Thursday, September 30, 2010


Just about every single morning since we moved here to Washington, into this big house, Gene and I have done the same exact dance early in the morning where I am "crazy-busy" making my oatmeal on the stove and asking him to move aside so I can get my Splenda out of the cupboard, which is directly over the coffee pot.  Sometimes (more often than not) he doesn't move out of the way quite as fast as I think he should, leaving me feeling irritated and badly hiding that fact while he giggles at my daily "fly by the seat my pants" craziness. (If only I would start making breakfast earlier, I wouldn't be worried about an extra 30 seconds of effort trying to get my husband to move or perhaps I would even have time to kiss him properly.)  This has gone on for nearly 700 mornings and yesterday the thought that is going to change my life came to me, "Susan, why don't you just move the Splenda?"   Brilliant!  I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.

MY POINT:  I need to let go of old ideas a little sooner than I ususally do.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Walking Home" by Lynn Schooler

I'm 65 pages into the above-referenced book that my friend Kathy in Juneau sent me over the summer.  Kathy and I like a lot of the same kind of books and every once in a while she'll surprise me with a book that shows up on my doorstep from Amazon.Com.  I haven't seen her in almost 9 years but we stay in touch via e-mail. I think reading the books we send to each other also keeps something shared between us. I think of her when I'm reading the book she has already read and wonder what parts of the book meant the most to her.   Anyway ....

This book is written by a guy who takes a journey across the Alaskan wilderness, traveling by himself, in a small boat across the Gulf of Alaska and then on foot along the wildest coastlines in North America.  At page 54 in this book, it reads "The contrast between the roiling, open sea and the sheltered water inside the bay was breathtaking. Ahead of me lay a sheet of silver mercury so perfectly polished that it reflected the inverted image of the mountains ringing the head of the bay with a precision that might have induced vertigo were it not for the ripples of my own wake, which curved past me and shattered the mirrored surface into sparkling shards as I throttled down." ...  Wow!  I know what this author is talking about!  I've experienced this.

Thank you Kathy, for sending the book, and mostly for knowing that I would really love it.  It is waking up memories that I didn't realize were still there ... and I'm enjoying every one of them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Focus - I Can Do This!

Focus.  That's been my favorite word lately.  I have a lot on my plate but all it's good stuff.  Yesterday, my friend, Becky, helped me figure out what I'm doing with my online class and it seems I have two assignments due by Thursday and two tests to take on Friday.  Okay, I can do this!  For a brief, and I do mean brief moment, I felt like giving up. That's my old pattern. That's what I do.  I give up easy.  So, after that brief moment, I calculated what my schedule looks like this week and spent 1.5 hours this morning finishing one assignment (and feeling pretty good about that!) and I will most likely be skipping lunch with friends today to read chapter two so that I can perhaps start that assignment tonight or tomorrow morning.  I can do this.

In between the online class this week, I have work, dishes, Gene, "Missy", dinner at a friend's house, class with "Missy" on Thursday night, cancel the car insurance with old agent, and go to the bank.  I can do this.

There is a huge satisfaction in crossing things off my "to do" list today.  It's a list of things I really want to do. Some things not as much as others, like dishes, but I still get a huge kick out of washing dishes while in a race with the coffee pot.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hopped Up Hashbrowns

When I was much younger, I took a creative writing class and although I don't remember much from that class, the one thing I do remember is the teacher telling us to write one word in the middle of a piece of paper and any thought that came to mind to drawn a line off the word in the middle and just do a "mind dump". Teacher said "don't question it, just write the words".  So, I've done that a lot since learning the technique.  This morning I woke up and "hopped up hashbrowns" popped into my mind and here's why.

When we lived in Yuma, we sometimes stopped at Penny's Diner for a bite to eat, usually when we were heading out on the motorcycles. Penny's Diner is a 50's style diner complete with the shiny silver walls on the outside and awesome 50's music inside. Gene would always order one pancake, which filled a huge plate and cost him a whole whopping .95 cents. Nobody loves a good deal more than Gene!  I discovered the hopped up hashbrowns, which are a meal in and of itself. We always sat at the counter so we could talk to the cook while watching him make our "lite" breakfast before we hit the road. I don't know if we ever knew his name but he had a ponytail, a few teeth missing and the most genuine, warm, friendly attitude you could ever ask for in the guy who's fixin' your breakfast. He was always talking smack to the waitresses and making them laugh.  We guess he may have spent some time in the slammer but you could just tell that he was loving life now and he took pride in everything that hit his grill.  You gotta love that.  I've tried to make my own version of hopped up hashbrowns but they fall short. Probably because I don't have a container of liquid butter to squirt all over those potatoes while they're sizzling on the grill. By they way, the hopped up part is a side of jalapenos, onions, red peppers, and mushrooms grilled on the side and placed on top of the crispy potatoes right before they're served with a sprinkling of cheese on top.

