Monday, February 28, 2011

Motel Kitty

I wrote a post a while back about traveling and some of the "off the grid" places we've stayed. This little place in Winnemucca, Nevada was one of two of my favorite places to stay on this trip. We stayed here one time before and it may have even been the same room. It's two blocks off the main drag and is called Scott Shady Court Motel. I wish I had snapped a pic of the room key. It was a very old style, big square looking thing. The locks on the doors are very old but sturdy.  

The rooms are very small but they are clean & warm. I love old motels.  It was $44 for the night. We never paid more than $48 for a room on this trip. 

Before we left Richland, Gene mentioned that I should take our old coffee pot with us.  I was so glad he remembered that great tip. I stuck a brand new can of coffee, filters and the old coffee pot I've been storing into a big canvas bag with handles and it was the first thing I grabbed as we settled into our rooms at night. We also took our big 12-cup thermos so I could fill it with java first thing in the morning before we set out.  We went through a half-can of coffee in a week! 

I thought of my mom everytime I plugged in my old coffee pot. She would have loved it that I dragged it along on this road trip. She was very sensible about such things.  In fact, it was my mom who taught me to "heat up" the thermos before placing the fresh coffee in. So, before I made a fresh pot, I ran a pot of water through to pour in the thermos every morning to heat it up. This guarantees that you'll have hot coffee late in the afternoon, which is when you really need it!

At another motel, actually the first place we stayed on our recent journey, they had a fabulous continental breakfast in their small lobby.   And, they had a motel cat!  We no sooner sat down for a toasted English muffin when motel cat jumped up on Gene's lap for some love.   Gene is a cat whisperer, if you didn't already know. 
This smoky little kitty was very friendly. You won't get that kind of morning greeting at Best Western, I'll tell you that! Notice the bagel cutter on the table.  This motel in Ontario, Oregon had bagels & English muffins, bread for toast, every kind of little box of cold cereal you could think of, muffins,  bananas, apples, orange juice, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.

The guy running this place was a jolly fellow who wore rainbow colored suspenders and he had a great sense of humor. We had called to say we were going to be a late check-in and when we arrived at 9:00 p.m. he said, "I thought you were going to be late."  He informed us that late check-in is more past midnight.  Who knew?

We love road traveling and as much as I'm really glad we are home, I already look forward to our next trip.  If I were a betting person, I'd bet my next paycheck that we'll be seeing motel kitty again in May.

love, susan

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Death of An Idea

2 dudes rolling down the highway
Motorcycling. Thai restaurants. Green trees. Rivers. Daffodils. Tulips. Grand children. Winding roads. Grapevines. Cows. Fresh air. Hawks. Old houses. Antiques. Rodeos. Trips to the beach. Twelve minutes to get to work. 

These are just the itty bitty tip of the iceberg of things I am really grateful for but have taken for granted until this recent trip to Phoenix.

We traveled to Phoenix with the idea that perhaps we might move there after looking at the housing market hit almost rock bottom. I had a window of opportunity to take a week off from work so we piled in the car for a very long road trip that paid off in so many ways, I can hardly contain myself for the discoveries I made in a lot of areas of my life.

We spent 2-1/2 days getting there by way of Yuma. An old friend in Yuma asked if we would like to spend the night on his pull-out and we happily did so. Not because we love sleeping on hide-a-beds, but because we got each other's undivided attention. It was the most precious time I've spent with another human being in a really long time. After a brief visit with my aunt & uncle and cousins in Yuma, we drove up to Casa Grande where we were invited to spend a couple of nights with good friends we haven't seen in 3 years. We always feel so welcomed everywhere we go.  

We drove 211 miles around the Phoenix area on Tuesday just looking at some places we spotted on the internet and getting a feel for the place. We started out about 9:00 a.m. and by 2:00 p.m. I knew we would not be buying. I let out a big sigh and said, "you know what, Gene, I just can't see myself living here, can you?" He agreed. We continued on the journey up through Glendale, Peoria, Sun City and Surprise, looking for something that would change our minds but never found it.

