Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One Day After Michigan

"Cali", my grandcat
So, I'm sittin' at my desk today and feeling pretty emotional. My 5-day trip to Michigan to see my kids is over and I'm reeling from how fast the time went by. Zoooooom. How'd that happen?  Pretty much that's how time goes by for me every single day. It's just that I had one more thing to say, one more hug to give, one more meal to share, one more belly laugh. Guess those things will have to wait until next time. 

I forgot how much I love
video games
For me, it was a fabulous 3-1/2 days. I got, and hopefully gave, undivided attention. We never turned on the TV once except to play a little Mario Brothers.   I had no other relatives to have to compete with for time. It was "mom" heaven. I have no doubt my kids were ready for me to go. But I was torn. I was ready to go home but didn't want to leave.  At least I didn't cry like a hysterical big baby like last time they were here. I did have a delayed reaction today. "Dang", I thought as I was sitting at my desk. Did that really happen? It was tough fighting back tears long enough to give my employer an honest day of work.
Home-made raspberry sorbet

We covered a lot ground talking, and we ate too much. I took  187 pictures. I got to see where my son works and his wife goes to school. I visited an IKEA store for the first time. I ate a hamburger at their favorite joint and we ordered pizza delivered from the local parlor. My favorite moments were watching them make dinner for me and eating homemade raspberry sorbet at every meal. It cleanses the palate, don't cha know?
I watched my kids make decisions and help each other in the kitchen. I got to ride in the back seat of the car while they wheeled me around town. I got to walk the route my son takes to and from work everyday. I got to ride the long drive and understand what a long day his wife has traveling 180 miles round-trip to the University to teach and take classes twice a week.
We visited the R.E. Olds Museum where I learned a little history of the Oldsmobile. Did you know they made lawnmowers? Me neither.   I thought about my friend, Julie, who grew up in Lansing. She was with me in spirit!
Well, I guess I'd better get my head back to reality. It'll be a while before I get back out to Michigan to visit those kids but I'm already planning it in my mind.
love, susan
The River Walk

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday in Lansing, Michigan

Can you believe this capitol building? I can see the top of it from my kids' apartment. They had not been inside of it until yesterday, claiming  they waited for me to get here to tour it. I'm glad we got to see it together. Seems like when you live someplace there isn't quite the urgency to see everything. But then you move and you wonder how you never got around to seeing those things that should be seen. Nonetheless, we agreed the building is amazing! If you are ever in Lansing, Michigan, it is a must see.

The building is just a little over a mile from their house and Justin's office. He walks to work every day on the Grand River walk. We  walked it the first night I was here and listened from across the river to a local band playing "Bobbie McGee" on the patio of a bar. I was surprised at the lack of people anywhere to be found on the streets. However, it's August and the legislature here is not in session. 

Before going into the building, I spotted a lone protester sitting at the entrance to the capitol. In the spirit of curiosity, and I'm sure at the horror of my children, I approached him. My kids briskly walked the other way.  LOL!  Turns out, the guy was a sweetheart. His poster read "Get mad now?"  It was a well-done sign and I chatted just a minute with him, told him I was visiting and he encouraged me to have the kids take me to Old Town. I loved the interaction and shook his hand. I agree with his sentiments and told him so. The streets should be lined with people like him. Where are they?  I thought of my husband and how we would have just left him there to talk with this guy as we toured the building. I could tell he had a lot to say and it would have been fun to have a cup of coffee with him. 

The inside of the capitol is 4 floors of awesomeness. It was everything I thought it would be. Marble, wood, and the world's ugliest chandeliers (not the ones pictured here). The vantage point I shot this photo from is where Michigan residents come to see their government in action. It is impressive. We were surprised that we were allowed to just roam the halls and didn't see a single security officer. Love that!

There are painted portraits of all past governors on the walls.  I spotted a pic of George Romney, Mitt's dad. Turns out Mitt is the spittin' image of his daddy. Who knew? Earlier, we had walked past an enormous building the he owns. This led to a brief discussion about if you wanna know where the power is, follow the money.

