The Voice Whispers To Me

It’s 6:31AM. I’m awake.

Photo by TJ Parker

In these days of no certain schedule, we try to keep busy, to keep our own schedule. But sometimes we go to bed earlier than normal, or maybe we don’t and I just wake up because my brain never shuts off. It whispers to me, we are not safe.

Coffee.

Weston is alseep now, moved from being next to me in the bed to being next to me on the chair. He can’t get comfy. He’s trying. Soon, when he does, he’ll be snoring. This is a dogs life. This world we’re living in is a dogs world. He doesn’t know anything about the big bad. He just wants a comfortable place to sleep awhile.

K is working a bit this week. She wasn’t supposed to. Was actually supposed to be off all week. We were supposed to be driving back from California this week. We came home early. It was a whirlwind trip, and scary. “Did you touch that?” “Use hand sanitizer.” “Did anyone get close to you when you went in?” “A woman was coughing really bad in the stall next to me in the bathroom.” And on and on… We were not safe.

K’s working because her company, who off-shores some work to India just got word India is shutting down. India is trying to contain the big bad with drastic measures. The work will not get done. Now some people on her team are training to do some of the data entry. Her comment… this is one of the reasons we should not be off-shoring. She is proud of her team. Knows they will rock this new challenge. Many of them were data entry people when she hired them years and years ago. It’s an ever changing world right now. Everyone is trying to adapt.

We’re counting down the days until we’ve been home two weeks. It’s been 8 days today. It seems like an important marker somehow. As if when we reach it we can release a breath and say, OK, we’re safe now. But we aren’t safe now.

We put a bear in our window, it’s bear hunt time. We clean the house, look for chores. We order a lot of groceries, trying out different methods. We want to feel safe. We wave at neighbors across the street, across the fence. We ride bikes and don’t get close to anyone. Don’t get close. It’s not safe.

Sitting here right now, listening to K’s work call, Weston sleeping between my legs, drinking a cup of coffee, sound of the dishwasher running in the kitchen, looking out the window, things seem normal. Spring is here. The trees and bushes are budding out, the daffodils are up and blooming, the sun is out. Things seem normal. They are not normal I remind myself. They are not normal at all. We are still not safe.

We try to focus on moments of laughter and beauty. Those moments happen often. Like when we made a lip sync video and danced. We made ourselves laugh so hard. We keep watching it. It cracks us up. We feel the sun and look at the flowers and get a kick out of our dogs, not to mention tons of love from our dogs. We try. We want to forget, just for a moment or two, that we are not safe.

We watch the concerts of friends and singers we like, take virtual tours of museums, listen to music, try yoga, read enough of the news to know what’s going on but not too much, not too much.

We were separated for 10 days when the shit was really hitting the fan. When we were still on the West Coast. K in California with her parents, me in Oregon and Washington and Oregon again with my Mom. It was tough to be away from her, and then tough to leave my Mom. I flew one direction, but rented a car to get back to her. Seemed safer than flying again. 10 days is a long time when you’re in the middle of something like this. I got back to California and we left that same day to head to Illinois and home. We hadn’t planned to, but then who could plan for all of this? The authorities were going to shut down the bay area and we wanted to get out while we could. It was a whirlwind. It felt like an escape. It felt like a movie. To be honest, everything still feels like a movie.

I need another cup of coffee now. It’s 7:53.

I check the weather.

I try to think of some task or chore I can do right now. This post is winding down. The distraction is winding down. And the whisper starts to sneak it’s way in again… we are not safe.

We are not safe.

I’m going to go empty the dishwasher, have some cereal. Take vitamins that help boost immunity. Everyone is probably taking those kinds of vitamins now. First though, I will wash my hands. Wash my hands for 20 seconds.

We are not safe.

Eight Years

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Photo by TJ Parker

Eight years ago today a doctor walked into my hospital room and told me I had leukemia.

Since then I’ve periodically asked a question of myself.  Not, as you might expect, why me, or even just why.  There is no why.  It was random, not predictable, and as far as we know not preventable.  It just was.  So the question isn’t why, but who.  Who was I then, am I the same person now, what did I learn from the experience?

I’ve written here about my philosophy of life a bit… which is basically kindness is key, our love for the people we love and who love us is all that really matters, find joy in the every day, and don’t lose hope about the things that matter to you.  But as this day rolls around every year I find myself doing a bit of an assessment.

I believe in forgiveness, in kindness, joy, hope, and love.  But, I’m not always the best at those things.  And on this day I find myself trying to remind myself who I am.  I find myself trying to forgive myself for the ways I know I’ve hurt people, which doesn’t let me off the hook for those slights, but it does let me employ one of my strongly held beliefs which is that each of us is doing the best we know how at the moment.  Sometimes our efforts aren’t that great, and we don’t handle things well, but at the moment we are only doing what we can with what we have.   It still means we have to try and do better, be better.  We owe our people that.  But, we also can’t continually beat ourselves up for the things we’ve done.  This is where apologizing comes in.  Sincere apology.  We admit what we’ve done, we feel it in our bones, the ways we’ve hurt someone, and then we say we’re sorry for it.  The apology is freeing for both people.  So I ask, have I apologized enough and meant it.  Have I forgiven others, have I forgiven myself?

Kindness.  Have I been kind?  To my people, to strangers, to myself.  Am I moving through the world as a kind person?  Do I say thank you, look people in the eyes, empathize, treat people with respect, watch out for their feelings, simply honor people as the beautiful human beings they are?  Am I kind to myself?  I hope so, I hope I do all of these things, but I know the answer is, I don’t always.  So I need to be more kind.  We can always be kinder.  I think there’s always another level of kindness to strive for.  I think the key for me is to be aware, to be present with people.  If I am, I’m kinder.

