Monday, October 29, 2012

The 2 Minute Post

A pen pal sent this to me well over a year ago as a notecard. I loved it so much I put in a frame and it hangs in my bathroom near my mirror to remind me to let the sun shine in even on rainy days.
I hope wherever you are and no matter the weather or your life circumstances that you find a little sunshine in your life today.
love, susan

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Upside: Rainy Days Don't Always Get Me Down


Finding beauty in the rain is huge for me.

Gray days make great gloomy photos. That's about all they are good for.

An empty parking lot to some, a landscape of beauty to me.
Some leaves just stand out above and beyond the others, just like good friends.
I took a nice photowalk today with my friend, Linda and her dog "Sassy". We got rained out but got some nice photos and had great conversation. 

Downside: Rain
Upside: Nice lighting for the beautiful autumn colors

If you're looking for some positive "upside" stories, visit Bonnie's blog at
She also has some great, creative recipes to share!

love, susan

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Upside: Thinking Outside the Box

I didn't really have anything this week that was on the downside except for having vertigo when I woke up Tuesday morning. I still have it but it's not all the time, mostly first thing in the morning and anytime I either bend over too fast or tip my head back, as in rinsing my hair in the shower. I sincerely do not want to make a trip to the doctor (read: no antibiotics!) so I'm going to live with it and see if it will just go away on its own. The upside is that I have to just slow down a little.
So, we have some friends that we get together with a couple times a year to go out for dinner. I decided I wanted to have them over instead of going out because I wanted to make a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  We usually are somewhere else for T-day and I feel cheated out of all the leftovers.
The turkey is in the oven and me and Marie Collander baked a Razzle Dazzle pie this morning. The eggs are boiled and ready to be deviled and the fruit salad is chillin'. I don't know why I don't do this more often. I think it's because sometimes I have a hard time thinking outside the box.  But not today! 
Gotta go peel taters and make some gravy.
Hope wherever you are that you are having an upside kind a day!

If you're looking for some other upside stories, visit Bonnie's Saturday Upsides and be sure to check out her awesome recipes while you're there.
love, susan


Friday, October 19, 2012

Duck Duck Goose

We got out for a short car ride today after I spent the morning in the dentist chair.  I'm so happy to have that appointment behind me now. I heard somewhere the suicide rate for dentists is higher than any other medical profession. I don't know if that's true but I imagine it's because people are not always happy to go see them. But I have to say right here on my blog that I have the very best dentist on the planet along with the super sweet lady who gives the face numbing shots. She had to give me one in the roof of my mouth today and when she apologized "in advance", I was scared. But it really wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, bless her heart. They must make notes in their computer about our chitchat conversations because I haven't been there for a long time and she asked me about camping and the grand kids. I know it's cheesy but I love it!
Anyhowsen, the above photo was shot in my 'hood. The colors this time of year bring back memories of fall in Alaska, without the biting cold air. I wasn't really in the mood for a long trip but I still found enough energy to snap a couple pics.  Enjoy!
"I don't understand why people would want to get rid of pigeons. They don't bother no one."~ Mike Tyson ~

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Comfort Food

It's a soup kind of day where I live. The colors outside are so beautiful and the air is shifting but it was pleasantly warm when I got outside to venture to the grocery store at 7a.m. 

I was emailing a friend last week about soup. She said she loves soup so much that her daughter said she should just make it every week, all year long. We got to emailing back and forth and came up with 24 kinds of soups that would be real winners. I'll have to blog about those soups soon but it really got my tastebuds going and I've been thinking about Chicken Tortilla Soup all week. This is, by far, my favorite soup.  I decided to pick up what I needed at the store to make this easy-peazy soup and it went together in 5 minutes because I already had some cooked, frozen chicken I was able to simply throw in.  I'm gonna make some corn bread to go with it and have a nice warm bowl of soup on this lazy day. Is it lunchtime yet?
Do you have a favorite soup recipe? I'm always looking for good ideas.

love, susan

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Upside - Finding the Positives

I'm joining Bonnie again in her Saturday Upside series.  I can't help it. I love finding the upsides to everything. If you want to read other blog posts from positive people, I encourage you to click on her blog Recipes Happen and check them out. Bonnie also has some great recipes.
I hate winter. That doesn't sound very positive, does it. But it's the truth.  This will be my fifth winter in Washington and it's always this time of year that we start talking about living somewhere else. Summers are great here. Spring is hopeful. And, fall is gorgeous.
My upside this week is that I am getting out and experiencing as much autumn as I possibly can.
Yesterday, we drove out to a co-worker's house out in the country to pick up some gords. I need them for an event I'm involved in the week before T-day for which I'll be helping with decorations. We decided to keep it simple and cheap so the idea was to find some gords to go on the tables. Imagine how giddy I was when I drove up to my friend's driveway and saw the huge wagon of gords waiting for me to pick up.
We have 50 tables to decorate. Do you think I have enough to put 3 or 4 on each table? I think so.
The other upside yesterday was that I received two phone calls early in the morning from women I really care about, back to back. It was really awesome to have the time to just sit and visit on the phone. While I was talking, I was looking out my home-office window and noticed that the yellow leaves that seemed permanent on tree the day before were falling like rain. It was beautiful.
While I still hate winter, it's not here yet so I'll enjoy all my waking moments until it arrives.

