Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Off-the-Chart Monday

My daughter-in-law. I love this girl
with all my heart.
Yesterday was a work day but I was off, visiting with my son and daughter-in-law from Michigan. They were here for exactly 24 hours. We crammed in a whole lot of visiting and managed to eat out twice. The funny of it was we ate at a Mexican restaurant that is less than half a mile from our house. In 9 years, we'd never been there. We get a little stuck in a rut. 
In these images, we're at my very favorite, nicer place called Frost Me Sweet. My daughter-in-law picked it from a line up she had on Yelp. These people are serious foodies. She is lactose intolerant so it helped that their menu easily included things she can eat plus a couple of gluten-free, dairyless desserts. And, wine for lunch!
My son and love of my life!
I quit drinking almost 16 years ago so I feel a little-lot out of touch with what's happening on the alcohol menu. When they brought her THREE glasses of wine all at once, I was schooled on ordering a "flight" of wine. All I know is that ascetically it was art for my eyes and senses. Dude. I drank wine out of boxes. A conversation ensued about adult juice boxes. 
I enjoyed this visit. It is rare that I am off work and not traveling somewhere else. To spend the day with these loves, at home, was off-the-charts joy for me. They drove their car from Michigan to gift it to me. When they said they were only staying a day, at first I wondered how we were going to catch up in 24 hours. We did it. It was perfect. Just like that flight of wine. Beautiful. Just right. And, enough.
Today, I go back to work and I'll look forward to the next adventure. Tomorrow night I'm driving out to the country to photograph some spaniels for a nice dog lady. We have an invite to a party Friday night. I'm certain I have something on my calendar for the weekend.  Life is so good.
love, susan

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I Can Die Happy Now

We drove out to The Gorge Amphitheater (near George, Washington) Friday night to hear John Mayer. If you are not a fan of JM, it's all good. I wasn't a huge fan until last year when I started walking everyday and tuned into him on Pandora. When I'm walking my dog, I'm in a zone where I am able to hear only the music piping through my headphones, keeping my thoughts from scattering into a million pieces. He didn't sing it Friday night but one of the songs that hooked me on this phenomenal singer/songwriter is I Don't Trust Myself Loving You
No, I'm not the man I used to be lately
See, you met me at an interesting time
And if my past is any sign of your future
You should be warned before I let you inside...
The pinnacle moment of the evening, for us, was when he and his two equally talented band members belted out Stevie Ray Vaughn's Caught in the Crossfire. They could not have ramped up this song any more than they did. From there, he gave his guys a break while he switched guitars and played a couple of acoustic tunes that made me love him even more. Like, a serious John Mayer crush.
There is something about him that I find completely irresistible. I'd have to say first it is his songwriting. When I hear the lyrics, I think I understand him. Secondly, he is awkward and I really dig that about him. When he came onstage Friday night, he simply said good evening and started playing. I think he's a guy who isn't really all that comfortable with stardom and just wants to write and sing. I hope he always keeps it real.  In the meantime, I feel like he is going to go down in music history as a great guitarist. He'll be 40 in October. I can't wait to see what he brings to the world next.
I'm not one to spend hard earned money on frivolous things like concert tickets but I'm glad I made the impulse buy this time. I truly can die happy.
Have you seen an artist that knocked your socks off?
love, susan

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lies I Tell Myself: Day 79

This is a friend inspired post. You know who you are. I'm not going to out you here but I want to thank you for your brutal honesty. I am on the same path you are.
DAY 79
I started a new eating plan on May 1st. It is working for me and I realize that if I am to get this excess weight off and keep it off, I am going to have to live by this plan the rest of my life. To date, I have shed 17 pounds. This week I have hit a plateau. I've been thinking a lot about the lies I have been telling myself for about 15 years. These lies are often advocated by well-meaning people. Once the words are spoken, they roll around in my brain and all of a sudden these lies become good ideas. I feel like I need to recognize them every time they crop up and smash them right in their tracks.
  • You can have just one bite of that birthday cake. It's not going to kill you.
  • It's a holiday. It's a party. It's a funeral. It's a wedding. It's a potluck. It's Tuesday.
  • You're almost 60, who are you trying to impress?
  • You're a grandma. Grandmas are supposed to be fluffy.
  • What difference does it make, you're gonna die anyway.
  • Eat the ice cream, life is short.
  • You can get back on the wagon tomorrow.
  • One little bite is not going to kill you.
  • It's no use, you're never going to get this weight off. (This is the worst lie)
  • If you eat slowly, your brain will tell you it's full.
  • I have to eat in between meals, I'm hypoglycemic. I'm going to die if I don't eat right now.
  • It's rude to not eat what is offered to me.
  • I have a terrible sugar addiction.
  • I overeat on a regular basis.
  • I do not want to die fat.
I have no idea if I will be able to stay on this path, but I'm no quitter. I have decided to do this one day at a time. I've made some big changes in the last year and a half that have stuck and stayed. There is no reason this won't work for me.
What big fat lies do you tell yourself?
love, susan

