Friday, June 27, 2014

Respond Si Vous Plait

RSVP = Respond si vous plait.

Does anyone know what this means any longer?  

It means, please get back to me. Let me know your intentions. I need to make plans and it is important to me to count you in or out.

Recently a friend assisted another friend in planning an event. She was genuinely surprised at the number of people who responded that they would, in fact, be attending and then didn't show up. I was not surprised.  She said they ended up with a lot of leftover food. It happens.

When I lived in Arizona, I was taught lovingly by my wonderful Mexican friends that only white people ask for an RSVP.  In the Mexican culture, they put a verbal invitation out there and you either go or you don't. They make enough food and room for whoever shows up and they don't spend time worrying about whether or not Jane Doe shows up. If Jane doesn't show up, she must have had something else going on. No big deal. They don't get mad at her. They don't shun her.  They don't take her off the invite list.  It always works out. I love this system.

How many to invite?
Now personally, I love being inclusive. I'd invite the entire world to my party ... if I was having one. I'd make a homemade card, hand-write your name and address and put a pretty stamp on it. I wouldn't ask you to commit ... I'd just hope that you had so much fun at my last party that you'd make time to come again. But I wouldn't want you to feel bad if you RSVP'd that you were coming and something came up and you couldn't come. We've got enough things in this world to feel bad about. So, I might leave the rsvp off my invites. Go random. Throw the invite out there and see what happens. I'd even go so far to say, BRING A FRIEND!  I love surprises!

When is an RSVP a good idea?
I don't know. I suppose there are times when RSVP's are important. If I'm paying a caterer $25 a plate for a sit-down dinner for a wedding reception, I need to know if you are coming.  CONFESSION:  I once RSVP'd to a reception and at the last minute we decided not to go, for whatever lame reason. Our friends were not very happy with us. That was 20+ years ago and I still feel bad about it. I just didn't understand the whole RSVP thing.  Today I do, which is why I think long and hard before I say yes to an RSVP. As a matter of fact, we RSVP'd to a 50th wedding anniversary party in July. We're traveling 200 miles to get there. I'm actually glad there was a request to respond. I am the kind of person who will show up if I say I'm going to show up so I sat on the request for a couple weeks. I can hardly wait for that one.
My questions to you are: 

What kinds of events should we be asking for an RSVP? 
Do you say yes when you really want to say no, and then just don't show up?
Do you ever host parties?
Do you worry about whether or not you should have people RSVP?
Have you ever flaked out after saying yes to a party?

I'd love to hear your take on this topic.

love, susan

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Deep Thoughts From a Blonde Chick

To fill the hour -- that is happiness.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I'm afraid I am still on a pink cloud over events of the last two weekends. That beautiful wedding I attended over a week ago and the solstice ride we took on Saturday have left me brimming with good feelings, better than any drug or box of cheap wine could accomplish. I have a big event coming up this weekend that I have not allowed myself to think too much about. I'm funny that way.
You see, I'm a former future tripper. I used to sit in constant anticipation of what would happen in my future. Events and people would always often fall short of my expectations. It is only when I stop anticipating how things are going to turn out, that I find the greatest joy in the most minute details of life's adventures.

I love Emerson's quote here. I get it. You know why? Because I used to always have my mind in the future. I would be so wrapped up in what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, next year that I could not possibly enjoy one moment of today.

My son and his wife will be arriving on Saturday to visit for an entire week. To say I'm excited would be a ridiculous understatement. I am thrilled to pieces. However, between now and then, I've got five beautiful days lined up to work, walk the dogs, meet with friends, write a letter to my pen pal, and everyday life stuff that more than likely will keep me on that pink cloud.

Last night, I cooked up a beautiful pan of chicken Thai rice and put together some chicken dishes to freeze for lunch this week. I brushed my dogs and read a little before I went to sleep. I love my life and all the things that fill the hours.

Think about it. Do you feel like what you are doing is filling your hours with happiness?  What little things fill up your time?  Tell me!

love, susan

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Solstice Ride ~ 404 Miles Through Oregon's Back Roads