Joy.  It’s easy to get discouraged in life.  About our place in it, circumstances we find ourselves in, the state of the world.  The enemy of joy is fear.  So the key is to not be fearful.  But, that’s a tough one.  Having gone through this whole life-threatening experience I find myself afraid of the random and unknown.  Afraid of what could happen, suddenly, without warning.  This fear has no face or name or even bearing on what’s actually happening in my life at the time.  It just comes with large amounts of anxiety.  And when it comes it eats my joy whole.  Like a kipper snack.  So I find myself searching for ways to lessen the fear and find the joy.  I’m innately a silly, joyful person.  I’m a dork.  I can find joy in the smallest things when I’m not afraid.   So I’ve spent some time working on and continue to work on trying to be present in the small moments of life, which I feel is where joy lives.  In smiles and sunsets and dogs and wind in the trees and whispered secrets from grandchildren and laughs over nothing at all.  I try to remind myself to be present.  Nothing is promised to us, which certainly includes time, so we have to live now.  Be alive now.  Be joyous now.  This is a tough one, but I’m trying.  The wind chimes are going strong right now on the front porch, and the sound is magical, and there is joy in that.

Hope. It’s tough to be hopeful when all you see is the stuff that’s not working out.  But as I’m taking a look this year I find myself reminding myself that life is perception.  We see what we want.  Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes of all time.  It comes from the movie, The Abyss, “We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and he sees Russians. He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.”  At the time the film was made the cold war was still in full swing, so the Russians were the bad guys.  But the point isn’t that part of the quote.  The point is the essence of it which to me means we see what we want to see, which is frequently driven by our personal fears, and we have to look with better eyes.  So, I can either see the world from a place of love and forgiveness and hope, or I can see fear, I can see enemies.  I try to come from a place of seeing people as friendly, as human, as trying.  Again, I don’t always succeed in this, but when I do, hope springs and the world looks different somehow.  Brighter, fuller, rich in color and possibility.  It is hopeful.

Love.  I believe in connection and responsibility to and for that connection.  Life is about love.  Who we love, who loves us.  It’s about how we love.  Do we say it?  Do we show it?  Do we let the people we love feel the love we have for them?  For me, this brings gratitude into my life and makes me want to share that gratitude.  To say how grateful I feel for the people and love in my life doesn’t even cover it.  I am sometimes overwhelmed by the waves of it.  Struck profoundly silent by the weight of all the love I know I have in my life.  But, it’s sometimes too easy to see what we don’t have in life, what we think we’re missing.  And in the muck of that, we sometimes forget to take stock of what we have, or even to recognize that it’s there.  Who we have and what that means to us.  Love is all around us.  It’s all around me.  So, as I go through this day I let that wave of gratitude for enormous and profound love wash over me.  Hold me up.  It did when I was sick.  It’s what got me through.  Even though I was semi-isolated when I was sick, I felt the love pouring into me.  Lifting me up.  Holding me.  I felt it.  And luckily, I feel it still.  If I sit with it for a few moments I cry.  Out of a gratitude so overwhelming it crushes me in all the right ways.  That’s where I want to live, where I try to live.  Even when things are tough, the love is there.  I have it, and I try to give it back.  We’re responsible for giving it back.  For loving, and loving well.

Eight years.  If I think of all the beautiful and strange and magical and messy things that have happened in my life in the last eight years I’m amazed and so moved by it all.  It has definitely not all been easy, and there have definitely been sad and heart-breaking times, but there have also been so many moments of joy and laughter and love.  And I guess maybe that’s the point of taking stock.  Which is to say, it’s a messy thing, life.  But it’s in the middle of all that mess we find love and hope, kindness, and joy.  And I remind myself, isn’t that an amazing and beautiful thing?

Eight years.  Eight years on top of the nearly 45 years before those.

Wow.  What a ride it’s been so far.

 

 

 

 

“I used to think I was the strangest person…”

IMG_0018“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo

Words to Live By (Part 1)

“The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way.” 
― Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder and Ajq’ij of the Eagle Clan

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I’m 50 now.  The big 5-0.  It doesn’t freak me out, worry me, or make me feel like I’m old and getting older (though I am).  It has however made me reflect a bit on the life I’ve lived.  There are things I thought were important when I was younger, when I was more self-conscious and filled with angst.  Very dramatic.  I wrote a lot then.  Prose, poetry (some OK, mostly not), letters I never sent, some I did.  Now, at 50, I’m much more certain of myself, much more comfortable in my skin, not as self-conscious.  I’ve grown.  Most of us do.

Through the course of this time I’ve spent reflecting lately I’ve made a mental list of the things I think are important in life.  Obviously the people in our lives are the most important, but this list of things/ideals are what I believe make a life more fulfilled, the things that can actually make a life extraordinary.  I strive to put them into practice every day.  Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not.  But life is in the trying, and I try.

In honor of my turning the big 5-0 I’m going to throw the list out to the universe, as a gesture of good will and safe keeping.

I got a little carried away when I actually sat down to make the list (which is in no particular order by the way, just written as it came to me) so I’ve decided I will post it in parts.

Welcome to part 1….

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
― Mother Teresa

Compassion is paramount to living a fulling life, without it we are acting alone in the world, separate from our fellow humans.  We cannot pretend to know another persons story, or how they came to feel and think as they do, but we can honor them as human beings and wish the best for them.  We can be open to the fact that they have had different experiences than our own, not expecting them to then act and think as we do.  Compassion fills our hearts with love instead of animosity, it elevates us.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ Dalai Lama

Kindness is the most important tenet, to me.  Above all things.  It’s so important to me that I have the above quote about kindness on every email I send out – you might have gotten one.  Kindness is always possible.  We have to be kind to others, and to ourselves.  I’ve learned a little kindness takes us everywhere we want to go.  It soothes souls, can make a persons day, and costs us nothing.  A smile, a kind word, a thank you, a simple acknowledgement of someone all work toward the common good, and good in ourselves.  It is beyond valuable, beyond priceless.  Kindness is key.

“Tears are words that need to be written.” ― Paulo Coelho

Sadness happens to everyone in life, let yourself be sad when you are, but don’t live there, wallowing in it.  It’s a tough balance, but necessary.  You honor the feelings by letting yourself feel them.  You don’t let it take control of your life by remembering that there is more to life than just the thing that’s created your feeling of sadness.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” 
― Maya AngelouLetter to My Daughter

Inhabiting yourself – feel your body, know your mind, feel your presence.  Things will happen to us in life.  Things we cannot control.  Things terrible and strange and lovely and warm and awful and on and on.  We get through it.  We get through it best when we know ourselves, when we feel our own presence and our own power.  That knowing helps us to understand that life will happen, but we can bear it, we can step through it. We can move beyond whatever it is that’s happened and into something new, something that could be wonderful in its own way.

