MTM: It just keeps snowing

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Off in my trusty minivan (nearly 127,000 miles on it) to take our teenager to a doctor appointment.  Good thing I like this white stuff!

What’s another 6 inches of snow to such a reliable vehicle?

A: Hopefully nothing at all!

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Check out more Out the Window shots with Carmi and friends this week.

Back in the Air

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I’m traveling home this afternoon, back to a place where there are four definite seasons. All this Arizona sunshine is lovely but I’m finding it difficult to believe it is late October when the days reach 96 degrees and the warm nights are filled with the sound of crickets. I miss my husband, my home, and — let’s be honest here — my internet connection. For this visit I stayed with my stepmother at her retirement center, which was lovely and quiet (and much cheaper than a hotel room); however, she does not have WiFi because she does not have a computer. Luckily, there is a strong WiFi connection at my dad’s place where I’ve managed to use the internet for his enjoyment, sharing photos, videos and podcasts while also briefly checking my own sites. Thanks to my daughter-in-law’s use of Facebook, I was able to go to her “timeline” and share the video of the baby learning to crawl with great-grandpa.

File this under “Proof that opposites attract”
My dad and his wife have been married for 31 years. She keeps the TV channel firmly set on Faux “News” (thankfully not at high volume, so I can “tune it out” pretty easily) where a certain so-called political candidate is nearly deified while his opponent is put down in various ways. Meanwhile, in his room at the assisted living facility, my dad watches PBS NewsHour on the telly. He is having no trouble deciding for whom to vote for President, although some of the local candidates give him pause. It made me glad that he is still mentally “all there” and that I was able to deliver my dad’s absentee ballot to him (his wife sent it with me when I drove in for my visit on Saturday). Like many conservative voters, she still does not know for whom she will vote for President — neither candidate pleases her — despite her steady diet of F-news. This election is going to have interesting results in many areas.

Two busy weeks of work are ahead of me, bookended by busy weekends filled with travel and activities. If it wasn’t for travel time, I’d be having trouble switching from one mode to the other.

Wilderness in the City

SuperDad has been playing Pokemon GO — which I find somewhat amusing and only slightly annoying. His phone is the only one in the entire family that can support the game but we all joined him in exploring a new-to-us city park on Sunday evening.
DSCN0649 Upper Lincoln Park, resized

The upper portion of the park has been primarily left in its natural state.

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DSCN0669 Peek-a-boo Lincoln Park pond, resized

Peek-a-boo view of the natural pond

DSCN0635 Lincoln Park pond, resized

DSCN0634  Reflection, Lincoln Park pond duck, resizedIt is easy to forget you are in the middle of a city residential area while walking through this park. It was established in 1913.

Beacon Hill, left foreground, and Mt. Spokane, right background

DSCN0644 Hiker's view, upper Lincoln Park, resizedThe view from the cliff wasn’t too shabby either.  The zoomed-in photo shows Mt. Spokane in the far distance to the right (the bare portion is the ski area), and Beacon Hill (which had a fire burning on the back side of it just one week ago) is on the left — it received its name from the lights that shine from the tips of the signal towers at night.

DSCN0689 Moses and Boy, Lincoln Park, cropped, resized   Moses was happy to be with his boys. I imagine that both he and The Barefooter walked a little gingerly on the basalt trails.
DSCN0683 late summer, upper Lincoln Park, resized

I didn’t need to use a cane for the flat road that rimmed the upper park, but it was needed and helpful for the trails and downhill sections.

DSCN0691 Lower Lincoln Park, rest rooms, size comparison, rock, evening sun, resized, cropped 4x6

Behind this large boulder is a timber-and-rock restroom, built in the early days of the park.

DSCN0697 Lincoln Park house for sale, websizedThe lower park had lush green grass, a playground, restroom, and picnic tables. By this point my ankle was done (nine months post surgery and I continue to be very limited in activities), so I walked to the edge to sit and wait for the others to bring the car around.