I'm not sure why my mind took me to Penny's Diner this morning except that over the weekend we went out to see the balloon festival in Prosser.  It reminded me of going to see the balloons in Yuma.   Those were good times!   I'm still having good times and I have a real need to write it down.  Gene is always reminding me about places we've been and sometimes I can't remember what he's talking about. It's never the other way around.  My guy has a memory for every twist and turn we've been on.

Just yesterday, he said "do you remember that store we went into in Butte, Montana where the lady had all those cast iron skillets?  YOU KNOW, Susan, the place where we bought the big grill!"   I wish I could remember it all but the fact is my brain is like a hard drive that is too full.

I couldn't find a link for the Penny's Diner in Yuma but here's one that looks exactly like it in New Mexico.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Glow

Balloons being filled with hot air
 Tonight we drove out to Prosser, Washington for the annual Prosser Balloon Rally ~ Night Glow.  One word describes it:  AWESOME!  We dined on bbq hamburgers cooked by real cowboys and served by kids from the 4H club. We listened to an awesome steel drum high school band from Tri-Cities while waiting for the sun to go down and the balloons to go up.  It was well worth the wait! The wind was a little troublesome but it died down and all 5 balloons inflated and they turned off the stadium lights.  Music blared and the balloon owners lit 'em up!

Life here is really grand.  People show up for these kinds of events in droves. The Prosser football stadium was packed and everyone was so polite.  We noted that as part of our hamburger meal, they served a red apple.  Where else in America does that happen?

Of course, my favorite balloon is the one with the big pink heart.

I go back ....

Hillsboro, Oregon ~ concert in the park ~ year 2007?
I'm feeling a little nostalgic today. I got up early to send some photos via email to RiteAid to have printed as we have a friend coming over this morning to pick up a picture I took of him at the parade this year. I have a lot of photos in my computer and I've started sending them to Costco or RiteAid or Walgreens whenever I find a good deal on printing. I recently threw together a scrapbook of our Clark Cousins' Reunion to send as a thank-you gift to our hosts and I realized how much I missed cutting & pasting and reminiscing about my photos.  

Life seems to simply fly by and I often feel like I'm hanging on to the end of a runaway train.  Don't get me wrong, I love it!  I just sometimes need to slow down and remember to record it somewhere.  Digital photography is the best thing since sliced bread but I need to remember to print those favorite memories and write about them, scrapbook them, give pictures to friends, etc.  Just like e-mail has replaced old-fashioned letter writing, ditigal photography loses something when it's not on paper.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stuff I Really Want "To Do"

Coming to the end of September and this is always a hard time of year for me ~ transitioning from a "full throttle" summer to "it's cold outside, I wanna just curl up in a ball, sleep and eat" mode.

CRICUT ~ I bought a used "Cricut" at the beginning of summer from a friend and I did set it up and ran it once but then it quickly went back into its box as it was summer and I didn't have time for it. I want to set it up and spend hours just playing with that machine! The rain is here and it seems like a good time to get it out. Good thing it didn't get shoved to the back of the closet or I might have forgotten that I have it.  So many things to do ... so little time.

SHOOT ~ Take more photos. A friend I met in a photography class said she carries her point & shoot in her purse and shoots photos everyday. Great idea but I need to clean my purse out first before I place my camera there.  (Note to self: clean out purse on Saturday!)  Can't imagine what kind of photos I can take on an average given day of my life but I'll bet I see the world just slightly different with a camera in hand.

PLAN ROAD TRIP ~ Gene and I went for a long ride last Sunday up past Naches, Washington and we were talking about getting back out on the road for a vacation trip. It's official, I suffer from a bad case of wanderlust.  So, with Justin and Amanda graduating from their graduate programs in May, seems like a perfect time to plan a 2-week road trip. Destination: Yuma, Mexico (briefly), Flagstaff, and South Dakota. I saw some photos on FB taken by a guy who is on a motorcycle trip across the U.S. right now and he was in S.D. ~ I just gotta go there!!

WRITE MORE LETTERS ~ I'm looking through my rolodex and started my letter-writing campaign. I have a really special friend in Yuma who actually writes me back.  I treasure those hand-written letters I get from friends.

READ MORE ~ One of the best things about sitting in front of my Light Box (treatment for seasonal affective disorder) is that I'm forced to either read or write and I like to do a little of both while I'm sitting there. Tomorrow, I will be starting a new book my friend Kathy from Juneau sent me called "Walking Home" by Lynn Schooler.  Can hardly wait to start it!