We left Phoenix early Wednesday and on Thursday we traveled out to Pahrump, Nevada to briefly see a very good friend who is in the last stage of lung cancer. As long as I live, I will never forget the brightness of his beautiful blue eyes shining from a body that has been ruined by this horrible disease. It was really hard to say goodbye to him and his wife. 

The truth is it's hard to say goodbye everywhere we go.  When we started out on this trip Friday before last, I was telling Gene about how restless I get.  One of the things I love so much about Gene is that he gets me. It takes one restless soul to know another.  He calls it wanderlust.  Yeah ... I have it ... bad.  However, as much as I love going, I still love coming home. 

We are not moving to Phoenix, Arizona. We loved the journey there and all the wonderful surprises that came with it. The biggest surprise of all is that we really have it good, right where we are.  Sometimes it takes a good, long road trip to figure that out. 

I'm feeling so grateful.  love, susan

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Phoenix, Arizona

In Phoenix today. The sun is coming up and it promises to be a perfect February day. We'll head out after the rush hour traffic dies down about 9:30 a.m. and start cruising 'hoods.

Stopped in Yuma overnight and stayed with a good friend. Visited my aunt & uncle and discovered my cousins were there so that was a pleasant surprise.

The trip getting here was a bit treacherous in places but we made it. Not sure which route we'll take home but Highway 101 is sounding good after the snow & ice on 95.

We're staying with some most excellent friends and last night they were telling us that 50% of home owners in the state of Arizona are under water.  And that doesn't mean river water.  After thinking about it for a little bit and some discussion, we're guessing this just needed to happen to get housing prices back where they should have been all along.  Could take 10 years for the market to square up.

No bother. The sun is shining and I've been able to snap a few desert photos.  Life is good.

love, susan

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hearing My Dad Laugh

Justin & dad at NAU 2008(?)
I love to hear my dad laugh. He does it often. 

Truthfully, I love to hear all people laugh.  My dad has a great sense of humor and most days he can be seen and heard laughing. He used to love to dance. You gotta love a guy who loves to dance. He is slowing down a bit these days but the one thing I'm pretty sure about is that he still gets a smile on his face and perhaps a chuckle now and then. I'm not sure he's still dancing but maybe!
Nancy & dad at JP's graduation 2009
My dad has a really fun spirit. He's getting close to 80 but he's still laughing. I selected these photos because they are the ones I could find so early this morning. We're getting ready to attend another college graduation in May so it seems appropriate to post these. The top one was from a trip dad & I took to Flagstaff the first year Justin started at Northern Arizona University.  That was a really fun trip, just dad & I. When we were driving home, his rig got a flat tire. I was driving ... too fast ... no doubt. I'm glad I didn't get us killed.  It was scary because it was dusk but a really nice young couple stopped and gave us a ride up to the next town so we could get the tire fixed. We were 
Amanda, JP, dad and me, graduation 2009
 in the middle of nowhere. We laughed about it later.

I got to take a long trip with dad in 2001 when mom died. We drove the motorhome to Alaska together, spent the summer, and then drove back to Arizona. It's a trip I'll never forget. I was so glad to get to spend that time with my dad ... it was really special. One day when we pulled over to make some lunch, I opened a cupboard over the sink to get a coffee cup out and one of the cups fell and hit me on the head. I was so pissed off I started crying.  He explained to me that when you travel in a motorhome, there are certain
Dad - Flagstaff 2009
things you have to remember. Stuff shifts when you roll. I'll never forget that lesson, dad. We laughed and cried a lot on that trip. I can hardly believe 10 years has gone by since then.  This next to the last photo was taken in Flagstaff right after graduation. We were walking back to the dorms and I'm pretty sure my dad had just passed air here. Hence, the waving arm behind his back! And the big shit-eating grin on his face!!!  The last photo was taken at the wings place in Flagstaff. 

Love you dad!!
Dad and me - Flagstaff 2009

love, susan

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blue Skies

Leaving soon on a road trip to Phoenix. It's raining here this morning and I'm glad. It makes the thought of driving 20 hours to get to blue skies even sweeter.

