Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Birthday Blog

Today is my 57th birthday. I'm as happy as a clam at high tide to be alive and well.

I decided to post pictures of myself over the last couple of years so I have a place to come back to look at my happy face when I have one those rare dark days. I'd love to tell you why I have gray days but it will take a book to tell it all.  It's coming ... the book.

Most people don't know I am adopted. It isn't that I hide that fact, it's just that it doesn't really come up in conversation. Last week, for some reason it did come up in conversation and I shared a tiny bit of my story with someone. It dawned on me that a lot of it (my life story) I have not yet written down. I need to get to it before another year goes by that steals my memory.

These photos are from the last 14 years (except the 3D glasses pic) of my very happy life. I typically am on the other side of a camera but as I was looking through my images I noted every single photo of me is a happy one. That's a great chapter in my story right there.
I haven't always been this way. I'm very much like the Skin Horse in the Velveteen Rabbit.
Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.' 
 'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” 
                                                    Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Friday, May 13, 2016

Penpal Musings

I received a letter from a very good pen pal yesterday. She wondered by I haven't blogged all winter. It was a legitimate question that I didn't really know the answer to until I sat down to write back this morning. Only she will know the true answer to it when she receives my very personal letter.

I have this unwritten rule (in my head) someone in my past said to me about returning a letter ... something about two weeks. I know if I let my pen pal's letter sit too long on my desk, I'll be past the two week mark and then self-induced guilt sets in and things go downhill from there. After that, I'm never sure if it's my turn to write or theirs. It's a vicious cycle and in the end it doesn't matter whose turn it is to write, we just write. I love that about my pen pals! I won't spoil the contents of my letter today because I know my pen pal will read this blog post. That's how I met her many moons again. Through blogging.
But, that's not what this post is about.
Road tripping with my dad. It came up while I was writing this morning and I have to get it out. My writer friend mentioned she recently took a trip with her son across the U.S. while helping him move from coast to coast. Not many of us get a chance to do that one-on-one trip with immediate family but when we do, it's special. I got to do that with my dad about 14 years ago. I may have written about it before but can't find it in my blog posts. Here it is in my May 2016 remembrance of it ....

Mom had died suddenly that spring while snowbirding in Arizona. We buried her in Oregon and then made plans to travel back to Alaska for the summer. Before my mom died, I was at the lowest point in my life and now my dad shared that feeling. We were a couple of sad sacks trying to figure out what to do next in life. Might as well take it on the road and see what happens. We left Arizona in early May, heading to Anchorage faster than he wanted to roll because I wanted to get there for a big dog show. Looking back, I regret rushing him on that trip. Still, it took what seemed like forever to get there although it was probably only ten days.

I learned a lot about my dad and myself. I remember thinking how lucky I was to be taking this road trip of a lifetime with dad. I hadn't had his undivided attention in a long time and we were stuck-like-chuck in that RV together for 3,628 miles. I learned how to drive a motorhome and although it was scary as hell, I pushed through the fear and enjoyed driving. We stopped often to take a coffee break, make a sandwich, and if there was a casino anywhere nearby those stops were a bit longer than a cup of coffee.

The details of that trip escaped me but three four five things have stayed with me that I'm not sure I've ever written about. If I have, forgive me.

One time when we stopped for a coffee break, I opened the upper cupboard door and a coffee cup fell out and hit me square on the noggin. I was immediately as pissed off as an angry mama bear and he laughed at me. Then I cried. He kindly explained that when you are in a moving vehicle like this, things readjust. From that point forward, I took care when I opened any doors in that deathtrap. I learned how to drink and love instant coffee on that trip. To this day, I can't look at a jar of instant go juice without thinking of that incident. Thanks for that, dad.

Another valuable lesson I learned on that trip is that it is possible to bath and wash my hair with a gallon of water. While it is true that one can hook up at an RV park and have access to unlimited amounts of electricity and water, that's not always how we rolled. There is only so much water for bathing and other bodily functions, not to mention you need enough for coffee drinkers like us. To this day, I am a proud proponent for water saving measures because of that experience. This came in handy when our hot water tank died a couple years ago and it took my hubby much longer than I thought it should to get a new one installed. I am resourceful and found a 5 gallon bucket to use for bathing until I couldn't do it any longer. Many have not seen that side of me that goes postal. Shit gets taken care of when I do ... go postal, that is.

I'm not all that tough it turns out. Neither is my dad. We got about a few miles before arriving to his homestead and neither of us could fight back the tears. We were arriving home to Alaska and she wasn't with us, in body. In spirit, yes. The entire trip I couldn't help but think that mom should have been sitting in that passenger chair with Ginger (the dog she left behind) on her lap. We hadn't talked about mom the entire trip. A lot of stuff was left unspoken. That coffee cup falling my head? That wouldn't have happened to her. She knew how to travel. And, now I knew how to travel.

Things happen the way they are supposed to or at least, that's what they say. Whoever they is.

So, thanks pen pal ... for writing to me. I needed to remember this and your letter was just the right catalyst.

love, susan

P.S.  I'm going to meet my pen pal blogging friend in-person this summer when she travels near where I live. I am looking forward to that!

Monday, May 9, 2016


The last two weeks I've been running hard and having a good time but not doing much writing about it. I've been to this place in my life before and I regret when I don't record what's happening. I forget way more than I remember. 
We attended a little graduation party for a good friend of ours who finished up his bachelor's in nursing. He is leaving for Japan for a two week vacation and then he's going to try some travel nursing. What an adventure. The party was great because we had a couple of good mutual friends to visit with and we held each other's undivided attention. Rare these days.
Wednesday, three of my newest co-workers and I traveled to Lake Chelan for a spring training. I'd have a hard time writing about my favorite moments but getting to know my co-workers better was high on the list. The training was a bit depressing at different parts of the day as it dealt with victims/survivors of crime. My biggest take-away as I write this is that I gained a better empathy for people.
Yesterday, I took a road trip to Spokane with my favorite photo walking buddy. She had not been there since 1988 and we had a ball. We packed a picnic lunch and after visiting the Japanese Garden pictured here, we sat in the shade to eat. Next, we visited Trader Joe's. She loved it and I see another trip to the valley in our future. 
Getting ready for another week of work and then we're off again to Michigan to see our kids. I'm a bit tired from running so hard but I'm hoping to catch my breath this week, take it easy and get ready for the next adventure.
Is your life gaining momentum for summer?
love, susan

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