Monday, July 3, 2017

Donkey Days of Summer: Life List

Looking Out My Window There is a smoky haze making the sunrise a beautiful pink. A fire started out in the Hanford (nuclear cleanup project) area on Thursday and is still burning. With fireworks going off now, there will undoubtedly be more fires. It is HOT HOT HOT right now. Our temps starting today will be 94, 96, 102, 103, 104, 101, and 99! Hot and smoky.
Weekend Review It was a fun one. I can't remember what I did Saturday but yesterday's fun started at the dog park in the early morning. Some friends showed up and we had a great time shootin' the shit and watching our dogs play hard. Remi never stopped running after the Kong the entire 1 1/2 hours we were there. I got some great photos and I never wanted to leave. Later in the day, I drove out to my friend's farm for the 2nd Annual Ass Shaving. She has three donkeys who get shaved by our dog groomer friends. I got to brush them while they shaved. There were six of us and we had the best time shaving and talking. I love weekends like this one.
What I'm Learning Well, one of my dogs got out of the fence that got left open once again on Friday. She was gone about 1/2 hour before I realized it. When I started out to the car to go find her, she came running down the street. I'm glad she didn't go far. I'm learning to not lose my mind when this happens. Someone in our household keeps forgetting to shut the gate.
What I'm Creating I haven't been terribly creative this last week. I started a month long minimize group on FB and we're collectively cleaning up our areas by eliminating the number of items that corresponds with the day. Today, I'll find 3 items that will leave this house one way or the other.
What I'm Reading I never opened a book or a magazine last week. Work is sucking the life out of me right now and I don't have the brain power to focus on reading.
What I'm Watching Same with TV. Oh, I did watch a wonderful interview that Jane Pauley did with John Mellencamp yesterday on CBS Sunday Morning. That's a guy I'd love to know. Great interview!
What's On My Camera It was a fun photo weekend.
Quote I Want to Share from Jane Pauley's interview with John Mellencamp:
JOHN MELLENCAMP: I am available. I am available to ideas. I am available to free thinking. I am available to thoughts. I am not in a box. Now, I used to be when I was a kid when I was writing songs like "Hurts So Good" and "Jack & Diane." "I have to write a song that's -- no. I can't go over that. That-- that song took a wrong turn." Now, nothing takes a wrong turn. There's no wrong turns to make. These paintings. There's no wrong turn.
I may walk up to a canvas and think, "I'm going to do one thing," and it turns out to be something else that surprises me. And I'm thrilled to death when that happens. When I'm not thrilled to death is when I labor over something and try to force it into being something that, you know, I think it has to be. But that's not art.
JANE PAULEY: So now creativity is about finding out what it wants to be.
JOHN MELLENCAMP: That's right. Letting creativity be creative as opposed to trying to control it.
A Peek Into My Week Work today. Play tomorrow. Who knows what will happen the rest of it?
A Final Thought I'm running out of time.
love, susan

Friday, June 30, 2017

Bright Line Eating

Hi everybody. I am writing today to share a bit about this journey I've been on for the last two months. Today is Day 61. I waited until now to talk in length about it as I was afraid it might be one of those things that wouldn't last. And, it still might not last but for today my plan is the same as it was yesterday and the day before that. It's working for me so I think I'll commit to another 30 days.
Long story short, on May 1st I eliminated all refined sugar (including sugar substitutes) and flour products from my menu. I thought it was going to be really hard. Turns out it was not. I'm one of those all or nothing kinda girls. There are some things I simply cannot stop once I start. Alcohol is one of them. Sugar is the other. I gave up alcohol nearly 16 years ago. Giving up refined sugar had to be the same way. I know that once I start with the first teaspoon in my coffee, I am off to the races, chasing the feeling I get when I consume it, with me ending up tired, cranky, and wondering what happened.
A close friend from high school told me about this program she had started last fall when we were on our annual girlfriend trip. I thought she was crazy (sorry K!) and that it was just another program designed to extract money from the pockets of fat Americans. When we traveled on another trip this spring, she talked about it a little bit and I shared that I was so uncomfortable in this body of mine and tired of being consumed by sugar addiction. I had told her previously I was not going to spend one more dollar on diet crap. She told me that the woman who started this program recently published a book. I ordered it when I got home from that trip. I spent $14.95 to see what this guru has to say.
The author, Susan Peirce Thompson is a recovered meth addict/alcoholic with a Ph.D. both in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. You can read more on her bio here.  She speaks a language I know. She uses a lot of 12-step lingo in her book but also adds some of her own. One of my favorites I have adopted and has served me quite well is "not my food". As in, those cookies on the kitchen table at work -- not my food. The book is an easy read and one that I'm glad I bought in hard copy so I can highlight and re-read. 
Breaking it down into simple terms, which is what I need, there are only 4 Bright Lines:
1: No Sugar (this does not include natural fruit)
2: No Flour of any kind
3: Planned meals with no snacks in between
4: Quantities are measured
What is a bright line?  It is a line you don't cross, no matter what. Simple as that.
I like simple.
On Day 61, I am down 15 pounds.
It is working for me.
love, susan

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thank You!

Just want to say thank you to everyone who reads my blog. Whether or not you comment, I appreciate that you follow me. I thought a lot about my mini-rant yesterday and all the replies I received. I always feel hinky after I stick my neck out to voice an opinion.  But I do it anyway. I appreciate that people comment and make me stretch a bit in my thinking. 

