Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Cusp of Change

Speedy Oatmeal Cookies with craisins & coconut
We are having a shift of weather in Tri-Cities this week. The wind has been blowing since yesterday morning.  When I left work last night, it was a warmer wind than early in the morning.

The big guy at our office, who died last May, explained to me about the weather patterns around here. He said because we're in a big valley that the weather socks in. It's true. So, this wind is necessary to blow all the winter clouds out of here.

Isn't it funny how some things that people say to you stick in your brain and other things fall off, as Gene would say, "as if your brain is made of teflon?"

I worked for the executive director at hospice in Yuma and he loved giving new employees the assignment to read his favorite business book by Jim Collins called "Good to Great".  I love this quote from the book talking about great leaders:

Disciplined people: “Who” before “what”
You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you're going, how you're going to get there, and who's going with you. Most people assume that great bus drivers (read: business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they're going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision. In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. 

I have never forgotten this little paragraph.  To me, it's a powerful statement both for business leaders and me (read: person in charge of my own life).

Another person who said something powerful to me a very long time ago was a nurse practitioner I was seeing after I had some major life changing surgery. I kept going back to see her with complaints about medications she was prescribing and one day I apologized for being so irritable.  She said, "honey, you have to be in charge of your own health care. Don't ever forget you are in the driver's seat. We'll keep working together to find a solution to your problem."  Her name was Lila and she was a rare find for a health care provider. How many doctors do you know who would drop their ego and say that to you? How is it possible I still remember her name?

The weather is on the cusp of changing.  And, so am I.

love, susan


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Joe The Mailman Needs A Job

I'm behind in my letter writing.  Ironically, I was looking through my Rolodex and I have a card dated April 8, 2010 with a list of names on it of people I wrote to in the month of April last year. Strictly for curiosity purposes, I placed a check mark next to the ones who sent me a hand-written letter in return.  Out of 16 letters I wrote, I received 4 in return. Statistically speaking, that's a pretty good return.  If you only knew how thrilled I was to receive those four ....

I truly don't have any expectation for a return letter when I write. Although, I must admit I get so much enjoyment when I receive a letter that I know I'm spreading joy when I mail one.  I don't write as often as I would like to. I seem to get distracted  by other things (read: Facebook and blogging) but I've decided tomorrow I will start my letter writing campaign once again for the month of April.

I found this blog 365 Letters Blog started by someone in 2009. I'm finding all kinds of 365 day projects bloggers are writing about.  I wish I would have thought of this ... what a great project! I only have 16 people on my letter writing list but it will take me all the month of April to write that many letters.  I love this post 10 Reasons to Write a Letter from this blog.

Okay, well, I'd better get some sleep ... I have a lot of letter writing to do in the morning. I sure hope I have something interesting to write about .....

love, susan

P.S.  Joe is the name of our mailman. He is the nicest person in the Tri-Cities. I could write a whole post about Joe.  But I have to snap a photo of him before I do. Love that guy!


Surprise Calls From Justin

June, 2009
I love this kid! Last week I had a voice mail from him that came in after 9:30 p.m. so I was already asleep. I texted him the next morning and he called me right away while I was riding the bus to work.  Amanda had received word that she has been accepted to the Ph.D. program at a school in Michigan.

Michigan? It's so far away .....
But on the up side, I've never been there so it affords a new place to travel to.

I love this photo of Justin. I love Justin. So much it makes my heart physically hurt sometimes. That sweet little look on his face is the tickle from rain drops falling on his freshly shaved head.  I could just hug the photographer who took this photo. She cannot possibly know she captured a moment in time that shows the very essence of my son. 

I have to go now ... 

love, susan

~ * ~ *   ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Monday, March 28, 2011

Makes Good Cents to Me

This post should probably go over on my "What's Cooking" blog but it's not really a recipe per say. It's more about revisiting my old New Year's resolutions of using up things that I already have in the fridge and freezer, wasting less food and a constant journey to organize my life better.

I've been talking with my friend, Tara, at work about freezing food. She brings a big stack of small same-sized containers to work every once in a while and shoves them in the freezer. And then on those days when she stays in for lunch, she microwaves the most wonderful smelling lunches on the block.