When we got home, Amanda put together a batch of flatbread dough which made lovely tortillas for the beef fajitas Justin made. For dessert, she made raspberry sorbet that was out of this world. I got to play New Super Mario Wii with my kids and got a couple of belly laughs from that.  

We hit the hay by 10pm and up at 6am today. I'm not sure what today will bring but it's startin' out with pancakes and bacon! Oh, and we did walk into a chocolatier, Fabiano's, that my kids have been wanting to visit but just hadn't quite made it there yet. What fun to explore new places with my kids.

Today is a new day and new adventures.  Hope this is your best day ever!

love, susan 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One More Get Up

My son and daughter-in-law 2009 
Just one more "get up" before I get on that plane to go see my kids.  Am I ever excited!

I know I've written about this before but it bears repeating.  I am a former future-tripper.

I used to live my life by wishing the days away.  Thoughts like this used to rule my world: I can't wait til Friday,  I wish it would hurry up and be summer, is is 5 o'clock yet, I can't wait to see him, I can't wait til my vacation.

A series of significant events happened in my life and it has changed how I see time.  It was not an easy transition but oh so worth the growing pains to get there.  Today, and everyday, I am all about being in the moment.

I wish could have some of those days back that I wished away. The best I can do is encourage others to not wish their days away. Do those things that make you happy.

My neighbor across the street is dying from brain cancer. She is on hospice care now and life is getting less and less fun for her. She has lost the ability to walk because her muscles have atrophied from laying too long. She lies in the hospital bed they brought her and tells me she watches me in the front yard throwing the Frisbee to my dogs and feels envious.  I feel guilty. Sometimes I just want to lay around and waste time. She doesn't have much time left. My heart hurts for her. I know she'd do things differently, if she could.  I still can. I wave at her when I leave for work in the morning. I can't see whether or not she sees me but I wave anyway. Yesterday, I got up from my desk and walked an extra lap around my the cubicles in honor of my neighbor. Bless her heart.

On a happier note ... I am really super stoked about going tomorrow, I still have today to live and I don't want to miss a moment of it.  I'm still not packed yet. No worries.

How are you going to spend your day today?

love, susan


Monday, August 20, 2012

Travel Lite

Buddy, I can procrastinate like nobody else.  I am leaving on a short trip this week and had planned to have my bag packed on Sunday but something else came up that was far more important, so it's not done yet.

I could be packing right now as I write this but frankly, my dear, I'm not in the mood.

Not in the mood?  Yeah, I'm not.

It's not that I'm not in the mood to travel, I just really don't like the packing part. There's that part about trying to decide what to take. Should I take an extra pair of shoes? Do I need ________(fill in blank)? Can't somebody pack for me?  Please?

Truth is, I tend to overpack.  I'm taking only a carry-on bag so that will help limit my decisions.  I'm pretty sure my kids have a washer/dryer in their place so I have no need to take 5 changes of clothing.  Seriously.

Gene and I traveled to Hawaii a couple winters ago for a week's stay with each of us taking one carry-on. And we had overpacked! What do you need in Hawaii?

Well, I've never been to Michigan but today in the lunchroom a nice lady told me "don't take synthetic clothes".  I think this is likely very good advice and I'm going to heed it. Oh, just the thought of humidity and wearing synthetic underwear ..... can you say ICK?

So I figure since I'm leaving on Thursday morning, I still have two more days to pack that little, itty bitty bag.  It'll all work out. Probably.

The other truth is .... I love being under pressure sometimes. I love having to scramble at the last minute to throw something in a bag and go. See, waiting til the last minute means I will just have to wear what I can throw in the bag. Otherwise, I spend far too much time analyzing if this will match with that, and will my shoes go with it? Anybody who knows me would laugh at that statement.  As if I've ever cared much whether my shoes matched my outfit! I am no fashionista.

Do you travel light or do you take far more than you need?  Do you wait til the last minute to pack? 

love, susan

Friday, August 17, 2012

Needful Things 2012

We drove 328+ miles today and I barely got one photo of anything. It wasn't that kind of trip.

Ever since we visited an awesome thrift store in Palouse, WA last year, I have had that thrift shop on my brain. I've been waiting for a chance to go back and today we did it.

What a big disappointment.