So here's a pretty picture for today!

love, susan

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Don't Be Too Careful

Street food vendors in Mexico City
Be careful.  Two words that can really jack my jaw some days. I'll be careful not to make this too much of a ranting post, okay?  But no guarantees. Full disclosure.
I have a friend who is working in Cambodia for three months. He recently posted a photo of flooding in the area where he is temporarily residing while on a teaching gig for nurses. Someone commented "be careful" and it really tripped my trigger. Granted, be careful is a common thing people say without much thought. But I have to tell you, my inner rebel mentally holds up two hands sporting my middle fingers when someone says it to me. Shocking, I know. But she's in there.
Do you remember when you were a child being told to be careful to stay within the lines while coloring? Don't talk to strangers, they said. Be careful to bundle up, it's cold out there. Be careful to follow the recipe. Be careful, it's dark by 8.
I don't want to be careful. I don't want to be afraid to drive down an unknown road. I don't want to live in so much fear that I can't visit a place I've never been, except maybe Afghanistan. Okay, you have me there. I don't want to avoid that homeless person who is sitting on the corner with a sign . I don't want to not talk to strangers. I don't want to not have the difficult conversations with people. I don't want to follow the recipe to the "T".
Recently, my hubby said be careful when I traveled to Nashville with my good friend. Apparently, Nashville has a very high crime. What town doesn't these days? I couldn't even believe he said it to me. This is the same man who took me to Mexico City a couple years ago.
We arrived in Mexico City at 10 o'clock at night armed with very little Spanish under our belts and took the subway, in the freaking dark, to our hotel. There are nearly 21,000,000 (that's million!) people living in Mexico City. I admit I had fear, and I'm sure if he was honest, he did too. We pushed past it and got ourselves to the hotel. The next day, we found our way back to the subway and went all over MC for the next 5 days. It was crazy fun and I loved every minute of it. One day we met a guy (Arturo) on the corner who wanted us to rent a taxi from his cousin. He said he would drive us anywhere we wanted to go for cheap. Red flags went up for me. No way was I going to go. I pictured my hubby and me on the front page of the newspaper as American tourists gone missing. We saw that guy every single day we were there and I looked him straight in the eye and said, "no, we're not going with you". Yes, I was guilty of being careful.
I have hundreds of examples of not being careful that have turned out just fine for me. 
In the future, I hope you'll think about it before you carelessly say be careful. Is it necessary to be careful all the time? 
Just sayin.
love, susan

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blink and It Is the End of June: Life List

Looking Out My Window It is hard to believe it is going to 100 today because of the bright clouds. The numbers after today will be 90, 88, 93, 97, 96, and 90. I freakin' love summer!
Weekend Review I worked 3 hours on Saturday so I can keep my head just above water. We are crazy busy at work and the DUI's just keep coming in. There was a classic car show here this weekend and the police were busy. Yesterday we went to an afternoon bbq at a park near out house. This is our 3rd get together with the same friends and I always come home feeling so happy. I love seeing the children running and playing outdoors. I watch as they quickly pair up on the playground, strangers only for a minute. Love that.
What I'm Learning I am on Day 57 with zero refined sugar and no flour. About 10 days ago, I decided to cut meat from my eating plan. What I'm learning is that I can survive just fine on beans, rice, salad, and fruit. I feel better than I have in a very long time. The biggest thing I've learned is that eating does not have to be an event. This is a major shift in my thinking.
What I'm Creating I've been in purge mode for a couple of weeks now and getting ready to start a new month of The Minimalist Game. I started a new closed group on FB and have a nice group of people who are joining me in a one month purge of clutter. We start officially minimizing on July 1. I'll bring some of the results here to this page.
What I'm Reading I didn't read much last week, one little article from the AARP magazine about John Mellencamp. He used to be John Cougar Mellencamp and will always be John Cougar Mellencamp to me. He's a guy I'd like to know. Besides his songwriting skills, did you know he is a painter?
"Bear" is looking for his forever home
What I'm Watching I'm trying to finish up Season 4 of House of Cards. It's hard to sit indoors very long during summer. Those episodes are kinda long at 45 minutes. Dang.

What's On My Camera I spent a little time with a new rescue Friday night. He's an old guy but sooooo sweet.  I also snapped a couple of images of the dog who belongs to the rescuer. That time spent really fills up my cup.
"Izzie" is 7 months old and has a home!
Quote I Want to Share Painting is harder on me than being onstage. I stand 8 or 10 hours a day. I used to consider it a hobby, but now I don't. It's hard to be taken seriously because I'll always be considered a celebrity paint. Being a rock star has been a pain in the ass all around. ~ John (Cougar) Mellecamp
A Peek Into My Week I am looking forward to going to work today since I know my desk is not piled quite as high as I left it Friday. May help a friend with a photo shoot on Wednesday, music in the park on Thursday, and just random fun between now and then!
A Final Thought Need more coffee.
love, susan

Monday, June 19, 2017

Solstice Week: A Life List

Summer is Finally Here Nice weekend weather. The mornings are still cool but it has been warming up to the 80's by afternoon. It's going to 97 today followed by 93, 88, 86, and 84 on Friday. Perfect weather.
Weekend Review Another fun weekend in the bag. We got our passport photos done on Saturday so I can send in renewals on them. Someone asked where we are going. Don't know but at least we'll be ready when we decide. Father's Day dinner at friends' house and a rescue dog photo shoot early yesterday.
What I'm Learning Saying yes to fun events really fills my cup. Learning to say no at my age still sucks but I'm doing it. I say no to things I don't want to do. That's all.
What I'm Creating I boxed up some rubber stamps I no longer use and I'm going to send them to a friend. I also made a pile of birthday cards for work. I'm on the Sunshine Committee and it's my job to give a birthday card to employees. I make them with photos I've taken around the area and I always tape a little mini-size candy bar to the envelope.
What I'm Reading How to Speak Dog. 
What I'm Watching  I watched What the Health on Netflix yesterday. It is an eye opener.  You may be a little shocked when you see it and rethink those hot dogs and burgers.  I'm on my way to vegetarianism.   