“Beauty doesn’t have to be about anything. What’s a vase about? What’s a sunset or a flower about? What, for that matter, is Mozart’s Twenty-third Piano Concerto about?” 
― Douglas AdamsThe Salmon of Doubt

Beauty is everywhere, if you look for it.  Noticing the wind moving the trees, the sun glinting through a fence, the way the dogs have that little walk they have, a phrase, a painting, a blade of grass, my honey breaking into song, in light and love and kindness.  Beauty is everywhere.  We choose to see it, or not.  Life is so much better if you look for it.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” 
― Herman Melville

Connectedness  Connection is everything.  We are not islands unto ourselves.  Our actions effect those around us, just as the actions of others affects us.  It’s so important to remember that our ideas and ideals are ours and to dwell in the knowledge that other people, other creatures, have their own ideas, wants, needs.  What we do, every day; the words we use when speaking to others, the actions we take in kindness, to our fellows and to our planet, all ripple out.  One kindness generates another, one word of anger generates more anger, one positive thought spills out to create more positivity in the world, a negative thought spreads negativity.  Everything we do has a consequence for others in small, and sometimes not so small, ways.  Everything is connected.

“But I can hardly sit still. I keep fidgeting, crossing one leg and then the other. I feel like I could throw off sparks, or break a window–maybe rearrange all the furniture.” 
― Raymond CarverWhere I’m Calling From: New and Selected Stories

Anxiety.  I have it.  Everyone experiences it.  It’s not always rational, but it’s a natural part of living, of caring about people, caring about the world, caring about yourself.  There is no getting rid of it entirely.  The question is, does the anxiety control you, or do you remember to breathe, look it in the face, and try to keep stepping forward.  Sometimes I succeed in that.  Sometimes I don’t.  That’s OK too.  We can all wish for a little less anxiety in life, but we have to be careful the wishing doesn’t just lead to more anxiety.  Acceptance, stepping into and through it, instead of constantly denying and fighting against it, helps.  We have to remember to breathe.

“No one needed to say it, but the room overflowed with that sort of blessing. The combination of loss and abundance. The abundance that has no guilt. The loss that has no fix. The simple tiredness that is not weary. The hope not built on blindness.” 
― Aimee BenderWillful Creatures

Temperament and trying to keep oneself on an even keel is important.  The energy we give out to the world matters.  Not that we should live for others, we shouldn’t, but it’s important to be aware of our impact on others.  That we do have an impact.  It’s not easy when you’re in a bad mood, but it’s so important to try to be your better self, to try to remember not to inflict that mood on everyone around you.  Conversely it’s important to remember that if someone you meet in your day is in a bad space, they may have had a terrible day, or be battling demons you don’t know or understand.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” 
― Frank HerbertDune

Fear, or the lack of it, is one of those constants in life.  We are afraid of what is happening, or what could happen, or what did happen.  Fear eats at us and taunts us and reminds us that we have a lot in life we don’t want to lose.  Fear is.  I love the line in the quote above about letting it pass through.  That rings true to me.  We have to face the things we’re afraid of, as best we can, and then let that fear pass through us.  We have to let ourselves look at what we fear, look it in the eye.  Only then do we begin to take the reins back from it.  We can never live entirely without fear.  We love, we dream, we hope, and so, we fear.  It is a part of living.  A part of caring.  But we can try to keep it from taking control of us, we can try to be its master, instead of letting it be the master of us.

“The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.” 
― Louis C.K.

Empathy is central to living a full life.  Kindness, compassion, and love all come from a place of empathy.  We don’t have to know or have lived someone else’s circumstances to ache for them or to hope for them.  We tend to live in our own little worlds, sure of our ideas and opinions, secure in the thought that what we think, the way we think, is the right way.  Sometimes we even believe what we think is the only way.  We’re wrong.  We have no idea what another person’s experience is, where they came from, what they’ve seen, what they’ve lived through.  To have true empathy is to say that you might not understand someone, but you want to nourish their souls anyway.  It is to admit that you don’t know everything, and that you shouldn’t judge what you don’t understand.  To empathize is to step outside of your own set of rules and to say that you feel for another human, regardless of the presumptions you have about them.

Be The Love You Want to See in The World

1935760_142466440801_985538_nI’m in a good mood.  And maybe because I’m in a good mood I want everyone to be in a good mood.  Happy speaks to happy, that kind of thing.

I know, I know, there’s a lot of shit going on in the world.  Yes, I said shit, I’m allowed to cuss once in a while.  Sometimes no other word works.  Seriously though, I’m not blind to all the stuff that’s not working.  I know there are things that need fixing.

But….

I think it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong.  It’s so easy in fact that we don’t see what’s going right.  What’s good.  The conflict and hate and the things we dislike seem to take our attention.  I’m not sure why that is.  We get critical of, and complain about a myriad of things – family members and politicians and news programs and celebrities and an endless litany of stuff.  The onslaught leaves us in a state of anxiety, anger, and helplessness.  Is there another way?

Sometimes, I think it’s just a matter of perspective.  Sometimes, all it takes is a moment, a little shift.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and open them again.  Look at the sky and the light and the faces of the people you love.  Put on a great album and hear the notes, the arrangement, the groove of the vocals.  Read a book and appreciate the beauty of the words.  Listen to the laughter of your children or grandchildren or your spouse.  Play with your pups or cats or rabbits or lizards and notice how much they love you.  Seek out positivity in your news, see what good is being done out in the world, there’s so much of it.  Notice kindnesses and smiles and the friendliness of your neighbors.  Watch sunsets and look with wonder at the amazing things we can build when we dream.  See the world with different eyes, a different heart, and it will be different.    It can be.  Even if we only manage to do it for a moment or a day.  String those moments to hours and those days to weeks. If we notice the kindnesses in the world, maybe we’ll act with more kindness.  Be the love you want to see in the world.

I’m in a good mood today and I want everyone to be in a good mood.

Extra-Ordinary

cropped-10606338_10152718999440802_7621001213431286246_n.jpgStomps foot down and says in a huff, I was meant for more than this, I was meant for great things.

