Monday, December 28, 2015

The State of My Tribal World

Beautiful weekend it was. It turned out nothing like I would have expected. I've learned to hold the reigns in my life very loose, even dropping them sometimes just to see which way it goes.
I spent Thursday with a good friend who helped me navigate the mall for some last-minute buys. We made some oil paint art on canvas at my kitchen table followed by candy making until almost midnight.
We got up Christmas morning and left the house just before 6:00am on a four hour drive to Portland to spend the day with family there. The day was full of laughter and a few tears.  
Some good friends came over Saturday night for dinner and some great, thoughtful conversation. Note to self ... must do that more often.
On the trip home from Portland, hubby and I had a great talk about the state of the world. He's the kind of guy who listens to news from all around the world throughout the day. My news comes in snipnets on my stupid FB roll and quite frankly, it has gotten me so down I could hardly speak about it without crying. I'm appalled by the hatefulness being spewed from every outlet I turn on, including friends and family. I don't want to believe this is the world I'm living in. I'm Pollyanna, remember? I said, please explain to me how this happens. He said, "it's tribal".
Long story short, I like that explanation and I'll be doing some reading on tribes this next year.
More will be revealed ...
love, susan

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 ~ A Creative Year in Review


I've come to love reviewing my year and coming up with a new word theme for the new year. Never in 56 years have I been so excited to take a look back and see what has worked and what hasn't in my life. I have been looking through my albums of photos for 2015 and I am amazed at the number of images I have taken of friends and family this year. I opened up a photography page on FB in late 2014, a place where I share favorite photos along with an open invitation to anyone who wants family photographs taken, all for fun and for free (that's a post I'll write soon).  So many good things have happened as a result of suiting up and showing up for free shoots. I was invited to photograph a friend's wedding which I swore I would never do again after the last one. It is nerve-racking to be the documenter of such an important day. What if you miss the great kiss? But I said yes. It was so much fun!

They were happy with my work and from that I was asked to take their annual Christmas photos (pictured here). Nothing makes me happier than having a reason to charge my battery and head out the door on any given Saturday.

I've met new friends through my photo page who trust me to take their family photos. They can't really know how much it means to me to be able to focus on bettering my skills. It isn't about the camera. It's about people. Learning to be comfortable from behind the lens.
Last year when I chose the word create, I didn't think of it as a word in terms of art only. I wanted to create time and space to do the things that really turn me on as a human being ... every day. I feel like I accomplished that, and more. Here are a few highlights of what I can remember of this year: 
  • I photographed families and friends May through December.
  • Read 22 books (a bit short of my goal of 52 but I'm not beating myself up about it!)
  • Took Remi to an agility class (BIG FUN!)
  • Traveled to Spokane with life-long friends and visited my new favorite Manito Gardens
  • Got creative in the kitchen -- made homemade tomato sauce from scratch for the first time ever and tried a summer squash alfredo recipe with a friend
  •  Started emailing my son and step daughter on a regular basis to keep in touch
What didn't work well in 2015? I can think of nothing. Weird. Okay, if I have to think of just one thing it would be indoor shoots. I hate harsh flash lighting, especially when there are children to photograph. I will be studying and finding ways to improve this over the next year. There. I said it.

So here is the part where I choose my theme word for 2016. I've learned to listen to that voice in my head that comes from a good place. The voice that wants me to do well and be happy. It's been telling me to improve.  Improve on what I already know. Improve in areas that need attention. I know what those areas are. Writing, reading, better eating habits, better housekeeping, better communication, better relationships, better time management, better dog training.

In the past, my theme words have been minimize, develop, focus, create. I think improve is a great word to add to these life-changing ideas.

Here goes!

Do you have a theme word? What is it? Tell me!

love, susan

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reading Challenge Update

I've made it almost half-way to my goal of reading 52 books this year. I am not sure I've read 20 books in a year since high school.

Here's how I did it:
  • I attended a one-day seminar in August and there I was exposed to a few titles and authors I had never considered reading before. How have I gotten this far in life without ever reading anything by John C. Maxwell? I simply cannot stop reading his work.

  • I make time every morning to sit with a cup of coffee, my little devil dog, "Remi", a favorite blankie, and my Kindle. Depending on what time I get up, I read at least 30 minutes and if I can squeeze an hour, I do it.
  • I don't give up. Sometimes my mind will wander while I'm reading. When I recognize it happening, I say the word FOCUS and bring myself back to the book.
  • I turn my phone to silent and leave it in another room.
  • I protect my reading time by closing my office door if my hubby decides to watch the news or turn on the radio. I'm one of those freak people who cannot have any other noises in the room when I've reading.
I love reading from my Kindle but I also read a few hardbound books this year. I like the highlight feature on my e-reader. It allows me to go back and see my favorite lines. I want to share a few with you here:

"It was like having more candy than other people, or getting stars on homework papers--to have the mother who looked the best." -- Olive Kittinger by Elizabeth Strout

"I try to do certain things every day to help me in this area (focusing on the present). I read daily to grow in my personal life. I listen to others daily to broaden my perspective. I spend time thinking daily to apply what I am learning. And I try to write daily so that I can remember what I've learned. I also try to share those lessons with others." --Talent is Never Enough  John C. Maxwell