I was emailing with a friend at work recently about Route 66.  I found this photo I took a long time ago and it conjures up all kinds of great memories for me. 
Gene and I have been along Route 66 in a couple of places.  Kingman is a funky little town that has a personality of its own.  One of my most favorite places along Route 66 is Tucumcari, New Mexico. It's only because we happened to stay there one night at this old, restored motel. It had been recently purchased by a retired couple and we spent a little time visiting with them and it was just grand to see the American spirit of small business.  I hope they made it.

We like to find little off-the-grid places to stay when we travel. I can't remember what town we were in one time in Nevada but we ducked off the main street one block and found the coolest, old motel that sort of looked like old Switzerland. The rooms were small but cheap and clean and quiet. It was a trip where I forgot to bring my own coffee pot. They let us fill up our thermos the next morning before we headed out on the road. You gotta love that!  Try asking for that in a corporate motel/hotel

I wasn't going to write this morning but I can't help it. I wake up and have all this stuff on my mind.  I'm getting really excited about going on the road. We've never done a road trip in the middle of winter so it'll have a different look & feel.

Someone on my FB reported it was 78 degrees in Phoenix yesterday.  I think I'd better pack some short sleeve shirts.

love, susan 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Coffee .... I love it.

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, 
please bring me some coffee.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

I love coffee.

I remember when coffee shops got really popular some 20 years ago. I was living in Eagle River, Alaska, and there was a little coffee place called The Sleepy Dog Coffee Company.

This was one of my favorite places to just go and hang out. I'm glad to see it's still there. When you go inside, there are lots of bulletin boards and people bring photos of their dogs to hang up. They used to have an open mic and it was fun to just sit and watch people.

Lately, I've been kind of tired of my home brewed java. I go through spurts where it just doesn't taste good to me. I usually keep some different brands on hand for those occasions.  Gene bought a wagon load of "Mr. Coffee" coffee at the Grocery Outlet a couple of months ago. It's super good and I'm just about ready to open up a can to take on our trip to Phoenix. 

Speaking of  which, Gene reminded me to carry along our extra coffee pot.  Listen.  We are serious coffee drinkers! I'm so excited that he remembered to remind me to pack it. I'll be able to set the program so that we can wake up to coffee in the motel rooms everywhere we stay. And, I'll be able to fill our big thermos with fresh coffee .... the kind I like.

I have tried to give up coffee once or twice in my lifetime.  It was crazy. I got the worst headache ever.  I actually gave it up for about a month and then one day I thought I should just have one cup. That's how it starts ...    I limit myself to two cups a day except when traveling on vacation. 

If you ever come to visit me, I promise I'll make you a good cup of coffee. 

Well, I am posting tonight because I have a few things I gotta get done in the morning so I'm going to forego blogging tomorrow morning.

talk to ya later gaters!  love, susan

My Funny Valentine

Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh. W. H. Auden, The Dyer's Hand, and other essays‎ (1962), p. 372

This man makes me laugh ... all the time.
Happy Valentine's Day!  

love, susan

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love in a Grange Hall

Yesterday was interesting. We got out and went for a long walk with Missy and ended up down at the river. The weather was warm enough for me to go with just a sweatshirt over my t-shirt. When we got home, I had to run into town to see my hair stylist for a badly needed haircut. I really enjoyed visiting with her and hearing about her life ~ as much as one can hear in 30 minutes. She's young but has an older soul. Very sweet and well-grounded. Then we drove out to Finley for a chili feed benefit for one of the Sheriff's Posse members who is dying from pancreatic cancer. We knew a couple of people but mostly the grange hall was filled with a tight-knit community that comes together to care for their own. It was sweet. For $5 each, we stepped through the threshold of the grange hall, found our seats and got a big bowl of chili with all the fixin's. For dessert, there was home-made marionberry pie, apple crisp, red velvet cake, snickerdoodles and brownies with the thickest icing you've ever seen. 

They held a silent auction and it made me smile to walk around the tables and see the items this community brought to donate for this worthy cause. I came home with a handmade dish in the shape of a halibut. It was made in Seldovia, Alaska. 

Gene said, "what are ya gonna do with that?"  Well, as a matter of fact, we're going to a friend's house this afternoon for a slide show of their motorcycle trip to Alaska and this little treasure will be perfect to place a cheese ball and crackers on.

