Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Too young & too soon

The mood around here has been rather solemn this week; our “small” town (pop. 80,000) suffered a tragedy that touched nearly everyone. Saturday night, four students from West High were involved in a horrific car accident right in front of the school, literally wrapping the vehicle around a light pole. The two girls in the backseat, Marie & Justin, are hospitalized in critical but stable condition; the driver, Bret, lost both his legs; & Mike, the front passenger & brother of Marie, died at the scene. Authorities have ruled out alcohol & drugs; it seems to be a case of too much speed & too little experience behind the wheel. The shock & grief flowing through the school has been intense, particularly since the accident happened right there. A memorial has grown on the lawn in front, with balloons, flowers, & candles; the pole & sidewalks are covered with tributes & prayers. Sam knows both the boys, at least to nod or say hey- both of them played on the varsity basketball team; Bret is in his weight training class, & Mike attended the same magnet middle school as Sam & was the T.A. in his math class.
I am normally a pretty stoic person- I try not to dwell on these sorts of tragedies & get myself emotionally wound up. We only live a few blocks from the school & I go around the campus on my walks; tonight, I stopped to read the things that people have written & found my stomach churning, tears filling my eyes. The realization is there- it could have been any of us. One split second, one small misjudgment, & families are changed forever. Here I am, facing Sam turning 16 & learning to drive, & I am forced to acknowledge the truth that children can die.
Please pray for these families; I cannot fathom the pain of these parents, who have to bury one child & face the life-altering injuries of another. Particularly, hold up Bret- this young man is facing an unimaginable future- beyond his injuries, the loss of his best friend, & the destruction of his dreams, he will probably be facing charges for reckless driving & involuntary manslaughter. I hope this won’t happen; I believe he has more than paid for any lapse in judgment. This boy will need all the love, support, & prayers he can get, in order to deal with the guilt & the realities of his life.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Small victories

Hey, Kids~ Can't believe the weekend is over already- seems like I just left work!

It's been fairly low keyed around here. Saturday, I went to the gym in the morning, after totally spacing my hair cut appointment- guess I'll grow my hair out for a bit. I then headed over to the church, where several of the ladies were meeting for a sewing party. We have a group heading out to Tanzania the end of February, to visit an orphanage being run by a young woman who was raised in our church; when asked what they needed most, she asked for curtains for all the windows. So, we are making lined panel curtains for 54 windows of various sizes, which need to be donw by the 18th. I stayed for about 4 hours, until my back couldn't handle any more; we'll be getting together the next 2 Saturdays, & several ladies took some to work on at home. Sam went to spend the night at a friend's house, so Chris & I fixed dinner at home & watched Cadfael on PBS.

Today was my Sunday off (I take one Sunday a month, so I don't get burned out singing 2 services every week), so I slept in a bit, took care of the cats, then went over to Starbucks for a small Cinnamon Dolce Latte & a mini vanilla scone. After my "healthy" breakfast, I drove into Livermore (20 miles to the west) to spend the afternoon at Ravenswood Estate, which I talked about earlier. It was raining off & on all day, but it still was pretty busy- I visited with the docents & explored the house extensively. I came home to Jessica's car being gone & a check pinned to the bulletin board- Yeah! The guys are out somewhere- hopefully Chris remembered Sam has dance class tonight & took him there. I'm waiting for my fishsticks to cook, since I haven't eaten since this morning, then sit down with my knitting- the scarf is almost done, & I'm chomping at the bit to start something new.

I found this meme at Amy's, & seeing as I'm starving right now, I thought I'd add it here- Bon Apetit!

If you could take lessons to learn any musical instrument, which would you want to learn?

I would really like to learn to play the mandolin; one of my favorite groups is Nickel Creek & Chris Thile, who sings & plays mandolin, has inspired me. I love the way it sounds & the way it looks, plus the neck is small enough for even me to be able to reach.

Have you ever mistaken a person for someone else?

Oh, yes- that comes with the territory as you get older.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets?

I'd have to say I'm pretty much a 9 1/2- hey, I never did cave with Chris & the bed saga!