What's On My Camera Oh, the dogs! I took many photos of the newest 5 year old lab who is entering rescue this week. She really lit up when another gal brought her dog to the park to join the fun photo session.  Also, I love this image I got of the old Cadillac in front of a storefront mural. A friend called it a trump l'oeil.  I had to look up that work. Google it.
Quote I'd Like to Share  In the next 25 years, one in three people will have diabetes. (From What the Health
A Peek Into My Week Meeting with a friend tonight after work to visit. Birthday party and photo shoot on Wednesday. Gonna pull some weeds.
A Final Thought  97 degrees today.  I love it!
love, susan

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June 2017: Life List

Looking Out My Window I see nothing but blue skies. The weather here in eastern Washington has been fickle this spring. The first day of summer is next week. Bring on the 100's, I say.

As I Ponder My days go by so fast I can barely keep up with my own life. I prefer it this way. But once in awhile a down day is needed. I don't know when that will be. I feel like summers are so short that I don't want to waste a minute of it doing nothing.

What I'm Learning I downloaded a new book this week at the recommendation of a friend. Learning about dog language. Did you know dogs can learn/know up to 200 words? I realize as I'm reading it that I don't know which words my dogs know but that we have to spell a lot of things around our house like w-a-l-k and s-q-u-i-r-r-e-l.

What I'm Creating I've been planting a little bit and out taking photos as much as I can. I took a road trip to Spokane with my photo-walking buddy on Sunday. We had a blast going to the botanical garden and Trader Joe's. We took a picnic and ended up in front of a coffee shop eating our lunches as she had prepared a nice one but left it sitting on the chair at home. She was able to buy a nice little salad and a tin can of smoked trout for her picnic lunch.

What I'm Reading How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication by Stanley Coren.

What I'm Watching It's summer! No time for sitting in front of the boob-tube.

What's On My Camera From my cell phone a look at some items I bought at Trader Joe's! The cookies are for the hubby.

What's Happening in My Kitchen I have purposely not written much about the program I've been following since May 1st. I am now on Day 44 of Bright Line Eating. I plan a very simple menu for what I'm going to eat today and stick to it. I've lost 11 lbs. and finding I am enjoying the loss of my obsession for sugar. It has made shopping so much easier and faster. It is a plan for living I think I can stay with the rest of my life.

A Quote I Want to Share  This is from the book I mentioned above:

One must not underestimate the receptive language ability of dogs.
The fact that they are not able to produce human sounds to
communicate with us doesn't meant they
do not comprehend human words.

A Peek Into My Week I don't have anything on my calendar this week and that's okay. I'm up for some random fun.

A Final Thought Because I was running all weekend, I didn't get anything done at home like laundry and food prep. I will have to fit that in early mornings every day this week. It reminds that I get to decide how I want to live my life.

love, susan

Monday, June 5, 2017

Stormy June: A Life List

Looking Out My Window Have you ever noticed that it's always sunny on Monday morning after a stormy weekend? I don't think it's funny. Forecast is for sunny and 82 today and 96 on Wednesday. My kinda weather.
Weekend Review We packed a lot of fun in on Saturday. It had been a whole two weeks since our last road trip so we woke up with the road calling us. We ended up in Wenatchee via a segment of road we had never traveled. That's getting rare now that we've lived here almost 9 years and taken a lot of Sunday drives. There is a Salvation Army thrift store in Wenatchee that we love to visit. Their prices are super low and I've found many quality clothing items every time we go. This trip I came home with 8 pair of nice dress slacks, jeans, and 3 pair of capris along with 4 great tops, all at 20% for a total of $35. Hubby found 4 books for $1, and I snagged one of them called Twelve Years a Slave. I started reading it yesterday. He took me to our favorite Vietnamese place for lunch. Saturday night we ended up at our friends' place out in the country. A storm blew in as we were sitting outdoors and I had a horrible allergy attack that left so much histamine in my system I was sick all of yesterday. My eyes still feel like they have gravel in them. But I got great photos while there. It was a full Saturday of non-stop fun.
What I'm Watching I finished the 3rd season of Grace & Frankie. What a great show! Now I can focus on Season 5 of House of Cards.
What's On My Camera Here are my two favorite photos from Saturday. The pano I took with my cell phone. The storm was eerie. The horse image cracked me up! This horse follows me everywhere I go when I'm in the pasture with him. I don't know much about horses and frankly, they scare me a little but I just pretend he's a big dog. He came up behind me and put his nose on my shoulder. Kind of endeared him to me. He's a goof ball.
A Peek Into My Week We're going out to a friend's place tonight after work so I can shoot some photos of the beautiful red headed girl who bought my motorcycle. Tuesday night I'm meeting up with my most favorite friend for coffee, Wednesday I have a lunch date with a friend, and lunch plans on Friday with work friends. Plans are what make life so much fun for me, especially during the work week. I've got a new co-worker starting today so will be training for several weeks.