I was thinking all night after we got home about how wonderful it is to have friends like the folks in Finley. I don't know how many people live out that way but everybody seems to know everybody. When the live auction started, I made note that it was the members of the Sheriff's Posse who ended up making winning bids on the higher priced items. A wonderful showing of love and dignity for their dear friend. Gene got to visit with our friend, Doug, and I got to take photos and just enjoy being with good people. There was even a lady there with a cute little dog in a shoulder kennel.  I love it! Here are a couple of pics from our day .... hope you enjoy.  love, susan

You gotta love an event that is dog friendly!

Lots of helping hands in the kitchen.

Pretty car out in the parking lot at chili feed! 68(?) Mercury Cougar

Gene and Doug

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Heart Everything

I love these heart earrings.  I bought them at the Women's Expo two winters ago. My friend, Caroline, was with me when I got them.  We spent a good amount time walking around the expo looking at all kinds of stuff marketed towards women. When I wear these, I always think of that day.

I found a place in my journal to throw these on while I snapped a pic. I noted a year ago today, we were a week away from going to Hawaii. The year before that, we didn't make any plans for a winter vacation. Not good.
We didn't really plan for a winter vacation this year either but one of my bosses will be gone week after next and I jumped on the opportunity to take a week off.  We're driving to Phoenix. I need a road trip ... badly. I can hardly wait to roll. Oops ... a little writing A.D.D.

Okay, back to "hearting" everything. Yes, I love hearts. Although I'm not a collector of knick knacks, if I had to choose something to collect it would be hearts. And suns ... as in sunshine. Again .... A.D.D. ... sorry.

I have a pair of rhinestone heart earrings that are my most favorite.  Gene thinks they are a little much. While I don't want to be an embarrassment to my hubby, I sometimes just gotta wear them!  One time we went for a Sunday drive and we had stopped at Micky D's to get a good cup of coffee. NOTE: Their food is crap but they do serve an awesome cup of coffee! While we were standing in line, a total stranger came up to me and said, "I LOVE your earrings!!!" Gene may not remember it but I turned around and gave him that look "see!".  You girls will know what I mean, huh!
Wanna see a picture of them? They are the ones in the middle and although they don't photograph well, these babies twinkle like stars when I wear them. They look best whenI'm wearing a black turtleneck. 

Gene doesn't know it yet but we're going out to Finely today for a chili feed/silent auction to benefit a guy who has pancreatic cancer. We don't know him but he's a friend of a friend. I'm looking forward to going. I heart community things like that. I'm hoping to get some good candid photographs and maybe see some friends out that way. I think I'll wear my sparkly hearts today and bring some love to Finley. I'm quite sure I'll be receiving some love too.

The sun is up and I just finished another Zentangle.  Wanna see?  (giggles!)

I heart this new little hobby I've picked up from my friend, Jane. 

Heart everything ....

love, susan

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Perfect Valentine's Gift

I have enjoyed seeing our grandson on FB, especially this week. I love this exchange of ideas about The Perfect Valentine's Gift so much I have to share it. I decided to use only first names to protect the innocent, except for mine.

Brevin: most of use men wonder what is the perfect valentine's day gift is. so what is it?

Ursa:   idk,u should know.aren't u the ladies man.ha ha
 J.t:. if only i knew... and brevin you spelled use instead of us (i get it from my mom)
Nicholas: Chocolate should work, but i'm not sure

Susan Arthur: You can never go wrong with chocolates, ever. Flowers are really super sweet. Heart jewelry is always special. If you're on a budget, write a song or a poem or a sweet story.

Bubba: Ummm somethin that is like a teddy bear or CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Susan Arthur: Oh yeah ... teddy bears! Yep, that's good too!

Ariel: Chocolate, Teddy Bears, Chocolate, Cd's, Chocolate, Bear hugs. Chocolate, Framed photo of you and said girl, Chocolate, get my drift? (chocolate :) )

Devon:   i have a great idea, ditch the holiday.It's too mushy.

Ariel:  lol

Brevin: ok i got some good idea's now ariel

Ariel:  Oh yeah, a giant boquet of roses or other flowers. Or chocolate.