I asked her recently what freezes best and she told me she does a lot of cooked chicken, stews and soups. I don't like stew but I'm a chicken fan so yesterday, along with the pork that had been marinating for two days, I cooked up two big batches of meat and stored a majority of it in the freezer.

I love saving time and money so this seems like a no-brainer. I also have about a million plastic containers that serve only to irritate Gene when he gets in the drawer to find something, so I cut up the chicken into small pieces to eliminate as much air from the container as possible and stuck 'em in the freezer. Did the same thing with the cooked pork. We'll use it for making quicker Thai rice or noodles. Tara puts slightly cooked peppers in her chicken and says it heats up nicely. I have yet to try that.

Last week, Gene pulled out his Griswold grill  (see my post on "Cast Iron Skillets") that we bought several years ago and have never used. It worked beautifully for the purpose of cooking lots of meat and kept the temperature even so I didn't have to worry about the "hot" spots on the grill.  It  also saves the grates on the grill from getting all gunked up. Read: much easier to clean than the grates. Yahoo for that! I don't know why we didn't think of it sooner. I can hardly wait to try grilling  vegetables on it.

Once I get going with an idea, I can hardly stop. So, I made a big crock pot of Chicken Tortilla Soup and found some smaller containers to freeze some of it for lunches later. I actually had more soup than containers so guess that's what we'll be having for dinner tonight. I'm a starving Marvin when I get home from work and I love that it takes 5 minutes to heat up dinner.

The price of gas has gone up to $3.79. Yikes! You can really see the ripple effect at the store. I had a short conversation with a stranger at the store yesterday about the price of little grape & cherry tomatoes. It was something like $4.29 for a little container of them.  Better stock up on beans!

In the meantime, I'm so happy I made soup yesterday. It's raining this morning and that soup will be so inviting to me at lunch time today. I don't care if I have to eat it twice today ~ it's that good!

Do you have any tips for freezing you can pass on to me?  I'd love to hear them!

love, susan

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chasing the Sun

Park at the Benton City turnoff.
We got out for an early morning drive today about 7:00 a.m.  There was clear blue sky when we first woke up but by the time we got in the car, clouds were rolling in so we decided to point the car towards blue sky and sun which took us out towards Vantage and on over to Othello and then home. 

There were not too many exciting things to photograph but I did snap a couple for fun and free!  Missy came with us and because it's still early in the season and a bit chilly,  (hence, no other people) we were able to let her walk off-lead and she really loved that. She could stop and sniff every bush without us tugging at her collar. Such freedom!

"Tumbleweed Gene"
Gene "hearts" tumbleweeds. He couldn't help but pick one up today and show it to me.  They are everywhere on the trail so Missy and I had to blaze our own trails.

There are stories on the internet about people making a fortune sending tumbleweeds to folks in Japan. I guess they probably would be quite a novelty if you didn't have any of them where you live. I guess? A little trivia: Gene  recently told me that driving over a tumbleweed and having it get caught under your car engine can be hazardous as it can catch on fire. Yikes! 

And, when we got home, Mr. Kitty was looking to see if we brought him anything. I've never seen him get in my purse before but the headphone wires were just too much to resist. Then he found a bag of tea to toss out of my purse. If you're wondering why he's on the table ... it's because we live in an animal-friendly house. There is no training this cat.

That's it for today. I'm going to go plug in the 7th episode of "Mad Men" and take a break from this busy Sunday.  Hope you have a lovely one, wherever you are!

love, susan

Saturday, March 26, 2011

You've Got Mail!

Thank you for the box of books, Kathy!
~ * ~ * ~~ * ~ * ~~ * ~ * ~
Oh, how I love it when my high school friend sends me books she has already read. It's so nice to have a reader buddy that likes the same kind of books. When I go to pick out books, it's always a little overwhelming, so having hand-picked books is like having a personal shopper. The box arrived yesterday. It's like Christmas in March!

Of course, then there is the decision about which one to start reading first.  My choice is "The Year of Fog" by Michelle Richmond. Here's the teaser paragraph from the back:

"Here is the truth, this is what I know: I was walking on the beach with Emma. It was cold and very foggy. She let go of my hand. I stopped to photograph a baby seal, then glanced up toward the Great Highway. When I looked back, Emma was gone."  