GET MY PASSPORT STAMPED ~ Not sure where but one day I'm going to get my passport stamped.  My boss is leaving today for a 2-week trip to Italy.  While Italy is definitely someplace I'd like to visit, there are hundreds of places to go.  Maybe we'll figure out where to travel outside the U.S. while we're on the road trip to South Dakota  ... or not.  I love road trips.  Hmmm ... maybe a road trip in another country.

KEEP BLOGGING ~ I've been wanting to blog for years now.  Note to self:  Just do it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"To Stop-Doing List" - Part 2

Perennial herb garden = my kind of garden!

So ... the other thing I have stopped doing is gardening.  Last summer we tried planting a garden and it ended up being the most hilarious snafu ~ which provided a few chuckles but mostly left me feeling irriated.  One of us had planted seeds over the top of the other's gardening and none of it was marked. It's pretty hard to weed when you don't know what you're dealing with. Add to that the fact our neighborhood kids keep running through our garden area because we are on a corner lot and the automatic watering system got broke, blah, blah, blah.  I made the conscious decision to cut off the water supply to that side of our property this year even though the previous owners had spent much time and money planting such lovely lilac bushes and other bushy trees I know nothing about.  My motto is: "if it can't survive on it's own, it's coming out of the ground, baby". It's looking really dead on that side of the property but as we rounded the corner on our walk yesterday morning, I noted one of the bushes is sporting beautiful little purple flowers. AHA! It may be the last plant standing and I'm okay with that.  Now, we have to figure out what to do with that area since it is officially no longer a garden.  Fortunately, our son-in-law is a landscaper and we're betting he'll have an idea or two for us.

MY POINT and I do have one:  it was an incredible freeing moment when I decided I don't want to spend my time gardening. I admire other's gardens and I don't mind putting up a few hanging baskets or watering the perrenial herb garden but I don't want to spend my non-work time tending a garden. I would rather ride.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"To Stop-Doing List"

This is me ~ on a road trip ~ doing things I want to be doing with my time!
I'm 9 chapters into a book called "The Art of Non-Conformity" by Chris Guillebeau.  I've been following his blog for about a year now and I like his ideas.  Something I read today really hits home with me.  He talks about creating a "To Stop-Doing List". This is not a new concept to me.  I had a co-worker many years ago who turned me on to the idea of not doing things I don't want to do. One day I stopped by her desk and invited her to go to lunch with me and another co-worker in our office. My friend declined the invitation and without provocation she said, "Susan, at my age (she was in her 60's at the time), I no longer do things I don't want to do. While I'd love to have lunch with you, I don't care for (blank) and I choose to not spend time with people I don't care for".  Her lesson was not lost on me.  While I like almost 98% of the people I come into contact with, there are a few that I would not care to spend a lunch hour with.

Right now I am signed up for an on-line class this semester, "Missy" starts a new Rally Obedience class next week, fall is here and I have to get my winter clothes out, etc.  So here's my "To Stop-Doing List" for right now:

1)   Facebook.  I'll look at it briefly but I've found myself spending far too much time on it.  I'm officially cutting down. The only reason I haven't click off my account is that I dearly love seeing other people's photos. And, I won't give up my Scrabble games with Caroline ~ I enjoy those far, far too much.

2)  Turning off the TV.  I spend too much time on the couch after dinner watching Two and A Half Men.  I've seen every single episode more than twice. Why am I wasting my precious life doing that?

3)  I'm going to clean out my closets and get rid of stuff that's cluttering my life.

This is just for starts!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Blogging With Multiple Photos

So my cousin Tommy is married to Cher and they are raising 5 beautiful children.  Cher started a blog and I followed suit because I've always wanted to do a blog but couldn't quite figure out how to do it.  I thought Cher did it while chasing after five kids, 24/7, surely I can figure this out.   Okay, so I start a blog and I figured out how to put a photo in.  Then Cher's blog yesterday has three photos in it.  How did she do that????   So ... I'm here today trying to figure it out.   OH ... now I see!!!   By the way,  Cher is also a fabulous cook according to the recipes she has posted for me! I've never met her but my cousin Tommy is one lucky dude ~ she is amazing!

If you leave your cursor right over the photo or click on it after you've placed it in the blog, it allows you to manipulate it.  By the way, I took these photos of this cool parrot at a volleyball game in the park a couple weekends ago.

He's a beauty, isn't he?  (I'm guessing it's a boy)  Pauly want a cracker?

Well, glad I figured this out!   Hey Cher, this is so much fun, isn't it?