Main Course
What's the closest you've ever been to a dangerous animal?

Only in the zoo- I'm not a big nature person, so I haven't run into anything more dangerous than a snake or spider along a hiking trail.

When was the last time you lost your patience?

This past week; I've been cross-training with my co-worker to learn one another's jobs, & we kept getting interrupted with silly questions from people who should know better. I finally snapped at the branch manager & told her to go talk to my boss, because I didn't have time to deal with her right now (I apologized later)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A nice merlot, perhaps...

I don’t talk much about my husband Chris, other than peripherally as a companion on my adventures or fall-man for my hormonal rants. He really is a Prince among men- he is the bucket man when my canoe is leaking, my own combination of court jester, unwitting sidekick, & personal cheerleader. He is God’s idea of the perfect compliment to my taciturn personality- outgoing, accepting, willing to jump into new situations- in many ways, still young-at-heart, though his body is beginning to disagree. Although I am a very independent person, who treasures privacy & solitary pursuits, my world would be incomplete with out Chris in it- he is the Yang to my Yin. Yin Yang 

This being said, I want you to know he has been a big…whiney…baby! I had my medical overhaul last year- hysterectomy, physical therapy, gum surgery, & 3 root canals; I spent hours, week after week, in various medical/dental facilities, taking care of what needed to be done. 2007 is going to be Chris’ year; in the past two weeks, he has been to the eye doctor, the dentist, & his new primary care physician. I made the appointments (he won’t do it himself- he “forgets”- which is why he hasn’t seen a dentist in 3 years), handed him the list of times & addresses, & said “Be there.” You would have thought I’d served him with an audit notice- “Why do I need to go to (insert name of whichever office)? My (eyes, teeth, back/shoulder) don’t hurt that badly!” Being a sympathetic, compassionate wife, I told him to suck it up & quit whining.  Tongue Out 2 

First was the eye doctor. Eighteen months ago, Chris’ arms finally got too short for him to be able to read the newspaper, so I sent him off to the eye doctor for the first time since he was in high school. Two hours & $265 later, he was the proud owner of two pairs of reading glasses- one for work & one for home. Last month, while wandering around Santa Fe, Chris lost one pair of glasses, so I made an appointment to get them replaced at a different place then last time. The new doctor examined him, tested for glaucoma, & said,  “You don’t need a prescription.” Chris was a little flummoxed- he can’t read without his glasses. The doctor walked out of the office, returned with a pair of glasses, & told Chris to try them on; they were perfect, just like his other pair. The doctor then told him that they were the magnifying glasses you can buy at most discount stores, next to the sunglasses. They cost maybe $12.00 a pair! The doctor told him these would be fine for a number of years, until the highest magnification won’t work for him anymore.  I’m equally thrilled & ticked off- if he loses another pair, it won’t cost much to replace them; on the other hand, what I paid 2 years ago, he could have had eighteen pairs of glasses!   Eyeglasses 3 

Last week was the dentist. Chris has had something rather smelly going on in his mouth since December, which needed to be addressed, & I wanted him to get an estimate on repairing his front teeth. The top four are all badly chipped along the bottom edges; they have been repaired a couple of times, but are broken again. It is to the point that Chris will barely open his mouth or smile, which is completely out of his nature. Since he has been to the dentist in three years, I was expecting major work or repairs, since all his molars are baby teeth & will eventually wear out. Surprise! He had no cavities, & doesn’t need root canals or deep cleaning- the smelly thing was a hygiene problem. Bad news is- the front teeth repair is considered a “cosmetic procedure” by our insurance, so the out of pocket is going to be- gulp- around $3200. He came home growling about learning to live with “looking like a hillbilly”, which I promptly stopped. I’m not vain about much, but I will spend whatever money is needed on my teeth; therefore, I’m not about to let my husband walk around feeling embarrassed by his appearance. I told him we might have to do it over a couple years- two this year & two next- but his teeth will be repaired! I’m now brainstorming fundraising ideas to supplement my flex spending at work, the first being clearing out the closets, study, & garage, & having the dreaded “Yard Sale Event” while I’m on vacation in April. It might be good for $300 or $400, if we’re lucky; by late April, Chris’ work starts getting busy & he puts in quite a bit of overtime until sometime in September. So, if all goes well, he can get the first two teeth repaired by May.    Teeth 