Before driving home, we admired (from a safe distance) this home for sale. It is only a block down the street from the traditional portion of the park and it backs up to the cliff on which the upper park is situated. Designed by architect Kirkland Cutter and built in 1916, it has 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and 6,200+ square footage on 3.16 acres. The woodwork is exquisite, the setting is private and there’s even a guest house. It can be yours for 1.18 million dollars.

DSCN0700 late summer sunset sky, vapor trails, home, resized

Then we drove home and appreciated our own humble abode and the sunset sky. The view is free.

Manual Labor

At 10:20 pm last night, this creature came through the front door:

After working all day removing burnt fencing in Fruitdale

This is what manual labor looks like after working all day to remove burnt fencing (charred in last year’s fires).

I told EB that he looked like a miner and sent him to wash in the laundry room utility sink.(I’m not mean — I also filled a dinner plate with meat & veggies and poured him a glass of milk and a glass of water.)

He drove 90 minutes home looking like that and he plans to return on Thursday to finish the job. Tonight he hits the shower before he hits the sack; tomorrow he drives an hour in a different direction to chop and split firewood.  All this for $10-15 an hour.  Sometimes I wonder if he regrets dropping out of college.

High Summer

Summer is going strong here in mid-August. On Saturday there were at least two big events going on within 3 miles of my house: a brewfest of craft beer (of which I was sadly unaware until the final 6 hours) and the annual street fair. After brunch that morning, SuperDad and I headed over to the street fair. I told him he could probably find me near tie-dye. 2012 August 11, Garland Street Fair 011
I adore the bright colors! In another life, I could dress like this on a regular basis.

Before long I had wandered over to the classic car display.

Oldsmobile 1951 Super 88, websized

1951 Oldsmobile “Super 88”

DSCN9851 Old blue Ford, resized

This beauty is owned by a man I know. He was looking forward to driving it to get licorice ice cream after the car show ended.

 

Ford Model A 1929, websized

1929 Ford

When I walked over to take a picture of that orange car my camera announced, “Battery Exhausted” and shut down. At that, we decided it was getting too hot for us on sunny pavement and headed for a free (air conditioned!) show at The Blue Door improv theatre. It was a great way to cool down before heading home.

Now that we’ve finally settled into a pattern, our temperatures hover in the mid-90s during the day (35°C) and generally cool off to 60°F (15°C) at night. Since we don’t have central air conditioning, SuperDad keeps the house relatively cool with strategic use of fans. This works really well unless the air outside is too warm or full of smoke.

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Mt. Spokane sunset, August 2015

Unlike last year, we are blissfully free of smoke-filled skies. The sunsets were beautiful but the air quality was terrible. I’ll take clear skies over breathing bits of ash.

There are always a few days or even weeks when we wish we had A/C — I can’t sleep when it’s 80°F/27°C at midnight — but by late fall even I have forgotten those nights when I cannot sleep because it’s too hot in the house.  For mid-day use on a hot day, we have this awesomeness:

DSCN2594 This is how we stay cool in August

Note the sheet closing off the doorway, the a/c unit* venting up the fireplace flue and draining into the plastic tub on the floor.  (*It’s a dehumidifier as well as an a/c unit.)  Our windows do not open in such a way to accept a/c window units, so this is our one and only solution for summer cooling.

I suppose that technically we could all sleep in the living room on hot nights, but that would be too much family togetherness for me. I don’t even camp in a tent with that many people anymore — a 6-person tent is cozy enough for just the two of us old married folks. I need breathing space!

I’m still a little bummed that I missed out on the Brewers Festival — with tastings from some of my favorite breweries (Bellwether, Icicle  and Iron Goat to name a few) but I can only manage a certain amount of walking in a day before needing to elevate and ice my ankle, and no amount of jonesing for a Second Breakfast, Goatmeal Stout or Dark Persuasion* can change that.  Saturday was my 9-month breakiversary. I’m going to see a doctor on Thursday to ask about continued pain and swelling.