love, susan

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Biker-Chick Style

Today was the perfect motorcycle-riding day. So I went to work and before I even put my purse down, I headed to the bosslady's office and pleaded my case for working 1/2 the day before rolling out. She smiled and said, "ok!"  And, that's how it went down. 220 awesome miles from noon to 5p.m.  Fall is the best riding time if you can get days that don't stay too crisp. It had warmed up enough by noon to make it just right for wearing leathers. We headed to Bickleton by way of Mabton and came home on Hwy. 14.
 On the way back, I got a little bored in my head, and decided it would be awesome to do an ABC scavenger hunt of today's trip. Probably not the smartest thing to do when I should be focused on the road but it was fun.  Here's some of what I saw today, in alpha order:
A very handsome man on a motorcycle. He was with me.
Butterflies, Bluebirds, and one Blue Heron
Coyote - he was so close to the road I could have reached out and petted him. He must have been on a kill because he held his ground. I've heard stories of bikers hitting dogs and coyotes ... it wouldn't have been pretty.
Deer. 3 live ones and 1 big gut pile smack in the middle of the road. So gross.
Eagle ... on top of a pole.
French fries ... next to my awesome hamburger.
Grapes, purple ones swinging from the vine. So beautiful.
Harley Davidson with a Vietnam Vet on it. See "V".
Irrigation sprinklers. Big whoop, right?
Justin's name on my cell phone when I checked it.
Kawasaki - that's the bike my hubby rides. It's a sweet ride, he says.
Leathers. It was cool enough to keep ours on today.
Mabton, WA. One sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere.
Nice waitress at the Bluebird Inn in Bickleton. She once lived in Phoenix.
Oregon - it was right smack-dab across the river from us.
People enjoying today, especially us lucky ones.
Quality Inn. I saw a billboard for it, ok? It counts.
Racoon. It was really dead. Poor thing. I never see live ones.
Sunflowers. They were almost dead too.
Telephone. I saw & heard a real, old fashioned phone today at the Bluebird Inn. 
Umatilla, Oregon. It was across the river. Ha! U is a hard one but I got it!!
Vietnam Vet - nice guy. He was on the Harley Davidson. See "H".
Winery after winery after winery after winery.
X I did not see anything representing the letter X. The closest thing was an eXit.
Y's in the road. Decisions were made at those Y's.
Z This is a hard letter to find out there in the world.
How'd I do?
love, susan 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Drive to Walla Walla - Elgin - LaGrande - Pendleton

I'm sure diggin' the "collage" feature in Picasa right now. None of my photos were particularly awesome separately today but when I put them together as a collage, it's a sweet reminder of what an awesome day I got to spend with my sweetie.
We had a couple of surprises today.
First, when we were rolling into Walla Walla, we got a big laugh out of the frozen fields where the irrigation sprinklers were on probably all night. It got really cold last night so the water formed icicles in the fields, making for a pretty picture.
We're pretty sure the farmers aren't going to be so happy about the ice.
The second big surprise was the Blue Heron we spotted while on an impromptu walk by the river in Pendleton. They are beautiful birds!
It was a long day trip but so worth the time and gas to go.
love, susan

A Dog Day Afternoon

"Missy" and me!
We took the dogs out for a walk by the Columbia River yesterday. I complained that it was really boring.  We should have taken the frisbee and some water. So we got back in the car and headed home to regroup.
After a few minutes of  seeing the disappointment on my dogs' faces, we gathered up a frisbee and a throw toy, a water dish and container of water and walked two blocks from our house to a nice, huge park that we've never seen anyone use. We had the entire park to ourselves so we could let the dogs off lead. Yay!

Missy loves to roll around in the grass.  She's really aged this last year so she doesn't last very long when chasing the frisbee or chew toy. She was just so happy to be off her lead and free. I love watching her roll around. I swear she has a big smile on her face.
Abbie, on the other hand, is non-stop action. She is all about chasing a frisbee and sometimes I think she might drop dead from over-exertion so I tell my husband to make sure to give her a rest. He just wants to wear her out. She is a border collie to a "T". Smart, energetic and driven. Obsessive-compulsive, really.

