Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Christmas Letter

Dear Family & Friends:

“How are you enjoying married life?” This seems to be the standard question people feel compelled to ask a newly married couple. Do you walk up to people that have been married 20 or 30 years and ask them “So, are you enjoying married life?” But, in case you were wondering, we are enjoying it very much!

We have had a good year. John’s birthday is in January and this year we celebrated with a trip to the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), dinner at Ivar’s Salmon House on Lake Union and a visit to the Sci-Fi Museum. In February, we took John’s brother, Jared and our friend, Zachary, on a trip to the Museum of Flight. We also added Rex to our family. He is a dappled miniature daschund and he seems to think the sun rises and sets on John.

John braved last season at the Seattle Opera with dad and I. We saw The Pearl Fishers, Bluebeard’s Castle and The Marriage of Figaro. John said that M of F was more what he expected opera to be like. Dad and I are going the new season alone. We started off in October with La Traviata which was excellent!

John and I took on the roll of youth group leaders at our church. In January, we did a progressive dinner to various church members’ houses and in March, the girls had a slumber party at our house. September, we had the kids over for homemade pizza and a movie and in November we took them to MOHAI for a photo scavenger hunt and dinner at Dick’s Drive-In on 45th. We are having a lot of fun and the kids seem to be too.

We did have some health related adventures this year. John’s stepfather, Gary, had hip replacement surgery in April and will have a second hip replacement surgery on the other side in December. John had shoulder surgery to remove bone spurs on his right AC joint in August. He is still recovering from it but continues to improve.

In April, we took a trip up to San Juan Island to celebrate our 1st anniversary. We had a very relaxing time at the Lonesome Cove Resort. In May, John took Jared to Walking with Dinosaurs for his birthday. We also went up to Snohomish for the annual variety show and a poke around the antique stores. Over Memorial Day weekend, we helped my folks host a 40th birthday party for my mother’s sister, Beth. June took us to Leavenworth for a little getaway. John took his first whack at fly fishing in the Icicle River.

We went down to Portland in July to visit our friends Bruce & Dawna. Dawna and her sister, Nancy, drove us out to the McMinnville Air Museum and we got to see the Spruce Goose. I also took John for his first visit to Powell’s Bookstore. July was also our church’s annual camp out and my mother and I hosted a baby shower for my cousin, Bethany. In addition to John’s surgery in August, my friend, Monica, visited from Minnesota on her way to her sister’s wedding in Oregon. It was so much fun to get to spend a few days with her. She was here for our annual church picnic as well.

We made it to three Mariners games this year. We took John’s mom and step-dad to a game in June for their anniversary and did the same for my folks in August for theirs. In September, our friends, Bruce & Dawna, came up and went to the Mariners/Yankees game with us. Also, we had a visit from my friend, Ana, from San Francisco who was in town to go to a wedding that same weekend. John had his first experience with the St. Demetrious Greek Festival in September. In October, we went to M____ R____ High School’s homecoming football game with John’s family.

In November, I was privileged to sing a solo for Pat N___'s memorial service. Her husband, Jim, is one of our church members. We also went to see Jeff Dunham at the Tacoma Dome. Thanksgiving was spent with my sister and her family in Chewelah. Dad, Mom, John and I made the long drive there and back without incident for which we are thankful. December promises to be busy with parties and other events.

I continue to enjoy going to book group, playing the piano for church and working for the Court of Appeals. John has taken up collecting fossils (besides his wife) and fly fishing. He is back doing light duty for Total Reclaim as he continues to heal from surgery. We trust you are happy and well. Feel free to call me some or John sometime or drop us an email if you get the chance!

With Much Love & Wishes for a Happy New Year,
John & Laurie

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Keeper

My husband is a keeper. I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day yesterday. It started Sunday night with a migraine headache and a poor night’s sleep and just went downhill from there. I struggled through the day and was thoroughly despondent by the time I headed for home.

When I got home, there were a dozen peach colored roses in a vase on the table. He said he knew I had a bad day and he wanted to cheer me up. He had also put up the new racks we had bought to hang our coffee mugs on and greeted me with a kiss and a smile. By the time I had fixed and eaten dinner and sat in the hot tub with him for awhile, my whole frame of mind was back where it should be.

Today, I woke up feeling refreshed and in a much better state of mind. I am so thankful for John. What did I ever do without him?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The American Socialist Party

My dad told this story Sunday night as an illustration in his sermon. I’ve heard it before but it had been quite awhile since the last time he told it. When we lived on Beacon Hill in Seattle, we always shopped at the Safeway down on Rainier Avenue. The American Socialist Party had a semi-permanent booth outside the store and invariably there was some earnest young man or woman appealing to people to throw off the yoke of the oppressor and go join a union.