Nicholas:   is right you should just skip it. it was just made up by a greeting card company.

Melanie: chocolate and tell said girl she is pretty:)

Ariel: XD I remember that!

Nicholas:  lol good times

Brevin: what i dont get it :(
Wynter:  you are such a sweetie B!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When Nancy Cooks

Walla Walla sweet onion rings! Mmm mm
Those are Nancy's hands stirring the fresh slices of delicious Walla Walla sweet onions we brought to her at the Clark Cousins reunion in August 2010 at Port Orford, Oregon.

I do love to watch Nancy cook. She talks while she's moving around in the kitchen and just whips up the most amazing things.  One time last summer, we showed up over in Camas where they were parked at her son's place and she had made some chicken salad sandwiches out of some leftovers she had in the fridge. Everything she makes is colorful and interesting. 

Let's face it.  I love it when anyone else cooks.  Last night I came home to a big bowl of Thai rice that our new friend, Denice, had dropped off. She lives right around the corner from us.  We had a date for dinner with her and her family last night but had to cancel due to a committee meeting I had forgotten about. She kindly brought the dish over before I got home from work.   I love that kind of old-fashioned caring that you don't really see much  of anymore. We got home late and it was a wonderful thing to heat it up for a late bite before bed. 

When we lived in Yuma, Arizona, there was a treasure trove of women older than me who loved bringing their favorite dishes to afternoon potlucks. One could always count on a huge variety of old recipes coming alive on the dinner table. In this world of fast food and Costco, it was a welcomed change for me. I love a home-cooked meal and especially when someone else cooks it. I don't believe I've ever turned down an invitation for dinner. Ever.

My work friend, Tara, has recently started a blog, TLS Treats, for her favorite recipes.  I can hardly wait to see her blog grow as she adds her faves. Another casual acquaintance (we played BUNCO together once or twice) from Alaska has an awesome blog,  Sandra's Recipes, that has been an inspiration for me to try new things. Sandra uses food she already has in the fridge to conjure up new dishes. You should check out her blog ~ she can seriously make something out of nothing and she does some really interesting dishes with fish and Alaska wild game. One recent post, Tropical Lime Jello Suprise, inspired me to make an orange sugar-free jello surprise of my own last weekend. I wasn't sure Gene would eat it but it's long gone now. I even put shredded carrots in it!  I don't know what it is, but when I see someone else making something, it seems like a much better idea than what I can ever come up with. 

I wish the whole country would get back to some good old-fashioned cooking ... and start inviting me to dinner more often.

Chickens make colored eggs ~ here's proof!
I'm throwing in this photo of the dozen eggs a friend gave us the other day. They are fresh right out of the chicken! I love the multi-colors. 

Very Martha Stewart, don't you think??

love, susan


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'd Love to Kiss Ya But I Just Washed My Hair

Perhaps the best dark comedy ever made!
I love movies.  I haven't sat still to watch one start to finish in kind of a long time. I have some old favorites I plug in when there is absolutely nothing else to do.  I was thinking about some of my favorite quotes from movies. This is a very short list.  What are your favorite movies quotes?

"What if this is as good as it gets?" ~ Marvin Udall (As Good As It Gets)
"Wanna dance or would you rather suck face?" ~ Norman Thayer
(On Golden Pond)
"I'd love to kiss ya, but I just washed my hair." ~ Bette Davis
(Cabin in the Cotton)
Oliver Rose: "I think you owe me a solid reason. I worked my ass off for you and the kids to have a nice life and you me a reason that makes sense.  I want to hear it."
Barbara Rose: "When I watch you eat. When I see you asleep. When I look at you lately, I just want to smash your face in."  (War of the Roses)
'Meg': Why'd you do it, Babe ? Why'd you put your head 
in the oven?
'Babe':  I don't know ... I'm having a bad day.
(Crimes of the Heart)

'Clairee': The only thing that separates us from the animals 
is our ability to accessorize.  (Steel Magnolias)

 Makes me just want to go plug in a movie ....

love, susan

Good Friends & Big Clocks

Last night as I was walking towards the front door of home, I saw Mr. Kitty sitting in the chair looking out the window. I almost got into the house and thought, dang that would make a nice picture. I ran to the car to get the camera and got the shot. I really didn't even see Missy sitting in the background until a moment before I shot it. 