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky

Have you ever heard a phrase or a song and couldn't get it out of your head? Well, that's what happened to me yesterday on my way to work.  The radio DJ was talking about the great Jimi Hendrix and played a snippet from "Purple Haze".  I know Hendrix is talking about being high when he sings this lyric but sometimes I'm so happy I could just "kiss the sky" ... so I don't think the lyric is wasted on me.  A few things that do that to me are Gene's sheepish smile, the way my dog hugs me, when I see my friends gathered in a circle talking & laughing, receiving an email from my son, watching the clock click to 5:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.  Life is sweet.  Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

Friday, September 17, 2010

5 Minutes

It's been a long week. The boss pointed out that working 5 days in a row is torture after a 3-day week last week. Hell yes, it is torture! I have a photography class tomorrow that I'm really looking forward to. One of my friends will be there, which makes it extra special. Last night, one of my acquaintances was talking about going on a motorcycle ride with a friend and she worried as she got to work 5 minutes before work started. I chuckled to myself because I think that's the way life should be. Show up early for the fun stuff and enjoy it to the very last 5 minutes!!! There is a lot of fun stuff to pack into life and some days I want to do it all.  Since it's not possible to do it all, I get to choose the things I really, really want to do and do 'em.  I secretly hope it rains tomorrow because I'll be sitting in that photography class, wishing I could be sitting on a motorcyle or riding in the car somewhere. The truth is I'm quite certain I will enjoy the class and meetng new people just as well as riding. Ah, so many things to do, so little time.  I think I've been "asleep" a good portion of my life and just now making up for lost time.  Nonetheless, it's Friday and I get 48 hours to pack in as much fun stuff as I can.  Here goes!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Beach

I'm still enjoying memories of our weekend at Cape Lookout.  I rarely come back from a vacation and have the happiness of it last this long.  Going back to work usually wipes it out within the first 4 hours.  But, last weekend was different.  I'm not sure why.  And, it doesn't really matter why except that if I knew, I'd try to capture that and parlay it into every weekend getaway!  I am still going through my photos to edit them and with each one I am transported back to those two days on the beach. Maybe that's it ~ precious moments captured digitally. It was all good ... every single moment of it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Simulated Sunlight

Today I started doing time in front of my light box.  Usually I don't start until October but I decided it's not going to hurt a thing to start early.  I always journal when I'm sitting in front of it and I note the last time I journaled was June!  I don't think I was sitting in front of the box when I journaled in June but must have just decided to write.  Writing always seems to do me good, I don't know why I get away from it sometimes. Hmm....

Received a book I ordered from Amazon yesterday: "The Art of Non-Conformity" by Chris Guillebeau.  Read the first chapter this morning while in front of the box and I can hardly wait until tomorrow to pick it up again.  Sitting in front of a light box is not hard ... it actually helps me get those books read that have been sitting all summer while I was busy doing something else.

Happy Tuesday ....  love, Susan

Monday, September 13, 2010

Simplicity in Blue

Just got back from a weekend at Cape Lookout. We almost cancelled the trip because the weather report wasn't looking very promising but literally hours before it was time to cancel, Cathy found a little break in the weather and decided to keep the reservations.  Turns out we had probably the most perfect weather anyone can ask for at the coast. There was not a cloud in the sky and the slight breeze kept us from realizing we were getting sunburned. Spent the whole day on the beach from sunrise to sunset with a couple breaks in between to eat camp-style cuisine. Jeremy grilled steaks on the open fire that were totally awesome and we shared everything including veggies to power bars from Trader Joe's (thanks Wynter!). One of Cathy's best friends showed up in the morning with her kids to spend the day with us and it just added to the joy.  Lots of good memories for the kids and it's certainly going down as one of my favorite weekends in my whole life - so far!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

About Light

It's almost time to dust off the old light box.  6:11 a.m. and the sun is just now rising. When I lived in Alaska, I didn't start sitting in front of the light box until October but I think perhaps starting early is a good idea.  I should be dusting it off instead of writing.  So many things to do ... so little time.  Tonight I'm hoping to go out the ranch to watch my dog friends practice their agility runs for the weekend match.  We'll be at the beach so I won't get to see them compete.  Today is starting out much better than yesterday. It's amazing what a difference 24 hours can make.   .... suddenly I'm Susan

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Banana Cream Pie

Recently a friend gave me a banana cream pie that one of her customers made for her. She couldn't eat it so she gave it to me and I took it thinking I would just throw it away if it didn't taste good.  It is the best pie I have ever had in my life. I am not exaggerating. Home-made crust, fresh bananas, home-made custard, topped with real home-made whipped cream.  I don't know why I thought that pie wasn't going to be good.  I once again judged the pie by its cover.

Catching Up: A July Life List

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks. We were in Alaska last week for 8 days and before that I can't even tell you what happened.  T...