This particular day, the young man was particularly pressing and called to dad as he passed, “Sir, we workers need to unite against “the man” and form unions to establish a more equal society.” My father stopped and riposted, “Young man, I work for the best employer in the world and He has never wronged me.” It sucked the wind right out of the kid’s sails and the best he could come up with was “WHO do you work for?” Dad smiled at him and said “I am a minister of the gospel and I work for the Living God. He has never wronged me and it is my privilege to work for Him.” The boy was left speechless.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Cornerstone of Marriage

When I first started out working in the legal field, I worked for a small two man law firm in a small town. They did a little bit of everything – lots of wills, estate planning stuff, some real estate contracts and “family” law. Family law was mainly divorce and custody battles. It gave me a distinct distaste for divorce which I have to this day.

As a little girl, divorce was still not that common. I had only one or two kids in my class whose parents were divorced. By the time I got to high school, divorce was becoming more of an everyday, ordinary experience. Several classmates had divorced parents or parents that were headed that direction. This was about as close as I ever got to the divorce experience.

After I started at the law firm, I had a lot to learn about everything to do with the law so the first few months were occupied with that. Once that was finished, I was able to devote more of my mental energies to our clients as they came and went. I like people and I am always interested in their stories and backgrounds. One man in particular I remember, he was older to me but I realize now he was probably only 35 or so and was going through a divorce. His wife had left him with some small children and more than once these were deposited with me to keep an eye on while he met with the attorney. He would spend his entire time with the attorney weeping over the end of his marriage. He always came in looking spent and left with red-rimmed eyes. It was very depressing for my attorney and I felt so heartily sorry for the man and his family.

I had not thought about him for many years but I recently saw him again. Well, it wasn’t the same man actually but it was the same look. I was lending a hand up at the front desk here at the court last week when a man came up to the window. At first I was a little suspicious that he was a felon because most people that come to the court are either a) attorneys, b) legal messengers, c) felons, d) other pro se individuals, e) private investigators or f) the press and each group have pretty distinct appearances.

This man clearly worked some kind of manual labor job because he was dusty and grubby. He also looked a little shifty at first which is what set off my felon alert. He had come to withdraw his appeal because he could not afford to pursue it. He was very worried because we had a set a court’s motions for dismissal or sanctions for failure to file something or other and he didn’t want to end up in trouble with the court so he had brought in the documentation to withdraw his appeal.

I found his case and realized that he was appealing some aspect of his divorce from the lower court. Then I looked more carefully at the man. His eyes were a little red-rimmed, he was fighting for his self control and he looked exhausted and beaten. I was very gentle with him as I finished taking his documents and reassured him that he would not be in any trouble with the court at all. As I watched him go, his shoulders sagging, I had an almost overwhelming urge to go after him and offer to buy him a cup of coffee. He looked like he needed a friend. I didn’t because it would not have been ethical or appropriate to do so but I did breathe a prayer for him and his family.

I know that there are times and situations when divorce is not just inevitable but imperative to protect one’s person or life or those of one’s children. I also know that divorce is part of our world today but I don’t have to like it. When John and I were moving toward getting married, we had some long hard talks about marriage and our expectations. One of the things important to him and to me was that we would not consider divorce an option that was open to us. If we married, it was to be the until-death-us-do-part kind of partnership. We had to think long and hard about that before we even got engaged. It was scary. It was difficult. In the end, it meant that we felt a mutual commitment to the life-long success of our marriage. Love is important in a marriage but commitment is its cornerstone.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hogs and quiches


My dad just called me to talk to me for a minute. Before he said goodbye to me, he said, “Hogs and quiches.” This is our strange little family saying for hugs and kisses. It made me think about all those odd little family sayings, nicknames and jokes that most every family has. My mother’s extended family abounds with nicknames. She has an uncle “Swede” and her grandfather was always known as Beano.

My father’s extended family, being English, abounds in strange little phrases and family stories. When my dad pours a cup of tea from the teapot and it is too weak, he says we need to “show it to the pictures”. This comes from my great-grandmother who had a friend that would never put enough tea into the teapot because she was a cheapskate. Instead, she would pick up the teapot and use it as a pointer. She would wave it about and tell my great-grandmother to “look at that lovely photo of Susan” or “isn’t that a good likeness of Ethel” in order to get the tea to steep well enough to be drinkable.