Today, he is off to the new primary physician. He has been complaining of elbow & shoulder pain for months, but instead of seeing a doctor, he’s just been eating bottles of ibuprofen. I finally had enough last week, after he grabbed his arm & grimaced with pain ten times in one evening- I made the appointment & told him to be there early to fill out paperwork. He went out of the house this morning, grumbling about having to leave work early & fight traffic, blah, blah, blah- my comment was, “Would you like a little cheese with that whine?” My Prince was not amused.  Cheese 

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Three Generations of Excitement

Today is my Mother & step dad Michael’s 40th wedding anniversary. No, there isn’t going to be a big party or even a small gathering- they didn’t want one. The closest they even came to acknowledging it was two lines inserted in a forwarded email about various birthdays coming up (February is the target month in our family: Niece Mary, Sam, German dd Ilka, Step-Dad, Uncle, Grandmother, sister Crystal, Jessica, sister Holly, plus a couple of friends & an anniversary) This is pretty typical for them- Mother doesn’t like to be the center of attention, & Michael is more comfortable at home surrounded by people he chooses. I’m certain that sometime during the course of the next 6 months, as their first child David prepares for his wedding, there will be some sort of recognition of this important milestone. My memories of the day are rather vague (I was nearly 4 yr old); I do remember that it was raining, that my feet were wet & cold, & thinking that the minister was my uncle. Anyway, even though they don’t read my blog (I don’t think they even know about it) I want to wish them “Happy Anniversary” & hope they have many years together ahead.

My KMKS kit came Friday from my secret swap buddy. How exciting to open a gift from someone you’ve never met, who took the time to find about you, & created something that you would enjoy! I must say, Kelly did a pretty good job: a rose colored felted handbag, 2 sets of double-pointed needles, cables needles, split-ring stitch markers, a tape measure, a notebook, 3 little mechanical pencils (I love these), some Sweetheart candies, 3 skeins of KnitPick’s Highland Wool in dark rose, & a pattern for a pair of mittens with cables on the back. I’m looking forward to starting them, as soon as I finish the scarf for my sister. Even though I don’t know if my packaged arrived in Washington yet, I posted a picture of the bag I made & the kit I put together in the “Knitting Projects” album. This was a fun swap to do & I’m looking forward to the next one I signed up for- Winter Scarf Knit Kit Swap, which I don’t have to make anything until the kit arrives!

Jessica has been in & out of here all weekend- she had a funeral to attend & decided to get her car cleaned up to sell. I think I told you that her car died just before Thanksgiving & has been parked in front of our house ever since, while she has been using our old car. A friend of ours, who Chris consulted when he was trying to fix it, has offered to buy it from her, as is, for $300 & will arrange to tow it (he just started his own auto mechanic business this past fall & will use it for parts). I’ve kind of been riding her about it, because she’s been dragging her feet getting the paperwork together, so she took the weekend off work (not a good idea) to get everything done. It took a lot of prodding, but all the forms are filled out, signed, & a power of attorney signed so Chris can take care of anything that is missing (knowing Jess, something will be missing ) I hate to believe it, but she seems to be using drugs again- she’s spacey, disorganized, & smells “skunky”, which Chris says is from the marijuana she’s smoking. I just hate this; it is such a waste of a promising life. She thinks she’s just having fun, that it doesn’t affect her adversely; she won’t see that her whole personality & demeanor is projecting “Loser”. She can’t understand why people aren’t jumping at the chance to hire her (she’s looking for a second job again, to pay off her medical bills from the accident last June.) Part of me just wants to tell her to leave, go away, & don’t come around again until she has herself straightened out. The mother part of me wants to fix & save her, which I know I can’t do- she has to decide to give it up. Please, please pray for her & me; I know that she has to be broken down to rock bottom & I have to let it happen, no matter how much it breaks my heart. My biggest fear for her is what all this is going to cost her in the end- jobs, relationships with friends & family, possibly even her life. Again, what a waste.