A Final Thought Dixie (the dog pictured in my last blog entry) found a permanent home over the weekend. I was telling my friend, "T", that we should feel good about the work we're doing with the rescue group. Everyone plays a part in it. Love that. Gotta go now and make a birthday card for my grandson. His birthday snuck up on me. Hope you have a fun week wherever you are in the world.

love, susan

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Am Dixie

Dixie is her name. My friends found her wandering up their busy street about 10 days ago. Apparently her people are not looking too hard for her. She is in foster care now and the group I'm doing photos for will find the best possible home for her. That's what they do.
I'm a bit like Dixie. I wasn't found wandering the streets but my fate was definitely in the hands of kind people early in my life. Perhaps this is why rescuing dogs is important to me. They don't get a choice. They are at the mercy of those who find them and it is up to us to keep them in our network until we know it is safe to let them go.

Today is my 58th birthday, or as someone at work  fondly said, 29 the second the time around.  I like that. I am closer to 60 than 50. Letting that sink in ... just saying it out loud makes me laugh.
Back to mercy.
I was born to a woman who suffered schizophrenia. She had been hospitalized after having three children before me and several psychotic breaks. Once she was institutionalized, she never set foot outside of hospitals and group homes. I met her when I was about 35, and again one more time before she died.
Dixie may never see her people again. I look into her eyes and I think who are you, where are your people, and how can I best serve you?
Scattered thoughts today. In my early years, my birth date was a source of pain. Not because I ever felt abandoned. I never felt that way, not even once. I felt deep sorrow for the woman who delivered me into this world. I wondered if she felt the loss when my birthday rolled around. It wasn't until I met her that I knew for sure that she didn't. The brain disorder and the shitty medication available for the chronically mentally ill didn't allow for that. I find there is a little mercy in that.
Fast forward to today.
I love celebrating my birthday with other people. Today I'm sharing my birthday with a friend's son who is 12. We're going to BBQ and play at the park. I won't be thinking about those sad birthdays I used to have. I'll be thinking about my friends and their kids and how life has a funny way of coming full circle.
I hope Dixie finds people who will love her and keep her like those who found me, past and present.
love, susan

Monday, May 22, 2017

When All is Said and Done ~ End of May Life List

Looking Out My Window Nothing but blue skies and smooth sailing. We are officially into summer weather now. Thank kuriste, as my husband would say. In our parts, we probably won't see rain until October.
As I Ponder The weekend was one whirlwind event after another. I did a maternity shoot early Saturday morning, then we drove to Portland to the celebration of life for my stepdaugther's mother. It is a 4-hour drive and we drove back late Saturday night. So glad we went. More on that in a minute.
What I'm Learning My photo shoot on Saturday gave me another excuse to keep practicing this photography thing. I am terrible at changing my settings with the changing light. We were out in the open at the beginning but ended up back in the trees and I forgot to change my settings. Dang it. I need to find a way to remind myself to do that every time I go out. Luckily, I got nearly 200 images and some really good ones so I'm not without nice photos to give them but still.
What I'm Creating  I planted flowers this weekend and I'm trying some new ones this year.
What I'm Reading I finished Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.  There is so much in the book that I highlighted and resonated with. The author is a recovered alcohol and meth addict. She speaks my language. One line from her book that I can get down with is I don't have to decide today that I'm doing this forever. As a matter of fact, I never have to decide that. I do this one day at a time. I am currently on Day 22 without any refined sugar or flour of any kind. Feeling great. The "Free" she talks about in the title of this book is, for me, freedom from that non-stop voice to keep eating.
What I'm Watching I never turned the TV on even once last week. Summer is here!
What's On My Camera I'm going to share one of my outtakes from the maternity session. Their dogs were wonderful but a bit playful and it was hard to get a everyone looking at me at once.
A Peek Into My Week I don't think I have one event on my schedule but the weather is forecasted to be in the 90's so I'll be spending some evenings outside soaking it up.
A Final Thought As we celebrated Wendy's life on Saturday, I was struck by how comfortable it felt to be there. I normally avoid funerals, baby showers and Tupperware parties like the plague. This was different. Just three weeks ago, it had been planned to be her birthday party. How quickly things changed and she died. Her daughter decided to go ahead and make it a birthday party/celebration of life. Pictures of Elvis were placed at one table. The last bottle of wine she had purchased the week before sat at another table, and her favorite homemade dinner by her sister of meatballs and spaghetti was enjoyed by many. Dessert was her favorite lemon meringue pie. She would have loved it. We need to celebrate more. And, often.
love, susan

Thursday, May 18, 2017

529 Working Days

That's right. I've got 529 official working days until I throw in the towel on this work thing. I have been thinking about retirement every single day since my good friends from high school have been ribbing me about it. 

I know I should be happy about it but truthfully I worry that I won't have enough structure in retirement. I've been getting up and going to work almost every day of my life since I turned 18, and even before then. I'm afraid I'll be like a fat kid in a candy store.  Don't have to get up, can stay in my jammies all day if I want. You know what I mean? 

The truth is I really like working most days. It's just that every day as I am walking out to the car, I see weeds that need pulled, I have guilt over not walking my dogs, and lots of stuff that needs to get done. 