I didn’t really throw a tantrum, though it sort of felt like one in my head, mental foot stomping and all.  Sometimes our better selves appear to the world, but not always so much inside our own minds.

I’ve always had this idea, as many of us have I imagine, that I was meant for great things.  That I was meant to do something extraordinary, something beyond the usual, past the normal, over and above the every day.  I can’t really remember a time I didn’t feel this way.  And the feeling of it, the haunting thoughts that come with that feeling, are sometimes sort of depressing.  After all, I haven’t really achieved anything big.  Big in the I’ve written the great american novel and it became hugely successful kind of way.  So to have this feeling with me that I haven’t yet done “the thing”, whatever that might look like, can be a downer. You know, not having fulfilled my greater potential and all.

I’ve lived, to this point, an ordinary life.

And yet…

I say that, and then the next thought is… yeah, but… wait.  Think of this life I have, this life I’ve lived and am living.  Think of the wonder of it.

Think.

It occurred to me the other day, driving down the freeway toward Chicago with the radio blasting my current favorite playlist, that I’ve always had this feeling.  This feeling of not achieving.  I’ve had it, and never named it, never spoken it aloud, or even mentioned it quietly to myself.  Never the less, it’s always been there, taunting me, haunting me, and pressuring me since forever.  The next thought that day was that I’ll be turning 50 on my next birthday.  The big 5-0.  Surprisingly I realized I wasn’t dreading it.  In fact, I’m sort of excited to be entering the next decade of my life.  I think good things are ahead.

But, back to the deep thoughts I was having that day in the car.  All of this was passing through my mind, my strange expectation for extraordinary, my approaching milestone of a birthday, what my life has been and is, and then it hit me, the most simple of ideas.  The purest of truths.  My life is amazing.  My life is phenomenal.

When I looked on my life, the ins and outs of it, the ups and downs, I realized something wonderful.  I already have an extraordinary life.  My every day is impeccable.  My place in the world is secure, my mark on the world happening every day.  If I honestly look at myself I realize I’m a good person.  I treat people well, I’m there for people when they need me, I look at things with a bend toward the positive instead of the negative, I love nature and my fellow humans despite all of their flaws and sometimes because of them, and I truly believe we can all rise up to be our better selves if given the opportunity and sometimes a little help.  I’m a good sister, a good daughter, a good friend, and a pretty good partner.  I tend to think the best of people, want the most for people, care deeply about what happens to my fellow creatures great and small, I recycle, I dance in the kitchen, and I feel a deep sense of wonder and awe about the world around me.  I also realized in that moment that my life has been a wonder so far.  The people I’ve known and know, the places I’ve been lucky enough to see, the experiences I’ve had in small ways and big.  It was incredible.  An enlightening realization.  I have and am everything I need.  My life is already extraordinary.

Wow.

Sometimes small moments, little thoughts, turn into huge discoveries.  One minute you’re just driving down the freeway listening to music on a sunny day and the next you are shifting how you feel about yourself and your world.

I’ve spent most of my life to this point thinking there was more, should be more, was supposed to be more.  That I was somehow not all I could be or should be or might be.  And that feeling, as I said before, haunted me.  It informed decisions, lent itself to indecision, and pushed me in all sorts of directions at once, while keeping me stuck where I was more often than not.  All of it inside, occasionally making me feel incomplete.

My realization, my revelation, is that I am all I was ever intended to be.  The rest, it’s unimportant. I know now that by being who I am, just me, I have changed people’s lives.  I had jobs where that was a literal thing, and yet somehow I always devalued it, until now.  I also know that I have had a decent impact on the people in my life, hopefully a good one.  Not just those I have known and still know, but on those I once knew, and don’t know anymore, and on those I will know.  I feel this certainty now as much as I felt the lack of it before.  I know this because I know how much the people in my life have had an effect on me.  I know this because it is.  And that is extraordinary.

My life has to this point been a series of wonder-filled moments.  Incredible moments.  I recognized some of them as they happened, more so when I looked back on them, but to now feel this sense of accomplishment for just being who I am, for just living the life I am, for just touching the lives of the people I have, it’s ground breaking to me.

This life, my life, is far from ordinary.  My life, every moment of it, has been and is extra-ordinary.  Light and love filled, even in it’s darkest moments.  To know this, to feel it now, to see it for what it actually has been and is…. it’s joyous.

Maya

 

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free. 
― Maya Angelou

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The Power of Two

Here it is, June 1.  I am amazed this much time has passed.  Two years.  Two.

Two years ago today I was a sick puppy and ventured into the urgent care, on the insistence of my honey and of the nurse who I’d talked to on the phone.  Urgent care to hospital via ambulance a few hours later and the adventure began.

I can’t believe it’s been two years.  Wow.  I’m blessed, lucky, and so very grateful for all the men and women who have, over the course of the last two years, provided me with amazing care.  From urgent care numerous times to hospital numerous times to infusion centers and labs and doctor’s offices I have seen the best of what humanity has to offer.  These countless people treated me and continue to with such respect and gentle understanding I am humbled.  From Oregon to Illinois I’ve been lucky to know them all.  The genuine way they listen and treat is phenomenal.  I wish I could hug each one and let them know how much they have meant and continue to mean to me.  Having told them and continuing to tell them thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.

Two years.  This is a great grand life I’m living.  If this experience has taught me nothing else it is that a person should constantly, to the point of over doing it, express how much they care for and love the people around them.  They are what makes our life fantastic and lovely.  Nothing else.  So to the universe of people out there, old and new, who I know and love and who have shown such great support and love throughout not just this experience but my life, I love each and every one of you.

 

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The House

So Karen and I realized we’ve lived here just about five weeks.  We are finally getting things sort of settled, though there’s still some wallpaper border to remove and definitely painting to be done.  I took a little tour of the house, snapping shots as I went, so that we could share what the place is looking like now.  Keep in mind… the dots in the office are going, as is the wallpaper border in the dining room, as is the color in the media room and the spare bedroom.  We have a few more things to hang on the walls… including a tryptic we just ordered of a shot I took of Chicago that’s going to hang down in the media room.  Can’t wait to get that baby.  Will be cool.  Obviously we haven’t hung anything up in the office or the spare bedroom either, again due to the fact that we haven’t painted anything yet.