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*Just writing about those 3 draughts of deliciousness made me thirsty! I’m signing off now to get get a drink of water. Happy Monday! 

 

 

 

 

It could be worse…

DSCN2529  Bruised toes, and this is my GOOD foot!Was it just 2 weeks ago I was nursing sore toes on my right foot? Apparently my left foot was jealous because in my sleep I somehow managed to jam or pull or otherwise bruise/sprain the littlest toe on my left foot (my FULF as Barb so succinctly puts it) prior to waking up on Wednesday morning. It’s too ugly to show you a picture, but I can assure you it’s really purple and coordinates nicely with my purple nail polish. (Maybe I do need to take a picture?)  And yes, it hurts.
It’s all adding insult to injury since I’ve also been having additional ankle pain — this time on my outer left ankle. The current suspicion is that the hardware on that side (one long plate, 6 screws) is somehow irritating the more natural parts of me.

I did manage to get out and about last weekend, putting at least 800 miles on the minivan (124,000 and counting) all by myself. My ankle truly hates me for all of that driving. (I’ve been hating my ankle lately, so the feeling is mutual)  On Friday I drove to Seattle for a quick visit with H-J. I got to see the lab where he is working this summer and I took him out to dinner at Ivar’s on Lake Union. It was one of those nights that makes a person love Seattle even if it is crowded: so many boats out on the lake full of happy people, beautiful weather, drawbridges allowing passage for the larger boats, evening glow on the buildings downtown.  After dropping my university student off at his place (college students, please don’t leave your dirty dishes in your room… science experiments belong in the laboratory!) I drove to my friend Annie’s house for 2 nights to celebrate her 50th birthday and recent home purchase.  This was the most relaxing part of the weekend, with little to do but a bit of cleaning, cutting up vegetables, drinking wine, and chatting with old friends while elevating my FULF. 

Is it wrong to high-five friends over mutually crummy injuries? We must be getting old. Next we’ll be talking about fiber supplements! Oh, wait…

Sleeping baby on my chest while mama gets allergy testing

Slightly feverish baby sleeping on my chest. I love him so much!

Sunday morning I slept in a bit, then packed up and drove back across the state, but not home — instead I drove to spend 2 nights with The Author and Little Foot. No new pictures because Mama was getting allergy testing done on Monday morning, baby was feverish and couldn’t go to daycare, and Daddy was out of town at a conference in another state. LF’s other grandma was able to come on Monday afternoon and stay for the week, so she’s still there now. It’s no fun to have a sick baby but the timing is great. The Author works for the university and it would be difficult to take time off right now as they are gearing up for fall courses.

cobalt blue lanyard

My blue lanyard: made it to sell, loved it too much and kept it

Tuesday morning I dropped my DIL off at work (hello, $15 per day parking? No, thank you!) and drove 90 minutes back home straight to work for me, too — only to discover I had left my lanyard with work keys at home. SuperDad to the rescue! He brought my work keys and my lunch to me. I was very grateful. He also went to the store and purchased several gallons of ice cream for the neighborhood block watch party held in our driveway that evening. I had enough time between the end of my work day and the start of the party to ice and elevate for 45 minutes on my bed. My ankle hates me and was badly swollen all day.

I’ve made an appointment (first one I could get, at the earliest time available) for August 18th. I’m hoping for some answers as to why I’m having “new” pain 8 months after surgery. By the time I see my PCM, it will be more than 9 months since injury. Did I mention that my ankle hates me?

MTM: Summer

 

DSCN2521 4x6 Scouts WEBSIZED

Photo taken on the teenager’s 17th birthday

 

It’s hot here this week, hitting the low 90s, but at least I don’t have to drive 8 hours in an un-air-conditioned truck to the other side of the state and back, nor am I spending my week with hundreds of teenage boys. Why yes, it is scout camp week.

And off they go...

And off they go…

Of course, without the person who wakes up at 0430 to open windows and switch on the whole-house exhaust fan, our house isn’t very cool in the mornings since we don’t have central air conditioning. It’s all about windows and fans.