"All this could have been avoided if I were less pretty." --Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

How about you? What are you reading?  Do you have special times set aside for reading? Any reading goals?  Favorite lines from your books?  Tell me!
love, susan

Thursday, December 3, 2015

So Far, So Good

We had dinner last night with good friends for a 3rd annual dinner for my hubby's birthday and our friend's birthday. Ironically, the waitress seated us at the same table we've shared the last 2 birthdays. So sweet!  I made a bucket list for December in my last post and so far I've been able to cross off a few things.  Day 3 and I have made it onto the treadmill every day in December.  Haha! Got an appointment for Gene for new eyeglasses. I have two family photography shoots lined up for Saturday. I have not baked a single cookie or sweet thing.  Hey, ya gotta take successes where you can!

What's on your December bucket list?

love, susan

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

December Bucket List

  • Make a date with my friends for lunch and a Saturday stroll through Uptown Mall
  • Take hubby to dinner for his birthday
  • Eat a Cuban sandwich at a place recommended by local peeps
  • Travel to Tacoma to see relatives for a weekend
  • Get through the entire month without baking sweets
  • Get on treadmill every day
  • Buy Gene some new glasses
  • Make some art
  • Line up at least two photo shoots
  • Clean out all six closets
  • Think of theme word for 2016
  • Write every day in my journal
  • Send a letter to each of my pen pals
Thank you to the lady over at Mama's Losin' It for the inspiration.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Write It Down

Do you ever have a conversation with someone and they remind you of something they've told you before but you completely forgot it? That happened over the weekend. At the moment he told me, I made a mental note that it was important for me to write it down somewhere. Here.
I'm not even sure how we got to the topic but my hubby reminded me that his mom enrolled him in the Arthur Murray School of Dance when he was a kid.
Now, I do remember him telling me that before but that little factoid was buried somewhere in my mind and if he had never brought it up again, it's a piece of information that I would forget about him. He told me that back in the day his mom  loved all things free. We got a good chuckle out of that.
Maybe it's because we attended the birthday party of a 6 year old yesterday at the arcade. All last week I kept thinking our friends' son was turning five. Time does not stand still for anyone.
I'm here to encourage anyone who reads this to write stuff down. Take a picture. Print it. Write about the day it was taken. Leave it somewhere you can see it later. Our lives get full and these wonderful facts about our loved ones get buried. 
Listen to people. Really hear what they are saying. Take it in. Enjoy it. Remember it.
love, susan

Monday, November 16, 2015

Have Fun Having Fun

Accountability. I've always hated that word. However, I have learned to use it to my advantage.

I have an accountability partner who helps me lean into the word and not hate it so much. We have an agreement to stay accountable to each other when the abyss of winter sets in. After a brief text this last week, I knew it was time to check in with her and it worked for me  and I think for her as well.

When I have too many things to do, I get overwhelmed easily. I've found that making a list is what works best for me. I love lists but they are only as good as the paper they are written on if I don't complete the tasks.

To Do List:
Laundry - sheets, towels, work clothes, jeans
Make both beds
Pay bills
Put away all stuff laying around
Meal prep: bake chicken, cup up veggies

I sensed my accountability partner was feeling the same way so I texted her a photo of my to-do list along with photos of the worst areas of my castle that required my attention. When I didn't hear back from her right away, I knew she was sleeping in but as soon as she woke up, I was sure she'd be on board. She was! And, she sent me her list. We both got busy and texted our progress. We always encourage each other to do something to reward ourselves in between all the chores. Yesterday she watched Project Runway while I did a little reading on my Kindle. I had decided to make noon time my cutoff for my chores. After 12, my hubby and I planned to take a Sunday drive.

In one of her last texts, she said have fun having fun. Doesn't that just hit the nail on the head? For me, having someone who understands what I need in order to get things done is fun. I enjoy the process. It doesn't matter if it's work or play, it's all about the process for me. So, this morning I'm enjoying knowing that I have a great lunch packed for today, chicken all ready for tacos or Thai fried rice for dinner. I slept in clean sheets last night and all the laundry got folded.

What is fun for you?

love, susan

Friday, November 6, 2015


Last night we attended a special screening of the film, "Unbranded". I normally wouldn't go to a movie on a work night but a friend had posted about this movie on FB and they needed to sell at least 80 tickets to get the movie here for screening. They doubled those sales and moved it to a larger screen. Yeah, Tricities!
This film is worth seeing. It is an entertaining documentary of four young cowboy friends fresh out of college who act on the idea to adopt a dozen wild mustangs from the government adoption program, train them and ride them from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. And, they take us along for the ride. The jaunt takes them six months.
WHAT I LEARNED is that the growing population of mustangs is causing a problem not only for ranchers in the west but for the horses themselves. There simply is not enough ground food for free range cattle and the wild horses. There are groups on both sides of the issue and this film does a nice job bringing that to the public eye in a careful manner that doesn't evoke hate or controversy. It left me thinking about how difficult it must be for both ranchers and horse lovers who don't want to see these beautiful animals locked up in corrals, which is the only thing they can do right now to remedy the problem. There was very little talk of a sterilization program. The solution was not what this film intended to portray. I think the producers did a great job going right down the middle of the problem, laying it out there for people to look at and talk about. I definitely will be paying more attention when I hear people talking about this topic.
For me, the movie was filled with beautiful scenes and moving photography that made me envious of the film makers. The ride through the Grand Canyon was a nail biter and I had to cover my eyes in places because it was harrowing. But it was gorgeous!