So as not to end on a total downer:

Why we love children

I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, "Mom! That lady isn't wearing a seat belt!"


On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, "The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents."


A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of the jar. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her 4-year-old daughter to answer the phone. "Mommy can't come to the phone to talk to you right now. She's hitting the bottle."


A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, "What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a little boy before?"

5) POLICE # 1

While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, "Are you a cop?" "Yes," I answered and continued writing the report. "My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police.
Is that right?" "Yes, that's right," I told her. "Well, then," she said as she extended her foot toward me, "would you please tie my shoe?"

6) POLICE # 2

It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake, was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me "Is that a dog you got back there?" he asked. "It sure is," I replied. Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van. Finally he said, "What'd he do?"


A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, "Daddy, you shouldn't wear that suit." "And why not, darling?" "You know that it always gives you a headache the next morning. "

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let's have a rousing chorus of cheers

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. Instead, I set some small, attainable goals that I think will improve my life, & I rarely put any deadlines on myself. It’s more about growing as a person, & less about trying to achieve perfection. So, in the spirit of being real & open about my world, I humbly present, in full public view, my:

Thirteen Goals for 2007 (& beyond)

  1. Throw out all the back issues of magazines stored around the house~ I mean, really, it’s getting ridiculous- I have some that are 5 years old (& more). I seriously doubt I’ll ever have a lack of reading material around here, not with my book obsession & the close proximity of both the library & Barnes & Noble. If I haven’t needed them by now, I doubt I ever will.

  2. Read 1 non-fiction book this year~ I have a tendency to stick with a couple genres of fictional material, mostly because I’m trying to escape from real life for a while; but now that I’m out of school for a while, I feel the need to expand my mental horizons. Nothing too heavy or intellectual- maybe a biography.

  3. Use the library more often~ I started cleaning out books this time last year- I have too many paperbacks & not enough shelves. Besides, I know I spend more on books than I should, since our library is 3 blocks from my work. Now that our Library system has an online catalog, I can find & reserve books to pick up.

  4. Take on a new challenge activity~ I know what you are thinking, but I really do have time to do something new in my life! I suppose it comes from being in school for so many years, but I need the stimulation of being outside my comfortable little world. This is tough for shy, lazy homebody like me, but I need this to grow. I already have taken the first steps on this one, but I’m not ready to reveal all at this point; never fear, you will hear all about it soon.

  5. Cook dinner two nights a week~ After so many years of night classes, I got out of the habit of cooking; fortunately for me (& my children) I married an awesome man who likes to cook & didn’t see it as an imposition. It is time for me to take my share of the responsibilities again; besides, I want to improve my health & cooking from scratch will help me control the amount of crud in our diet.

  6. Drink two 16 ounce bottles of water each day~ Yes, I know I’m suppose to drink more than that, but if I can get to this point daily, I’ll be ahead of where I am now.

  7. Lose (& not re-find) 25 pounds by December 31st~ As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a lot more than that to lose; this is a place to begin- 2 pounds a month isn’t too scary or overwhelming.

  8. Take a 30 minute walk three times a week~ Again, this is a starting point; it’s a realistic commitment for me- it’s all about forming the habits.

  9. Go to the gym once a week~ To this end, I changed our membership to another facility closer to our home. It is a small, brand new club that just opened last week; it’s only 0.7 miles from the house, close enough to walk (with the added benefit of being $7.00 a month cheaper). Viola, one 30-minute walk (to & from) down.

  10. Buy a new camera~ This about improving my skills; I love photography & have a certain level of natural talent (I won a contest a number of years ago with a snapshot from a plain old Kodak Instamatic), but I would like to take it to the next level. Though I’ve taken college courses, I think this is going to be more about getting out & doing it, then reading & studying about it. Of course, given my nature, I will probably still be doing some reading on the subject; hey, there could be my non-fiction book!

