Sunday, December 22, 2013

Develop

I can hardly believe there are only 10 days left in this year. Not that it matters much. It sometimes seems odd that so much attention is paid to the calendar, when really we only have today. In its defense, a calendar is a good way to pace the events in one's life and a must-have for busy people like us. Without having something to look forward to, life would seem to drag on and on. My life has been like a runaway train for 12 years now ... no chance of it ever dragging except for maybe those days at work, right before a holiday when you can hear a mouse stir.
 
I recently was reminded that the theme word I chose for 2013 was minimize. It was going to be the year I finally cleaned up the mess in my office/crap room. Near the end of October I was reading a blog post by The Minimalists where they posted a game, ironically called The Minimalist Game. I decided that if I was serious about reducing my stuff in 2013, I'd better get busy. I started on November 1st and each day the object is to recycle, rehome or send to the garbage an item. You increase the number of items by the number of the day and at the end of the month, if you stay true to the game, you will have reduced 465 items from your abode.  I did so well, I decided to carry on into December (496 this month).  I've had no trouble finding things to minimize. Yeah me!
 
While paring down my belongings, I've had the chance to chew on 2014's theme word which has been ringing in my head for a couple of weeks.  Develop.
 
Breaking that down .... I wish to develop, in no certain order:
  • more meaningful friendships
  • better eating habits
  • a solid reading schedule
  • my writing skills
  • a bigger list of places to go photo walking
  • a plan to keep my home decluttered
  • .... to be determined
Did you have a theme for 2013?  Do you think you'll have a theme for 2014?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!
 
love, susan
 
 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Try New Places

Go someplace once a year where you've never been before.  That's a quote I saw on a photo recently.  My husband and I live by these words and I want to share just a little of my experience in hopes that you will be inspired to go someplace you've never been.
 
I shot this image one morning right outside our hotel room. What you don't see is the woman in the car closest to the curb started talking to us (in English!) while she was stuck in this very large traffic jam.  Seems the teachers there in Mexico City have been striking a lot and on days when they are protesting it makes the traffic worse than it already is. The driver rolled her eyes when she was explaining it and we laughed. MC is crammed-packed full of friendly people just like her. Who knew?
 
I believe fear is one of the biggest reasons people don't visit new places. It doesn't matter if it is a foreign country or a restaurant. For me, I fear wasting time and money.  We have our same old favorite standbys for eating out. No matter how many times we tell ourselves we've got to try something new, when Friday night rolls around and we decide to eat out, we end up either at one of two places. As far as foreign countries go, fear of a language barrier, fear of danger, and for me fear of bad food may be reasons to not go. I am dying to put more stamps on my visa! I would definitely visit MC again but why? There are so many other places to go.
 
Fear of people is another thing I think a lot of us suffer from. Someone once said to me, "Susan, don't you think everyone has fear of people"?  So it stands to reason, if I am afraid of you, perhaps you are afraid of me. Maybe, just maybe, if I crack a smile and extend a handshake we can find something in common to talk about.  See these dogs? Notice the little white dog trying to get out of his leash? Fear.  Once he did a little sniffing and realized the other dogs weren't going to rough him up, he quit resisting.
 
I'm a big fan of having favorite places to go when I need to just be surrounded by the familiar but I gotta tell you that nothing in the world makes me feel more alive than a little conquered fear of the unknown.
 
love, susan
 


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Three Minutes ... GO!

I've got winter brain. So many ideas and things to accomplish and so little focus.
 
Does that ever happen to you?
 
Last year, I took an online writing course. I enjoyed it very much and kept a few takeaways from it that I think are essential for writing  ... one of which is to get some chair glue. It has been difficult time sitting still. I'm restless.  Another great takeaway I've not been able to quite accomplish is making a space for myself that allows me to sit in my chair for any length of time. My office is always a mess.
 
Whenever I need something to write about, I go over to Mama's Losin' It and find a prompt.  I can't tell you how many posts I've written and deleted. I'll try this one and see if it makes the cut.
 
Ten Things I Can Do in 3 Minutes
 
1) Shower.   Yes, I can!! I learned how to take quick showers when I was traveling with my dad back in 2001 in the RV. After that, hubby and I took a long trip across the U.S. and often times showered in campgrounds where you pay for a 5-minute shower.   I'm a bit of a tree hugger so saving water is at the top of my list for reducing my carbon footprint.
 