Kind of reminds me of "The Deep End of the Ocean", which was a real page turner.

It's a good thing it's raining today because I also have this DVD series another friend lent to me that I began watching this morning. Oh boy ... it's really good and I'm just watching one episode at a time. I've already watched 4 episodes today. They are 45 minutes each so I get up and do something in between so I don't feel like a total lazy butt. 

In between episodes, Gene and I ran down to JC Penney's because I had a $10 off coupon good for any purchase of $25 or more that expired today. When we got to the counter, turns out the sales lady had another $10 coupon at the counter so I got a screaming good deal today. Love that!

Got home from Penney's and took Missy for a 1.5 mile walk before we got rained on. Look at these pretty little flowers I found. I love this color of blue. It was a nice contrast to the gray skies and liquid sunshine.

My neighbor came across the street to say hello and show me her new boxer puppy. I had already put my camera inside but I promise I'll be shooting a couple of pics of that puppy soon.  Good grief, that puppy is cute!

So, after all that excitement, I went back in the house and got my kitchen scissors and cut myself a few flowers to bring inside.  If the sun isn't going to shine, I'll just bring the flowers indoors.

What a beautiful day it has been, so far!

love, susan 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Men, Cars and Goop

Men. I love men who know something about cars. There is nothing that strikes fear in me much more than being stranded out in the middle of nowhere in a broken down car.

All our vehicles have many miles logged on them, except for my motorcycle. I'm working on that but it's hard to log too many when the darn job which supports the motorcycle habit gets in the way. Motorcycle season is not far off ... and I can hardly wait to go.

We were outside of Las Vegas on our most recent trip in February when we pulled into a casino parking lot to use the facilities. Gene always looks underneath the car to see what's happening under it. I guess a lot of guys probably do that.  Well, there was something dripping on the ground and he had to investigate it. Turns out nothing was wrong.

I don't think Gene knows what fear it strikes in me to think that our car might break down in the middle of nowhere.  Perhaps it's all those years of living in Alaska and driving between Anchorage and Fairbanks in below zero weather that does it to me.  In any case, car trouble always makes my heart skip a beat.

Trucks. When I first met Gene and he moved to Arizona to start a new life, we decided to take off on a very long road trip to Alaska, Canada and West Virginia. We ended up putting 22,000 miles on my old Ford pickup. The day we left on that trip, the truck was making a peculiar noise. Gene said, "just turn up the radio". Really??? I'm pretty sure I've told this story before in a previous post (months ago) but we made it all the way to W. Virginia and back. That old Ford got sold to a friend before we left Arizona and long-story short, we have it back now. That baby has over 200,000 miles on it and Gene took me for a ride in it two weekends ago. Runs like a dream! She's not beautiful as she once was. As a matter of fact, I refuse to drive her to work. She's Gene's work truck now.

I'm intrigued when I meet women who know how to fix cars.  They are far and few between but I've met a few. I can change a tire and I know how to put oil in the car and check and add the transmission and brake fluid. I learned a lot from a former brother-in-law who owned a gas station in Fairbanks where I pumped gas when I was 19. 

I also learned a lot from my dad. Mostly how to cuss really good when something doesn't go right under the hood. He used to holler for one of us to come out to the garage and hold a wrench or grab a tool for him. That's how I learned the names of tools. I never heard my dad use the F-word except when he was in the garage. If he knew we heard him, he always had a look of shame on his face.  That's okay dad ~ today it's one of my favorite cuss words when I'm mad, too! I'm such a lady. It don't mean nuthin'.

Goop. If you have a mechanic living in your house, you most certainly have Goop somewhere in your cupboards. I don't know what they make that stuff out of, but it's a miracle compound. I've seen my dad's hands so greasy that I thought maybe it was permanent. Goop will take a stubborn stain out of your clothes. I don't get many stubborn stains these days, so I forget that little tidbit. It's non-toxic and biodegradable. I should be a saleswoman, huh!

Hmmm ... this reminds me. I have a shirt I tried to wear the other day that had a few cooking oil splatters on it. I should try some Goop on it to see if I can save it.