Bottom line:  See this film when you have a chance.

love, susan

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

An Ode to Angie

November is gratitude month for many of us. I'm not going to go on and on every day about all the things I'm grateful for but I can't help writing a bit about someone who has made my life so much better.  My housekeeper, Angie.
I hired her about a year and a half ago. It was an anxiety causing decision. I'm sure, as a woman, she probably knows that. Who invites another woman into their home to see all their dirty laundry? And pay them for it? Yeah. I could hear my mother's voice. What's wrong with you? Can't you clean your own house? Nobody is ever going to marry you. Why would you pay someone to do what you "should" be doing? I've annihilated that voice in the last 18 months with the help of Angie.
Angie visits my home every other Tuesday. I'm a better person for having her come and do the things I am terrible at doing. She leaves my wood floors so soft that the first thing I do on the day she comes is take my shoes and socks off and just walk on the floors. She's not here to hear me giggle about that. My bathroom sparkles which is something I've never accomplished, not even once, in my lifetime. I try to always send her a text to let her know how much I value her but I feel it's never enough.
She's also given me some good ideas. One idea early on in our working relationship, she asked me to find a place to hang my ironing board to get it up off the floor and out of the way. Simple idea that never occurred to me. She arranges my pillows so sweetly that I'm a better bed maker because of her. Last month, she suggested I find a book shelf so I could have a place for the few books I intend to read someday and a place for my plants in my home office. I finally found what I was looking for last weekend.
I'm still a terrible housekeeper butI'm not afraid to admit that any longer because of Angie. She's an expert at what she does. I'd rather spend my time doing something else that I'm good at.  It's a relationship I hope lasts a lifetime. Angie, thank you!
Who are you grateful for?
love, susan

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Five Days Older

I got to my work desk early yesterday morning and out of nowhere a flood of tears came. I had just said goodbye to my long time high school friend and a five-day vacation getaway. I haven't quite figured out why it hit me so hard but I was definitely not ready to be sitting at work. Luckily, I went to work a half hour early so I could adjust my otherwise vacationing mind to the fact that I was back at what my husband calls "the law factory".
Vacation was good for me. My high school friends and I had planned this trip months ago. There wasn't much for me to do except write it on the calendar. Brenda took care of the hotel reservations (I had forgotten she had a travel agency business in her past life). All I had to do was scoop up our other friend, Kathy, from the airport and drive us to Spokane for three nights of our 2nd Annual Great Girlfriend Getaway.
In my life experience, it's not easy to find good fellow travelers but these two friends are above and beyond good travel mates. Three days together could wear on some people but it didn't with us. We talked, ate great food, shared recipes, revisited the old days, kicked our feet up, laughed out loud and saw a bit of Spokane.
Above all that, I learned that Brenda writes an email to her mother every single day. I marveled at this and thought about it a lot. In a world that seems so instant and fleeting, I'll bet she and her mom have racked up hundreds of emails back and forth that will remain forever. As a writer, I freaking love that. Brenda talked about a road trip she is taking with her recently retired husband across the U.S. to see family on the east coast. I am so envious.
Kathy and I got to spend an extra two special days together at my house. We brought home a pile of tomatoes and butternut squash from Brenda's garden. One of my favorite moments from the weekend will forever be spending time in my kitchen, making a new recipe for squash alfredo with my good friend. We also whipped up a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce with Brenda's recipe .... a first for both of us. It turned out great.  Kathy recently retired. She is enjoying her newfound freedom and it shows. Both these friends are paving the way for me for when it's my turn to turn in my work badge. Love that!
Me? I'm coming down from cloud nine this morning as I write this. I'll truly look forward to the next adventures with these fine friends. There is a lot of life left in all of us to live. I look forward to seeing them again ... sooner rather than later ... to see what they've filled their days with.  Living forward.
In the end, we are all five days older. Isn't it a wonderful thing when you get to sometimes be on the path with people you love?
love, susan

Manito Gardens in Spokane, WA

Conservatory at Manito Gardens

Riverfront Park in Spokane, WA

Apple Store in downtown Spokane

Oil & Vinegar store at downtown mall Spokane

Riverfront Park, Spokane

Chinese Lantern Festival, Spokane

Saw an owl mid-day at McNary Wildlife Refuge
on a walk with Kathy

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Free the Wang Campout 2015 ... and other musings

Another great weekend at the Oregon coast with family. It never grows old. A nice reprieve from a busy life. Even if it is for only one day, the 600 mile roundtrip car drive is worth the price of winding down and getting away from it all. The car ride is part of the adventure.
I'm amazed how quickly the daily stresses of life fall off when we get to the beach. This trip I found a little turtle shell on the beach, that was a first. We heard sea lions barking all Saturday night, another first. There was a cougar sighting at our campground a couple days prior to our arrival. Another first for that spot. Weird.
I think this may be the 6th year of our annual campout. It has been so much fun to watch the kids grow into teens. Two of them are seniors this year.  Eeek. I felt a lump in my throat thinking about what that will be mean for next year. It was suggested that maybe we try another campground next year. Perhaps that will take our minds off the fact that maybe they won't have time for us any longer.