2) Make a phone call.  Remember the egg timer when you were a kid? Keep it short. Who makes calls these days anyway. Right?
 
3) Throw together lunch. While I try to put more thought into it, if I haven't put 5 lunches together on Sunday night for my work week, I'm grabbing fruit, yogurt and whatever leftover I can scrounge at the last minute.
 
4) Pick up dog poop.  Seriously.  I know exactly where all three of my dogs poo. They are creatures of habit.
 
5) Make a cup of homemade hot cocoa. If you use Nestlé's, you are missing out on one of life's great pleasures. It's so easy to make and so much better when you make it with real milk, cocoa and sweetner. 
 
6) Create a greeting card. I make my own. Sorry Hallmark. Card. Ink. Stamp. Bam!
 
7) Change gears. Actually, I can do this in far less than 3 minutes as evidenced by our getting in the car for a Sunday drive with a destination in mind and change our minds by the time we hit the first stop light.  Love that!
 
8) Type 225 words. That's 75 words per minute. Thank you, Mrs. Pryse, for being the absolute best high school business teacher in the world. I've been able to make a living from this one simple skill.
 
9) Fill the Kong with peanut butter.  For my dogs. They love me for it.
 
10)  Edit a blog post. Save. Preview. Publish.
 
How about you?  What can you do in 3 minutes?
 
love, susan
 
 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Portland traffic on Friday at 5
In the past, winter has always been a time for slowing down for us but that doesn't seem to be the case this season ... so far. We took a nice trip over to Grand Ronde, Oregon last weekend to celebrate one of my favorite cousin's 50th birthday. It was to be a surprise party but he wasn't surprised. I love that about him. He just couldn't feign surprise but he was super happy we all came and that's what counted. I reunited with relatives I haven't seen in 20+ years. A super nice day.
 
All of November I've been playing the Minimize Game. It started on the 1st and the object of the game is to minimize my household belongings by the number of the day. By the end of November, my household will be minimized by 465 items. I've kept up and it has been a blast! No item is too big or too small to count. I imagine by the time I get to November 30, I'll be throwing out recycling rubber bands and paperclips. No matter. It has really opened my eyes to the junk I allow to come through the front door and the stuff I hang onto for no apparent reason.
 
My next project, which I hope to start in December, is to make copies of all important documents and photos to place in a portable file carrier that I can quickly pick up and take in case of an emergency. I also want to put together a box containing non-perishable food items and water for the same purpose. It will likely take me the entire month of December to get it together but these kinds of projects tend to help me focus on something rather than the cold, dark days.
 
What do you do to make the winter days bearable? 
 
love, susan

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two Words


Today's prompt:  If you could write a note to your younger self (as if she would have listened), what would you say in just two words.

HOLD ON
 
Don't settle.
Be happy.
Don't drink.
Drive slower.
Attend college.
Speak up.
Read more.
Sleep less.
Travel often.
Keep friends.
Lose enemies.
Eat well.
Take pictures.
Journal often.
Hold on.
Let go.
Don't quit.
Quit sooner.
Breath slowly.
Listen better.
 
.... you get my drift.
 
It's never too late to start!
 
love, susan
 
Your turn!!!

 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Observer

Second in a series of writing prompts this week:  Hi, my name is Susan and I am (fill in the blank) an observer.
 
I am a lot of things.  I'm a dog lover. An adventurer. A procrastinator. Controller of the social calendar. Lover of people. Under the hood, I'm a little OCD about some things.  I'm a motorcycle rider, mom, wife, friend and like to think of myself as a worker among workers.
 
Truth: I don't really much like writing about myself. I have opinions and beliefs. Strong opinions about a lot of things but I don't really like putting them out there for discussion. I want you to like me and I always carry this great fear that you won't because I don't think or believe the way you do. There. I said it.
 
What I'm not is a great debater. I am not one to stand and argue a point with anyone. If you feel one way about something and I don't, I'll gladly let you have your way of thinking. I think I'm a pretty good listener, which is a skill I started developing a long time ago and still work at.  "Live and Let Live" is a motto that best suits how I feel about most things. 
 