I love these animals. They're the best friends any girl could have. Right now, as I am writing this, Missy is curled up on our favorite nogahyde chair that Gene bought at an auction way before he got me. I love that chair and Gene, too.

I love my human friends, too. I have a lot of 'em and they come from all stations in life. Not all of them would like each other if placed in the same room together for too lengthy of a time but it's been my observation over the years that this is what makes life spicy. If all my friends were the same, it'd be like eating the same bowl of mushy oatmeal everyday without adding fruit or sugar. Bland.

I've been feeling a bit melancholy the last week or so. (Read: emotionally fragile.) Been thinking a lot about growing older and decidedly how I spend my days. Time is precious and I don't want to waste any of it.

When I turned 40, which was 11+ years ago, I was sitting at work one day and watching the gigantic clock on the wall above my desk. I'm not sure I ever really noticed how big that clock was before my 40th birthday but all of a sudden I started noticing the second hand tick, tick, ticking away. I had this thought that has never gone away since the moment I had it.  Every second of my life that goes by is a second I cannot get back.  It's as if a big voice from who-knows-where said, "This is your life, Susan. Better start living it and stop wasting time".

I realize this post kind of wandered a bit. That's how my mind works these days. I'm painfully & joyfully aware of it. Here's the thing. I'm glad I didn't miss the cute kitty shot. And I'm glad I didn't miss the joy of seeing my furry friends looking out the window, hopefully waiting for me to come home. I'm glad I have good friends and a happy husband.  I wish the clock would take a break once in awhile or at least slow down a tick or two. But since that's not going to happen, I think I'll just try to fill the days with as much good stuff as I can.  Happy thoughts ...
I love being on the outside looking in sometimes!

love, susan


Monday, February 7, 2011

Unplanned Road Trips

Columbia River on a calm Sunday morning
So, yesterday I got up early to drive to the grocery store and grabbed my camera on the way out. I've been trying to take it with me no matter where I go.  I've had way too many missed opportunities for pics because I am:  a) too lazy to run up the stairs to grab my camera, or b) simply forget to bring it. Developing a new habit takes 14-21 days. I won't say how long I've been working on this habit.

We only live 1 mile from WinCo and just past the store is a marina and park. Instead of whipping into the parking lot I opted to keep going straight to see what I could find to take a picture of. I had not planned to do that, it was just a thought that came to me as I was approaching the store. Avoidance is usually my best motivator. I don't like going to the grocery store, at all. 

The river was unusually calm yesterday and the only car in the parking lot was a truck that pulled in behind me. The guy parked and got out with his springer spaniel (off leash) and they headed down the trail for a nice morning walk. Missy would be so envious if she knew.

Empty trail at marina park
There's nothing really special about these pictures except that if I had not taken my camera along, I would have to rely on my memory for this winter scene. It's February and I was able to be outdoors in just my turtleneck & sweatshirt. Notice there is no snow on the ground. There is also a lack of people walking along this trail so early in the morning. This place comes alive in about another month.

I loved the stillness on the river this day. And even though it was only a half-mile out of my way, it was sort of like taking an unplanned road trip.  How many times I've lived and worked in places and never explored different streets or gone inside interesting buildings.  It's a crime really.  There is so much to see & do if I just think outside the box once in awhile.

On the way back to the store, I stopped to snap this photo because I love the little cute little hedge on the left so meticulously cared for.  We went to a 50th birthday party last year at the yacht club for one of the attorneys at work. It's a really nice open space inside, perfect place to greet friends & family. It has great big windows and a nice deck out towards the water. Nice memory.

If you haven't taken an unplanned road trip lately, why not? You never know what you're going to see. It doesn't have to be a long road trip. Take a different street when you head to work or the store. Walk down into a building you've driven by a hundred times and see what's inside.  And take your camera!

love, susan

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Like a Dog on a Bone!