Four generations of handsome guys

Four generations of handsome guys

I should probably back up a little and show a few pictures from a little over a week ago, when we all gathered together at the home of my husband’s parents. My father-in-law was having his 80th birthday party.

Family 4x6 resizedThis family picture is from that evening (baby was sleepy and didn’t want to smile for a camera). It was the first time all 8 of us had been together since January 2nd.

This little piggy...

This little piggy…

In the past, there have been many times when I have disliked (or even hated) pictures of me. But now that I’m a grandma? Any picture of Oma with her sweet boy is a good picture in my eyes.

I tried to not be a baby hog, although I don’t know if I succeeded in that endeavor.

I did, however, succeed in jamming my toes into a chair at work last Thursday. Luckily, this is my “good” foot so it isn’t as painful as it could have been.

DSCN2529 Bruised toes, and this is my GOOD foot!

Those little piggies are sore.

 

 

 

 

 

Look at those thighs and that amazing core strength! Babies are awesome.

Look at those chubby thighs and that amazing core strength! Babies are awesome.

Just when I thought it would be too quiet around here, The Engineer, The Author, and Little Foot stopped in for a quick visit overnight between a holiday at the lake with friends and heading back to their own home. I could never get too much time with this boy.
Confession: I enjoy time with his parents, too!

His daddy had just finished playing so we gave Little Foot a turn at tickling the ivories.

His daddy had just finished playing so we gave Little Foot a turn at tickling the ivories.

For the curious, Little Foot is now 7.5 months old. No teeth have popped through those gums, but he loves to eat whatever we are eating. He continues to be a happy, snuggly baby — much like his father was 25 years ago. I am so lucky and blessed to have them only 80 miles away.

DSCN9666 Mama and Baby, websized

Slackline

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Niagara Falls, August 2009

I live with two opposing desires: the desire to create and the desire to be free from the weight of too much stuff, of everything that holds me back from spontaneity.  The tiny house movement, minimalism, the popularity of the Konmari method and Marie Kondo’s book about tidying have infiltrated my brain. I think of how lovely it could be, living in a small space only surrounded with things that bring me joy. The pure lack of stuff would surely enable me to live more freely, to gather up my minimal possessions on short notice and take off on adventures. Or would it?

Life is Good Camping imageGoogle & Pinterest for the image win

Several plastic bins are filled with yards of colorful fabric purchased on sale and waiting under my worktable to become quilts; the new-to-me BERNINA is still under its cover, ready to replace the old, simple workhorse Sears model (which will continue to be used by the rest of the family). It’s been there since I broke my ankle seven months ago. I have filled more than a few acrylic boxes with organized displays of beads, just waiting for my creativity to turn them into earrings or lanyards. I taught my children that books are special friends and should be treated as such, which probably explains our full bookshelves despite multiple cross-country moves and routine purging of unnecessary items to keep below our weight limits.

DSCN2513  Bedside Books 4x6

Ye old bedside table overfloweth

And yet, I hear the siren song of minimalism: clean, dust-free surfaces that gleam with openness and possibility. Those images whisper to me that my house could look like this, too, if I would just get rid of stuff and tidy up my life. I can be overwhelmed by the piles that need my attention, those things that weren’t put in their proper places because I wasn’t quite done using them… two months ago. There are more than a few items that were set down on or near my worktable because I needed to figure out where they should live, and apparently they are imprisoned in the homeless encampment where I left them because the clutter grows into wretched, visual walls that keep me from doing anything. I am weighed down and immobilized.

The connection between these two extremes is perfectionism and self-diagnosed ADD. Once upon a time, I thought that a perfectionist was one who kept a perfectly clean and clutter-free house — and if that was so, then the minimalist lifestyle would be the answer. If I wiped the slate clean, there would be so little to care for on a daily basis that it would be simple to keep everything nice and neat and perfect. But I have since learned that a procrastinator like me is also a perfectionist. I will begin a project and fail to complete it because I don’t have enough time (supposedly) to do it perfectly. And yes, time management might be an issue here as well. I become distracted by other projects, other needs, and set what I am doing aside to finish at another time. Another project is set down right next to or on top of it, and another one, and soon I have overwhelming clutter on top of, under and around my worktable, rendering it useless.