I come from a generation where we sat at the dinner table together for dinner. I was taught to be polite to everyone and to pay my own way. I am my mother's daughter. That's something that is sometimes still a shock to me. Mom and I rarely saw eye to eye on anything but often times I now find myself thinking I am very much like her. Feels so odd. I guess we take what we want and leave the rest. She was a wonderful human being and everyone loved her. Who could ask for a better remembrance?
 
Okay. Whew. This was a hard prompt. Your turn.  What are you?
 
love, susan

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Prompting


I receive a weekly email from Mama's Losin' It.  I promptly ignore all the prompts but this week I decided perhaps I might try writing a little every day using her clever ideas.
 
Like everything else, I want to accomplish a lot of things but there never seems to be enough time or energy in a day.
 
The first prompt for this week is to share a tip or trick you recently learned.
 
I couldn't really think of anything I most recently learned ... is that a sign of aging?  However, I wanted to share this very old (1977) photo from my senior year. I don't have a fancy schmancy machine to .pdf it so I just snapped a pic with my cell phone and did very little editing to get it here. 
 
Here's my tip:
 
I use my cell phone camera for E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.  Some event coming up? I snap a photo of the details.  Parking in a big city? I snap a pic of the cross streets so I can remember how to find my car. I have pictures of my favorite people's addresses from my rolodex so if I'm at work and want to mail a note, I can.
 
We were on a camping trip recently and hubby's daughter had the best bag of grain crackers she had picked up at Costco. I don't shop there but I snapped a pic of it so I could remember to look for it next time I go to the store.
 
There it is.  My great tip.  It's probably old news for many of you but if it helps just one person reading this, my work is done!
 
By the way, I'm the girl with the arm folded across her mid-section. These are my school mates and fellow yearbook editors. Whew, that seems so long ago.
 
love, susan

Monday, October 21, 2013

Home for the Weekend

We actually stayed home this weekend. I enjoyed every single moment of it!  I got my dying tomato plants cut up and placed in the recycle bin, made grape jelly, cleaned up my office and paid some bills. I actually read a chapter in a book before I feel asleep for a Sunday afternoon nap.
 
Today I am up early and trying to get excited about going to work. We're having a late "boss's day" celebration with a food fest all day. I still need to stop at the store on the way to work. Eeeks! 

Saturday night we met friends over at Keiko's for dinner. I love this one-man band who plays there occasionally. I love our friends too!  He sang us a couple of Eagle's tunes .... peaceful, easy feeling is stuck in my head.  Good times!

I took all these pics with my cell phone. I've gotten in a bad habit of not having my other camera handy for photo ops.  My smart phone takes great photos outdoors most of the time but indoors, not so much.

All in all, it was a super good weekend and I look forward to the next one!  Between now and then, I'm starting out with a good attitude and wanna keep it that way!  The color of this grape jelly helps!  love, susan


Muscadine grape jelly.
My first time making it. Tastes fabulous!


Gene picked grapes late in the week, which I made into jelly.


Muscadine grapes from Doug's garden

Friday, October 18, 2013

Food Adventures

 
When it gets right down to it, I love to eat.  This is a bit far removed from how I used to be, say, 30 years ago. My old high school friends and family will tell you that I was as skinny as a rail ... to a fault. Just as much as plump people don't like to be reminded of their body size, it's that way for skinny people. "Oh, you were sooooo skinny!"  Really? Like I've never heard that before?  I'm not sure why people feel they have any business talking about another person's body weight but I can only chalk it up to human nature.  I got over being skinny starting when I was about 30. I've been in love with food ever since I discovered how wonderful it can be.  Prior to that age, I was happy with a can of green beans or box of mac & cheese and a soda for dinner.  I'm not sure what flipped the switch in my mind, but to me food is much like art. There are so many colors and textures and flavors to tried. 

So traveling to Mexico City last week, I knew there was going to be some great food. I was not disappointed. We ate mostly street food. For those who never get out of town, street food is food prepared on the sidewalk right in front of you. There are street vendors everywhere in Mexico City. Surprisingly, we never saw any flies. So weird.
 
We noted that there were very few vegetables to be found in the street food. Onions maybe. Limes don't count at veggies. It was all good but my constitution requires some fiber so I bought a big fruit cup every day to keep things moving, if you know what I mean.