Uh, the picture quality isn’t the best… I was doing this on the fly and not really paying attention.  My honey will hate that the bed isn’t fully made in the bedroom photos and that there are blankets thrown about down in the media room as well as in the living room, but hey… this is how we live most of the time.

Our yard is fantastic.  Pretty big.  We like it.  Our garage, which I didn’t shoot at all, is about a car and a half.  Plenty of room for the car and for tools, storage, and such.  I’ll shoot that next time I make some rounds.  I also didn’t shoot the side yard, street side, that’s beautiful.  Oh well… looks like I left a few things out.  Next time…

Martin called our style bohemian.  We like it.  He’s right.  We don’t like any particular style.  We like what we like and buy what we like and somehow it all fits together.

When and as things get painted and wallpaper gets removed I will take more photos.  You know, when the house is completely done.  I’ll try to make those more house beautiful.  For now… this is it… our place in Illinois.

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17 Days in Urbana… and Counting

Life in the Midwest is pretty much everything we expected it to be… yet… more.  And less.  So philosphical.

Karen and I were making a list the other day of some of those differences and I thought, given the fact that I’m sitting here in the office while Karen works and it’s getting hot hot hot out there, that I would do something in our air conditioned house.  Namely blog about some of the differences we’ve found so far after living in Urbana for 17 days.

It’s hot here… and that hot is a different kind of hot.  Hot as in the butter is always soft if you leave it on the counter.  Really soft… melting soft.  Even inside with the air conditioning on.  Not only that… ice cubes melt incredibly fast.  They are there… then poof, gone.  Your glass has sweated all over the table, coaster, napkin, whatever.  Inside mind you, inside with the air conditioning blasting.  Not outside, where ice wouldn’t stand a chance at all.

Sunsets are beautiful here… and the weather creates part of that, but so does the endless skyline.  No mountains to block them out so they last a long long time.  It’s flat.  Really flat.  So the sunsets last and last… lingering over the corn fields and prairie grasses for a very long time.  Gorgeous.

It’s never quiet… during the day there’s the regular noise… cars driving by, people walking by, dogs barking (ours and others), horns honking, garbage trucks, people mowing their lawns.  A cacophony of sound for a couple of girls who used to live out in the country… we’re getting used to it and actually like a certain measure of it.  It’s the symphony of moving life all around us.  The thing that’s shocking is the night noise… the sound of the cicadas.  So loud.  So very loud.  It’s such an interesting thing since we didn’t have them in the Pacific Northwest.  We had the occasional owl sound and sometimes coyotes, but that was only once in a while.  This wall of sound from the cicadas is amazing.  Not annoying to us, just shocking.

Humidity.  We were not prepared.  We thought we were mentally prepared, knew it would be the hardest part of the transition, but we were not prepared.  Neither of us like that kind of heat.  Hot, damp, heavy air.  Not fans.  And it’s not even because our bouffants don’t stay up or that when we tease it suddenly goes limp… and yes, I’m kidding, about the bouffants and the teasing I mean.  It’s an amazing thing, this humidity.  We are learning, slowly, all about dew points and heat indexes and why 60% humidity in Oregon is nothing like 60% humidity here.  It’s a learning curve, and air conditioning is our friend.  That and fans… loads and loads of new fans.

There’s something to be said for a small kitchen.  Our kitchen in this house is small.  Smaller than the kitchen we had in Scappoose.  Not much counter space, and hardly any cupboard space at all.  It’s cool… with it’s granite counter tops, great gas stove and oven, it’s under mount sink.  But it’s small… really small.  But… we like it.  Who knew?  We put up a big metro shelf for storage of food.  It’s all out and open to the room, but we love that about it.  We also got a metro cart that we put spices and baking stuff on and added a cool dark bamboo cutting board to the top of it so we could move it around and use it for chopping and such when we needed more room.  It works great.  When we put our bowls and large collection of coffee cups away from the dishwasher we don’t have to move at all.  Everything is right there. Easy, close, convenient, and very organized.  It has to be.  It is.  We like it.  Simple.  Of course, having a small kitchen is helped by the fact that we can store anything that doesn’t fit, the stuff we don’t use very often, down in our second kitchen.  It’s small too, but it holds the overflow nicely.  We got lucky there.

I had here, next, that we couldn’t find raw dog food… and it was a challenge.  We tried several places with no luck.  We thought, wow… there are a lot of dogs here, we see them all the time.  People love their dogs here, like in Portland, so what gives.  No raw?  Finally we looked up the company that makes it and used their locate our products in your area tab… one place.  In Savoy.  It’s only 4 miles from our house, and it’s a very cool feed/country store.  They have everything a pet owner or horse and cattle man might want.  Plus, they were nice.  So… we couldn’t find it, but now we did, and we love the store.  There you go.  Out in Savoy we also discovered a huge movie theater, a new Shnuck’s grocery store, a Buffalo Wild Wings (Karen was a happy happy woman knowing she could get Asian Zing so close to our house), and a small myriad of other little places.  Savoy is the nearby hamlet that seems to just keep on giving.

Living in a University town again is really cool.  I’ve always loved Universities… the vibe, the life, the people (students and staff alike) rushing to go somewhere important.  This town, these towns, with this huge University at the center of them, is the same.  There will be art, and music, and sporting events galore.  There will be philosophical discussions to over hear in coffee shops and restaurants, there will be slightly drunk young men to talk to outside of the Black Dog Smoke and Ale House when we go to get take out.  Awesome!

Lots of bugs and five times times the size.  There are a lot of bugs here.  And they are big.  Nothing to really expound on except that I saw a thing (and then Mary saw it) at Mary and Martin’s house… it looked like a small bird, only it was a bee or hornet or some such thing that was too awfully big to be anything other than awful.  I’m sure it chased me into their house one day.  I’m sure of it.  I narrowly escaped.  It was frightening.  Mary saw it a few days later going into a hole in the ground in their back yard.  Karen filled the hole with a crap load of sand.  Hopefully that thing won’t be making another fly by appearance.  Creepy.