  11. Install & use the photo software I bought 2 years ago~ Part of this is clutter relief- the box has been shuffled around the computer desk & needs to be dealt with; the rest is about doing something with all the pictures stored on my computer that need fixing or enhancing, & then actually printing some of them out.

  12. Attend two scrapbooking crop nights~ To deal with the results of #10 & #11. A rather large scrapbook store opened up last year just across the street from the knitting shop. They have a regular monthly crop events- something like $10 for 6 hours, access to store equipment, & individual tables.

  13. Deposit $25 a pay period in my “Scotland” savings account~ If I ever want to take that trip, I have to get serious about saving for it. I can (& probably will) do more than that, but if I can commit to a minimum & consistent deposit, I’ll have something to show for it pretty quickly.

Cat Haiku

Oh no! Big One
has been trapped by newspaper!
Cat to the rescue!

Cat 12

Monday, January 15, 2007

How lazy are you?

Congratulations, You are 57% lazy

"Ok lets say it together now, I'm Lazy. Thats better, admitting it is the first step to getting better. Maybe you should turn off the computer and go and do some of those built up chores now. Oh ok, go on then, just one more quiz:)"

Yes, it is true- despite what you may think, I am in truth… lazy! Yes, I know my life sounds full & busy, & it is really, just like every other modern working wife & mother. But I manage to accomplish what needs to be done from the comfort of my desk, car, or recliner chair. I am the queen of delegation & procrastination at home. In reality, I am a very low energy person, evidenced by the fact I’m 75 lbs over weight; Chris routinely comes by to check my pulse on the weekends.

I managed to reach my goals for the weekend- I was lazy & I slept in. We didn’t make it to Friday night Family dance class; Chris got home late, after having to make an afternoon road call to Napa, so we just stayed home for the evening. Saturday, I managed to sleep until 8:00, before having to get up to use the bathroom & eat something to stop my stomach from growling. Chris took off for the day with some of the men in the church to do some repairs on one of our senior’s home, so after I took a walk (man- it was cold!) Sam & I headed to my office, after a stop at Starbuck’s to spend some of our gift certificates. Sam packed up some records for me, then went to visit his friend down the street, while I balanced the books & entered bills for next week- ended up spending about 3 ½ hours at the office & got done what was needed.

Saturday evening, we had the kick off event for a new ministry at church, called “House to House”. The idea behind it is to give couples the opportunity to spend time socially with another; four couples are randomly grouped & will meet the 2nd Saturday evening for a potluck dinner at one of their homes. It was a fun evening, & I’m looking forward to getting to know the 3 other couples in our group.

Sunday was a complete non-event; I went to church, came home & started a pot roast in the crock pot, then took a nap. The evening was spent bundled under a blanket in the living room (even Chris was cold) watching the “Monk” marathon & drinking Glögg with a little red wine.

Today, after sleeping until 8:00 again, Sam & I did some housekeeping; I went to Cost Plus for some honey & olive oil; I started making some bread (don’t get too impressed; I have a bread maker- I dump the ingredients in & press the button), then took a walk while it was still light out; at 6:30, Chris & I went into Livermore for adult class, after a 3 ½ month hiatus. It was great to see everyone & catch up on the news; it happened to be Sheena’s birthday (our instructor & friend) so we had a lovely tea between the beginners’ & intermediates’ classes. It felt good to be dancing again- I haven’t been able to do much dancing in the past year, between having surgery, the amount of traveling Chris did this season, & all the challenges at work. Now things have settled down, we will be able to spend time with our friends, doing what we enjoy.

I need to toddle off to bed- back to work tomorrow!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Hey- don't I know you?