Only feed your dog raw bones. Cooked bones
can splinter & cause big problems in the
I heart dogs. I've pretty much lived with dogs ever since I was old enough to remember. When I was young, we had a little daschund/terrior mix named "Mighty". She had a lot of attitude (read: she was a bitch) and was quite old when she died. I never saw my mother cry much but when "Mighty" died, it was a sad household. After "Mighty", we somehow inherited someone's German Shepherd. His name was "Thor". Later on, my folks ended up with a puppy (there's a story I'll have to tell sometime!) from a litter my sister's dog had. The night my mom died was just as sad for her little "Ginger" as it was for mom when "Mighty" died. Kindred spirits both.

If you're reading this and you don't believe animals have emotions, I feel sorry for you. My mom's dog mourned for a very long time. I'm not sure I've ever seen anything sadder than a crying dog. After mom died, I sat with "Ginger" on my lap and her eyes would well up with tears.  It's difficult to this day to even write about it. When Nancy came into my dad's life, it was a happy day for "Ginger". She was a woman's dog and she loved Nancy. "Ginger" died a few years ago after a really good, long life.

Living in Arizona is not all that much fun for dogs, I'm pretty sure. There are a certain number of summer months that are difficult to get your dog out walking, except for maybe those Chihuahuas, just as there are many winter months in Washington where humans don't really want to be out. This human, anyway. When we moved to Washington, we waited a year before we committed to getting a dog. I know I've said it a million times before but "Missy" is the best dog I've ever shared space with. I'm crazy about her.

I like other people's dogs, too.  We have a neighbor across the street who owns a little hairy, boy-dog named "Tickle". 

"Tickle" runs the neighborhood & barks every single day.  This morning, I heard him and grabbed my camera to shoot a pic. The little girl who walks him often must have let him escape out the front door because he went whizzing past our house and she was running behind him trying to catch him.  I ran out the door and yelled, "SWEETIE, turn around and run the other way".  Surprisingly, she followed my instruction and "Tickle", as I knew he would, turned around and chased her.  I said, "keep running!!!". She ran all the way home and got her leash and hooked him up.  I asked her to stop so I could snap his picture. Who couldn't love this face?

"Tickle" our neighbor dog

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Horse Puckey

What a beautiful day it has been so far. We went to a friend's 50th birthday party earlier and then drove home to get "Missy" to take her for a little walk near the river. The temp is warmer today and really pleasant for walking. Lots of people out with big smiles on their face. It's like someone turned a switch on everyone's attitudes. Well, at least mine!

When we got back from our walk, I spotted these horses in the parking lot that had just come in from a trail ride. They even looked happy for the weather.
It's not quite spring yet so there wasn't much to shoot while out today but I did find some really interesting lichens growing on the trees. I love the colors. I didn't have to do any editing at all to my photos. Gray days make a nice contrast for these almost neon colors.

Missy was happy to be out and so was this other dog.

I've got some coffee brewing and now I'm chilled so hoping I can just curl up with a cuppa and maybe catch an old movie.

Grateful for good friends, Gene, a little sunshine, lichens, horses, good health, good news, and coffee. 

love, susan

Friday, February 4, 2011

Life is Just a Chair of Bowlies

Today was an interesting work day.  At the age of 51, I'm still finding ways of pushing through that lack of self-confidence that rears its ugly head more than I care to admit.  One of my bosses was heading for court this afternoon and although I didn't really think about it before I walked through the doors of the office this morning, when I did, the paperwork started flying. I've noticed for quite some time, I'm not the same person I used to be. When I was younger, I didn't lack self-confidence as much as I do these days. I don't know where my confidence went. But, when the shit hits the fan, life experiences have taught me that I can either face whatever is right in front of me and use everything I know to push through it or I can run and hide. 

It's been a rough couple of days and I've been extra thankful to have work to keep my mind occupied. Life stuff just kind of comes when you least expect it and I'm glad I have some tools for coping with it. One of my favorite tools are little cliches that come in really super handy for days and weeks like this one.  This too shall pass. 

Do your best.  That's the one that worked for me today. When given a task that I'm not sure about, I always say, outloud "I'll do my best".  And, it worked today. My boss depended on me to do what I do best so she could do what she does best. It felt really good to just do the best job with what I know and today it was enough.