I don't know why we haven't spent more time at this park with the dogs but I think we'll probably go there a lot since we had such a good time yesterday. Our yard is just not big enough to wear Abbie out and give her the complete workout she needs on a daily basis.
Dogs.  What a joy!
love, susan

Saturday, October 6, 2012

McNary National Wildlife Refuge - October 2012

My husband had the idea to go for a short ride in the car about 5 o'clock yesterday. Being a "Doubting Debbie", I thought it would be too late in the day to see anything worth spending the time & gas on.  I was wrong.
McNary National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite quiet places. It's only 17 miles from our driveway to the refuge. In the all the times we have gone, we have only run into other people one time. I'm not sure why more people don't go, but I'm happy to have the place all to ourselves.
Yesterday, we saw several sea river otters swimming around. They were really on the move and the one I captured here looks to have a fish in his mouth.
I also captured the Cormorant (bird) sitting on a log. These birds have no oils on their wings so they are forced to hold their wings out to dry in the wind. It was fascinating to watch this beautiful bird in action. 
The fall colors are breathtaking right now and will only get more beautiful as the days get along. I wonder where we'll go today?
love, susan

Saturday Upsides: The Good Stuff

I'm playing along with Bonnie and her followers over at Recipes Happen to post a  Saturday Upside.  I hope you'll go check out her blog.
While my life is just about as good as any girl could ask for I did find a super good upside yesterday.
I made a visit to my dentist to see about getting a broken filling/tooth repaired.
Downside:  I don't have dental insurance. When my dentist looked at the tooth and our prior treatment plan, this tooth was scheduled for a crown. Cha ching: $1,295.  I didn't have time to start the crown process yesterday so I told him I would reschedule and we'll do it despite the horrible price tag.
Upside: When I went to the receptionist to pay for my visit and reschedule, she told me about a dental insurance plan that I could sign up for online and  said if I went home and did that, she would wait to charge me for my visit. My bill for yesterday went from $118 to $49.  My annual cost for the insurance is $139, which includes my hubby. My crown cost will be reduced to $595.  This made my day!  In running my errands yesterday, I stopped and bought some fancy cookies and dropped them off for the dental receptionist to share. It was so much fun to see those front desk people smile! They have no idea how happy I am that they helped me out with the insurance info.
The other upside to my day was a late day trip out to the McNary Wildlife Refuge. I doubted we'd get to see anything so late in the day but was I surprised when two sea otters swam past the viewing shack. I had no idea otters lived in this area. I didn't get a good pic of them as they were fast but we watched them from afar and I got some nice surprise photos of other things. I'll post those up in another post.
Did you have any upsides this week? 
love, susan

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's Going To Be A Beautiful Day

I shot this silly pic when I was out at the dog show last Sunday morning. I decided to take a look at it again this morning to add to my post. When I edited it, I noticed there was a heart shaped little leaf in the background.  I heart hearts.
My neighbor died yesterday morning shortly after I went to work. She hung on for as long as she could. The night before, an extreme wind swept down our street, bringing a change in season. Some leaves were floating around and the sky turned gray and it was beautiful. I watched out the window and thought of my neighbor and hoped her struggle would be over soon. When I got up yesterday morning, the skies had cleared and the air stood still and crisp. I shall remember her when the wind brings change in October. She was a little younger than me.  I learned a lot from her and I will be forever grateful I knew her. She was like the little heart in this picture. She was in the background of my life but when I took a closer look, she was still a beautiful part of it. I would see her through my front window taking her son to school or outside talking with the neighbor kids. We often exchanged quick waves to each other as we both had busy lives. When she was diagnosed with cancer in May, I wished with all my heart I would have slowed down and paid more attention to her. With her diagnoses, I made time to slow down. The thing about life is there really are no do-overs.
On a lighter note, it's going to be a good day, I just know it! We had a friend in Arizona who always used to say "It's going to be a beautiful day!"  
love, susan

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Life is Short - Use Your China

I was reading a comment my step-mom left on another another blog I write (365 Take Aways) and I did as she suggested ... I got out my china last night and used it to serve my husband a nice dinner. Since  I have never seen much sense in recreating the wheel, I found a post I wrote 2 years ago about my china dishes and I hope reposting it will cause some readers to take stock and use their best china for everyday events. Life is short. Use your china! Thanks for the inspiration, Nancy. I love you!
Reposted from October 28, 2010:
So, yesterday I was talking with my Martha Stewart friend at work via email (we work in a "silence is golden" office) about my need for some home decorating advise. She said her heart rate increased and her reply to my email request for assistance was in large, teal colored font so I know she's on my team now. I was telling her how I wanted to buy some things to make a nice table for my son & wife's visit, including perhaps some new dinner & dessert plates. And, then she asked the question that changed my life. She asked if I was going to buy everyday dinnerware or something more for harvest or like China. China? Oh crap, I have China! I FORGOT I HAVE CHINA.