My word- what a week! Thank you all for being so patient & dropping by, despite there being no new entries; I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without posting something.
As I said in my last post, I knew it was going to be a hectic couple of weeks for me at work; I just didn’t expect it to become as bad as it did. In addition to trying to do my regular month-end duties, there are year-end tax filings that need to be completed by the 31st, which I was expecting. What I didn’t count on was the complications that arose when we opened our new branch on Monday- transactions weren’t posting to the general ledger accounts & were being thrown into exceptions, which means lots of research time. Throw in training the new branch supervisor on balancing the ATM machine deposits (yippee-hooray; it’s going away from my desk!), who then decided that along with the 9 hours of personal training from me, she needed a written procedure manual. I completed the 24-page manual (with graphics!) at 5:30 last night, sealed it with a kiss, & placed on her desk on the way out; it was back on my desk this morning, with a thank you note & red pen revisions :( Some people just have too much time on their hands. Needless to say, my regular work has piled up, even with the valiant attempts by my department co-workers to back me up, so I will be putting in at least 3 hours on Saturday, so we can close the books next week.
Home life has been almost as busy. I’ve been getting back into the habit of walking in the evening; so as soon as I get home, I throw on my sweats & shoes, & head out for 30-40 minutes. When I get home, we fix dinner, I go through the mail, read the paper, & check my email. Normally, I would sit down to blog walk & maybe write an entry, but along with completing the procedure manual for work, I have a couple of knitting deadlines coming up. I’m doing my first online knitting swap (Thanks, Charity for the tip!); it’s called “Knit Mitt Kit Swap” & we are due to mail out on Tuesday. I finished the bag last week & felted it Monday (I’ll post before & after pictures this weekend); I already found the yarn, pattern, & a couple of notions, but I still need to pick up some treats & maybe some good circular needles. The girl I’m send to is used to being on a budget, so I’d like to send her some nice bamboo needles (which is all I use) since they feel so nice in your hand.
I’m also 2/3 of the way through an Irish Hiking Scarf, using Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk; this started out as a gift for Chris, but after about 12 inches, I decided it was too delicate & feminine looking for a macho guy like him. I bought some different yarn to make another for Chris, thinking I would finish the first one for myself; but while we were at my sister Crystal’s house last month, she couldn’t seem to keep her hands off of the scarf as I was working on it, so I’m going to send it for her birthday on February 16th. Don’t feel too bad for me, though; while in Albuquerque, Chris bought me some lovely Red Tweed Katmandu, which I plan to knit for myself (eventually!)
So, that’s pretty much been the extent of our week, aside from a Costco run, a trip to the library, Chris’ eye doctor appointment (blog rant forthcoming!), knitting group Wednesday, & choir practice Thursday. Tonight, we’re planning on heading back to our Scottish country dancing class, since the season is looming- our first scheduled performance is April 7th, at Ardenwood Farms in Fremont, in honor of National Tartan Day- so we need to get back into shape & learn our new dances for the year. I am thoroughly looking forward to my 3-day weekend; sleeping in is at the top of the list, right after complete laziness!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Where do I start?

It’s been a rather random few days- difficult to make into a cognitive narrative, so here are some bullet highlights.

Þ Bil’s trip out here this week was postponed due to the weather, which turned out to be a real God thing. Thursday evening, his son Evan had a rather frightening accident at home, severing some tendons in his right hand. They got him to the hospital right away, where he was stabilized. A surgeon from the Mayo clinic, who was visiting on a consultation, was able to perform the necessary surgery early Friday morning & the prognosis is very good. He’ll start physical therapy in a couple of weeks & we are believing for a full recovery in a few months. I know Bil, Ray, & Evan would appreciate your prayers during his recovery.

Þ I felt like something was missing this weekend; we’ve been running at full speed since before Thanksgiving, so it felt strange to not have anywhere we had to be! Actually, it was quite nice to just putter around for two days. Friday night, the guys picked up pizza & some movies, so we hung around the house after a long short week back to work & school. I slept until 8:00 on Saturday, cleaned the shower after bathing, dressed in sweats & read the paper with my breakfast. The weather was clear & cool, so Chris & I took a walk around 11:00, then I headed over to the mall to exchange Sam’s MP3 player we gave him for Christmas (after 3 days, it wouldn’t turn on, even with new batteries). When I got home a couple of hours later, Sam was up in the tree out front, trimming branches with Chris “supervising” from below. We all stayed out for about an hour, raking leaves, trimming the roses, & cleaning up the flowerbed. Then we went in to fix supper & watch one of the movies. Sunday morning was church, then a trip to the grocery store to stock up. I took a long nap in the afternoon & woke up to a nice supper of grilled London broil & fresh veggies. The evening was spent with Sam downloading music to his MP3 player, while Chris & I watched ice skating & Extreme Home Makeover.