We did stop at McDonald's one day to grab a cup of coffee and use their bathrooms.  Mexico is lacking in their public restrooms. We didn't mind going into Micky D's for coffee because they do serve up a nice joe. It might be the only natural food they serve. I shot a pic of their décor for my son and daughter-in-law as we share a fascination for McDonald's décor. It's different in every region. This McD's was gorgeous!
 
Afterwards, we walked a while and I found these ladies cooking up a little something on the grill and I could have kicked myself for having already eaten. It looks like they have yellow peppers on the tortillas here. It was the one and only time I saw a vegetable on the grill. The tortillas were really thick, just the way I like them and tell me, don't these woman just look like experts in their field? So many places to eat, so little tummy room.
The day before we left, we decided to stroll down a street we hadn't been on.  Oh my gosh, it was like finding pastry heaven. Now, I'm not a great fan of all Mexican pastries, I think sometimes they are dry and tasteless, but this bakery caught my attention with their frosted delights. We bought a bag of goodies and headed home to make some instant Nescafe coffee in our room. If you are a traveler and you love your coffee, you should never go without some instant coffee packs. 
 
I'm so glad it's Friday. I am ready to make some Chicken Tortilla Soup. What's on your menu?  love, susan
  

These had almonds and were as so light and flaky
I could have eaten 3 of them, but I didn't.



Can you see Gene peering in the window?  LOL!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mexico City

Day 1 ~ Made it! What an interesting trip on the metro from airport to hotel. Rode the metro to the Museum of Anthropology. Nice, helpful people everywhere. Most don't speak English but we got by! One nice lady walked us several blocks to the museum. Another old man explained the peaceful demonstrations that brought thousands to the plaza Sunday morning. Interesting people everywhere! Gene ate a crispy grasshopper while I took a pass on that.
 
Day 2 ~ Up much too early. So glad I tucked a box of instant coffee in my backpack. Museums are closed on Mondays so we took a 3-hour bus trip to Taxco. I had money burning a hole in my pocket for some new silver earrings. Food is constantly on my mind. If ever there was a reason to live here, the food would be at top of the list! Bus ride to Taxco took us through some seriously poor areas. Regardless, there are always food stands. The day was interesting as we visited a historic Catholic church and then walked up a street with open air market where locals buy their food. People were very friendly. I'm stocked up on silver earrings! 
 
In Taxco
 I have never seen so many Volkswagon bugs in one place (Taxco). They use them for taxis. We rode in two of them after I nearly had heart failure walking the steep streets. The cab rides were much like the Indiana Jones ride at Universal Studios. So much fun in a "scary, I may die in a love bug" kind of way.
 
Butterfly exhibit at zoo a must-see
Day 3 ~ No rushing out the door this day. So many choices for what to do so decided over coffee and breakfast of tacos covered in verde salsa. I've decided in my next life I'd like to be a traveling food journalist! Squeezed too much in today. Bad backache. Saw some beautiful buildings, artwork but couldn't get into national palace due to police having it blocked off. Best part of day was sitting at cafe this morn watching people in their suits and ties going to work. Thousands of people. Few people smoke here. Thousands of peeps on metro system and nobody was rude. Some have cell phones, but I'd say less than 25% have their face stuck in them. Nobody we've seen has tattoos.
 