There are super friendly people here.  Really friendly.  We have had most all of our close neighbors come over to say hello to us.  Two even brought baked goods. We haven’t returned the plate to one of them, so they might not be feeling as friendly toward us right now, but they will again when we bring it back with oatmeal cookies on it.  That’s our plan… bribe them back with our own baked goods.  But it’s not just our neighbors… everyone everywhere we go has been friendly.  Nice nice nice.  They say hello when you pass them, look you in the eye, mean it.  Nice.  Friendly.  Sure, there’s that anonymous neighbor who has called the cops on us twice for barking dogs (admittedly once before we got here and the kids were living here with their dogs… and then one time later when their dogs were over here… though I’m sure it was all four of them barking).  We don’t know who they are, since they wish to remain anonymous, and the police, who came to the door both times, said the second time that really they just wanted to make sure the dogs were OK and not being left outside in the heat.  Once they knew we had a doggie door they were like, no worries…

Nights are (forever without you…. laaaaa…  that song just popped into my head… I digress) warmer for being out and about.  One fantastic thing about living here is the night time weather.  It’s so nice being in shorts and flip flops out and about at 9 or 10 or 11 and it’s warm.  A nice little breeze, but still 75 or 80.  We both love love love that.  It’s summer… and flip flops and shorts, no sweatshirt… awesome!  In fact, the other night when we were at the Sweetcorn Festival waiting for Survivor to start we were both a tad shocked when we said we were just a little chilly.  Not bad, but just a little.  The sweat that happens here, followed by a cool breeze in the evening, even when it’s still 80, cools a person down.  We are acclimating.  And everything is relative.  Any way you look at this one, we love being out and about in the evenings without having to don a sweatshirt… or even take one with us.

It’s really fun to discover a new place.  Every day we find a new restaurant to try, or a new store we want to go to, or a new park to walk the dogs in.  And that’s just in these two towns.  There are neighboring towns and townships, neighboring states and parks, all waiting for us to discover them.  It’s an exciting thing… even just walking the aisles of the local grocery stores.  We’re learning, discovering, experiencing the adventure of it all.  That’s a great fantastic thing.

We’ve worn more wicking t-shirts than ever before, in our lives… they work great.  And they dry fast.  Enough said… this one goes along with the humidity factoid.

Being so close to everything is nice for walking and just going to the store.  Not having lived in town for a very long time, for me, and for a very very long time, for Karen, it’s really nice to get anywhere we want to go in minutes.  I had to drive across the cities on Monday and I got over there in 10/15 minutes.  Easy.  And closer to home we can walk to restaurants, the library, the recent Sweetcorn Festival, and parks.  It’s lovely.  As soon as Karen gets that walking boot off we will also be bike riding.  We’re both looking forward to that.  It’s one of the things we wanted in coming here and our house is definitely in a great spot for that.  Very different from our life in Scappoose where we had to drive to go anywhere.

8.75 sales tax is shocking.  There’s only a 1% on food in the grocery store, but it’s a surprise to us, every time, when we go to pay for something.  No more knowing exactly what you’re spending when you walk up to the counter.  The taxes here are high… and that’s no lie.

Pumping your own gas is cool (karen is not a fan).  For a girl from Oregon I’m used to other people pumping my gas.  I love that I can just whip in to a station, hop out, pump the gas, and go.  Karen isn’t as big a fan as I am.  She likes someone to do it.  To not have to get out of the car.  I may feel the same way when the temperatures turn cold here, but for now I love it.

Having a fenced backyard for the pups is awesome.  In Scappoose we didn’t have a fence.  We did that on purpose as we didn’t want to mess with the aesthetic of the place, but it caused me stress when the pups were outside.  I would worry, too much I’m sure, about where they were, what they were doing, where they were going.  I could never really relax outside if they were out with us, which they usually were.  I was always worried someone would drive up and not see them or they would chase something down the driveway to the road.  Always worried.  Here… no worries.  There’s a completely fenced back yard that’s really decent size.  They are loving it more and more and I love that they have it, and that I don’t have to stress about them.  Ahhhhhh….

The new medical facilities are very nice.  The transition with my medical stuff has gone really well, and the new facilities here are really nice.  It’s sweet.  We will see how it is when Karen goes to get her ankle looked at in a couple of weeks and I go to have a new patient consult with a GP in a couple of weeks.  But so far… it’s good.

Pacific northwest people don’t know anything about thunderstorms… and that included us.  So… yes, I did learn about thunderstorms, as did Kev, when we drove Mary’s car out here in June.  Tornado warnings, black upon black clouds, etc.  Scary stuff then.  But even the regular thunderstorms here… boat loads of rain in a really short amount of time, LOUD thunder and lightening that hits the ground.  It’s fun and fantastic to watch, and also a tad scary at the same time.  I think I like them… and am scared by them…. it’s going to be a love hate relationship.

Shopping is an adventure… none of our known stores are here… besides things like Walgreens I mean.  We have Meijer, and Shnucks, and County Market.  We have the Co-op  and Strawberry Fields for more natural and organics though Meijer actually has some decent organic selections.  It’s learning a whole new system of grocery buying for us.  It’s fun actually.  As is learning about new restaurants and deciding where we should go for my upcoming birthday weekend (we decided on Southern Illinois and the Shawnee National Forest).  It’s all an adventure… finding new places to take the pups for walks, learning about where to see music,

Lastly, for now anyway… Illinois sweet corn is good.  Very tasty.  We are fans.  Karen is in corn heaven!

It’s continuing to be different, new, strange, good, scary, happy, sweet, sad from missing everyone, great, adventurous, and beautiful to get to spend time with Sebastian, Mary, and Martin.  It’s what we feared, but more than we hoped for.  It’s life… and we are living it!

This Is Your Life

This Is Your Life

Being Normal

Kev and I went to the airport last night to meet Karen, who was returning from a business trip.  She didn’t expect us as she’d driven to the airport, had a car in long term parking (the trip was a Tuesday to Thursday thing), and was expecting to drive herself home.  We thought we would surprise her and then I could drive her home.  Both Kev and I knew she would be very tired, still on East coast time, having not slept well while she was away.  So we drove in to meet her plane, which landed minutes before ten.  She was surprised.  It was a great thing to do.  And, as planned, I drove her home.

I’m smiling about this…. this is a thing the Tam before leukemia would do.  This is a thing the Tam with leukemia in full remission did.  This is something from my normal life.

