived in a house on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound. She would talk to her husband on his boat on her CB radio at home. waiting for his return.

I have heard tales of Mildred. She was a tough, very smart, savvy woman. Independent. Outspoken. A little rough around the edges. She traveled the world alone after her husband died. Unafraid in her retirement. Jeff is certain she and I would have gotten along like a house on fire. Sadly, she died before we met.

Can I Speak To Your Manager?

When we adopted Fergus he was not housebroken. It was a challenge, at first. We had to watch him like a hawk. And if we didn’t see him sitting by the door he would have accidents. All of which were our fault. We had to work in shifts. It was a little frustrating.

Then, Jeff had an idea. Something his scary-smart Grandma Mildred had done in the 1970’s, and trained her dogs to use. He order a couple of hotel bells off Amazon and set about teaching Fergus to use them when he wants to go out. In the beginning, every time Fergus whined at the door, Jeff would take his paw and ring the bell before opening the door. After a few days, Fergus would ring the bell about 50% of the time. Slowly but surely, he eventually used the bell. We were thrilled. Until today.

Jeff was in his office working. With his head phones on he didn’t hear Fergus ring the bell. I was upstairs and thought Jeff would let him out. Then, the bell rang again. Again, I thought Jeff would open the door. Finally, Fergus began ringing the bell furiously, over and over like a crazy hotel guest on the silly British tv show Fawlty Towers. I ran downstairs shouting for Jeff as he came out of his office.

‘Fergus needs to go out! Haven’t you heard the bell?’

This, as the dog was furiously banging on it by the front door with his paw.

Jeff just laughed as he opened the door and Fergus shot outside. ‘That bell really works!’ He said proudly. ‘If only Grandma Mildred could be here to see it.’

‘It only works if you can hear it.’ I reminded him. ‘I bet even she knew that.’

But Jeff was unconcerned. ‘Apparently, Fergus just wanted to speak to the manager.’

3 thoughts on “If Mildred Could See Us Now

  • What a great solution. I’ll keep this in mind for future pets.

    And I recently learned about the influx of Norwegians to the Seattle area when I was researching my new-found bio-dad’s heritage. My bio-grandfather and his dad had moved there from Minnesota. In a Norwegian genealogy group, I was told about/ordered a book about this move. I’ll read it after the move but saw where the Norwegian History Museum is there in Ballard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! That is so cool you are learning about all that in the midst of discovering your bio-father. Jeff would be interested in that book. Jeff was shocked when he had his DMA done at how much Norwegian he had. Even on his Dad’s side. The rest is Irish and Russian.


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