I love all you men in my life who twist wrenches! Can I bake you a batch of cookies for your trouble?

love, susan

Thursday, March 24, 2011

She Walked the Walk

Grandma Walker and Justin
I wish you could have met my Grandma Walker. If you are reading this and you already knew her, you know what I'm talking about.  She was truly the nicest, most wonderful human being I have ever known. I truly think of her every single day and if someone were to ask me what my goals in life are, one of them is to be as loving and kind as she was. 

I fall short of that goal on many days. But it's something to work towards.
Grandma Walker was mother to four, grandmother and great grandmother to many. She always had time to listen and she made world-famous blackberry cobblers. She loved strawberries and Jesus. It wasn't until she died and it was written in her obituary that I learned she had been a member of her church for 60 years.  Sixty years! That really impressed me. She walked the walk. I never heard her preach anything about what she was learning in church. She loved you no matter what mistakes you may have made in your life, and she never spoke an unkind word about anyone. I miss her terribly as I know all our family does.  

The last time I was in Grand Ronde a couple of years ago, one of my aunts handed me a ziploc baggie full of photos they had saved for me after they went through her things.  Grandma had kept all the letters I had  written to her and they came back to me. I really treasure those things.  I just ran across them last weekend while going through a box of stuff.

When grandma died, I was stunned. I'm not very good at processing death. Everyone has a different path when it comes to grieving. Mine is usually delayed. Her death was no different.  I kind of put mourning her death up on a shelf.  But, on our first trip to Oregon after she died, Gene and I had stopped at a little mom & pop cafe for a coffee break. Gene went to wash his hands and as I looked up on the menu board, I noticed their special was home-made blackberry cobbler. Gulp. By the time Gene got back to the table, I was a mess.  I had not given any thought about going back to Oregon and not having grandma there. If she knew we were coming, she would always make a blackberry cobbler as she knew it was our very favorite. There would be no blackberry cobbler waiting for us. Grieving is like that sometimes.  It finds you when you least expect it. I've experienced it too many times to try to deny it.

I want to leave this post on a happy note. Grandma Walker left behind real, honest to goodness goodness in her family. I see it when I read my aunts and cousins post on FB. Even though she is gone, I see and hear her in my family.  We're connected that way. I'd bet my last paycheck I'm not the only one who longs to be just like her.

love, susan


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Buttermilk & Chips, etc.

Weird topic. I know.  I was looking through my draft posts and this is a left-over from my February "love" posts that I never finished writing about. 

I've been experiencing heartburn for a couple of weeks now. It's happening during the day and sometimes when I am sleeping it wakes me up. I'm seeing the doctor about it ... it's that bad. 

Yesterday, I had a horrible thought. Maybe I should try giving up caffeine. Just the thought of that kept me up all night.  (giggles) When I even suggested it, Gene said, "you don't have to give up coffee. Try Prilosec."  He's a fellow coffee lover and my favorite enabler. Yeah, giving up coffee is a pretty drastic measure, for sure. Banish the thought.

Oops, this post is about buttermilk. I do love buttermilk and chips. You take your chip and dip it in buttermilk and it's a wonderful thing. I love all kinds of weird combinations of food. But I'm afraid my body is turning on me. Even oatmeal is giving me heartburn.  What the heck?

I swear, if my doctor utters those words you hate to hear doctors say, "well, at your age ...", I'm going to buy a red hat. I have a great doctor. I say that because I haven't had a real doctor that I could actually put a name to when asked "who is your doctor" since my early days when my son was little. I just don't go very often so I haven't really had one. But since we moved to Tri-Cities, we have found the medical community to be really good here. It's nice to have one doctor who is building a medical history now that I'm getting older.

My doctor's office actually schedules 30 minutes for a visit. Can you believe that?  And, my doctor actually looks me in the eye when I'm talking and he gives me feedback.  The last time I was there, he said my cholesterol is too high. I begged him not to put me on meds for it and he gave me six months to get the numbers down. I don't think it's going to be good news when I get my blood work done.