Taxco (silver is their industry here)
Day 4 ~ The Mexico City zoo was AWESOME! This may go down as my favorite day! Because the admission is free I thought it was going to be crappy. I was so wrong! We did have to pay 40 pesos ($3.15) each to enter the Insect Exhibit which has your typical tarantualas and huge cockroaches. BUT it also had a botanical room with butterflies! I woke up today feeling a little panic as I couldn't remember what day it was. After dinner of posole and flan for dessert, we walked outside to a torrential rain complete with thunder and lightening. Hoped it would clear some of the smog. Other observations I've made ... the police are everywhere and they always have their cop lights on. I surmise they want their presence known. I'm getting used to the constant sirens. The other thing I've noticed is drivers honk their horns constantly. Seems rude but I don't believe that is the intention. It's just simply "hey, I'm here!" You get used to it. I've noticed are they don't serve rice with street food. The orange juice included with breakfast is fresh squeezed and it feels like such a luxury. All the bread is sweet. There is never salt and pepper on the table. The people here love their helato (ice cream). Regarding the metro system, the first day I was scared to death but now I see that the subway is how people are able to survive here. For .25 cents a person can get anywhere in Mexico City. The metro is not for those who have social anxiety as during peaks of day you are jammed in shoulder to shoulder. Once on the metro there are always one or two "vendors" who get on and start chanting to sell their wares. Some of them have stereos complete with nice sized speakers in a backpack. They wait until the train starts and then blast the musica! A person might be put off by this but when in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do and just ignore it. The "vendors" only stay on for a stop or two and then depart. It's a hard living, no doubt. I've seen only 1 or 2 sales in the times we've taken the metro. The metro system moves 3 million people every day. Incredible! Today I noticed every time we stopped and looked like we were lost, someone nearby would ask if we needed help. I can't quite get over that. On the other hand, on our way to breakfast this morn, a nice man named Arturo stopped to talk and it turned out he wanted to show us the city ... a private tour, if you will. We were polite and thanked him but kindly said no. Afterwards, i wondered how many people would actually get in the car and go with him? Nuts! Turns out we ran into him every day after this one. So, last night the street vendor where we were going to eat was closing and he waved us across the street to a restaurant. Lesson learned: if the place has table cloths and a door, and you can't see the cook, the price goes up X3 and not nearly as good. In Mexico City stick to the street food ... it's what the locals eat!
 
Day Five ~ Day trip to Puebla. Ran into Arturo (the guy from yesterday who wanted to give us a private tour) this morn on way to breakfast. Decided he is a pretty good scam artist. He even produced a tear for us this morn. I'm cold-hearted at times. Today he was simply cutting into my vacation time. I'm afraid I was less kind today. Got to bus station and actually found a free bathroom. It was filthy. The ride to Puebla took us through the poorest 'hoods I've ever seen. Many abodes are concrete block and lots of tarps. Clothes hanging from place to place ... I'm guessing most don't even have wash machines. I saw lots of dogs in the streets today, some with hair so matted and dirty it made me cringe. In the poor areas there is hardly a wall that isn't tagged with graffiti. I'm glad we went to Puebla. It was very crowded on some streets and at one point we simply sat and watched the crazy bus drivers at one intersection. It seriously looked like a demolition derby! Puebla has several historic Catholic churches. We only entered one today and I think I'm pretty good to go for ever visiting another historic church. Lots of gold and high ceilings. My favorite moments this were looking down allies and finding older women cooking the most wonderful looking food on hot grills. All in all a good day but it paled in comparison to the zoo yesterday. The buses are very comfortable and have bathrooms. Anywhere you go in this city, you'd better have pesos in your pocket because you have to pay 4 pesos to use el banos, if you can find one. And, you may not know that they don't flush t-paper here, it goes in trash. Yes, even the poo paper! Poor, old sewer system.
 
Day 6 ~ Strolled over to the Museo of de Arte Moderno today. Very nice! Took a very long nap, then out for late lunch/early dinner. Walked in a different direction and discovered a beautiful park with one of a very few authorized replicas of the Statue of David which is in the center of a water fountain. And get this, a place where locals take their dogs to play!!! Dogs of every shape and size, off lead, just burning off some energy. Very joyful! Talked to a guy from Spain who has lived here a year. It's Friday night and Mexico City is rocking!
 
We packed a lot of sight-seeing into 6 days but it was fun and if I had to choose my favorite things it would be the food and the people.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

House

My kids bought a house and moved into it yesterday. They spent the night there last night and I couldn't help but wonder if they were feeling like we did when we moved here 5 years ago. Excited, curious, and just filled with ideas of what it is going to be like to live in your new digs.
 
We arrived here about the 8th or 9th of September 2008. It was a rough move packing up and  leaving Arizona in what was still really hot weather to arrive in the TriCities to 90+ degee weather. I remember well being exhausted from the hard four days previous to our arrival and then having to spend another whole day unloading. It was almost too much to think about. We did it but not without some snags. The car got stuck on the dolly so we had to call a towing truck to come to our rescue. That was our first experience with the awesome hometown feel of this community. We've called that towing company on three other occasions. Your tow-man should be in your contacts! As luck would have it, when he got done getting that car off the dolly, he solved our other problem of how we were gonna roll 3 motorcyles out of the back of the moving van. In a way, it was providence that we got that car stuck on the dolly. We might have hurt ourselves with those motorcycles. I can't even talk about how we got them into the van, it makes me shudder.  Crazy, that's what we are.
 