We logged 404 miles yesterday on what was probably the most scenic route we've ever taken on Oregon's Scenic Biways. Even with the slight disappointment of not  making it all the way to Anthony Lakes due to snow on the road, we came damn close and that was good enough for us.
It's all about the journey,
not the destination.
Leaving by 9:00am, we traveled back roads the entire day, never cruising much above 50 mph. All roads were new to each of us. Even though the events of the day will soon be overshadowed by new adventures, I hope my documentation will be good enough to remember the highlights.
First of all, our road captain seemed to be plagued by birds. I was riding directly behind him when a pheasant swooped across the road in front of him. I don't know how he didn't hit it but it wouldn't be the only near-miss. My mind wandered a bit thinking about what it would have been like had that bird come flying over the top of his windshield directly into my path.  PLOMP. It could have been ugly.
On the next leg of the trip, a red-tailed hawk came out of nowhere and descended upon Dougie with his talons stretched out as if it was was going to attack our captain's orange motorcycle. Just as it almost lighted on him, the bird retreated. Weirdest thing I have ever seen in my miles of riding.
Ukiah: We stopped for a good lunch and great banter with a seasoned waitress. What a great little place to rest. It is a tiny little blip on the map but there is a lot of traffic and it was good old-fashioned fun watching the locals. We sat there freezing due to the climb in elevation but I saw locals in shorts and even a shirtless guy. It's all relative.
 We discovered they have gas there! This is a big deal for a girl who has a tank that is smaller than the rest. I'm honored these guys let me ride with them as I am a horrible worrier about where my next gas fill-up is going to be. I know in my heart-of-hearts that our Marine friend (Semper Fi!), would never leave me behind but what a pain in the ass it would be to have to go find gas in the middle of nowhere. That's all I'm saying, dear Doug. 
After lunch, we headed towards Anthony Lakes. We never made it to the lakes as you can see there was still snow on the road. If there is such a thing as fate, I believed in it this day as we had to back track and travel on forest road #51 to get to La Grande. If not for the snow, we would have missed it and that would have been a shame. 
We saw buffalo and a couple getting married out in the middle of nowhere. The road is a bit rough in places but nothing that would prevent me from wanting to travel it again. The entire stretch (I'm guessing 40 miles?) we saw only one car. Loved that.
We were gone 11 hours. What an awesome way to spend June 21st ... the longest day of the year.
What did you do on solstice?
love, susan
For any riders in the area, this is my best rough guesstimate of our route:
I82 --> I84
I84 --> 207 south Lexington
207 --> 74 Heppner
207 --> few miles south, left on 53
53 --> Ukiah and SE on 52
52 --> 73 East to Anthony Lakes (almost)
73 --> 54 --> 51
51 --> North of Starkey to Hwy 244
244 --> I84 15 miles north of La Grande
The last great back-road we traveled was the old Oregon trail, which parallels Cabbage Hill and is open range. We've always wanted to travel that road and it was well worth the wait.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I Need Therapy

Zucchini or cucumber?
For having a black thumb, things are starting to bloom at my place and I love it.
Gardening is my least favorite thing to do. I pretty much suck at it. However, I am still trying to do a little of it every summer because I do enjoy the process.  Those summers when I have elected not to garden, I always regret it. It's kind of like when someone at work orders Tupperware and I decide to not order and then I'm super envious when the order comes in and I am sitting there empty-handed.  I need a shrink, I know.
Well, that's how it is with gardening. I don't want to be empty-handed when fall rolls around and everyone around me is showing off the fruits of their labor, not that I'll have a whole lot to show off.
Cucumber or zucchini?
I'm such a bad gardener that I don't even know what I have growing besides the tomatoes and peppers. I think this might be a cucumber but I would not bet my life on it. What is wrong with me? 
I had a therapist/friend once who said that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their garden.  I say, you went to school for 6 years to come up with that diagnoses?  Really?  (insert crazy Jack Nicholson laugh here) Obviously, her words resonated something in me because of all the things I could remember about her, this is the one thing that stands out. Yes, Rose, I'm a little disorganized in the gardening department. Commit me, please. I could use the rest. They let you read books in the mental institution, don't they?
I'm just making a little fun of myself this morning. It's Friday. It has been a very long week and I just want to stay home and watch my mystery garden grow. Is that crazy?

love, susan

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cloud Nine

The sun set in a fiery blaze of pink-almost-red last night. I shot this Sunday eve  from the home of friends who were married on Saturday as I delivered DVD's from their wedding.
I'm no wedding photographer, that's for sure. But I loved that our friends trusted me to do the best job possible.  They will never know how much it meant to me. To see their beautiful day unfold through my lens was emotional for me.  
I arrived early so as to relieve any doubt that I would show up. Wedding days are stressful as there are so many balls up in the air. This day was produced and choreographed by close friends and family. The flowers, the cake, the decorations, the little girls' hair, the table setup, the music, the ceremony, the photos, the food ... all done by people who love J & J. Nothing was left undone and it was a beautiful gathering of smiling, wonderful people.
The difficult part of getting images was the bright sun and high stress. Looking through my lens I could see the wrinkled furrow on each of their brows. I had no idea how much it showed until their friend and minister-for-a-day announced them as husband and wife and directed them around to the audience of family and friends.  There is that moment when I saw "ahhhh, we did it"!  And then the photos changed.
I saw my old friends. Relaxed. Comfortable. In love.
It was a purely joyful day and I hope I'll remember the feeling of being with family. I hope I remember the beautiful smiles, the hugs and kisses, the visiting, the feeling that everything is right in the world.
.... I'm still on cloud nine.  Let me be.
love, susan