Now with this heartburn thing ... I may have to own my own pill box. And give up buttermilk & chips.  Just don't call me old.  Just don't make me wear a red hat.  And, please don't ask me to give up coffee.

love, susan 


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sweet Torture

The whole month of March has been torture for me. This has been the longest winter in the three we've lived here. When it started snowing in November, I knew it was going to be a long one. 

I snapped this photo last year in June. I only know that because I started filing my photos by month and year. I had gone on a photo-walk at the Kennewick library with some friends I met in the photo club. I had no idea our library has this really awesome garden out back. I took Gene by there one time and he was interested in all the herbs they have growing as they have them labeled. It has helped us identify some of the herbs we have in our back yard. Personally, I don't really care what they're called. I just like looking at them. It's only when someone asks me what I have growing that I need this information. However, I just sort of tilt my head to one side and say "not a clue!".

I bought two rose bushes last night at Costco. I have big plans for them. Last year I dug out a wagon-load of tiger lilies that always take over this one area in the front of my house and I had had enough their unruliness. When I asked my friend, Tara, what kind of roses I should plant, the answer I got was, "well, do you want short bushes, tall bushes, long stemmed, what color?", etc. (Can you see my eyes glazing over with all the decisions?)  So, with careless abandon, I bought a two pack of rose bushes for $17.99. They are each different colored. I'm going to give it a go and plant them and see what happens.  I'll keep you posted via photographs. In the meantime, hope you'll enjoy these pics I snapped last year as I wait for this long, long, long winter to be over with.


Monday, March 21, 2011

~ Great Weekends ~

I love the weekends. I had another really fantastic one. I went for an awesome walk with my friend, Stephanie and her son Kaiden. Went to see my hairdresser ~ which is like visiting with a little sister. Yesterday, Gene and I went for a walk with the dog and watched a very old Harrison Ford movie called "Frantic" before I went out to weed the herb garden. I'm not ready to go back to work today ... but I never really am. I'll be working towards the next weekend ...  Until then, here are some pics I shot this weekend.

My friend Stephanie and son Kaiden

A kid fishing on the Columbia River
I loved the name of this boat.
A "Pine Siskin" and very blue sky!

Here's to a great week!

love, susan

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring de Mint

I only have 2 daffodils blooming.
So, I was laying around being kind of lazy today. I had just put my head down to take a 30 minute nap when a thought rolled into my head, "this is yard debris week". Crap.  They only pick up the green can twice a month and this time of year it fills quickly with fall leaves and dead stuff.  The obsessive-compulsive me jumped out of bed and headed to the herb garden as it is in bad need of clean-up. The lazy me just went along with it because there is no arguing with the OCD me.  I am compelled to fill that debris can before they pick it up on Wednesday. 

I had no problem finding stuff to fill it with.  The problems were of a different nature. My back is another year older and I had to dig out an outside chair to sit and rest every once in a while. Me, resting like an old lady. It's absurd. 

And, crap.  Dog crap, more specifically. That was another problem. Now listen. I go out once a week and pick up Missy's business but we had a lot of snow this year, starting in November, and, well, I won't get into the details of how "it" ends up buried in the leaves and dead herb bushes. Just trust me when I say it was a shitty job today.

Truth is, I really love being outdoors and I don't care if I'm doing yard work. I rather enjoy the part of cleaning up leaves and watching the herb garden come alive. I love the idea of filling that debris can to the top. But I think I need to take the advice of a gardener who is older than me who once told me to limit myself to a 5-gallon bucket of weeding every day. She told me that if I did that, I could stay on top of it.  I was thinking of her today. Peggy is her name and gardening is her game.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a gardener. I don't like gardening, at all. I have no idea how to make things grow. I'm sure I've mentioned in earlier posts this herb garden was already here. I love, love, love the fact that with a little bit of cleaning up and turning on the water system, it grows into a thing of beauty that I really enjoy by the end of summer. 

Anyway, I still have a little more cleanup to do but the can is full so it will have to wait. By the way, the mint is already coming up. What a lovely fragrance while I was picking up leaves today.

A land mine for Missy's leavings.

This is what it will look like in just a few short months. Magic, isn't it?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Favorite Mistake

I made a mistake last week. It caused my boss to be very irritated with me but I immediately fessed up to it and took my lumps. I lost some sleep over it. I hate when that happens. Losing sleep.  And making mistakes.