Þ We have been adopted. There has been a cat coming into our backyard for a few weeks now; he sits by the sliding glass door nearly all day long, visiting the girls & talking to anyone who walks by the door. He is very well mannered, not using the raised bed as a litter box, & very fastidious about his grooming. We started calling him Fred Astaire, since he is always dressed in top hat, white tie & of course, tails. I’ve become accustomed to seeing him every day; when it turned cold a couple of weeks ago, I would see him perched on a piece of cardboard sitting under the potting table. So, I put an old chair cushion on the cardboard one morning, & we could hear him purring thru the kitchen window. Then a friend of mine, who heard my stories about Fred, gave me a “kitty condo” that her cat outgrew. We sprayed it thoroughly with Scotch Guard, put his cleaned cushion inside, & put it outside the door. Now he has a dry, warm place to sleep at night or shelter in during the blustery days ahead. Our neighbor, who took care of the girls while we were away, saw Fred eating out of plastic containers (yes, I know, I broke the cardinal rule- don’t feed strays- but I’m a softy with charming young cats) & brought over 2 ceramic cat bowls which had belonged to their cat that recently passed away. So, it seems to be official- we have another cat, but he won’t ever come in the house. Actually, Fred won’t let us too close as of yet- whenever anyone goes into the backyard, he hightails it to the other side of the yard until we go back inside. I’m hoping to get him to the point that he’ll let me pet him; then I can get him over to the vet for shots & to be neutered. I know he’ll have a fit & may not come back afterward, but since I’ve taken responsibility for Fred, I want to make sure he’s not out making lots of other little Fred’s with no homes.

Guess that’s it for now- I need to get to bed, since I’m facing a rather hectic end of the year close at work.

Cat Haiku

The rule for today:
Touch my tail, I shred your hand.
New rule tomorrow

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What do you do in your spare time?

As I've mentioned before, I finally completed the first of my college degrees back in May of last year, after attending classes part time for... wait for it... 15 years. The past 7 months have been a bit of an adjustment, rearranging schedules & priorities, after so many years of school & studying gobbling up my time. The biggest challenge has not been what to do with my time (there are so many things I wanted to do, but had to say no to over the years); it has been deciding which activities are the most beneficial & necessary. Among these are knitting, gardening, private baths, teatime, & blogging!

Even during the years in school, I always made time to read for pleasure, usually just before bed, while waiting at the doctor/dentist/orthodontist office, & semester breaks. The paradigm shift has been not feeling guilty about reading for fun! I cannot count the number of times over the years that I’ve sat down to read a new novel, & caught myself thinking, “I really ought to be doing my homework/research/project/term paper.” Now, I am enjoying that satisfying moment when the realization dawns that, no, I don’t have to do anything else & really can just sit here, treating myself to a little literary escapism.

In that frame of mind, I offer my first Thirteen Thursday of 2007:

Thirteen Favorite Authors
1. Jane Austen: Having discovered her in my early 30’s, I faithfully re-read at least two of her books each year
2. Lillian Jackson Braun: “The Cat Who…” series of mysteries- funny, quirk sleuth & his cats
3. Lucy Maud Montgomery: I first read her books after seeing “Anne of Green Gables” on television, & have since read nearly everything she had published- I especially love her short stories
4. Tamar Myers: Two wonderful series of mysteries- one based in Pennsylvania, the other in South Carolina
5. Maud Hart Lovelace: I discovered the “Betsy & Tacy” series when I was in Jr High
6. Elizabeth Peters: A relatively new discovery (with the past year) though she has been writing for years; I have devoured these mysteries set in turn of the century Egypt
7. Jan Karon: Delightful stories of the town of Mitford & Father Tim
8. Stephanie Barron: A series of fictional mysteries based on the life of Jane Austen
9. Miss Read: Delightful stories about a small village in England & their beloved teacher
10. P.G. Wodehouse: A prolific author, he wrote more than 100 books parodying upper-crust English society- Bertie Wooster & his man Jeeves are his most famous characters
11. J.K. Rowlings: Our entire family has devoured the entire “Harry Potter” series; the first books that Sam wanted to read
12. Agatha Christie: The Grand Dame of cozy mysteries; I particularly love Miss Marple & Tommy & Tuppence
13. Mary Daheim: Another modern mystery author- humorous & engaging, I enjoy her series based in a Seattle Bed & Breakfast inn

Something was lacking

Oh, wow- Brenda just reminded me that I haven't posted any Cat Haiku! Here is the latest installment:

My small cardboard box.

You cannot see me if I

can just hide my head.

 Cat 6

Author Unknown 

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hi-ho, hi-ho….

Well, you know the rest of it. Today was back to real life- work, school, errands & chores. Most times, it is almost not worth going on vacation, since it often takes twice as long to get caught up again. Surprisingly, my desk was not buried in paper & undone projects, & I left work on time!
I’m still sorting through all the impressions, conversations, moments, & images of our trip. Being a realist, I knew that one visit wouldn’t erase years of neglected relationships & bring instant intimacy between us all. I do know that the doors have been opened, hands are being extended by each of us, & every one has expressed the desire to spend more time together. As much as this trip meant to me, I think it was even more important for my father; this is from an email I received New Year Day “Since I left Albuquerque, I have reflected upon the wonder week that we all were privilege to share. I still have a warm, fuzzy feeling about all of us being together and wish that we can do it again soon. For me, it was a very meaningful time.” Whatever does or doesn’t happen from here on, I know I was able to make my father happy, & that was worth it.
Now it’s time to look at the coming year. It is going to be a rather eventful one for my family. We hit the ground running with Bil (yes, the same brother I was just visiting) arriving in the Bay Area tomorrow, & we are planning on getting together with Mother on Sunday. Ironically, he found out last month that he will coming out here every 6 weeks or so for the next year, to supervise a large project for work, so we will have several opportunities to spend time together. Both Sam & Jessica will have milestone birthdays in February, so I’ll be organizing appropriate celebrations for each (or both.) Other big family news is my younger brother, David, announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend, Wendy. While Mother is still a bit incredulous about the whole thing (he is 38 after all & never married), I’m excitedly planning a trip to Whistler, BC in July to attend the wedding. We are also tentatively planning a vacation to Florida in December, so Chris can actually see some of the sights he missed on his three trips there last year. Add to that a knitter’s retreat, a Spring break hideout at home to finish various projects, Chris facing some extensive dental work, Highland Games season starting in April, & assorted day trips to explore unique aspects of our area, & you see it will be business as usual around here- plenty of blog-fodder!
More importantly is the inner journey I take each year. I’m not one to make resolutions; I find them too intimidating & stressful. Instead, I want to look at areas of my life & set some small goals to work towards, things that will make me happier. I’d like to take on a new challenge- nothing major or life altering- just something new to learn or do, to add some variety to my routine. I’d like to improve some of my skills, such as photography & gardening, to reach towards a new level of creativity. Most importantly, I want to limit my commitments outside my home; I want my husband & son to know that they are my first priority.
So, this is the road stretching out before me. I can see the high spots & major landmarks ahead, but most of the journey is hidden in the twists & turns of the path. Yet, I’ve rarely feared the unknown; I have a Companion & Protector, leading me in the way He has planned, & I’ve learned to trust Him. This is the source of my peace, the reason I can remain calm & contented, no matter the chaos surrounding me. And now, I also have these electronic angels, friends & confidants I’ve met in the blog world, that will hold my hand & share the journey. For this, I am truly grateful.