I've had two full summers off in my 40 years of work life. One summer when my son was 12, I took a leave of absence to spend 3 months with him. We wrote a list of things we wanted to do that summer. It was terrific. We hiked, took picnics, went to the movies, rode our bikes. When I went back to work in September, I ended up leaving that job. I hadn't realized how stressful it had become until I took that hiatus. I ended up at the AG's office in the most boring job I've ever held. I had to learn how to pace down, which is really not my style. Thankfully, I had a hilarious co-worker who kept me in stitches. Mary, if you're reading this, thanks for the memories! 

Fast forward to my second summer off which turned into a 22,000 mile road trip to Alaska and then across the United States mid-states to West Virginia and home to Arizona via Florida, Mississippi, and the dreaded Texas. Best road trip EVER! Digital cameras were not quite afforadable then and I was too cheap to snap too many images. I'd like a do over on that.

What will I do in retirement? Well, I have 529 working days to think about that. Hopefully, my employer won't read this. They don't pay me for that. 

I've watched 5 women in my office retire in the last two years. I see the angst they suffer as it gets closer. I wonder how I can avoid that?

love, susan

Monday, May 15, 2017

Women Helping Women - A Post Mother's Day Life List

Looking Out My Window Sunshine. Beautiful sunshine.
As I Ponder The last 7 days have been a huge emotional roller coaster for my hubby and me. The mother of his children had been on hospice care since Christmas and she reached the end of her life this weekend. It was awful and it was beautiful. More on that in my final thoughts.
What I'm Learning Relationships in my life continue to rise to new levels that I never thought possible. At almost 58, I am awestruck by this.
What I'm Creating I'm putting together an album of photos I've taken over the last 3 years for a young person who is graduating from high school. In these digital days, hardly anyone makes prints but I'm going to do it because I think she'll treasure it later on in life.
What I'm Reading I'm almost finished with Bright Lines Eating by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. If you are reading this post and you have struggled with a sugar addiction, I highly recommend this book. It is a game changer!
What I'm Watching I watched Manchester by the Sea on Amazon Prime. I liked it. Many people did not.
What's on My Camera I shot this photo minutes after our loved one died yesterday. It had been cloudy all day and once she took her last breath, the sun appeared. She was not a sun worshipper like I am. It felt right that the sun shined after such an awful 7 days.
A Quote I Want to Share Sometimes all we can do is provide a warm silence to those who are grieving. This was said to me a very long time ago by a hospice co-worker. It came in handy this week.
A Peek Into My Week I'm going to enjoy all my waking moments. Life is to be lived.
A Final Thought I just came home from a quick trip to Portland to be of service to my stepdaughter as she cared for her dying mother at home. There had been a few other selfless helpers this week, along with her dad and aunt, to ease the burden. My timing was right for making the trip as I am not sure I could have held up under the amount of stress and sleep deprivation these events command. I became the coffee maker, the laundry doer, the grocery shopper, and at the end a helper in one last bed change before it was over. I was most struck by watching her and her aunt's hands as they lovingly held another mother's hand, stroked her hair, kissed her forehead during her last hours here on earth. It seemed no coincidence that she died on Mother's Day. Women helping women. Mothers helping mothers. Being born and giving birth is not easy and neither is dying, most times. We really don't know what we're made of until our backs are up against the wall. I'm so proud of my stepdaughter and her unfailing commitment to see her mother to the end, in a place she wanted to be, under the most trying circumstances. I'll never forget the images of yesterday. And, to the other women helpers who came to encourage, give hugs, make us laugh, cry with us ... every person had a part. I love that.
love, susan

Monday, May 8, 2017

New Day, New Week: A Life List

Looking Out the Window Clear, blue skies! We had a huge lightening and thunder storm blow through here Thursday night that was spectacular but it dumped a bit of rain in its path and a cold air trailed it. This week promises warmer temps all the way up to 86 on Wednesday.
As I Ponder I have a saying that I learned from my son that has helped me through a tremendous amount of things in my life. New day. That's it. Simple and complete. Sometimes I can drag stuff around like a sack of rocks for too long and it is exhausting. Today is a new day. Blank page. I'm gonna fill it with color and love!
What I'm Learning I've been shooting photos for an animal rescue group the last month and it has spurred growth for me. Last week, I was given a short list of shot types they would like to have for images. I printed it and took it with me so I could work hard to get the shots they want. Yesterday I was introduced to a Mastiff! After about 30 minutes of trying to get this girl to lose her frown, her foster mom said that's how they look all the time. Good to know! My thought process shifted and I quit trying to get an expression that was never going to come. I'm a slow learner.
What I'm Creating With this new volunteer venture, I started an online folder for all the rescues I'm photographing. The rescue lady said she is hoping to do a calendar this year so she wants me to set aside images that might go in the calendar. Squeeeeee!
What I'm Reading Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.  I am a third of the way in and let me tell you that I am savoring every word in this book. Today will be Day 8 with no refined sugar or flour of any kind. I was ready for this change. More on this later. This book deserves its own blog post.
What I'm Watching I watched several episodes of Grace & Frankie this weekend. I have fallen in love with this series. There are so many things I can relate to in it and for those of us older women, there many taboo subjects addressed in this funny drama. I LOVE IT.
What's On My Camera
A Quote I Want to Share From Bright Line Eating ... the state I was left in between fixes absolutely felt like the absence of pleasure .... I would have to go get more to escape.  Not to get high, but to get normal. When we look at food, it's the exact same story.
A Peek Into My Week I've got a lunch date with a long-time friend. She has invited me to her house for a home-cooked lunch. It will be nice to have her undivided attention. We rarely see each other and it is always in the company of other people. I'm hoping to get some flowers put in and spend some time outdoors with my dogs.
A Final Thought I am taking a different approach to things this week. Attitude is everything. I am continually surprised by the events that cause me to grief. I'm having some growing pains but I'll survive them ... with grace and dignity. I'm grateful for the good friends I have who help me through.
love, susan

