Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Gig is Up

Well, my summer gig is up. I'm going back to work this morning. I'm ready. Summer has been way more fun than I could have ever dreamed and like all good things, it has come to an end for now.

I landed a job through a temp agency and I will be working out at the Washington Hanford Closure. Hanford is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the U.S. federal government.  I don't know jack about nuclear stuff but my job will be in document control regarding the closure. I am imagining sitting at a desk with two screens and indexing documents ... all day.

I will be working 4 10-hour days with Fridays off at least until December. I'm anxious about figuring the schedule and how I will fit into it but I think it will be just a matter of a couple of days to get on schedule. 

I am ready to get back to work. I've been restless and wandering about my house aimlessly for the last two weeks.  I need a purpose.  My purpose all summer has been to plan one outing after the next and when there aren't any more outings, then what? 

We do have one more big camping trip planned to the coast so I'm looking forward to that.

Have a great day everybody! Get to work!!

love, susan

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I am without a card reader to move photos from my camera to the computer, so I'm feeling a bit awkward with no photo to write around. It got packed away with my house guest's computer on Sunday but should be arriving in the mail soon.  I have a photo from our adventure last week with our house guest that I'm anxious to post and write about.

On Sunday, we took a short drive out to McNary Park and walked around the fish transfer station. I had no idea what it was until Gene explained that the fish on the upper part of the dam have to go through this very cool pipe and they end up in a holding tank and are then  barged down the river to the ocean.  Or maybe it's the other way around? Are they going upstream?  Some days my blondeness cannot be denied. I probably should read all the placards they had everywhere but those things sometimes just bore me to tears. Does that happen to you?

While at the transfer station the coolest thing we saw was a bunch of huge (they are all huge in my eyes) spiders and webs. I shot some good close-ups of them. I haven't been very inspired to take photos lately but these arachnids (my friend Kathy will be so impressed with my word usage, I hope) were interesting colors. Gene found a dead bee on the ground so he offered it up to one of the spiders that was nearby and I watched it wrap the carcass into a cocoon.  Ick.  It was like a car wreck, I couldn't stop watching.

The weather is changing. What a relief from the 90's we've been having. 75 is going to be downright chilly by the end of the week, no doubt.
Not much else to write. Hope wherever you are that you get to do something fun today. 

love, susan

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Live, Learn, Pass It On

I went to bed last night thinking about the mint green, simple, long dress I ordered from the Sears Roebuck catalog in 1977, which would be my prom dress that year.  I've been following a group on FB called "You're Probably From Haines If You Remember ..."

Quite a few girls I grew up with have commented how we used to live for the day the Sears catalog arrived. We would wear out the pages just looking and dreaming about something we'd love to have.  I'm quite certain we lived in a recession much worse than we are in now ... or at least it seemed like it.  We didn't get a lot of new things but I did order my dress from Sears and I absolutely loved it.

I'm pretty sure this group on FB has been the cause of my thinking about that darn dress. I just can't get it out of my mind. 

After I graduated, mom kept that dress hanging in her closet. I'm quite certain the dress is still hanging in a closet somewhere. She always offered to give it to me but I never wanted it after I wore it that one time. I've never been one to hang on to a lot of "stuff". Well, except for ...

My son's stuff.  I have a couple of boxes of old elementary school papers that I opened up this morning. I used to start a new box at the beginning of every school year and all his graded papers would go in the box along with memorabilia from the news that year. I made the mistake of opening one of the boxes this morning and a flood of tears came rushing. I don't why that happens. I had forgotten that I stuck a couple of his summer outfits in the box. There is a t-shirt from a sponsor of his t-ball team. I had to laugh because he hated playing t-ball. We made him keep going because we were so desperate to meet new people in Juneau that summer, although I'm not sure we made any new friends from that adventure. 

There are many other treasures in the box but I had to close it back up. Crying gives me a headache. I'm going to tuck that box in the closet. Perhaps I'll open it another day.  There are other things in the box that maybe he'll want someday but I wouldn't bet on it. He's a minimalist.  Good for him! 

I'm not going to ask him a million times if he wants these things, like my mom did.  Gosh, how guilty I felt for always telling her I didn't want all that stuff she saved from my childhood days. I still don't want it.  But I finally get it.  I get what that stuff meant to her and my dad.