When my mom died 9 years ago, it took my dad a year or two to start gifting some of mom's treasures to my sister and me. On one summer trip to North Pole, Alaska, he returned with a large tote full of one of mom's sets of China (she had 2 sets). I got the set I wanted and because we were living in such a small space in AZ, I just left it in the tote. After we moved to our current home, I unpacked it all, washed it and placed it up in this really awesome showcase shelving that has glass doors which separates my kitchen from the dining room. What a revelation to remember that I have China. It made me giddy just like my friend was when I asked her to help me with some decorating tips. Now, I have a starting point for a beautiful table setting.

The China was a gift my dad gave to my mom from one of his tours while he was in the Navy. My dad served in the Korean war and I think he spent some time in Japan and Korea, although please don't quote me. I'll have to do some inquiring the next time I talk to him. He doesn't talk about it much, not because he was traumatized, but I think because it was a really long time ago. When he does talk about it, he tells of the bloated bodies that were washed up on shore. He may tell other parts of his story but that's truly the only part I ever remember. (I should have gone into forensics ~ I'm always far too interested in morbid things.) The China. Yeah, I'll have to ask dad more about the story of the China ...

The China is now my China. I really love it and it honestly just now made me get a big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes thinking about it. It's very beautiful, simple, strong but delicate, very much like mom. She only used it a handful of times that I can remember. She got it out on Thanksgiving and Christmas and the rest of the time it was hidden away. It has sweet, little pink roses and a tiny gold ring around the edges. I remember thinking we were really living large when we got the China out. It was "Made in Japan". Whew, so happy it wasn't made in China. I don't really have anything against the Chinese, I just don't like their cheap crap.

I know it will make my dad happy that I'm using the China. I wish I would have thought of it a couple of weeks ago when he and Nancy were here. I would have served the chicken tortilla soup in the China soup bowls and perhaps I would have heard stories about the China and his tour in Korea and Japan.

As I'm proof reading this post, I know I've capitalized China probably incorrectly but I've done so because it has meaning to me and the capitalization is so the reader will know this is not just any old set of dishes. It's "The China". love, Susan

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Never Waste a Step - Revisited

Never Waste a Step (Revisited)

I'm reposting this from October 10, 2010 with a little update below (in bold).
My son's great Grandma Palmer used to say, "Never waste your steps". After now living in a house with two separate flights of stairs, I think of Grandma Palmer almost every single day as I run up and down these steps no less than 100 times a day and I totally get what she meant by those words.

When Gene traveled to Tri-Cities to find a house to buy, it never occurred to me that there was a really important item missing on the "must have" list for buying this house. You see, there is no bathroom on our main floor. One must choose to climb stairs before commencing their business or one can choose to fly down stairs and save the climbing for afterwards. The bedrooms and all the dirty laundry are on the top floor, and the washer/dryer are in the basement. And when the dirty laundry becomes the clean laundry, there's another two flights of stairs for every laundry basket.

I've been thinking a lot about never wasting my steps pretty much ever since I turned 50 ... which was slightly over three years ago. I mean this in a literal sense because my knees started aching ever so much more after we moved here but also in the not-so-literal sense. Sometimes when I'm thinking I should go to the store, my second thought is could I live another day without going to the store? There were times this last summer that we were running so much that I didn't make it to the grocery store for almost 3 weeks at a time. We could pretty much live on the food we've stored away for a few months without having to make a trip to the store. Do I want to live on canned chili and powdered milk? Oh, hell no! But I have to admit that sometimes it's kind of fun to see how long I can put off those things I hate doing so much, like going to the grocery store. I have come up with some pretty funky ideas for dinner and there's always a can of peaches to top it off!

I don't know why this has been on my mind so much lately ... maybe it's the aching knees or maybe it's the change in seasons. Or maybe it's because I should have gone to the store this morning. But I still have about 2 cups of milk left in the gallon jug and plenty of eggs to make it til next week along with grapes & celery and one old head of purple cabbage in the fridge. I think I'll skip the store and use that time to make some home-made bagels today while the laundry is finishing up and I'm bustling between floors in this big, old house. It'll give me a chance to think about Grandma Palmer and my dearly departed mother-in-law, Adelle, who would be so proud of me for making home-made bagels, while I'm doing something useful and not wasting my steps ....
Fast forward to October 2012 .... Never wasting steps has been on my mind a lot lately. Part of it is that I'm becoming a lot more forgetful. You know what I mean. I go downstairs to do something ... and can't remember what it was. My method for remembering has always been to go back to where I started. OMG ... back up those stairs again?
I sometimes forget to not waste my steps. If I go anywhere empty-handed, I've forgotten this wonderful tip.  At work, it's a long way to the kitchen and bathroom from my cube. I try to remember to take care of all my business in one trip. It really stinks when I get all the way down to the bathroom and remember that I was going to get a cup of tea. 
Do you make the most of your steps?
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 ...