I vacillate between enjoying my hobbies and the paraphernalia that comes with each of them — the scrapbooks, the paper, the beads, the fabric, the many supplies needed to turn vision into reality that can be held, touched, and felt — and the guilt that comes with owning so much stuff: things that no one else in my household seems to care about or enjoy. I’m the lover of the scrapbooks. I’m the one who spends untold hours looking at photographs,  working with paper to bring a book together that tells our family’s story in color. My scrapbooks are simple in design (nothing fancy here) and enable me to look back at events and remember details. Since my husband rarely looks at them (and my sons even less often) they really are for me, not the family.

Beading is another hobby in which I have invested time and money. The small clear boxes have compartments filled with semi-precious gemstones, round containers hold colorful vintage Venetian seed beads, and other small bins keep Swarovski and Precosia crystals separate from less costly glass beads. I have less guilt over this colorful and pleasing collection due to the earrings and lanyards I sell and make for my own use; however, I freely admit that I own much more than I will ever use. The call of the Pretty! and Sparkly! is a strong one, even for this not-so-girly female.

Some of my crafting supplies have come into my life as fads that quickly fade away. Counted cross-stitch, wreath-making, and stamping readily come to mind as examples, and there is no doubt that some of these supplies could improve my life by simply going away. I’d have more space, less clutter, and less guilt when I look at them because I haven’t been using them. I still use a few stamps, but most of the items in those bins are neglected and unloved. These are the items that Marie Kondo writes about, things that were once thought to be useful but no longer “spark joy” — things I hang onto because I spent money on them many years ago.

I enjoy the process of creating, gazing at colorful beads and fabric and paper, deciding which ones to use. I find pleasure in planning and envisioning a completed crafting project. I love having a scrapbook to look back at events through the eyes of the photographer (usually me). I’m realizing that while I am not what I consider to be an actual artist, I have an artist’s heart. I dream of creating something of beauty  and I see possibility where others see a mess that needs cleaning.  A blank surface is a creative void, begging for fulfillment and lacking inspiration. Emptiness on walls and surfaces is, to me, a cry of loneliness.

I read this recently on Maximum Middle Age:

Having stuff has never kept me from having experiences, or feeling joy. On the contrary, my things are a primary source of joy in my life, more meaningful than any expanse of white wall, any patch of “negative space.” My things are talismans, giving me luck and guarding against forgetfulness. They have brought me joy. They are worth keeping.

This is where I find myself: on a tenuous slackline walk between tangible reminders of past joys and the illusion of minimalist ease.  On one end is the abode with clean, clear surfaces, no excesses, no clutter and, supposedly, no guilt; on the other end is a house filled with wellsprings of creativity and memory-keepers that also inevitably bring clutter. And  I bounce in the middle, seeking to make a home and a life I love.

DSCN1354 2013 Slackline World Cup

photo taken at the 2013 Slackline World Cup tour in Spokane, WA

 

Road weary

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on the road a lot. At the beginning of the month, we put another 3,000 miles on the minivan to visit my dad in Arizona, and this past weekend I spent 730 miles (12 hours) road-tripping to and from a women’s retreat with members of the family on my husband’s side of the proverbial tree.

family at Menucha from JJK

All but two of the adult women on that side of the family. I’m the amazonian of the group.

Those were both good trips in regard to travel, natural beauty, and time spent with family. Tonight, however, I’m feeling a bit weary so it gladdens my heart to gaze at pictures of this beautiful boy whom I saw over a week ago.

This boy, these curls, webshare

I was a lucky grandma one week ago (Saturday) to spend a few precious hours babysitting him.

reading with K webshare