We have lots of tea related sayings. “Water bewitched and tea begrudged” is what you say if the tea is weak. “Kisses and lies go to the side but a gift stays in the middle” refers to the bubbles that form on the tea’s surface after a good stirring. “Better to burst bellies than to waste good tea” means you’d better finish the pot rather than throw tea away.

I’m not sure when or where hogs and quiches originated but it is always makes me smile to hear my father say it to me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Hardbound Book

I like to read. Unfortunately, I also lead a very busy life that doesn't leave me with much time to sit down and get lost in a good book. A few years ago, I joined a book group in order to get myself disciplined to not only read regularly but to comprehend and be prepared to discuss a book. It did help and we have read some great books together. It also has reawakened my desire to make time to read no matter what.

One of my favorite indulgences is to go out and purchase a brand new hardbound book. Usually it is by an author that I am already familiar with and whose newest book I am anxiously anticipating. Very occasionally, I buy a hardcover edition of a new book by an author with whom I am unfamiliar because the book has caught my imagination and I don't want to wait six months to find it on a used bookstore shelf. Sometimes, I have been disappointed that I purchased a hardback book at full price but mostly, I'm not sorry when I do.

Earlier this month, I was at Powell's in Portland, Oregon (a must-visit bookstore) and while my husband browsed through geology and history, I made my way to the literature section and hunted down a copy of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I have not read anything by this author before and I don't know that I will read her other books but this novel has caught my fancy and so I plunked down full price for a gorgeous, hardbound copy. Just the feel of it, the weight of it, makes me anxious to read it straight through. I will try and write a review after I have finished and let you know if it was worth it.

Novels I have purchased at full price in hardcover without regret in no particular order:
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
Making Money by Terry Pratchett
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
A Common Life: The Wedding Story by Jan Karon
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith
The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper (a memoir not a novel but worth every penny)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Birthday Beach Ball

I love my niece. She is six years old now. I called her Tuesday morning to talk to her a little bit on my birthday. We usually have the "shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings" type of conversation. We talked a bit about the hair pretties that I had sent to her the week before. I sent them because she had cut her own hair. As usual, the result was not perhaps what was hoped for and my sister had been hopping mad at her for it. Granted it was the THIRD time she had cut her own hair with disasterous results so her mother had a right to be upset. I sent the hair bands and bows because I felt sorry for her. EVERY girl cuts her own hair and ends up with a questionable outcome at least once in her life.

After hair, our conversation turned to my neighbor's swimming pool. I told her that Uncle John and I had been for a swim the day before and that when she comes to visit in August, she could go swimming with us. Then I said we would blow up the air mattresses and float around in the pool. She thought this sounded like a good idea. I mentioned that Uncle John and I did not have a beach ball and that we were going to get one to play with in the pool. My niece then said "Well, maybe you should just wait for your birthday." This remark went straight over my head. I thought how like a child to tell you to wait for your birthday to get something you want and then gave no further mental acuity to it.

That night when I opened my birthday presents after dinner, there was a small flat package marked "From Marta" that my sister had sent in the box with my other gifts. I opened it and burst out laughing because there was the beach ball. I was so tickled that she had managed not to tell me while still giving me the large, economy-sized hint that a beach ball I would have but not until my birthday!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Miss Potter

I adore Netflix. I've been a member for quite a few years now. I joined up when they first got going. I really enjoy a good movie. My husband really enjoys any movie that has explosions, aliens, gun fights and car chases so it is sometimes difficult to find a movie that we both like. However, I will say my husband is a good sport and will often sit down and watch a movie of my choosing.

My last selection was Miss Potter about the life of Beatrix Potter who wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit and many other well-loved children's stories. She also illustrated them with some of the most charming sketches and watercolors that I have ever seen. The story takes place in and around London and also in the Lake District in England where she spent her later middle years. It was acted and filmed with a restraint that was delightful. I would highly recommend it next time you want a movie that is charming, a true story and full of beautiful views of the English country side.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Red High Heels

A little over a year ago, I went out shopping with my soon to be sister-in-law. She needed a dress for my wedding and I was shopping for clothes for my honeymoon. If Jennifer had not been with me, I probably would never have tried on or even bought a pair of bright red patent peep toe pumps to go with a gorgeous filmy black and white dress I had just purchased.

But she was and I did.

I adored those shoes! I wore them every chance I got but especially with the black and white dress. I wore them to church, to work, out for dinner and sometimes just around the house because I could. I wore them one day to work when I was having some furniture picked up after hours and had to work late.