Next week, my high school buddy from Alaska will be coming to visit and we're heading over to meet another friend for a weekend spree in Spokane. As my favorite readers may know, I'm not a future tripper but I am here to tell you that I look forward to that weekend very much.

Isn't it the best when you have something to look forward to? It doesn't have to be a big trip or an expensive concert. I'm going to my friend's house on Thursday night to meet her chickens. I've got agility class tonight. Coffee with a friend tomorrow night. What's on your calendar that you are looking forward to? 
love, susan

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Power Tools:

Last week my hubby mentioned something about the food processor I have sitting up in the cupboard. He has been eyeing the huge zucchini we brought indoors and wanting to shred them. He loves zucchini bread but more so I believe he loves a good power tool.  He's never used the processor before so this morning I pulled it out, set it up, gave a short demo and he got right to work. That man shredded enough to make twelve batches of zucchini bread/cake/brownies. Little does he know, I usually end up throwing out a couple of frozen containers of the zucchini in the spring because we can only eat so much of it. Was I going to stop him?  Hell, no!

Now, I have to tell you that smack dab in the middle of shredding, my power tool wielding hubby sneezed. No hand over his mouth, no turning away from the project, no awareness whatsoever that he had done anything wrong. 


Listen up, friends.  When someone is doing you a favor, you don't criticize them. Okay? You just don't.  However, please note that I will not be bringing zucchini bread to the potluck. As a matter of fact, I haven't brought homemade food anywhere for a long time. I have dogs and I'd die if you found a dog hair in one of my dishes. Dog people will understand this.  Not the point of this post ... I digress.

Last week, my main squeeze cooked dinner twice and I should have taken a picture of it to show you the love and care he took in plating it. He even went so far as to slice the pork steak into large, bite-sized pieces. The honey dew and watermelon on the side almost made me cry. That plate was a thing of beauty.

It's been a tough couple of weeks at work as we are short-handed. Several of my co-workers have been so gracious to help out and has made the wait for a new work buddy bearable. She'll arrive September 8th.

In the meantime, I'm thinking of all the power tools I have in my life. Of them, the most powerful are the words Please and Thank You.

Note to self:  Be gracious. Be grateful. Be Kind. Be generous. What would you add to this? What are your power tools?

love, susan

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Limner, This One's for You!

Happy National Dog Day!   Every day is dog day at our house. We don't need no stinking holiday to celebrate the wonderfulness of our fur kids.
A big shout out to my pen pal, Limner (over at Oh Write Me), for her nice notecard saying she misses my blog posts. I miss them, too. There are not enough hours in the day to do all the things I wish to accomplish. I can count on one hand how many posts I've written this summer. It isn't that we haven't been busy, I just haven't written about it. My excuses are as follow:
I made a new year's resolution to read 52 books this year. I've dedicated early mornings to reading at least 30 minutes but 45 is better. That means I haven't been journaling, blogging, or letter writing. Note: I started this year choosing a theme word. This year I chose the word create.  In that, more than material creations, I've made time to get out and do some things I've only been talking about in the past.
I have set aside Monday evenings for photo shoots. I invite anyone who is willing to sit still for photos to meet me at a location. This week I hit the dog park with a co-worker and got some great shots of her dog along with mine. Other Mondays, I met friends of friends at the park to shoot family photos, I made a house call to a very pregnant lady, a friend and her son who was going off to boot camp, etc. I feel like my mission is being accomplished in the creative department in so many ways.

To date, I've finished reading 12 books. I am not deterred by the fact that I most likely will not read 52 books by December 31st.

A huge thank you to my loyal pen pal for the nice note and inspiration to write a post. This blog is a great documentation of the great life I have. It's a better idea for me to write than try to keep it in my forgetting mind.  If you're reading this, Limner, I'll be getting back to you on those questions you asked in the last long letter you wrote. Don't give up on me.  :-)

love, susan


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wanderlust: The Cure

Susan and Gene
A quick weekend trip to the coast to cool off from the last three solid weeks of 100+ degree days was just what we needed. I'm glad I threw in my hoodie because I needed it once we got to the Oregon coast. I am a princess and have a very small window of comfort when it comes to temperature.
To our surprise, there were lots of whales spouting in Boiler Bay when we stopped on Saturday morning.  On our way home today, we only spotted one but we were thrilled.