It was a hard reminder that I'm not perfect. But as long as I am willing to grow, I can move forward and learn from my mistakes.

I think I'm having growing pains. 

I don't really like having growing pains but on the other hand, I like being stagnant even less.  Always being safe and doing the same safe thing is more painful than the growing part, for me. This week, I just wanted to run and hide and lick my wounds. That feeling only lasted about 24 hours.

One of my friends posted on her FB recently, "The future is full of change and adventure. I'm excited to see what's next!"  I love that! That's exactly how I feel today.  However, I was not feeling that way earlier in the week, trust me on that.  I was thinking that flipping hamburgers or cleaning toilets for a living sounded pretty good.  I mean no disrespect to the folks who make their living that way. I think everyone has a job that suits them and I'm grateful to everyone who makes the world go round.  We're all in this together. I need every single person who I cross paths with.  I need all those uncomfortable situations to help me grow. I am super grateful I don't have to have them quite so often anymore.
So, thank you to my friend, Teri, for posting a comment that I really needed to hear today. You just never know how your comments can help someone else ...

love, susan   

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm Out of Excuses

Last night after work, I donated blood to the Red Cross.  Ever since my friend, Becky, encouraged me to show up for a blood drive at her fiance's work place last year to give, the Red Cross has had me in their data bank. They call me about every six weeks and I say yes to an appointment and I'm ashamed to say that I have blown them off a couple of appointments over the last year. Here's my excuse ... if you care to hear it.

Sometime before Christmas, I went in for a blood draw and I had a horrible experience. The technician had a really tough time placing the needle in and once she finally got it going, I had a really bad dizzy spell and thought I was going to throw up. That experience had not left me until last night.

Last week I got a call from the donor center and the woman said, "please, please, please donate blood". I've never heard them ask please 3 times so I said yes.  I had gone in last month to donate but my iron was too low. When I arrived last night, I was hoping it would be too low again but I was committed that if it wasn't, I'd just grin and bear it.

THE REASON I was able to sit there and not have so much fear is that I kept a constant thought of all those folks in Japan who are suffering tremendous tragedies and here I am sitting in a nice, warm Red Cross building, with cookies & juice waiting for me after my donation.  What do I have to be afraid of?
The woman who took my blood last night had a green, Happy St. Patrick's Day hat on and a sparkly, green 3-leaf clover sticker on her cheek. She was the happiest person I saw all day. And, I felt I was in good hands.  She told me she had been drawing blood for over 20 years. I was so relieved.  Long story short, she told me to never have blood taken out of my left arm ever again ~ she couldn't find a good vein. My right arm was a perfect donor arm and I had no discomfort whatsoever. I did, however, get dizzy again but she quickly leaned my seat back and placed cold towels on my forehead and neck.  And then, the best part, I got cookies & juice!

I wish I had taken my camera with me. I would have a wonderful photo to show you of the angel of mercy who drew my blood. And, I could show you about a half-dozen really happy people who were thrilled to pieces that they overshot their goal of collecting 20 bags of plasma. They got 25 yesterday.  My observation was that even though they had put in a long day, they still had smiles on their faces and were joking and having a great time.
I'm extremely happy that my bad experience from before has been replaced with a much, much better experienced.  I will try to not blow them off the next time the Red Cross calls.  And, I'll continue to think of those folks in Japan who are and will be suffering for a long time in the aftermath of the horrible wreckage the earthquake and Tsunami have left behind.

There are so many ways we can donate. It does not always have to be monetary. There were high school kids at the Red Cross last night who were acting as the receptionists. How cool is that?
It just got me to thinking about the ways I can be more useful by donating time, blood, food, offering someone a ride, etc. I have no excuse for not being a better citizen .... or blowing off the Red Cross when they call for help.  No excuse whatsoever.

love, susan

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh, The Places You'll Go

The Cable Bridge - Tri-Cities, Washington
“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” 
~ Winnie the Pooh

This morning I read this quote in a blog I read regularly.  The blog (Jonathan Fields) is written by a guy who used to be a big-shot, corporate attorney but who is now writing books and has a thriving blog with a nice following of smart, compassionate business-type followers. He left the titles and excerpts of 7 childrens' books as food for thought today about everything we need to know to succeed in business. I would expand it to say everything we need to know in life ....