I rarely have expectations about anything anymore but I guess once in a while they creep in and today it happened.  We showed up to where "Needful Things" used to be, only to find out they have moved over a block. The store is run by community members and the whole purpose has been to open a senior community center and they've done just that! Yeah for them! I'm truly happy about it.  However, there are some things that lose their charm when they are moved or changed in any way.  Thrift stores and coffee shops. I've seen it dozen of times.

I once frequented a coffee shop in Eagle River, Alaska when I lived there. It's called the Sleepy Dog Cafe. Best coffee ever. Ever. And it was cozy. I use to sit and sip coffee, listen to somebody play guitar and sing, and look at people's dog pics. Perfect place. Busy all the time.  And then they decided to expand.  It was never the same.  I quit going. It lost it's "mo-jo".

The same thing happened to "Needful Things" in Palouse, WA.  When we visited last year, it was this tiny little, cramped space which was being run by an awesome person who knew how to arrange the place to get maximum usage of space. The best part?  She had placed women's jeans in big plastic tubs by size. I had a ball going through the bin and picking out my faves, trying them on and buying a wagon load of em'. I beleive the woman was a genious.

Now, I'm not saying the new store front is awful. It's actually very nice and the a/c was a very attractive feature today since it reached 100 degrees. The problem is that the place was sterile.  I like a thrift store that has some grit. I know that's not everybody's cup of tea but I'm looking for a good deal and if they have to hire people to keep everything clean and dusted, you gotta know the prices are going to suffer.  I did find a super cute pair of casual shoes for $1. They look brand new. I also snagged a very nice shoe rack that was just brought in the door while we were there. The manager didn't even have to put a price tag on it.

"Can you believe they took a ride without us today?"
We visited several thrift stores today from Palouse to Moscow, Idaho and hit a couple in Lewiston on the way home. At the very last stop, I snagged a French press that I had been searching for. Today, Gene found an Atlas for 25 cents but very little else. I also bought several shirts and two pair of jeans, among other little things. Some days one or both us can't seem to find anything that trips our triggers. The fun is in the searching.

Truth is, it's not like I need another material thing in my life. It was just too hot to do anything else. The trip was nice but I'm glad to be home and look forward to hanging out this weekend.

Do you have a favorite establishment that has changed? Did you like the change? 

P.S.  I did enjoy seeing the grapes on the ride home. Aren't they pretty?

love, susan

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Everything's Peachy

Yellow tomatoes make great snacks!
The office where I spend four 10's a week is like a Farmer's Market this time of year. It's sort of like Christmas in August. I always head to the kitchen first thing in the morning to see what's on top of the microwave, which is where stuff gets placed that people want to share. I work in a very large office and I am never disappointed.

Cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini have started showing up in the kitchen on a regular basis. Lately, I have seen green peppers and a couple of purple rutabagas. Ick. I don't like them. Last week I spotted a couple of lemon cucumbers. Since moving to WA, they are my most favorite discovery. I never knew they existed until about 4 years ago. Makes me wonder what else I'm missing.

Normally, I would take home any zucchinis I could get my hands on but all my nearby co-workers are dieting so my awesome zucchini bread surely won't impress them. As a matter of fact, they may likely throw overripe tomatoes at me if I were to bring fresh homemade zucchini bread. 

I always shred and freeze too much zucchini and end up throwing some out every spring. So, I've decided to leave them for someone else to enjoy. Trouble is, it's hard to give away zucchini this time of year. Seems everyone grows them and brings their excess to the office.

Peaches.  Now there's something I won't leave on the kitchen counter! My cube mate told me she is starting to see "Peaches for Sale" signs out in the country where she lives. She says the first ones are usually those that have fallen and she waits a little longer to buy the ones she uses for canning.

I don't can anything. I just like to eat my peaches right out of the box.  Here's a piece of trivia about me.  I eat my peaches with the skin on!  I like love 'em like that. Plus, I'm kinda lazy and don't like to peel them.

What's in season where you live?

love, susan

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Fire

Smoke from the wildfire 90 miles away made
the sun orange in TriCities this morning.

Ellensburg (Cle Elum), Washington is on fire today.