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day, May Day ~ Life List

Looking Out My Window We are going into the 90's this week. My kind of weather. Too bad I'll be sitting behind a desk but the good news is that it is perfect weather for being outdoors after 5.
As I Ponder I had a great weekend. Saturday was spent all day at the dog adoption event at Columbia Park. I picked up Buddy at 7:30am and he was with me until 2:30pm. He was the best dog ever! Lots of dogs were adopted at the event and there certainly was interest in Buddy but he won't get to go home with just anyone. The screening process is rigorous, as it should be. He deserves a one-time, forever home. Photo below.
What I Am Learning I've been suffering insomnia all winter and it appears it won't be going away anytime soon. I think this is my new normal. As long as I can catch a second wind late in the afternoon, I can keep going. It helps to have plans in the evenings. Once I sit down, it's over.
What I'm Creating I had my camera out on Saturday and took some photos for the rescue team I recently got involved with. Love love LOVE taking photos of dogs. I've created a folder in my OneDrive for this organization and perhaps later on I'll do something creative with all my favorite photos. I have about a dozen or more black and whites hanging up at my friends' doggie daycare and have been receiving a lot of interest from people wanting their dogs photos taken. I had some business cards made up and my friends will hand them out. At this time, I am not interested in shooting for $$ but I put on the card "Will Work for Coffee". I hope I collect enough coffee cards to get keep me in tall lattes for the next year. Barb, if you are reading this, that's progress for me!
What I'm Reading Just downloaded a new book called Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin and Free. I'm not going to talk much about it here but I'll say that today is Day 1 of a 30 day commitment to cutting flour and sugar completely out of my diet. I'm taking it one day at a time. I'll get back to you on this at the end of 30 days.
What I'm Watching The only show I watched this week was CBS Sunday Morning, which happens to be the only program I will purposely watch. They featured Hall & Oates for their musical guest. Loved it!
What's On My Camera I feel like I'm coming alive again after a seriously long, hard winter. I'm keeping my battery charged because people are ready for pictures. 
A Quote I Want to Share
It is better to want what you have than to have what you want.  ~ Proverb quotes 
A Peek Into My Week I am going to watch a friend at her first day of doggie training on Wednesday. She is adopting a hound dog! I'll get photos and bring them back here for next week. It will be nice to go to class and have my hands free to take pictures. I am having lunch today with a friend at work who is leaving for another job. My co-worker who sits next to me is going to move to another position after this week. I'm going to try to not be sad about it but I adore her and will miss her bright light every day. I have photo shoots set up for next weekend, both days. I love having plans!
A Final Thought Need more coffee, please.
love, susan

Sunday, April 30, 2017

What Makes Your Soul Smile?

On my recent trip to Nashville, I learned a bit about the music industry that I may have not otherwise learned had it not been for my friend Caroline's husband, pictured below. We got to sit in his recording studio Mainframe Recording Studio for about 20+ minutes and I wasted no time asking for answers to many questions. I hope you'll enjoy my take on it, and more importantly, I hope you'll think about what it is you do every day that makes your soul smile.
PART I:  THE CONSOLE pictured here is connected to many wires and microphones that feed into the computer. There are so many knobs & slides along with multi-colored lights up on the screen that it is intimidating to the naked eye. Remember back in the day when they recorded music in tracks? From what I could gather it is still done that way except it is all computerized. It wasn't until he took me into the actual recording room that I finally connected all the dots. The thing that helped the light bulb go on for me was when he showed me where  the drummer sits in a completely different room with microphones positioned to pick up all the beats from the various sized drums and symbols. It makes sense to me now that if the drummer were in the same room with the other musicians and singer, those microphones would pick up the drum sounds. No bueno!
While I didn't get to see any recording going on, I could picture it in my mind. From beginning to end, if I have this right, a musician gets onto the recording schedule, the players show up, they make the music and then Nathan masters all the sounds so that what you hear is what the musician imagined it to be. It is the collective effort between artists that is fascinating to me.  I asked questions as quickly as I could think of them, sensing that he was itching to get back to his work. I asked Nathan if he is perfectionist and he unequivocally, without pause, said "no". I was not surprised by this. He is an artist who has polished his craft. He has been doing this work on this side of 30 years.
PART II: THE MUSICIAN dropped by while we were there the next day. You see, Nathan's studio is also his home. He lives and breaths this business. He works every single day. When he is not recording and mixing, he is drumming at various gigs and always with the band at church twice on Sundays. Tom Shed, musician, promoter, (see his interview with Veteran's News Now) and an obvious dear friend to Nathan and Caroline, stopped in to say Hey while he was in town from his home in Florida. Tom has two CD's out and was recently featured in a local Nashville entertainment magazine. He had appointments with some people in Nashville but took the time to drop in to the studio to catch up with Nathan. I took the opportunity to ask as many questions as I could fit into the limited time we had.
The first thing I noticed about Tom is he is left-handed. I have a theory that the most beautifully gifted people are lefties. Sue me if I'm wrong. Tom came to tell Nathan that he is on his way to Europe for a few engagements there. Why go all the way to Europe, I asked. Well, it turns out that the music industry is completely different there and his music is being played and he's going with that. If I heard him correctly, DJ's in Europe have creative license to play more than just top 40. Here in the United States, not so much. Tom is a singer/songwriter who wants to get the story right. He writes about true life. At the end of my grilling, he brought out his guitar and sang Davey's Cornet from his CD with the same name. As we parted ways, Caroline said, "hope to see you at church" and you know what? He was there!