Another snag was that the sellers of our house stole the fridge that was part of the contract when we bought it. We ended up living out of an  ice chest for about a week while we argued with the seller's agent. She ended up coughing up money out of her own pocket to buy us a new fridge.  In the meantime, it was kind of fun "roughing it" and we just took it in stride. 
 
We didn't have cable hooked up yet, so the TV didn't work. We listened to a lot of public radio and I loved the sound of the public broadcasters echoing through this big old house with its wood floors. We didn't bring any furniture so we made do with our camp chairs until we found some pieces to buy.
 
I envy the kids getting to experience their new place. I hope they get settled in and pound nails into the walls and throw some new rugs down and just make it their own. I didn't put any holes in my walls for at least a year. I now have a place in my office that is covered in family photos. I'll regret it later when it's time to sell this place.
 
I called my son today and I could hear the empty echo of his new house. They have wood floors and since they are minimalists, there isn't an over abundance of furniture to soak up the sound of their voices. They're going to do a little painting and I imagine they'll throw down a rug or two. I'm thrilled to pieces for them and can hardly wait to get out there to visit them again.
 
Until then, I'm gonna enjoy my own place and try to remember all the things I loved about it when it was first new to me ... things that I think I have taken for granted.
 
love, susan 
 
 
 
 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Ode to Dogs

Hubby took the dogs to the kennel early yesterday so he could pack and we could leave early this morning for a camping trip. When I got home from I knew it would be weird to not have them under foot but I was not prepared for the depression that hit me sideways. That feeling didn't last too long as I told myself it is only for three days. I lived for 7 years in Arizona without dogs, I can do this for three days.
 

When we headed for bed, I realized I'd get almost the whole bed to myself for once! But I gotta tell you that it felt sad not having my "Remi" there with her long schnauz (nose) resting in the crook of my neck.  I freakin' love this dog.
 
I even kinda missed their annoying barking this morning. When that alarm goes off, they are ready to go out and play, eat and play some more.
 
Dogs give meaning to life. I feel sorry for people who don't have them.
 
They do cramp our style sometimes but I can't imagine a life without fur friends.
 
Sometimes I feel guilty because my old girl, Missy, doesn't get to go places with us anymore because it is just not possible to take three. I sometimes say to myself, "she's just a dog" ... and then I see into her eyes ... like the way she is looking at me in this photo and I know that's a silly statement.  Just a dog? With those eyes?
 
Well, gotta go now. The beach awaits.
 
love, susan

Monday, September 9, 2013

Squeezing a Little Fun

Another great weekend with 300+ miles under our butts. We traveled almost the same route as the previous Sunday but took a left to Briggs Junction to travel over the Columbia River on the bridge to Hwy. 14 and home.  I've never driven my motorcycle over that bridge before but the view was spectacular.
 
Hubby survived a heart attack last Monday. It was a surreal feeling to be riding yesterday after such an event. His hand surgery in April has kept us grounded all summer. I marvel at how different parts of the body can be healed or repaired so quickly, and others not so much.  Luckily, with the today's technology, heart attacks are not the fatal events they used to be.  They can be if left unattended.
 
There were seven of us yesterday ... just the perfect combination. I love the camaraderie and banter that takes place at rest stops.
 

Well, it's Monday morning and things are getting back to normal. Only one doctor appointment this week for hubby and then we take off for camping at the beach on Friday.
 
We just keep trying to squeeze every little bit of fun out of everyday and I think we hit the mark this weekend!
 
love, susan

Friday, September 6, 2013

Use Your Imagination

Wow, that was a great storm last night!  The clouds looked like stiff, whipped cream. Lightening strikes could be seen one right after another on our car trip out to Finley for a BBQ with good friends.
 