People complain about normal, about it being mundane, ordinary… boring.  I might even have said things like that in the past.  I never will again.  Normal, to me, is great.  It’s good.  I have said over and over in the last month or so that I just want to be able to get back to leading a normal life.  Living a normal life.  Yes, I know I have maintenance for another 23 months.  I know that.  But my maintenance isn’t that bad.  I’m starting to get into a routine with it.  I can lead a normal life doing it.  What’s normal you ask?  It’s doing the dishes and laundry without feeling exhausted during and after.  It’s going to the grocery store with my honey and not having to wait in the car.  It’s attending functions with family and friends and going to movies and taking trips and getting out taking my cameras almost everywhere I go.  Normal is not having everyone think of me as the girl with leukemia.  It’s being myself, coming back to myself, again.  Normal.  What a fantastic lovely word that is.  What a glorious way to be being normal is.

Consider This

As most people in our lives know, Karen was very very sick in late November and early December. She spent 6 days in a critic care unit at Sunnyside Hospital. It was a very scary experience for both of us. Nothing is worse than being so sick or watching someone you love be so sick, and not being able to just will them to get better. It was terrifying actually. Then… she got better. It was wonderful. And the reason she got better was because of the great work of the people at the hospital. They did their jobs well and they did them with grace and by truly caring for Karen as their patient.

A couple of weeks ago I sent a letter/email to the nurse manager of the unit Karen was on. I’d kept a list of all the people who worked with Karen during her time there and wanted to let the management know, and the staff themselves, how much their work mattered to us. How much it meant. How much we appreciated them and how grateful we were.

I thought to myself… you know, people don’t say a genuine thank you enough. They just don’t. We aren’t always the most considerate of a species. We should be. We should say thank you when someone does a great job waiting the table or pumping the gas (for all you Oregonian’s out there) or giving us a smile as they check our groceries at the store. We should say thank you when we are treated with kindness and a smile at the doctor’s office or when someone we don’t know holds the door for us. We should appreciate these things. We should smile. We shouldn’t take it all for granted.

Everyone is quick to get testy. To be annoyed. To judge, to make fun of, to rant about what they see as little slights. We tend to be so negative as a people. Why is that?

I say let’s get on the happy train. Sounds silly? It’s not. Let’s start noticing what’s right and beautiful and worth while in the world. Let’s concentrate on that. Let’s be awed and inspired and thankful.

I’m not saying we should ignore what’s wrong or put up with things we shouldn’t. I’m just saying we ALSO need to notice what’s good and honest and wonderful. Beautiful gracious things happen every day. People do things every day that are helpful and caring. So let’s concentrate on that. Put our focus there. Notice. I wonder what would happen. I wonder what would happen if when we looked up and around we saw the trees moving in the wind and the smile on a mother’s face as she talked to her child and how lovely it is to just be here, alive, living… being happy in this moment. I wonder what would happen if we all did it…. if we all noticed… how the world might change for the better. We need to celebrate our spirit our tenacity our willingness to step in for each other and our caring selves. It’s a wonderful place, this world is. Wonderful things happen all the time. It would be a place of even greater wonder if we all just considered being a bit more considerate.

Lordy… This IS Life!!!

I haven’t posted in ages.  I’m lame.  And exactly how many times have I said that after not posting for ages?  Many.

So much in life has happened recently… Since Thanksgiving really.  Thanksgiving with friends, then Karen’s illness and hospitalization, then her recovery, then our time in Chicago over the holidays which included Mary and Martin’s wedding, then back to work, then the fantastic news that we will be grandparents (yep…woo hoo!!! Mary and Martin are expecting a little bambino!!  Yay!!!!) in September, and then my decision to… to… I can barely say it… quit my job so we can run off to England and be there, for a few weeks, before and after the little monkey’s birth and then over the holidays and then…. I don’t even know what comes then.  It’s a lot to soak up.  On one hand… more exciting than I can say.  On the other hand… it’s a bit sad, and scary, and it’s more exciting than I can say.  I’m leaving this life I’ve known with certainty and moving into a life where there is no certainty, other than the fact that I will be doing something I love completely (taking photographs and writing) and loving my family.  I guess that’s an amazing gift.  I don’t even really have to guess about it, it IS an amazing gift.

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Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

October 27 Karen, Kev, and I traveled to Mom and Don’s place to do our annual celebration. It always includes three things… candles to commemorate the year, brownies, and mocha almond fudge ice cream (because it’s Mom’s favorite). What are we celebrating? We are celebrating Mom. Mom’s determination, grace, sense of humor, her absolute unwillingness to give in to feeling down or letting something get the best of her. That’s Mom. Fantastic, amazing, and continuing to go about life in a strong and loving way. I love you Mom. I love you.

Dinner by Nicholas



Dinner by Nicholas

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

Last Friday night we had a little get together for our friend Kate. Kate, you are an inspiration to all who know you. One year girl… the first of many fantastic years to come. You are a rock star. It was a joy helping you celebrate!

Another Tub Shot

Another Tub Shot

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

We love our tub. Here’s a great shot of it with the burgundy colored rug in front of it. Had to throw a bit o’ red into the bathroom. Also love the faucet for the tub. So cool.

Window Casings

Window Casings

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

So here is a shot after some of the crown and the majority of the window casing in the bay was finished. There are also rugs on the floor. Cool eh?

Practicing With The Wide Angle

Practicing With The Wide Angle

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

I just recently procured a wide angle lens. I had a professional job as a photographer and needed it to do the shoot I was hired to do. This was me practicing with it at home to see what the scope of it was. Our bookcases… full. Wow… you can tell a lot about our lives from this photo. I’ll leave that to you to decipher…

Chiminea

Chiminea, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Last weekend, both nights after the work was done, we all (Mom, Don, Kev, Karen, and I) sat around the chiminea chatting. Really nice way to end a hard days work. Love having this outdoor mini fireplace-ish kinda thing. Pretty terrific.

