Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Isn't it amazing how when we look back over just one year we can often see so much cathartic change?  How we never could have imagined what life would be like?  And if someone would have told us, we just would not have believed it?

My husband and I will be going to Oregon for the long holiday weekend to celebrate with my nephew and his Dad in a town called Independence.  From what I've heard it should prove to be a lovely small-town, home style celebration. 

Independence, OR 4th of July parade

Who would have ever thought that it would feel so good to spend a holiday with my ex-brother-in-law?  That I would be looking forward to how simple and freeing it is to know the time we spend with him is never chaotic or dramatic, just honest and real?  That I know my nephew is right where he should be...

This year I will be celebrating the fact that I finally, truly broke free of the idea that family really ever had anything to do with where a person happens to land when they are born.  Instead, family grows over time in a dynamic way and we get to choose who we bestow the title upon.

Have a wonderful 4th and take care of yourselves!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Choosing Not To Change

There are times in life when one simply must change.  And most of the time change is difficult, but at least eventually worth it.  Some changes are obviously major and others start out small and sometimes become surprising large in the end. 

One clear example of this is when a family welcomes a child.  I can't really think of anything that brings more change.  I just got back from a maternity photo shoot for a couple who have been trying to have a baby for 7 years and finally are within 2 weeks of delivery!  They are excited and are meeting this big change with happy hearts and willing souls.  I loved being able to share and capture this thrilling time with them. 

In the latest chapter of my own life, things have gotten pretty shaken up.  And mostly, much for the better.  I have written about some of that here on this blog.  Lately though, I have had an interesting relationship with change in some ways.  In my effort to be open to all that is available to me in this life, I have tried not to pass judgement too quickly on opportunities to change even if they are a bit uncomfortable.  I have 'tried on a decision' for a while before really deciding what I would do in a situation.  This is not the norm for me.  I am typically very decisive and don't look back nor regret the decisions I make.  This has turned out to be a pretty good experience for me overall.  

Still, there are a few things that have popped up that I have noticed that I just do not wish to change.  Even if there are benefits, sometimes we as humans just don't decide to change certain things.  One of those for me is the way that I speak.  While I know in my heart of hearts that sometimes my voice is too loud or carries too far in certain social situations, I also know that I am not going to change this about myself.  Sometimes people shush me or tell me to quiet down in some way, especially older folks.  It doesn't happen often, but it has happened enough that I have taken notice.  When I do try to adjust my voice in these situations and appease certain people I end up resentful and feel as if I cannot truly express myself.  I just haven't been able to find a good balance that pleases everyone and still allows me to communicate freely.  I could use the excuse that I grew up very squelched and limited in what was allowed of me.  I could say that my voice is bubbly and exuberant and that these people must be stuffy old folks.  The truth is some people are going to be offended by the volume and manner in which I choose to communicate.  And I'm O.K. with that.  Way more O.K. than I am with trying to change something about myself that I actually like.  I like it that I don't have to be asked to speak up.  I like it that I'm not shy.  While I am not usually inappropriate to the point of obnoxious, I do like being a person, especially a woman, who doesn't generally hold back. 

That's really what it's all about isn't it?  One isn't likely to change something that doesn't hold the promise of any real benefit for themselves.  The old cost/benefit analysis...  It's funny how some things just come down to that, don't they? 

What things have you ever faced and chosen not to change, and why?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quintessentially Northwest

Last summer, my husband finally got a new car after driving a Ford Escort for 14 years.  I had to talk him into it.  He went in for a blue hard top.  We left with a red rag top.  Men, take heed, do not test drive a convertible with your wife unless you plan on buying.  Especially if you're planning to move to a warm weather place.  It's like a built in excuse...

Had we known that almost a year later we would still be here, I might have tried to resist a bit more.  Our little red convertible has only seen 6,000 miles.  It has only been top down for 50 hours (yes, it has a gauge to record this) and probably half of that time because I am stubborn and will drive in 50 degree weather with the top down and the heat blasting.  Yes, I am aware of how ridiculous this is.  But we natives of the Northwest will do anything to pretend that it's perfect here, especially when it comes to the weather.  Things like never being seen using an umbrella and instead hunkering down inside a hooded jacket.  Or wearing shorts with sweatshirts and God forbid, socks with sandals- if I never see that again, it'll be too soon...  And it's not just our wardrobes. 