Oregon Coast
Even though it was a long way to drive for cool air, a trip to the beach is never wasted. A travel tip I'd offer is that if you've worked all day and can get off work a little early, a 4-5 hour drive is just about enough. We overnighted in Salem and hit the road early Saturday morning (a mere 2 hour drive) so we could spend the entire day cooling off. We enjoyed a short nap in the afternoon and after meeting some like-minded friends, we stopped at our very favorite Newport CafĂ© for dinner before retiring.
On the way home, some dear friends who were on their honeymoon near where we were, honked at us as they flew past us. I'm still smiling about that! Love birds in a jeep. We're so happy for them!
Hope you did something fun this weekend. If not, you have time to plan something for next weekend, right?  love, susan

Devil's Punch Bowl at low tide

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Be There .... I Can Do That

Summer fun has set in and we've been gone a lot. The good news is we found a summer house/dog sitter who is wonderful and available, which means we can go places on the weekends without having to drag the dogs to the kennel. They hate it there and it makes us feel bad to take them. Win/Win for us and our new sitter. She is a teen who loves to watch Netflix and eat frozen burritos. I can do that. 
Not everything is wonderful right now and I've been kind of numb lately. Too many friends and family members are going through tough times and they are on my mind constantly. Serious stuff. Chronic illness, family issues, financial strife.
This week my beautiful, smart, funny daughter-in-law was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I'm okay talking about it here. That cat is out of the bag now and I'm glad it is not a secret. Since I'm the queen of denial, I have refused to think about it very much but it creeps in and then it's all I can think about. Fortunately, she assured me that if one has to have cancer, this is the kind to have. I think she said that to me ... or ... did my denial just make that up? At any rate, we are all glad she finally has some answers to many questions she has had the last year. She says it is curable. I'm running with that.
As to my other friends who are struggling, I feel so powerless.  But I'm not. The one thing I can do is be available. It's about the only thing but that's worth something.  When I worked at hospice, I learned from the grief counselor that sometimes all we can do is provide a warm silence.  Be there. Words are not always necessary. Just be there.
I can do that. I love you.
love, susan

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lessons Learned

I feel like I was transported to another world this weekend. Here I sit on Monday morning, thinking about the week ahead and smiling about the events in my life the last couple of days.
Friday was a good day! Some of my most favorite friends gathered after work Friday night at the park for a BBQ. It was my birthday and it's really all I wanted. I keep telling them we should gather for the sake of it but it seems like the only time we do is for some special occasion. I'm 56 now. In my mind, I'm still 25. I have to admit I'm starting to feel physically old.
Saturday night we drove out to a country barbeque to do a photo shoot for a friend whose daughter is graduating from high school. It was big fun and I was transported to  times when our family gets together for an outdoor party. Hubby came with me and we sincerely enjoyed meeting my friend's extended family and creating some documentation of the evening. I've never seen so many beautiful people in one gathering.  
I love being a weekend photographer.
There are so many things to learn and every time I go out with my camera I feel like I'm building on what I've already learned. Saturday night I got schooled by a young girl. I could see it in her face so I just asked her if she was tired of me taking her picture. Her sweet, polite response said it all.  Lesson learned. Kids just wanna have fun and not have to stop to smile for the stupid camera. Thankfully, I know when to stop.
The other lesson I'm learning is to delete pictures that don't make the grade. It is probably the hardest part of photography for me. I only took about 140 photos Saturday night. The weekend before I shot 600+ at the wedding. Too many. When I open them up, I am attached to them and have a hard time hitting the delete button. My mentor says when she is working for the studio, she does the shoot and sends the card in for someone else to edit, someone who isn't emotionally attached to each shot. Each image should tell a story. It's all business for a studio.  For me ... oh my gosh ... deleting photos is like erasing the fact that I was there. Must work on this.
How about you?  Were you transported last weekend?  Where did you go? What did you do?  Do you cringe when you delete photos?  Tell me!
love, susan

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

10 Things I Would Say If I Gave a Commencement Address

I've been following a blogger Stacey Schneller, who posts up fun prompts for writing. I like this one ... hope you'll follow suit and post one of your own!

10 Things Susan Would Say at a Commencement Address
              1. Remember where you came from.
              2. Network.
              3. Look and listen to people when they are talking to you.
              4. Travel a little before you settle down.
              5. Go off the grid on a regular basis.
              6. Make plans but don't plan the outcome.
              7. If you don't know what you want to do, do something anyway. You'll meet people and have experiences and your purpose will become clear one day.
              8. Minimize.
              9. Call your mom.
              10. Help others.
What would you say?

love, susan

Sunday, May 17, 2015


This is a working weekend for me. I have so much to do, so little time. I should be at the store already this morning but the coffee hasn't kicked in yet and I'm afraid neither has my mind.
The thought of spending all day digging up a layer of dirt and grass so we can fill in an area with gravel has me dragging. I'm not cut out for that kind of hard labor. I'm soft. I hate it. What I hate more is looking at how the weeds keep growing up near the walkway to our front door. I keep this in mind while my back is breaking.
I've been through much worse things than a sore back. Someday I'll actually get that stuff down on paper and share it. But right now, I use it as a tool to get through things that are slightly unpleasant.
The upside is that I'm spending time with my hubby and when we're done with this little project we can stand back and say we did this. The upside is that moment when I've used every bit of energy and I fall into my chair for a glass of ice water that's never tasted so good. The upside is today I take ownership of my life and my surroundings.
What tools do you use to get through days where you'd rather be doing something else?
love, susan