Out on the Columbia River
“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” 
~ Winnie the Pooh

I shot these pics when we were on a boat cruise with "the big guy" in June 2009. The big guy was the senior partner in the law firm where I work. He worked hard and he played hard.  He died suddenly last May. When I look at this picture, I remember leaning over the side of the boat putting my hand in the  spray from the wake of the boat and allowing the cool water to hit my hand. It was hot that day.  I love that feeling.

Under the Cable Bridge
We had to go under the cable bridge to get down the river. I don't know if I'll ever be on a boat out on the Columbia River ever again. I had no way of knowing that would be the first and last time I cruised in DRR's yacht. I only know that I enjoyed every single moment of being out on the water and doing nothing. We took off at3:00 p.m. from the office and the first two hours of the cruise were the very best because instead of typing words like radiculopathy and depositions, I was munching on chips & salsa and sharing laughter and sunshine with my co-workers.

Columbia River
“What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…” 
~ The Little Prince

We live in a desert here in Eastern Washington but you'd never know it by the two rivers that run through the Tri-Cities.

On this day, we traveled down the Columbia River quite a ways towards Umatilla. I was given a little history lesson on how the gorge was formed but the information did not stick to my teflon brain. All I know is that it is an amazing site to see and I'm glad I got to see it while out on the water.

The Cable Bridge
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

"Oh, The Places You'll Go" ~ Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Take Aways

I went to the Richland Library last night for a 1-1/2 hour lecture on taking better photos. I love my digital photography club because for $25 a year, I have attended some fantastic classes for free.
I really enjoyed the speaker last night. He had a great outline and he demonstrated everything he was talking about with photos he had taken.  Most of the material he presented was basic information but I've found the repetition of information helps me cement all the things I'm learning and it's interesting to hear different speakers present their little twists on photography.

The speaker last night is an engineer by day but has been involved in photography since he was a teenager. He said he mostly takes portraits now, which is not something I'm really interested in but what I did find interesting is that most of his demonstrations were of landscapes. He was very encouraging and I loved it that he used the hour and a half really well, packing a lot of information into that small amount of time.

I never take notes anymore. I carry my camera and shoot pics of the screen. I learned this tip at my very first photo class last May. If I can come away with 1 or 2 "take aways" from any class or lecture, I feel like it was time and/or money well spent.

Last night, the speaker talked about using a flashlight in night scenes to make an interesting forefront in the photo.  I hope I can remember that tip ... for camping photos.  He had  this photo that was taken at sunset where he was inside of a small cave looking out. He placed a flashlight on the floor of the cave and it illuminated the opening of the cave, giving the picture a nice, natural frame. See below.

Taken at Lenore Lake by Scott Butner
This might have been a very boring photo if not for the illumination of the inside walls.

I had a real "aha" moment when I saw this!

You can check out his work at: Scott Butner on Flickr.

Gene came with me to the library and really enjoyed sitting and reading a book he found. It was nice to get out of the house!

I love this guy!!
Have you been to a class or had an experience where you had a "take away"?  I'd love to hear about it!

love, susan

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Running out of time this morning but wanted to put on paper, so to speak, what's on my mind.  Over the weekend, I got my camera out and shot a few pics but my heart wasn't much into it. I'd call that a slump.  But I did take a photo that I ended up downloading to my Tri-Cities Digital Photography Club website where they ask you to post your best 3 daily. I rarely post anything because I don't think my photos are good enough.  What poppycock.  The club members are totally awesome people and they range from the most amateur to very professional people.  The professionals are there to help us amateurs and they do a swell job of it.

So, I took a photo on Sunday that I already used in a post on this blog but I downloaded it to my club website because I really loved this photo. It has meaning to me. 

Here it is and here is a nice comment I received from a club member:

"I love this shot! It's clear, good depth, nice color and wonderful movement. Very creative and unique.  Thank you for this fresh perspective." ~ Tina

I also want to point to a recent post in a blog I follow that really speaks to "comparing myself to others". If you're reading this right now and have doubts about your ability to do whatever it is that you dream about doing, I hope you'll read Chris Guillebeau's post on this topic.