The last I heard, at least 60 homes have been claimed and the fire was at "zero containment". Out of control with winds kicking up. It's bad.

One of my friends at work has family there and she has been receiving photos via cell phone throughout the day. It gets really real when someone you know is affected.  Luckily, her family's home escaped burning, but how I don't know. The photo I saw showed everything around the house burned. The car didn't make it. It was parked near another building and it perished.  It can be replaced.

My friend and I chatted a little about how awful it must be to see your home gone within minutes in something like this.  No time to think about what to grab. All those photos? Shoot, I might be able to grab a box but I don't have everything in one place. Perhaps I should get around to doing that.  Who ever thinks it's going to happen to them?

I got to thinking about what I'd grab if I had to vacate my house within a few minutes. I couldn't really wrap my head around it. I'd certainly make certain my hubby and animals got out with me. And my purse. Whatever pictures I could gather up. Vital records. My camera. Medications.  What else?  Some stuff can be replaced but what about the things that can't. 

How do you replace years of memories made in a home?  You simply can't. The best you can do is hope your memory serves you well and maybe you have some snapshots in the box you grab on your way out the door. 

I know there are lots of people thinking about those who lost their homes today. I heard the townspeople were gathering resources and taking all the displaced animals to the fairgrounds. Oh, the animals .....

It's a sad day in Washington state.

love, susan 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Yeah. No.

I love outside-the-box things. When we were in Seattle on Friday, I snapped this picture quickly as we tried to escape the crowd inside Pike Place Market. I'm not sure where this couple got married, perhaps it was while standing right there, but the fish market was just right inside the opening behind them.  Yeah.  No. But I do love those cowgirl boots!

While at the market, I also passed by two Tibetan monks who were on a corner doing whatever it is Tibetan monks do. I heard a woman ask them, "May I take a photo of you?", to which I heard them reply simultaneously, "Yes".  I was tempted to raise my own camera and steal a shot. But ya know what? Some things just don't seem quite right. I thought buddists were silent and would be camera shy. Yeah.  No. Guess not. What do I know? No offense to any of my buddhist friends. You know I love ya!  

Walking through the market in Seattle is an experience.  There are street musicians, tourists, fish mongers, monks, beggars, and floral arrangers. While I love watching people and could literally sit in one spot and do it all day, I can't stand it when I don't have at least a 12-inch radius of air space around me. My anxiety level hit the roof and I was soooooo happy when my friends suggested we walk down to the pier.  Yeah.

While down at the pier, I noticed a long line of people waiting to get on this funky Ferris wheel that had enclosed seats. It was 75 degrees on Friday and I can't imagine the capsules had air conditioning. The wheel went around very slowly, sort of like a human rotisserie. Yeah.  No.

<------ Here is the original shot of the Ferris wheel before I edited it to look like a 1960's shot.  I think the edited pic looks much better, do you? 

I didn't have space to put the Snoqualmie Falls photo in my blog post yesterday so I'm posting it today because I would just hate to leave it out.  I'm looking forward to going back there someday with Gene after the construction is complete. They are building a recreation area at the bottom of the falls which I think will be super nice. North Bend looks like a neat town to visit, too.

The construction equipment added nothing to this
already too bright photo. Oh well.
Well, that's about all I have on that Seattle trip. I want to go back again sometime with Gene, maybe in October. We haven't been there together before and I think it's time we went.

Enjoy every moment of your day wherever you are.

love, susan 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Epic Day in Seattle

Tabby and Kristy
When was the last time you went on a road trip with friends? I highly recommend it!

It's been a long time since I've spent a whole day with someone other than the love of my life.  I have to say that if I had tried to imagine how much fun it would be, I would have short-changed myself.

My friends Tabby and Kristy picked me up at 9:00a.m. and we rolled down the road to Seattle as planned, heading for a mutual friend's first-ever art showing in north Seattle. We had no expectations of what we would do for the time between arriving and the start of the art walk, which made it even better ~ in my humble opinion. I'm a girl who loves to fly by the seat of her pants.


We stopped in a little town called North Bend which is about 40 miles south of Seattle. Kristy knew of a waterfall where we could spread out the fabulous picnic lunch we brought. The Snoqualmie Falls area is under construction but it didn't seem to stop people from enjoying the view.