Saturday, May 9, 2015

That's How We Roll Dude

No matter that we are out in the middle of freaking-nowhere, my husband can find somebody to chat with. It happened today while on a scoot up to Pendleton and then over to Hepner.  We saw this guy at the gas station and hubby never said a single word to him but as we got down the road, he saw him pulled over and he could not resist the urge to stop and talk to him. It was under the guise of asking him if everything was okay. Bikers really do look out for each other that way. But criminy, he had just filled up with gas not fives miles ago. How could anything be wrong?
It was a beautiful day for riding. Hubby mentioned this morning that I am 1,400 miles short of having 20K on my machine. I'm pretty sure it's his mission now to make those numbers roll over. I wasn't quite prepared for a nearly 300 mile ride today but then, I never am.

I cleared my head, put on my leathers and at the last minute tucked a hoodie in my saddle bag and was glad of that. I ended up putting it on at 4,200 feet above sea level. We saw snow today on the side of the road. We also saw an antelope loping across our path and these beautiful wild flowers.

After we got back, I made a mad dash to the grocery to store to pick up salad fixins to go with pizza we would deliver to a friend who just had carpel tunnel surgery.

It has been one of those summer days that is filled with fun and adventure. Tomorrow is looking like it will be full too although if you asked me I could not give you any details. That's how we roll, dude.
How was your Saturday?

love, susan


Monday, May 4, 2015

Adventure 101

I went on a little adventure yesterday morning with my photo walking buddy. We set out to see the pelicans but it turned into part photo walk, part road trip. Long story short, we were trying to get to the other side of the Yakima rRiver and spent an hour driving in one direction and then backtracked to finally get there. 
It matters not. I had a full tank of gas.
To think we would have missed these three deer crossing the river. I said, "hey, I think there are deer crossing the river". She said, "I thought those were ducks".  Such is our conversation sometimes. She hands me her camera while I stop the car on a not-so-busy highway at the back road to Benton City. Good thing she emailed me this photo because I forgot all about it. We were so intent on finding the road to the other side of the Yakima River that I forgot all the wonderful things in between. We took roads we've never been on and finally decided to drive to the end of the most unlikely road to get exactly where we wanted to be. For any locals reading this, and mostly for me so I won't forget, it's at the end of N. Herrington Road in W. Richland. Just keep driving. It doesn't make sense but just keep driving.
I'm going back to work this morning after suffering a bout of a stomach bug that is still not entirely gone but at least I can stand up straight today. I don't do sick very well. Such a waste of time to lay in bed writhing in pain.
New day. New adventures to be had.
Have you ever just turned down a road to see what's there? Do you give up just before you find the right spot? Do you have good friends who'll go with you on adventures?
love, susan

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wenatchee, Washington (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Will this blog challenge ever be over?  I'm over it.
I ran out of steam at about letter H. That's how it is with me and I know this about myself. I'm not a quitter but I sure can drag something on to the bitter end. Kind of like our Sunday drive last weekend.
We drove 300+ miles and I only lifted my camera for 4 shots. This is the only one that made the cut. It wasn't a total waste of a day as my hubby and I talked the entire drive. Can't do that on a motorcycle.
Our end destination was Leavenworth (22 miles north of Wenatchee) because I had never been. He kept saying it wasn't worth the drive but I wanted to judge it for myself. He was right but now I can check that off my "wander" list. 
I'm not much for the kind of shtick they sell in Leavenworth. I hear it's pretty during Christmas-time when all the lights are up. There are lots of souvenir stores and it's all cutesy, if you're into that sort of thing. There is no sign of corporate America there, I'll give them that. Oh wait, I did see a McDonald's on the way out of town.
Took a chance and pulled into the little town of Cashmere, which is a few miles south of Leavenworth where I got this great shot of the river while standing on the bridge. Not much in Cashmere but I felt like at least I'd have one photo so I could remember this forgetful trip.
We tried to find a Thai place in Wenatchee but there was nothing open, not even a Mexican restaurant. Bad idea to leave the house with only a small container of grapes. We did find a great Mexican restaurant in Othello but by that time I was so hungry that I over-ate and was miserable all the way home.
If you are still reading, I'm sure you are wondering if this post will ever be over.  It is.
Have you ever gone someplace and been disappointed? Did you find something to like about the journey anyway?  Do you love "shtick"?
love, susan

Friday, April 24, 2015

Use What You Have (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

I'm not a very traditional person. I don't like to buy the best and fanciest of anything ... I prefer to use what I have.  I use what I have on my craft table, in my camera bag, in the fridge, etc. to create whatever it is I'm into at the moment.
Recently we were invited to a friend's house for Easter dinner.  Miss L and her mom were there too and I got to snap a couple of images of her cuteness in her Easter dress.  It was very impromptu and kind of cold that day. Our host grabbed a blanket and we looked for some kind of suitable background as quickly as possible.
I'm super happy with the color combo here. The image was a bit blurry as I'm not all that fast with my settings and honestly, this little chica is on the move now and doesn't sit very still for my camera. I don't have fancy equipment or props I drag around. I love the freedom this gives me to think quick and use my imagination.
Have you ever come up with a great new recipe using just what you have in the fridge? Do you ever just draw a Mandela on a piece of white paper with a pencil? Ever just place a few cute stickers on your outgoing bills to make the person on the other end smile?
love, susan