We actually own outdoor furniture, and use it about 2 weeks a year, after hauling it out to sit in the rain for at least 6 months in hopes of catching just the right moment.  We use our grills in the snow sometimes, especially when the power goes out on Thanksgiving- which is does way more often than we like to admit.  We even act all cool about the days when it is actually truly warm and sunny by behaving as if it happens all the time and that we didn't just cut out of work early so we can enjoy this little bit of magic.  Oh and then we make sure that tourists know that it rains here all the time and that they definitely don't want to move here.  After all, it's getting kind of crowded and there's only so much tartar sauce to go around, to dip our fries in- of course.

Yes, we are a confused bunch out here.  It's funny to watch how the natives behave.  We are too cool to face reality and yet we really do believe we are special in some weird way.  Of course, being a native myself, I can't pretend that I don't do strange things either.  But the other night I have to admit that I was bit annoyed at just how 'chill' we "Northwesterners" can be.  I was at a Mariners game in the suite that is allotted to the company that my husband works for.  Every other year we get to enjoy this little perk, once during the season.  A couple of interesting things happened during the game.  1) Ichiro Suzuki stole his 400th base:

and 2) Ken Griffey Jr. was hanging out in the suite right next door to ours and nobody bothered to mention this until the game was almost over.  And then only by going to great lengths to act as if it was silly to be at all excited about this.  Seriously, not one person even tried to take a picture- not even in that all clandestine "I'll just sneak and take a picture with my phone" way.  Most of the people we were in the suite with didn't even peek in his direction.  Well maybe I wasn't going to make a real spectacle of myself by trying to take any pictures either, but I definitely was going to take a look.  I couldn't help myself.  I may have embarrassed every native in the house, but I was lookin'.  Come on, I don't get this chance every day and I simply could not resist!

So I did my best to act real cool and kind of just wandered out to the far edge of our little area in front of our suite and then just turned around real nonchalant and all, making sure to look right into the center of the suite where I was told Ken Jr. was standing.  OMG.  Yeah, I have no proof of this and I know that over the interwebs nothing is real without a picture.  But, this is how it went down.  Not only did I get a look for myself, but Ken Griffey Jr. looked right up from the phone he was texting on and flashed me a big ol' grin
Photo Credit:  Seattle Times
as if he knew exactly what I was up to!  I tried to act as if I wasn't starstruck, but it was hopeless.  My husband and his coworkers got a real kick out of how thrilled I was.  They had a perfect view of the look on my face!

And you know what?  I wasn't embarrassed at all.  I was glad I broke the rules.  It was totally worth it.  Heck, ever since I've realized that I'm ready to move away I have been pushing the unwritten rules of the locals.  And it's been fun.  Sometimes I even jaywalk, something that is simply NEVER done here.  I know, scandalous!  And I've even noticed how strong the scent of pine can be when you drive with the top down on a crisp Northwest day...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Updates For Those Who Pay Really Close Attention

Today I am going to give several quick updates to a few loose ends that exist among the archives to this blog. It's for people like me who are always wondering, "What ever happened" with this or that.  I have a shockingly good memory and am always thinking things like that.  If you have only stopped in once in awhile this post may be strange for you or, at best, annoying.  You've been warned!

1)  I saw my friend with her special needs child the other day and absolutely could not believe how well the first of many surgeries that her child will go through has turned out.  If this is an indicator of the future, then God has decided to take his own hand and literally heal her.  The surgeon who did this surgery noticed a small imperfection in the result right as he was about to finish and proceeded to do the entire thing over.  Yeah, God is doing his thing.

2)  My friend with colon cancer is getting worse.  She doesn't have much energy and can't tolerate the chemo very often anymore.  On the positive side, her husband finally got a job after a whole year without one.  Talk about a stressful situation.  I know it may sound weird, but I feel like now that he has a job and she sees that as him being O.K. she is starting to allow herself to go.  I'm sad, but then I see how much she suffers.

3)  My husband has decided to get himself into better shape before having any reconstructive work done.  He seems pretty serious about his efforts and definitely paid special attention to the results that my friends baby got out of her surgery work.  It is such a good example of how different results can be when you go into the work as a completely healthy person, instead of being on the verge of death!  It gives us both a lot of hope.

4)  We have also realized that barring total collapse of our plans, my husband and I should be in a warm weather place in no more than a year.  Based on his work towards associate level and then fellowship in the Society Of Actuaries and the tests that he has already gotten through this year, his progress is ramping up.  We are thinking that maybe one more winter is worth waiting through to be sure we end up in Texas, but are not opposed to some wonderful opportunity that arises elsewhere!