We dragged our coolers out and placed them on freshly varnished, clean pinic tables. Our friend, Tabby, was amazed at the length we had gone to prepare an awesome taco salad. It was Kristy's idea and it was a goody! I brought real glass bowls and utensils to dine with and it was better than any gourmet meal we could have spent too much money on.

We packed up and Kristy took the wheel to take us on in to Seattle. The GPS on our phones was really helpful in getting us down to the Pike Place Market. It was crazy there so we only walked through a short portion of it and headed down to the Ye Old Curiousity Shop on the pier. I recall going there when I was about 12 and it was exactly as I remembered. The mummified man is still standing in the same corner some 40+ years later.

It was a warmer than usual, sunny day in Seattle and there were tourists everywhere. We walked until we were sweating and with my swollen feet got back to the truck to head to the art walk in north Seattle. While pulling out of the parking garage I spotted a person leaned up against a building, looking as if they were closer than half-way to dead, nodding on a heroin hit, no doubt. I'm not sure I'll ever get the image out of my mind. As much fun as we were having, I felt a deep sadness that was hard to shake.

We enjoyed traveling to another part of Seattle that is away from the chic and trendy downtown. The neighborhood was middle-class, working people and we felt really comfortable walking up and down the street. Lots of funky shops like the 50 Cent book store where 90% of all the books sold for 50 cents. There was a fabulous upscale antique store which contained refinished antiques for very reasonable prices.

35 originals
At 6:00p.m., the group of folks (about 15 of us altogether) who had traveled from Tri-Cities to support our artist friend, descended upon the Naked City Brewery. The place was packed full of Friday-after-work-let's-grab-a-beer people and soccer players. Turns out they were holding a street soccer tournament on the blocked off street.

Heidi & her family
When I walked in and saw Heidi's artwork displayed, I was amazed. She was invited to bring her work to Seattle not all that long ago and I knew she had to hustle to get it framed but when I saw the work hanging up for the first time, I know she spent a lot of sleepless nights putting it together. She gathered the frames from yard sales and friends who had frames sitting around collecting dust. The matting and framing is as artistic as the drawings. I am blown away by it! The last word we got on our texts is that she had sold quite a few pieces. I am not surprised.

We headed out of Seattle about 8 o'clock and had an uneventful trip back home. Laughter kept us going the entire 3 1/2 hour drive home.  Fun day! 

Today ... I'm resting.

love, susan

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Seattle or Bust

I spotted this chipmunk on the
MacKenzie Pass last weekened

Another road trip .....

I'm heading for Seattle tomorrow with a couple of good friends for the day to attend a mutual friend's first art show. While seeing our friend's art display will be epic in nature, I suspect the entire day will be filled with laughter, non-stop talking and adventure.  Eight hours in a vehicle together makes for the perfect coffee shop on wheels.

I haven't been on a road trip without Gene except for a spring trip to Seattle to visit Jane via the bus. I spent that entire trip with headphones stuck in my ears listening to Rob Lowe tell his life story. It was pure bliss.

I have become more than comfortable out on the road. Last weekend, while in Port Orford, Gene and I had breakfast at a sweet little local diner called Paradise Cafe. We visited while eating with a young couple from Phoenix  who were on a long road trip. They had traveled to Canada and were making their way home. They were traveling much like we used to do, only staying in motels when they were road-weary and needed a good, hot shower and a full night's rest. That morning, they were headed to San Fransico by days end. As they were talking, I remembered the many trips Gene and I have taken where we stopped and took showers at a local city pool or YMCA.  This couple had spent the previous night with their tent pitched out on the beach. It's kind of a rare thing these days to talk to people who do that.

Tomorrow we're taking a picnic lunch and a thermos of coffee. The weather in Seattle is forecasted to be clear and 75. How could I be so lucky?

love, susan

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cousins' Reunion 2012

2nd cousins & Gene
We spent last weekend on the southern coast of Oregon in the little fishing town of Port Orford. It is 519 miles from our house to theirs and it is the third time we've made the trek. 

Port Orford is Oregon's best kept secret!

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 ...