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Take the Picture! (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Three years ago, I traveled to Lansing, Michigan to visit my kids. Lansing has a quiet charm that I warmed up to quickly. Could be it's because my kids live there but I found something to like about everything I saw there. We did a bit of walking in those three days.
After dinner one night at a place called Meat, we walked around the corner and there was a wedding reception going on in what looked like an empty storefront. The entire front was window from top to bottom and inside were young people, dressed for a wedding and dancing. My son looked at me and said "NO, mom!"  He knew I would lift my camera to take a pic but I decided to not embarrass him. Now, all I have left is a picture of the getaway car. In my mind, those dancing kids will remain forever young.

So many times, I have not taken the picture because I was too afraid to look like a weirdo. The time we walked by two guys playing cards on the back of a taxi cab in Mexico City ... I should have taken the pic. I walked right past them and almost turned around but didn't. I took a mental snapshot instead.

I'm getting better at not hesitating. Tips from readers have helped.

Have you ever passed up taking a picture? Do images remind you of a place and time? Do you take mental snapshots?

love, susan

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Secretary's Day (A to Z Blogging Challenge)


I am so behind in this A to Z challenge but I'm not giving up. Just last week someone told me one of our attorneys is entered in a full marathon. I had no idea he was a runner, much less a marathon runner. Another woman in our office, who is older than me, is also a marathon runner. She likes to go to places like Las Vegas to run. She says she does it for the cool medals. Whatever.  Haha! I never was a runner. My point? I'm not giving up on this blogging challenge. Today I bring you the letter S.
I'm a secretary.  Old school, you know. Nowadays we're called Administrative professionals, legal assistants, etc.  As if being called a secretary is a bad thing.  
I'm super proud of my profession. I learned to type when I was in high school.  I've often written about that wonderful teacher, Mrs. Pryse, who taught a small classroom of girls how to make it in this world. Learning to type was the single most important thing I came out of high school knowing. The other things like having phone manners and customer service came from many mentors along the way. But typing? It's a part of my everyday life, even when I'm not being paid for it. My husband loves to hear me typing in the morning while he's still waking up. I love that he loves that about me.
Anyhoo, today I lift my coffee cup to all my friends who are in the business of helping others by typing information, answering phones, sending emails, and just being all-around helpful to their bosses. Last night right before I was leaving the office, I saw an attorney sneak a big pot of beautiful red flowers out to the hallway. My office is planning some kind of thank-you for all the assistants. This will be my 3rd year celebrating Secretary's Day and I can tell you that I know it's going to be fabulous.
It's my day!
Do you have a secretary?  Are you a secretary?  Do you love secretaries?  Be sure to thank them today in your daily dealings.  We love serving you but more than money in the bank, we love to hear your praises.
love, susan

Saturday, April 18, 2015

uPtown funk (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Finally ... P day got here! Photography is my favorite past time. This morning I was asked out for coffee so I grabbed my camera just in case something caught my eye.

The last time I was at the Uptown Mall in the little town where we live, I noticed they are sprucing the place up with wall painting. I saw a photographer taking images of a young couple against the wall pictured here and I'm hoping to find some victims to shoot against this great background soon.  Right now I've got Uptown Funk stuck in my head. Please, I beg of you, if you've never heard Uptown Funk, hit the link and prepare yourself for the best upbeat, fun, get-off-your-seat music by Bruno Mars. Just do it.
When I started this blog back in 2010, my intent was to find a place to drop my photos and talk about them. That is still my intent today, although once in awhile I go on a rant but not often. Mostly, I just love to write about what I saw and experienced today.

Miss L (pictured here) came for coffee with us this morning. She is the sweetest little person on the planet and even though she isn't feeling her best today and had a couple of teeth cut through this week, she was all smiles.
See what I mean about photography? And, the day has hardly even started. Headed out for a spring maiden motorcycle voyage with my camera in the bag and my handsome, high-maintenance hubby who has ruined me for anyone else. Hello weekend!
Do you love taking photos?  Do you carry a camera with you? Do you have a favorite subject to shoot? Is your significant other high maintenance?  Please, please tell me .... do you love Uptown Funk?

love, susan

Friday, April 17, 2015

One Minute Post (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

The letters N and O got away from me this week.
It's Friday. I'm tired. You'll forgive me if I just leave these beautiful spring flowers here for you, right? Write.
Change is coming. You can take that to the bank.
I haven't been stopping enough to smell the flowers but that is about to change.  The weather is expected to be in the high 70's starting today.  Vrooooom vrooooom! Dusting off the motorcycle and heading towards adventure to see whatever comes my way.  Did you just hear that old Steppenwolf song right now when you read this? 
Okay, well, go out there and make it your best day ever.  I'm going to!
Have you had your best day ever yet?  What would it look like? What's your favorite thing to do on your days off?
love, susan