Since the red shoes were built for beauty and not for comfort, I had also wisely taken along a pair of black flats so that I could supervise the moving men without having to strut around in 4 inch heels at the end of very long day. I put the red shoes away carefully, took care of the furniture move and went home.

It was the last I saw of my red shoes for nearly one full year.

I was so unhappy with myself for losing my red shoes. I looked high and low. I asked the building lost and found in case I had left them laying somewhere by accident during the furniture move. I tore apart my car, my closet and looked in several unlikely locations for my shoes. Finally, I had to resign myself to their loss. Jennifer and my mother urged me to go out and get another pair of red shoes but I never got around to it.

Last night while searching for my husband's little binoculars, I found my red shoes. We had taken the binoculars to the opera and he claimed I had put them in my purse at the end of the opera. Now the purse I had taken to the opera had been emptied into a different purse quite some time ago but to be a good sport, I looked in the purse again along with my two tiny opera purses without finding them. So, in case I had remembered wrong about which purse I had carried, I dug out my other purses and in doing so found my red shoes in my black purse with the red cherries on it. I don't know why or how my red shoes were in that bag but there they were, smiling up at me. Needless to say, I was completely distracted and overjoyed at the discovery of my red shoes, my husband had to continue his search alone. I had found my red shoes!

He eventually found the binoculars in his camera bag.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

I just finished reading The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan. The subtitle for the book is How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less. It was made into a movie not long ago but I haven't seen it yet.

I was attracted to this book for a number of reasons. One was the picture of the Ryan family (left) that appears on the book's cover. Another was the subtitle and description of the book on its back cover. My mother is the oldest of 10 children so that was yet another reason. Also, I am sometimes sorry that I missed the 1950's and early 1960's in America. It seems like a simpler time but I think it is because it has become idealized that way.

In fewer than 350 pages, Terry Ryan tells her family's story in a completely down-to-earth manner but without becoming sordid. The truth was that their father was an alcoholic -- sometimes violent and always difficult when he was drinking. He spent roughly $30 of his $90 a week salary on drink initially and eventually even more. But his alcoholism is merely a backdrop for the real story.

Their mother, Evelyn Ryan, was a contester. She entered every jingle, slogan and other contest she could to help make ends meet. With 10 kids, she could not work outside the home and so she spent every spare minute she had entering the Burma Shave, Dial, Dr. Pepper, Beech Nut Gum and other contest that she possibly could often entering multiple times under various versions of her name and her children's names. On average, she won at least some prize in 1 out of every 4 contests that she entered. Sometimes these wins were significant and, in one case, kept the family from foreclosure.

In the face of extreme difficultly, Evelyn triumphed over and over again. She had a buoyancy of spirit, a sense of humor and a love of her children that drove her against fantastically long odds to persevere in spite of it all. I find it hard to explain fully why I liked this book so well. I always enjoy a good true story but this one could so easily have drifted into maudlin territory and it never did. It has a "just the facts, ma'am" style but still maintains a warm family feeling to it at the same time.

Evelyn Ryan passed away in 1998 and her daughter, the author of the book, Terry Ryan, lost her life to Stage IV brain cancer in 2007. Go get the book and read it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The New Foal

For Memorial Day, my husband and I took his younger half siblings to see his co-worker's new foal. The little guy was born May 20th so he is brand new. We had beautiful weather and gorgeous views of Mount Rainier as we drove down.

Wendy and my husband have worked together for many years and she was the one friend he invited to our very small, private wedding. She is a lovely lady and was very generous with her time yesterday showing us around her place and introducing us to all the horses.

I enjoyed getting to celebrate this new little life on Memorial Day and I am so thankful for all those men and women who serve in our armed forces to make my life possible.

Monday, May 11, 2009

In Memoriam

On Thursday of last week, my friend lost his battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS). My dad called to tell me. I spent most of the day weeping which both touched me and surprised me. His wife and I went to first grade together and were very close as children. We have stayed in touch over the years and while we are not very close as adults, we are still friends.

Two years ago, they came home from the mission field because Jesse was having some troubling symptoms. He was officially diagnosed with ALS. In April of 2007, they travelled to Costa Rica to undergo some experimental treatment involving stem cells. While it did bring a temporary slowing of the disease, it was no cure. They settled here in Washington and very soon he was wheelchair bound. When I last saw him in February, he could not even speak anymore but when I came through the door and when I left, he gave me a smile that filled the room.