My mom used to say, "Susan, you can do anything you put your mind to".  She was right.

love, susan 

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Being Freezerburned

I snapped this on a trip to Alaska several years ago.
Freezer-burn: describes it as light-colored spots that appear on frozen food, caused by loss of surface mositure due to faulty packaging or improper freezing methods.

I personally describe it as something that happens to a person when they've spent far too much of their life being cold. So many years of living Alaska did that to me. I'm still thawing out.

I chose freezerburned as an e-mail address about 20 years ago and have received a lot of comments over the years about it. Anyone who has ever lived in the interior of Alaska, namely Fairbanks, for any length of time, can relate to the feeling of being freezer-burned.  After a long, cold, dark winter, you feel like a survivor.  Just when you don't think you can take one more day of extreme coldness, the temps will rise 30 degrees and you find yourself outside in zero degree weather with a t-shirt on. When I see my friends and family commenting on FB about the extreme weather, it takes me back. 
Taken several years ago while in Fairbanks for Thanksgiving
As much as I love Alaska and consider myself an Alaskan, I'm glad I don't survive there any longer. I was born in California, and I truly don't believe I was "made" to live in cold places.  Tri-Cities is colder than I thought it would be but thankfully it's not so extreme that I can't handle it. This is our 3rd winter here and I have to say I am at the point  I spoke of earlier. I wake up thinking I can't take one more day of the cold, gray and rain and then the sun will be shining. It happened on Saturday. We had a beautiful day. Yesterday ... not so much. 

I've discovered I sometimes need a rainy day. It makes me appreciate the sunny ones even more. It was really awesome to just sit curled up with a blanket and a bowl of popcorn to watch a movie. I can't remember the last time I've done that.  Soon, we'll be spending our weekends motorcycling and trying to find time to mow the lawn.  Having said that, the rain can go away anytime now and I'll be mucho happy about it!

In the meantime, I'm glad I haven't put my turtlenecks away just yet. The rain this weekend has chilled me to the bone. Even with the thermostat turned up to 70, I can't seem to warm up. I'm freezerburned .... 

love, susan

Sunday, March 13, 2011


What a dreary day this has been. It wasn't raining when we got up but by the time I left the house to go check out the horses out near Benton City, it was starting.  I went anyway. I stayed 5 minutes and high-tailed it out of there as I was cold to the bone.  I had spotted an awesome hawk on a fence post and when I backtracked, he was still there but as soon as I pulled my car over to a stop, he flew away. He was the biggest hawk I've ever seen. Guess he was camera shy.

From there, I decided to take the long way home since I was already out and had nothing on my agenda today. It started raining harder so I never got my camera out. I feel achy and lethargic today. 

Stopped at RedBox to rent a video and ended up with "Conviction". Turned out to be a really awesome flick. I love the double entendre of the title.  It's a true story. I highly recommend it.

Went for a walk with "Missy" just a little bit ago as the rain lifted for a minute. Shot a couple of photos just to try to bring my spirits upIt worked.

I love the colors of spring.

My camera made rain look beautiful today.

I couldn't get this in focus. It's very tiny but a sure sign of more flowers to come!
I got this little ceramic yard-art that sits on top of a metal stick. Silly but it made me smile!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Funky Little Men

This little guy came with the house when we bought it.  I don't have the heart to get rid of him, so I move him around all summer long and this is just where he's been sitting all winter.  I love the little smirk on his face.  How could I ever get rid of him now? He's a part of this funky little herb garden. 

I took a quick tour of my backyard herb garden this morning with my camera. I have not been very inspired lately to get out and get new photos.  The gas price last night at our local Shell station read $3.53. The increasing prices may keep us closer to home until it's warm enough to get on the motorcycle, which gets about 52 miles to the gallon.

Chives are coming up.

I forget what these are called. They will bloom!

Everything is coming up right on time!

Missy doesn't care about spring, she just wants to play.
I hope wherever you are that spring is poking through the ground.

love, susan

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