MY TAKEAWAY  Being in Nashville for a couple of days was enlightening. There are bars all up and down a street or two where one can walk in at any time of day and find someone singing, relying only on tips to survive in a city that is growing by 100 people a day. The fact that a recording artist and a singer/songwriter are still doing the deal and smiling about it tells me that it is more than 'work' to them. It is a way of life.
When we visited The Ryman and The Grand Ole Opry for shows, there were many artists who are in their late 70's still suiting up and showing up. Why do they do it?  I suspect music is in their blood. 
What is in your blood?


Thursday, April 27, 2017

W is for Waffles #AtoZChallenge

Our grandkids used to come spend a week at spring break and another week in the summer at our house. I loved it because we could get crazy with cooking things they chose. This day, we made waffles with store bought cinnamon rolls. You can see they met his seal of approval.
The grandkids are now teenagers and we've fallen off the radar for awhile. I'm glad I have images from the times we've spent together. I've always known that time flies and tried to make the most of our visits. Still ... I wish for some of those days back.
Do you have photos of special moments with people? Do you ever go back and think about those days?
love, susan

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V is for Vino on the Vine #AtoZChallenge

Washington and Oregon have been made famous for their wines. Before I moved to Washington, I had never seen a grape vine. There are miles and miles of grape vines in our area which makes for fun photography. It's exciting to watch them grow in stages throughout the summer and capture the rich colors in the late fall. In some places, the air is thick with an aroma that reminds me of my childhood and Welch's grape juice. There are dozens of wineries here and it has become a huge tourist trade.
Do you have an industry that has made your state famous? Do you have a favorite wine? Do you love Welch's grape juice? 
love, susan

There's No Place Like Home: April 2017 Life List

Looking Out My Window The wispy clouds are providing a backdrop for a beautiful sunrise. We're expecting big winds today but at least it is not raining at the moment.
As I Remember  Last week was spent in Nashville with two wonderful friends. It's hard to watch time fly at my age but I am keenly aware of it so I try not to waste a minute of it on negativity or doing things I don't want to do. I found myself enjoying 5 days with people who love life and were not afraid to talk about it. I love those conversations where tears flow, then laughter, then more tears. It's a truth that is hard to find in friends.
What I'm Learning I don't travel by air very often and feel like I am way behind the times with paperless tickets. I booked my trip in two legs but discovered I could have done it all in one reservation so that I didn't have to confirm twice and could get just one boarding pass. I tried to use my phone as my boarding pass but because I had screen shot the wrong leg of the trip, it was a fail. Luckily, I had a paper boarding pass for back up.
What I'm Creating I have done nothing too creative the last week but I did get to "interview" two guys in the music business last week while in Nashville. One guy is behind the scenes recording/mixing music, the other is a singer/songwriter who has been in the business many years. I hope to write about those interviews soon before I forget everything I learned. Between the two, I have something to say.
What I'm Reading I tried to read on the airplane but could not focus. I started Alec Baldwin's Nevertheless: A Memoir.  
What I'm Watching On my travel home from Nashville, I rented a tablet and watched Why Him? A very funny comedy starring James Franco and Bryan Cranston (from Breaking Bad). A holiday gathering threatens to go off the rails when Ned Fleming realizes that his daughter's Silicon Valley millionaire boyfriend is about to pop the question. Loved it!

What's On My Camera

From Nathan Smith's recording
studio. I loved the equipment!

Taken at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
in Nashville
My favorite friend photo of this trip!
(L to R: Kathy, Caroline, and me)

My rhodi bloomed while I was gone
but still are hanging in.

Quote I Want to Share:
“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”
 ~ Thomas Merton
A Peek Into My Week Well, I don't have a lack of work on my desk. We're going into the busy season at the prosecutor's office. Spring brings out the criminal in people. We're having dinner tonight with an out of town friend (Kristin) we haven't seen in far too many years. On Saturday, I am walking a foster dog in the Annual Pet Adoption Day at the park. Great event that usually adopts out 40-70 dogs in one day.
A Final Thought I really enjoyed my visit to Nashville. The most memorable thing about it is the politeness of people there. It is truly contagious. On this short visit, I could picture myself living there. I loved everything about it. I could see making another trip there but I would go in May next time. We got rained on, and not just drizzle rain (it was the kind that flows in the streets), for 3 days so I didn't get a chance to photograph places I might have otherwise. I'm back to work and have lots to do here at home and while I always love traveling to other places, there is no place like home.
love, susan