I think pushing through life-stuff helps set the bar higher for whatever life brings me. Up until now, my life has been interesting, hard, fun, depressing, joyful, adventurous, boring, mainstream, colorful ... I could add to this list ad infinitum.  That's what makes it worth getting up and doing all over again.  The unpredictability of it all is what I like the most.

I have no idea what tomorrow will be like. I have plans but that doesn't mean I know how it's all going to turn out. My part is to get up, suit up, and show up for my life and see what happens!  Whew ... I know ... kind of deep for a Friday night.

love, susan

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Clouds in My Coffee

I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.  ~Carly Simon

Another fabulous sunset tonight on my way home from work. Stopped to have coffee with a friend and could hardly bring myself to go indoors when I saw this sunset.  Inside the coffee shop, there were young people visiting and clicking away on their laptops. We had just missed a little 3-person band impromptu jam.  Are you singing Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" in your head right now?
Can you believe this sky?

I heart Expresso World.

Oops ... should I have been drinking coffee at 5:00 p.m.?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nature's Prozac

The sun is nature's Prozac.
~ Astrid Alauda

Yeah, I don't know who this chick Astrid is, but she's right on the money.

I took this photo at 5:18 p.m. on my way home from work. I had to pull over and just take in the color and the fact that it is light now when I leave work.

Can I just tell you how glad I am the sun is out? 
That's all.

love, susan

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cast Iron Skillets

Laugh if you must but cast iron skillets are something I love and is something that came up on my "love" list for the month of February.  

If I had to pare down to only a few items in my kitchen, I believe I could survive with only a cast iron skillet to cook in. I have 3 sizes of cast iron pans plus a dutch oven.

Old cast iron skillets are an American icon and when we're out bargain hunting, if we find a good one, we snatch it up.  My most recent purchase is a flat griddle that I don't know how I've lived without for so long.  My mom had one and I always coveted it. I'll bet my dad still has it.  I know he and Nancy use the cast iron that cooked our food when we were babies. It never wears out and should be treasured when it's passed on to the next generation.

When I was growing up, everything was cooked in cast iron. If mom caught us using a scratcher on it, she would have a fit.  Now that I have my own, I'll admit she was justified in her reactions. Cast iron skillets require much love & special attention but they always love you back when you treat them right.

In the last couple of years, I have started using my skillets for oven frying just about anything you can make on the stove top. Cast iron makes corn bread bake with an awesome crust and I've been known to make pineapple upside-down cakes in them. You'll notice on the one pictured here, it was made in the good old U.S.A.  It's an antique that we use on a daily basis. I can't hardly explain how wonderful fried spuds taste that have been cooked in this pan.

This last year, we gave Gene's daughter a couple of our seasoned pans and she loves them.  Her kids tend to be on the anemic side and it's a truism that cast iron "spills" iron into food prepared in them.  I am so happy that she is not using the Teflon coated pans any longer. There is much written about a connection between non-stick pans and Alzeimer's disease. I'm certainly no expert but according to Planet Green.Com: "When heated to temperatures of 360 degrees Celsius, (685.4 Fahrenheit for us folks in the United States ) Teflon-coated pans will release perfluorooctanoic acid, a likely carcinogen. Not that people often cook at temperatures that high, but now you definitely shouldn't. Chemicals released by non-stick pans can cause the death of pet birds. It can also cause flu-like symptoms in humans. Teflon-pan makers have made a deal with the EPA to remove the poisonous chemicals from non-stick pans by 2010." 

Why take chances?


I don't know why cast iron skillets bubbled up in my mind when I did my "love" list recently.  Perhaps its the memories of great cooking that comes with them. We have several and the largest is about 15" across. Gene uses it to make big batches of curried fried rice in. The 12" pans I use mostly for frying chicken or baking cakes in the oven, and the new flat griddle is awesome for heating up tortillas or making crispy hashbrowns. I think of my mom often when I'm cooking with them. She died in 2001 but she would be so happy to know I have completely given up other pans and cook only with Made in U.S.A. cast iron skillets.  

Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget?  Do tell!   love, susan

Seasoned with love.
My recent purchase. I LOVE this griddle!

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