When we turned onto this street last night, I kept thinking about how much this looks like a scene from a Stephen King novel. Although, I've only read one or two of his books so I have nothing to base this thought on but these clouds made me think something evil was rolling into town. "Delores Claiborne" and "Needful Things" ... just in case you were wondering which novels I actually read.
 
Squirrel!
 
This morning I hopped back on my treadmill for the second day in a row.  Those nurses at the hospital this week kept using the very trendy word "trending".  Is that what's happening?  My treadmill use is trending.  I kinda like that.
 
I got to Madonna's "Vogue" on my very old, not-so-chic-and-trendy iPod and as I imagined myself as a backup singer/dancer for Madonna, the words use your imagination, that's what its for stood out.  I decided I'll hold onto that mantra as long as I possibly can.  I've let my imagination collect dust, 'aint that a shame?
 
love, susan 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Never Quit Quitting

It's been kind of a messed up week but getting better by the minute. I got in to see my doctor late yesterday and I knew it wasn't going to be stellar news. I had blood work done over a month ago and was really putting off going in to have "the talk" with him.
 
I have the best doctor ever. Or maybe I've become a better patient. No, that's not it. He's really great!  He listens to me and waits for me to finish my thoughts before he fires back his medical opinion in his gentle, human-to-human manner. I dig that.  And he writes the truth on my paperwork. No sugar coating. He wishes I would give up the sugar, as a matter of fact. My blood work is not great and he lectures me every time I go in. I feel bad for the man because he must feel like it falls on deaf ears. But it doesn't.
 
My husband has a saying that I constantly have in my head ... "never quit quitting".  Whatever it is I'm trying to give up, I need to not give up on giving up.
 
So ... I promised myself I'd get on that treadmill this morning ... and I did.  And, I'm going to write a thank you note to my doctor today.  Thank you for telling me to lose weight. I need to hear it. Thank you for telling me to change my eating habits. Thank you for reminding me to get regular exercise ... I can never hear this enough. And thank you for asking me just one more time to start taking cholesterol-busting medication.  He hasn't given up on me and I think I won't give up on me either.

love, susan

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

One Day at a Time

Gene ~ August 31
Does this look like a guy who is two days away from a heart attack?
 
You hear people say it all the time and you may think it applies to everyone else but when it gets real, you realize we are all on borrowed time. 
 
We enjoyed a super nice weekend. It started with a beautiful motorcycle ride on Saturday. We got up very early to get on the road by 8am. We didn't intend to ride 250+ miles but we were having such a great time that we felt like we were going to be home before it got to 90 degrees but didn't quite make it. Oh well, a little sweat never hurt anyone.
 
Sunday, we just hung out at home and didn't do much as it was to be even hotter. Monday being a holiday, I was home and honestly I can't remember what we did. I was puttering around the house and Gene was doing what he does. Later in the day, he was out in the garage, apparently going up and down the ladder to put some stuff up. He came in to take a shower and as always, we were on the edge of being late for dinner with friends we haven't seen in far too long. I knocked on the bathroom door and what I saw in front of me was a man as white as a ghost. He says, "my neck is getting that jabbing pain."  When he didn't balk at my insistence that we head directly to the ER, I knew it was bad. I called my friend and told her we were not going to make it for dinner. Sorry.
 
Without boring you with too many details, let me just say that after being admitted and monitored all night, when he got up to use the restroom Tuesday morning, the stabbing pain in his neck returned and they did an EKG right then and there. He was quickly moved from the "end-of-the-day" schedule for the cath lab to having the cath lab gurney picking him up within what seemed like 5 minutes. Impressive. Long story short, he was 98% blocked in two places in the same artery they had put a stent in 3 years ago. He was a dead man walking.  He now has three stents keeping blood flowing through that vein and you can't tell there was anything wrong with him. As a matter of fact, I'm sure he's got more energy than I do right now.  I'm exhausted ... emotionally and mentally.
 
Okay, this is part where I get all mushy.
 
It's a mistake to think we're going to live forever. This is my second go around with him and this. The doctor says his artery is kind of a mess. He said it may have been caused by a childhood virus that was around in the 50's. Undoubtedly, if something else doesn't take him out, he'll be on the receiving end of future stents, or open heart surgery. We know the signs. Now he's got history with this hospital and he'll have less explaining to do the next time he goes in with neck pains.
 