If you are reading this and you've got little children, I hope you save some memories from their daily lives. Save those little poems they write. I still get choked up just looking at my son's handwriting on a piece of paper. It doesn't even have to be anything profound or artsy.  I look at that piece of paper and it's something that connects me with him.  I can't really explain it. 

love, susan

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Bug's Life

Praying Mantis
"People have no tolerance. They think all bugs are bad. It's the American way. If you don't like something, kill it." (Quote by - Carl Olson)

The season most definitely is changing as all of a sudden I am starting to see praying mantis.  I saw one Friday night on the side of a building and then spotted this little beauty on my kitchen window this morning. I am totally fascinated with them.

Normally, I don't care too much about bugs but to call a praying mantis a bug doesn't seem quite right. They are gentle and very alien looking. They don't move very fast and I can't even imagine how my heart would feel if I killed one. Once you have been up close to a mantis, you will know exactly what I mean. They can turn their heads 300 degrees, according to Wikipedia. They are cannibals and have been known to prey on small scorpions, lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, and even rodents. They don't move very fast, which makes watching them not quite so scary.

It's hard to believe I have lived this long and never seen one before I moved to Washington. Luckily, I've been educated about them so I wasn't freaking out when I saw my first one last year. I feel lucky that this one graced me with its presence this morning long enough for me to snap a photo. 

 I snapped a photo in front of an empty container to give you an idea how large they are.

Have you ever seen a praying mantis before? 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mirror in the Sky

"Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?"
      ~ Stevie Nicks

I happened to turn on the Oprah yesterday and it was a rerun of her final season with her guests being several rock divas.  Stevie Nicks is among my all-time favorite female artists and I do so love her "Landslide".

I woke up with the feeling of an impending season change. Fall is not far around the corner. I love fall but I'm not a big fan of winter. I'm just not going to think about it today.  The season changing is not all about the weather. Every day I wake up and this is a day I haven't experienced yet.

You see, I'm an "ex" future tripper. I've had to work at it but I am all about living in today. I was looking at my calendar on the fridge and I have a lot of events coming up. Being away from work (the paid kind) the last three months has made me realize that even though I'm not getting up and going someplace in exchange for money doesn't mean that I'm not doing worthwhile things. In the last three months, I don't believe I've wasted one single day doing something I didn't want to do. I am so happy to say that.

love, susan


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Love builds up the broken wall
and straightens the crooked path.
Love keeps the stars in the firmament
and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides
each of us is created of it
and I suspect
each of us was created for it.
--Maya Angelou

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Renting Real Estate

We recently camped in a peaceful campground off the McKenzie Pass. We shared the grounds with two other campers but we hardly knew they were there. For $12, you can rent a piece of real estate from the U.S. Forest Service with a river running through it for 24 hours. 

The only running water in this campground was the river directly behind our site. I took "Missy" down to get a sip of mountain fresh H2O and nearly lost her to the river. It was deeper and swifter than I thought and the sand gave way under her feet. Luckily, she was still tied to her lead but I had to grab her by the scruff to pull her out of the water. My motherly instincts kicked in and I didn't care if it hurt her to pull her up by her skin. Being timid in this situation would have been deadly for her.  It really did give my heart a scare. I'm not sure I'd ever be the same if I had to watch my dog drown. As I laid my head down, I couldn't shake the awful dread of what might have been. Lesson learned.

The next morning, we woke to quietness and a nice feeling of nobody knowing where we were as the phones were out of range and the only background noise was the river and occasional car driving along the pass. I got some yogurt and berries placed into a cup for breakfast and Gene toasted a piece of rye bread for himself. The coffee got started and we rolled up camp and headed down the road.

It's hard to photograph what it feels like to be out in the middle of wilderness. We go often enough to really appreciate the fresh air and quiet time. I'm hoping I can look back on this post in the middle of winter and know this will still be there the next time we travel. This photo does not really depict just how tall these trees are. They are mammoth. Oregon has some of the most beautiful trees I've ever seen.

I'm thrilled I got to see this part of the state and can hardly wait to go there again. I'm betting Fall would be even more beautiful.  Perhaps another road trip ....

Until then, I'm grounded at the home real estate for now. 

love, susan

Lava flow at McKenzie Pass


48 Hours

Orange and purple starfish. I spotted them quite a ways down the beach. Doesn't this photo look surreal?

We just returned from a 5 day camping trip to Port Orford, Oregon. It's a place where I try to imagine I could live but know in my heart that I am no longer a small-town girl and it would be a slow torture for a wanderer like me. But I do love Port Orford.