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Memoir (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Abigail Thomas writes in her Thinking About Memoir that "memories survive on a wisp of fragrance, or a particular shade of blue, or a song that reminds you of a song, and you don't want to miss anything."
I've taken up photography as a mad passion the last couple of years. I was always a picture taker but now more than any other time in my life, I feel the need to document everyday happenings. I have a horrible memory and I'm afraid it is not getting better. I tell myself it's because there is no room remaining in my very full hard-drive of a brain. However, there are times when stuff from very long ago bubbles up out of nowhere.  I'm amazed and intrigued by the memories that have survived years of being buried at the bottom of the burn pile, still smoldering and hot.
I started writing memoir last year. The date on my document is exactly one year ago this month. I have not opened that file or added to it since I closed it. It got too painful. And, I hadn't even hardly gotten started.  Abigail writes: "Truth is what I'm ultimately after, truth or clarity ... once in a while you come too close to a nerve, and your writing goes flat, and your first thought might be to change the subject."
She nails it.

Why write memoir?
One more passage from Abigail's book I'll leave you with really shook me this morning, especially the last line:
"My husband, Rich, lost his memory after he was hit by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury. In a moment of perfect clarity he once described his loss like this:  "Pretend you are walking up the street with your friend. You are looking in windows. But right behind you is a man with a huge paint roller filled with white paint and he is painting over everywhere you've been, erasing everything. He erases your friend. You don't even remember his name."  It's terrifying. Because who are we without five minutes ago?
Are you a writer or photographer? Do you have a good memory? Do you wish you only remembered the good things?  
love, susan

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Look and Listen (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Today I had a date with my very charismatic dermatologist. He is the coolest thing on two legs, a democrat for sure, with super great taste in music. His nurse is a fabulous weekend photographer who lit up when I asked her how her business is going. She has a FB page so I get to see her work when she posts.  I was covering myself with my shirt while she dabbed something on the moles that were to be removed, all the while talking about how her weekend business has grown and how much she loves photography. I get it! Once we moved into the little surgery room, Dr. Wonderful came in, said he liked my khaki pants and asked his nurse to change the music to Dobie Gray's Drift Away. Can I tell you how much the banter helped relieve my fear of having my back cut on? It took 8 minutes, tops.

You know what? I love days like this. My life could not be any better, I'm quite sure. If I take the time to look and listen, I can find the beauty in everything. I saw it today.

Did you .... see the beauty in today?

love, susan

Monday, April 13, 2015

Keep the Kitties (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Old version of image
I'm a keeper. In the last 3 years, I have learned to do a little editing on my photos that I've been keeping for a couple of years. This image was taken in 2012 when I was using my little point & shoot and had no editing programs on my computer. I still don't have the big, fancy-dancy Photoshop program but I found an old version of it (Elements) at a thrift store for $5. It has served me well along with a free Google product called Picasa 3.
I'm cheap, I know it. But I'm having fun and would you agree that the updated version of this kitty photo makes it worth keeping?
A little background on this kitty. He/she was in a litter that my friend Tabby found while out in the country one day. She had parked to watch stars or something like that and heard these kittens crying. Someone had dumped them. She picked them up and brought them home. I raced over to take a look and snap photos. If my memory serves me correctly, she found a rescue group to take them and really saved the day!
Moral of this story:  Keep your images, even if you think they are dull and boring. You might learn something later that will you help you brighten them up. And, never pass up the chance to help others, even abandoned kitties.  It will improve your life immensely.
Do you have old digital photos you've spiced up with new programs? Do you have an old photo you wish you could spice up? What program(s) do you use?  Have you ever rescued an animal?
love, susan

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Heartspace (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

I'm short on time today so borrowed from my archives this post I wrote in November 2014, originally titled Do Nothing.  Today I'm feeling behind and pressed for time. I hope you'll read something here that helps your heart today.

from the archives

Hang on.  Or let go.

Thank you to my friend for giving me a topic to write about this morning. I've been feeling brain dead the last couple of weeks. I know there are ideas somewhere in my mind but lately I 've been working so hard that all I am doing is simply surviving. It's a temporary situation, thankfully.
She is not my only friend who is struggling with decisions. When I look around me, there are decisions taking place about gut wrenching, real-life stuff and it has affected my heart space. Tears have been shed for my friends. Major medical issues, relationships, plumbing problems, employment difficulties. You name it, my friends are experiencing it.  On Sunday I had a real breakthrough when I realized that I've been where all my friends are right now, in those awful transitional places that are hard, super hard and seem like the most horrible situations for them. I've been struggling and feeling their pain and the truth is that its all about the growing pains. Theirs and mine.
I've had all the above mentioned situations and then some. I often wonder when the other shoe is going to drop now because my life has been on smooth for so long. One thing I know for sure, it will drop. How I handle it is different than how I used to handle crisis.
G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things
 I cannot change, the courage to change the things
 I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
I like this prayer. I use it often as a filter for things going on in my life that are out of control or where I need clarification for what to do next. Sometimes, doing nothing is the action I need to take.
I'm going to leave it at that for now. Think about it.  Have you ever just done nothing, slept on it, decided to not decide, etc.?
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...