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remi Dog Walking

Fuzzy picture, I know. We were walking!
This story is a bit of miracle I must share with you.  If you've never had a dog that pulls when you walk, you probably won't appreciate this post.
We adopted Remi a little over a year ago. She had terrible separation anxiety and she is quite bitchy at times. The problem is, she can be the sweetest dog I've ever had on my lap. She is smart and entertaining.  And, challenging.
I love smart, entertaining, challenging dogs. And, men.
Over the winter, I took her to a couple of classes to see about getting her Good Canine Citizen's title. We didn't finish the class.  To get her in the truck and across the parking lot was a) embarrassing, and b) exhausting.  This dog was is crazy. When I'd put a leash on her, she would pull so hard I swear she could pull a dog sled. Perhaps she has a little husky in her.
Recently I ran across a blog written by a woman who has 5 dogs. She is also a trainer and one of her posts addressed our problem. She suggested a few things I had not tried.  I'm not a quitter.  I already had a harness. I have hot dogs. I even have a clicker (one of those cricket sounding toys you get from the dollar store).  I set out a little over a month ago with my tricks in hand. If I could just get around the block without her pulling my arm out of the socket I promised myself and her that I would get up every day and take her walking.
IT WORKED!!!!!  
I am happy to report that for a couple of weeks now we have been walking around just one block. The trick to dog training is to go steady but don't skip ahead too fast or you might lose your dog's interest.
This week, I decided to skip ahead and today we completed our second 2 mile walk. Am I happy?  Yes!
Have you had a great success recently?  Tell me about it!
love, susan

Sunday, June 8, 2014

White River Falls Trip ~ 353 miles

My longest trip in one day. And I loved every minute of it!
We departed at 9:00am with a loose plan, traveling a road we've never been on before through wine country. The lack of traffic and hilly, windy roads made it interesting.
My riding confidence is getting better with each trip.
We traveled down Hwy 14 and crossed over the Columbia River at Biggs Junction to fill up. My scooter got 60 miles to the gallon on the first stretch. I loved that.  Traveling through a couple of itty bitty towns to get to the falls was one of my favorite parts of the day. Seeing motorcycles lined up in front of a local small café always does my heart good. I know those small businesses rely on summer traffic to stay alive. We packed our lunch. Boo hiss on us. I knew it was going to be a super long day so spending an hour in a café was not what I wanted to do.
There are lots of things to write about from the trip but the one thing that stands out is our experience when we arrived at the state park. The camp host was a Marine and our riding partner, Doug ("Dougie Fresh" as nicked-named by my cousin Lil P) yelled "Semper Fi" the moment he quieted his noisy, orange Harley. I marvel at how people from various groups recognize one another. I overheard Doug talking about the guy's Marine Corp flag and sure enough, I spotted it.
Anyhow, the Marine rode over to our picnic table on his John Deere cart and joined our conversation. Pretty soon an old, graying golden retriever was at my feet begging for attention. Sweet dog! I wondered who he belonged to. Turns out some family came visiting the park one day and told the very kind camp host that the dog was lined up to be put down and he rescued him.  With that, I offered our new Marine friend a fresh baked cookie. 
The rest of the trip was like most riding days ... full of sunshine, wind and sun in our faces and an occasional deer and hawk. I was certainly ready to get off that torturous seat by the time we rolled into the driveway 11 hours later than we started.
One more great day in the bag.  I'll be ready to go again soon.
love, susan

Friday, June 6, 2014

C'est La Vie

Summer fun!
Great week! It has been non-stop fun every day. Summer mania has set in and I'm getting less sleep but having way more fun. I just finished wrapping up plans for a September trip to Montana with a high school buddy to visit another h.s. buddy. Between now and then the calendar has filled in to capacity. I love that.

We got out a couple of times this week and have plans for this evening to visit friends in the country. Having plans makes life so much sweeter. I'm hoping we can squeeze in a nice motorcycle trip tomorrow as I am working some overtime on Sunday. Boo hiss. The project needs to get done and that comp time will come in very handy this summer.

My friend Jan and her brother, sharing a moment.
Roses at the Kennewick library
Until then, today we're saying goodbye to a most awesome attorney who has been in our office one year. He is definitely on my Top 5 list of "Most Awesome People Susan Has Ever Worked With".  A rare, funny, down-to-earth, totally super nice human being dedicated to the betterment of society. I cried when he said he was leaving. He has made my job so much fun to go to. C'est la vie.
What did you do this week for fun?
love, susan

Things I'd Do If I Had An Endless Bucket of Time: Part 1

I have a good friend who works in the trades which means she works when there is work and she sits it out when there isn't work. I thin...