5)  My nephew, Nathan, is healing up quite nicely from his bike wreck.  His Dad says that the scar on his cheek is already barely visible.  It does my heart good to hear this, even though I know I can't save him from all of his boyish antics.  I will see him again for the Independence Day holiday.  I can inspect him myself then.  As a side note:  I sent his teacher a great big bouquet of flowers for today- the last day of school.  She has been just what we needed for Nathan this year and I know it has not been easy having him come into her class in January of this year.  She has gone above and beyond the call of duty for him.

6)  We are still experiencing June-uary type weather here.  We have had a total of 3 days that have edged up into the low 70's.  I know some of you would like some relief from your relentless heat and humidity.  Until I can get an audience with whoever is in charge, we'll just have to suffer through and continue to believe the grass in greener on the other side.

7)  My dog seems to have hit a nice mellow spot in his journey with dementia.  The meds. are really helping and he has not had any problems with negative personality changes at all, which I have been warned can get ugly.  He is continuing to stay true to his nature of always bouncing back just when you suspect that he might be headed downhill.  I will be so grateful if he can just fade away quietly in his sleep one day...

I think I have hit on just about everything I can think of.  So, if there's anything else- feel free to ask.  I like keeping up with others and what they're up to as well.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Woman's Worth

What in the world is going on?
I don't mean to be a downer, but I just have to get my thoughts and feelings out there about this particular issue.

How is it that I still live in a world in which women are treated like sexual objects, inferior to men, or even sometimes as mere slaves, existing only to please or serve men?  As an American woman, I have long believed that I am supposed to be treated as the equal to any human being on the face of this planet.  But then things pop up in the news and I am reminded that maybe I am only living a pipe dream.  And truly it leaves me sad and frustrated.  Not just for me, but mainly for the women of the future.  Where are we headed as a society if we don't value women and everything they have to offer?

I have a husband who treats me as the valuable and precious being that I am.  And I want to believe that every woman deserves that, every day.  Not just the lucky few who find real the real men in this world...

But the main thing I see that really gets to me is this:  Why are there so many women who are willing participants in this idea that women should accept any kind of cruddy treatment?!  Every time you hear a story about women being degraded by men, there is almost always a woman who is right there in the middle of it participating just as much as any man in the situation.

Again I say, what in the world is going on here?

Friday, June 3, 2011

All Kinds Of Growth

I'm finally seeing some signs of hope that we really will be enjoying some sunny weather here in the Northwest at some point.  The pink rhododendrons at the front of my house have exploded!

They are native plants that grow wild in many areas out here and have apparently benefited greatly from all the rain we have gotten.  I've never seen them bloom so much before!

Seeing this lovely display and reading some of the posts about peoples gardens, such as those at Middle Passages or Faith Love Kids and Me have inspired me to give planting some edibles a chance again.  When I was a kid we never planted any food plants and I always wanted to.  Then when I was newly married I tried a few but didn't have any idea what I was doing and I was not successful at all!  Now I have realized that if I just give the food crop plants much of the same care I give the flowers I do well with, then I'll probably see some decent results.  Yeah, I know- a real epiphany!  

Also, over the past long weekend, I took care of a funny little puppy for one of the people I work for.  She is a hairless Chinese Crested and looks like this:

She feels like an elephant and will only ever have hair on her head, tail and feet- kind of like a pony. 

At first we were a little put off by her appearance as you really can't imagine how different from an average dog she is without seeing her in person.  But within a couple of days I grew to like how warm her skin always is and realized that her personality is absolutely super!  As she got comfortable with us, she showed us how wild and crazy she can be and proceeded to run non-stop and go in fits about the house looking for the next thing she would chew!

On Monday night I got a call from my nephew Nathan's Dad.  He let me know that Nathan was in the Emergency Room because of a bike accident.  Nathan was riding on a bike trail and had just made it down a pretty steep hill when he hit a bump where a tree root protruded up into the trail.  Nathan took a major face plant and came up with a tooth protruding from his cheek!  At the ER it was discovered that he had 3 broken teeth while the doctors superglued his cheek shut!!!  After a few hours of worry and research we figured out that Nathan follows my slow growth pattern and his 3 teeth were only baby teeth.  (Because his Dad only got custody in December, we didn't know for sure.)  Whew!  What a relief.  I'm glad to report that no, I don't have any pictures of this and yes, Nathan is going to be fine and was in school showing off his cracked bike helmet on Tuesday.  A typical boy who says he will be more careful in the future. 

We'll see about that!
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