While I'm tired and emotional, I know that he dodged another bullet and tomorrow we'll get up and things will be back to normal. We'll live this life one day at a time, trying not to waste too much of it doing shit we don't wanna do.
 
love, susan
 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Punchbowl Falls

What a great weekend. This was our first time out camping all summer and it was well worth waiting for. The weather could not have been more perfect. The company we kept was the sweetest and the hiking wasn't bad either.
 
It took 4 solid hours to get ready to go. That's the part of camping that makes it less than fun for me. I've come to dislike camping for that reason alone. Once I get out there, I'm so glad I made the effort but as the years go by I am less and less thrilled about the preparation time.
 
Once we got to Eagle Creek, which is exit 41 on I-84 if you are coming from Portland, it took less than 10 minutes to set up the tent. We staked our claim to some temporary real estate ($15 per site, per night) and waited for the rest of our party to show up. It took them probably 10 minutes to get their tents up and then we enjoyed waiting for the sun to go down so we could build a fire and enjoy stories and s'mores.
 
Saturday, after breakfast, we made sandwiches and headed down the trail to the falls. The trail is 3.8 miles roundtrip from the trailhead but there was an added mile to get to and from our campsite. We were definitely worn out by the end of the hike. The grandkids and their dad took a dip in the frigid water. I took my shoes and socks off to cool my feet in the water. In my younger days, I like to think I may have gone for a dip in the crisp, clear water.

Before dinner, hubby and his daughter & son-in-law and the oldest grandson decided to hike a different trail. Boy howdy, am I glad I stayed behind with the younger grandkids. They picked a trail that switch-backed straight up a hill and my hubby said he felt those old stabbing heart attack pains in his neck. I played two games of Sorry and read a couple chapters on my Kindle. Before the sun went down, the two younger ones, their mom and I took a stroll down to the river to throw rocks for a bit. I got to tell them I how met their grandpa. It made me smile that they were actually interested. Love those kids.

Saturday night, our son-in-law bbq'd some big fat juicy burgers and later on we toasted marshmallows to put on top of brownies. This lead to a great conversation about Voo Doo Donuts (a Portland must-do which I've never done) and a great idea our 10-year old grandson had to open up a "brownies only" shop. We thought of every variety of brownie until we ran out of ideas and it was time to hit the pillows.

Such is camping. There never seems to be a moment of boredom or lack of things to talk about. I'm glad we went. I look forward to the next trip in September to the beach. 

love, susan

 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Art Gone Bad



Another great weekend here and gone. We left the house early Saturday morning to make a quick trip out to the McNary Refuge. It doesn't matter what time of year, we always see something different. I was kind of looking for turtles but was happy with the large number of dragonflies instead.  We spotted an egret and a couple of cute ducks along with a mama quail followed by the cutest babies chicks. I have never been disappointed at the refuge.
 
After the refuge, we decided to check out the art festival in Richland. I'm going to go out on a limb and say we were a bit disappointed. While it was great to see people out and about, the number of true artists was smaller than the commercial type "mass produced" art crap. Sometimes I just gotta say it the way I see it. I'd rather have my fingers broken than offend anyone. We recognize that the association has to pay for the event so it makes sense they'd rent space to anyone who'll pay. But what a shame for the real artists.
 
We were glad we drove the miles to the refuge so the day wasn't a total loss.  There were mating dragonflies everywhere. Or maybe they just play a lot of piggyback. A side note, we're heading to the southern Oregon coast soon and I've captured red dragonflies in a certain spot where we stop to stretch our legs. I can hardly wait for that road trip.
 
The cherry tomatoes are ripening at an alarming rate every day now. I made salsa today and it was my best ever.
 
The flowers are starting to fade with the constant near-100 degree weather. Or, it could be because it's very close to August. I am a nut about taking dead flower photos. I love all the seasons!
 
Well, a lot to do about nothing. It's late and I must lay my weary head down to rest now. 
 
Hope you had a great weekend wherever you are!  Squeeze as much fun as you can out of every day.  That's my motto! 
love, susan

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One Fine Day



Reflections at the Japanese Garden in Portland.
 
Elegant desserts served at the Farmer's Market
 

View of Mt. Hood from Japanese Garden