Part of my family lives there and this was our third annual visit for a cousins reunion. It wasn't easy to cram a year's worth of visiting into less than 48 hours. I guess what was left unsaid will remain so. The important thing is we got to set eyes on each other and breath a sigh of relief for those who are still with us and looking good.  It was a very good year for our families. We are survivors.

Laughter was at the center of the big bonfire  and the full moon provided the perfect  backlighting for an awesome Saturday night.  I got to meet relatives I have never seen before and others I haven't seen in far too long. The younger 2nd cousins played together and it was great to see them making memories that will likely be much the same as ours. I wonder how they will re-tell their stories of staying up late and hearing their parents recount decades of childhoods spent playing and working together?

We shared a potluck lunch and later roasted hot dogs on the bonfire. It seemed we would never run out of things to talk about; careers, recipes, antedotes for diaper rash, the death of transients, weather, dogs, and the economy. Thankfully, we left politics and religion for another day.  We drove away and I had the feeling that we would pick up right where we left off next August.  I hope so, anyway.

Before we all left, we gathered for a group photo. Luckily, I knew how to use the timer on my camera and was able to run quickly from the porch/deck down to the gathering spot. That's me all hunched up on the left-hand side of this photo. I was squinting to see when the camera clicked. 

It's hard to believe another year has gone by. We talked about the date we'll meet up again next year. I wonder what news we'll have to talk about then?  

Does your family have a reunion?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Road Trip Eating

Menu from "Our Place" in Hermiston
We are leaving on a 4-day trip on Thursday and I'm needing to prepare myself mentally for it. I've started back to counting points (Weight Watchers) and have slipped back into a very comfortable plan for eating throughout the day. Yesterday, we traveled 35 miles to have new tires put on the car and ended up walking to a nearby local eatery called "Our Place Bakery" in Hermiston.  I had already eaten a small portion of food before we left home but decided to eat breakfast with my hubby. I ordered oatmeal and was able to fit it into my plan. If it had been closer to dinner time, it would have been way more challenging.

When we go on the road, my mind automatically thinks "well, Susan, you're on vacation ... don't worry about what you eat ... that's what people do on vacation." Bad thinking, huh!

I recently started eating 6 times a day (every 2 hours). Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But I've discovered that I am way less hungry in the evenings (my worst time of day) and able to stay within my budgeted point plan.  I don't know why, at age 52, I've never tried this before. I feel less bloated, less hungry, less deprived.

There is an old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions but I think it's a good idea to have a plan anyway.  We have a very long road to travel to get to the Clark Cousins' Reunion.  Five hundred miles, to be exact.  9 hours 5 minutes, according to Mapquest.  I should be able to control my craving for a Butterfinger and a bag of bbq chips, right? However, it doesn't seem to matter how much talking I do to myself prior to rolling down the road, there is an extremely loud voice that rises above all the moment we get comfy in our seats. This voice (thought) gets caught in repeat and is so obsessive that nothing shuts it up until we stop to get gas and I find myself in front of the cashier with a candy bar in one hand and chips in the other. We roll down the road and once I've consumed said junk food, I'm disgusted with myself and wondering how did it happen?  

Okay ... so here's my plan. I'm going to make a road trip menu and stick to it. I'm going to ask my husband to help me through this. I'm going to get out and treat my legs to a nice stretch or walk around the block and eat something healthy.  I'm going to freeze my water bottle so I have fresh, cold water to sip on. I'm going to cut up my fruits & veggies and have them readily available so I don't have some lame excuse for not eating them.

It all sounds good, in theory. I'll let you know how it turns out!

In the meantime, if you have any ideas for me, I'm listening!

love, susan

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Summer Vacation, So Far

It has happened.  I think I finally "hit the wall" and am feeling road weary. I've been in this state of mind before. This too shall pass.

So I am sitting here thinking about my whirlwind summer.  In the back of my mind, I know my husband, any day now, is going to say we've hardly been anywhere or done anything all summer.  He says it every fall.  I feel like we've been going non-stop since the first of May. I decided to list all my summer "posts" here so the first time I hear him say we haven't done much, I shall point him to this documentation. Don't you love it?

Today is August 1st and while I was wondering where the last 3 months have gone, I realize we have packed a lot of life into our days. I'm so happy I've had the presence of mind to blog about it. What a blast!!

How have you spent your summer?  I'd to hear about it!

love, susan

You Made My Day, Dude!

A couple weeks ago while I was driving back to Portland after spending the night on the Oregon coast, we came up on some road construction ...