So our project is coming along. After tiling will be finish plumbing and electrical. Once those are done we will have a working bathroom. There will still be finish work, which Kev is doing, to complete. Crown molding, baseboards, building the half wall/shelving unit that will go next to the toilet, installing the linen/water heater closet doors, installing the bathroom door and the walk in closet door, casing the windows, cutting the hole for the light tube in the walk in closet, venting the fan out the end of the house…. and well, I think that’s it. We are going to use metro shelving in our closet. Easy to put in and we both like the metal look of it. Sort of different, and portable so we can move it around in there or use it elsewhere should we decide later to put different shelving in the closet.

We’re getting close… nearing the finish line. It’s pretty exciting. Pretty exciting indeed.

Ground Cover

Ground Cover, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

The ground cover at our house is really lovely right now. Gorgeous in fact.

Quote of the Day

You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.

– Frederick Buechner

NaBloPoMo…

… just had to do that.  National Blog Posting Month, every month.  July’s theme is routine.  Thought I’d throw out a mini post about routine.  A day in our life, so to speak.

Get up at 6:30, take the dogs out, take a shower (or not), get the lunch ready to take to work… meanwhile…. Karen is right up and to work (after taking the dogs out).  She brews her tea, boots up her computer, dons her headset, and she’s working.  She peruses work from the night before to see if there were issues, then dives in.  Right now, for instance, she’s having a meeting… while wearing her Obama t-shirt and ho ho ho fleece pajama bottoms.  She’s in charge.  Pretty impressive, even in the outfit.  And that’s pretty much her day.  She’s in the office, on the phone meeting or working out issues with people around the country, working on her computer, sending e-mail, etc.  I, on the other hand, have a different gig.  OK, so I make my lunch, and then if I have time I usually sit in the office and check my email, or send out a tweet, or peruse Facebook, or look at the news, etc.  Nothing of real substance, but at least I’m close to my sweetie.  We can’t really talk in the morning after the initial getting up period as Karen is usually on the phone almost immediately.  She has a meeting every day at 7:30 and is usually having to talk to someone before that meeting.  Last night was rough for them… it’s going to take a lot of clean up and adjusting on her part today to get things back in order.  Ah, the life of a high powered exec in her pajamas.

Work for me…  I get out of here about 8:00, or at least I should.  My work day starts at 8:30.  I usually try to get there a tad early, though this plan frequently doesn’t work.  Who knows why… sometimes it feels like someone is sneaking in and moving the clocks forward or something.  Most likely it’s my ability to do nothing and take up huge amounts of time.  It’s a gift… I know.  But, back at work… when I get there.  I make the coffee if it hasn’t been made, boot up my computer to see if I’ve gotten any emergent e-mail, check phone messages (if I have any, and I frequently do… people like to call AFTER we close… LOL).  My co-workers and I all check in with each other, the on call person usually reports on any calls that came in over night (I’m on call right now and no calls came in last night… meaning, no report).  If there was a call on one of my clients I then have to spring into action to either set court hearings, look for reports, call to get reports because they haven’t come in yet, and usually call the family.  If no calls… back to the usual routine.  My days are very different from each other one to the next.  Some days I do loads of paperwork including petitions, database entry, letter writing, caseload perusal and tweaking, phone calls with distraught people who have problems they’d like me to solve, etc.  Some days I head out into the field and see clients in the areas I cover, or go to detention to see a kid, or attend various meetings.  Some days I have court.  That means wearing nice clothes (or nicer, in comparison to the casualness of what I usually wear), meeting with families before we go in to explain the process to them (if I haven’t already had a chance to meet with them in advance), handling the arraignment (presenting the case and parties to the Judge, reading the charge into the record, then sitting down… I’m not an attorney, but I have to act like one), and giving recommendations to the court if the client admits (including reading all the rules into the record) or discussing conditions of release if the client doesn’t admit.  Sometimes I’ll have three hearings in a morning.  I think the most I ever had was 5 or 6.  That’s too many.  By the time you get to the last couple of them it’s hard to remember who the parties are, why they’re there, what’s going on.  A person can be really mind fried by then.  I always admire the Judge’s ability to just sort of handle the cases all day, all that info, all the parties, etc.  Impressive.  Sometimes I’ll have a pre-trial conference with the client’s attorney and I’m sitting there plea bargaining with them.  Again, I’m not an attorney, but I have to act like one.  It’s kinda cool, and pretty interesting.

My day goes like that… then it’s five and I come home.  Karen is usually still working… sometimes for another hour or so.  I get greeted hardily by the pups, who act as though they haven’t seen me in days.  It’s lovely.  I again usually come into the office and look around on iTunes or work on my photos or peruse my e-mail or tweet something or look at Facebook or read the news or, like last night, start looking at tile for the bathroom addition we’re putting on (if the county will get on with approving our plans).  We hang in the office for a while, me zoning out, Karen still working, and then we shut it down for the night and, if we stay home, we play a little with the dogs, give them some dinner, make dinner for ourselves, eat either outside, if it’s nice, or at the table.  We talk.  Then it’s movie time.  Plop in a film from Netflix, hope it’s good, go to bed afterward.  If we don’t stay home we are usually grocery shopping or meeting friends for dinner or going to a movie or taking the dogs for a walk or going for a bike ride somewhere.

It is a glorious life.  We have our routines, the way we live our lives every day, and it’s beautiful.  I would never change the way Weston looks at me every morning when I’m sitting here at my computer, and he finally gets his way and jumps in my lap to either give me kisses or try and sit on my desk.  I wouldn’t change the way we get up the same way every day, or go to bed the same way every night… taking the dogs out, taking our vitamins, closing down the house.  I wouldn’t change any of it.  I love this life I’m lucky to be living right now.  I absolutely love it.

Still Here…

Hey folks… Just wanted to say, I’m still here.  We’ve been swamped with all things life.  A trip down to San Jose to visit with Karen’s family (had a great time with them), watching election coverage (including watching all manner of news programs we normally don’t watch but are now hooked on), trying to get the new puppy house trained (girls are tough), buying a new rental house (that makes two so far) and starting the work on it, and generally running around like mad women with our heads cut off.  Nice metaphor for this All Hallows Eve don’t ya think?  Heads off… yeah, it’s good. 

So don’t you all worry… I will be back, and back regularly, very soon.  I’ll also get my image – ination site up to date as well.  I have loads of photos, I just haven’t uploaded all of them and haven’t posted in a couple of weeks.  Wow.  A couple of weeks.  I’m lame.