In the last sermon I heard him preach from his wheelchair at our church, he talked about WHY? Whenever something like this happens, it is a very human tendency to ask why is this happening to me? He then went on to talk about how we need God's Wisdom, to have Humility and to Yield to God's will: W.H.Y. It was one of the sweetest and most touching sermons I have ever heard in my life. I am still amazed at Jesse's courage and his willingness to accept what had happened to him. Disease was never part of God's original plan for humanity but Jesse knew that God had a plan for him in spite of disease.

He leaves behind his wife and my childhood friend, Lisa. He also leaves behind four sons -- the youngest is 8 and the oldest is 16. My husband and I will be going to the graveside and memorial services on Saturday to remember this very remarkable man who is in heaven now.

I have not talked about my faith on this site before because I tend to be a bit private about matters of faith and belief. This doesn't mean it is trivial or unimportant to me. I know what I believe (Jesus loves me this I know) and why (for the Bible tells me so) and I also know that I will see Jesse again in heaven one day. In a time of loss, that knowledge is an amazing consolation.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Special K Chocolatey Delight

Soooooooooooo, I was suckered into buying a box of this cereal recently. The advertising for it especially on T.V. was ingenious. Plus, I love chocolate. However, I have some hard, fast rules about breakfast cereal with "chocolate" anywhere in the name in some form or another. There are certain things I have come to expect when a cereal advertises as being chocolate or cocoa. The big rule is this: when I am done eating the cereal any milk left in the bowl will be chocolate milk.

You may imagine my colossal disappointment when I finished my very first bowl of Special K Chocolatey Delight to discover the milk in the bottom of the bowl was still just plain old milk with a few hunks of less than excellent chocolate chunks submerged in what was left. I was underwhelmed to say the least and the 8 year old girl that still resides in me was almost in tears. No chocolate milk. I looked sadly into the bowl and very nearly vowed a vow to eat no more of the cereal. It could rot in the cupboard for all I cared.

The next morning as I sleepily packed my husband's lunch for work, I had an inspiration with regard to the cereal! I was so excited. I whipped out the box of Special K Chocolately Delight and poured myself another bowl. I positively danced over to the fridge and got out the milk. I poured it over the cereal and then I reached for my inspiration: Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix to the rescue! I sprinkled a very generous teaspoon or so over the cereal. I sat down and ate the cereal and with a triumphant TA-DA to my 8 year old self I beheld a beautiful sight! CHOCOLATE MILK! I was happy the entire rest of the day and the little girl inside was too and let me tell you she is far more difficult to please than I am.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Emerald City Comicon

Saturday, my husband and I went to the Emerald City Comicon. It is Seattle's comic book convention. We went last year and we got there about an hour after it opened and wandered around for awhile. There were a lot of people last year but we didn't have to wait in line to get in or anything.

This year was a whole new ball of wax. We got to the convention center shortly before the ECCC was due to open and headed for the area of the convention center where it had been held the previous year. At the top of the escalator, we were directed to get in a line for the Comicon. We had already purchased tickets like last year so we figured we would get in pretty quickly. WRONG! The line snaked all over the convention center it turned out! It took us nearly an hour to reach the front of the line.

Evidently the convention center had and hadn't prepared for the crowds that showed up. There were people in line by 6 A.M. and when we got in line there were 1,000 people in front of us at least and about that many were behind us in a matter of minutes. We shuffled up, down and around and back and forth before we could even SEE the entrance. Fortunately, the convention center put the Comicon in their largest venue this year. Good thing too because it was PACKED.

The ONLY reason I agree to go to the Comicon at all is because Dave Kellett and the guys from Halfpixel are there every year. Dave draws Sheldon (see: and he is always at the convention. Part of the fun of going to see him is that when you buy his newest book he puts an original sketch in it for you. So, this year, I added Nerds on Parade to my collection and he very kindly drew General Zod for me inside the cover. Since I was asking for an unusal character sketch I brought him a pug magnet and a roll of HobNobs as a bribe and because I think he is a super person. He is always so delighted to see his fans and always cheerful and chatty.

My husband went into full on DORK MODE and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He bought some little Star Trek ships. He contemplated a large Hell Boy statue which I am VERY thankful he decided against. He pointed out various people in costume and told me who they were supposed to represent and which comic book or T.V. show the character was from which was wasted on me but very nice of him nonetheless. We looked at all kinds of merchandise but probably our very favorite thing was a t-shirt that said: UNATTENDED CHILDREN WILL BE GIVEN AN ESPRESSO AND A FREE KITTEN. It was a tan t-shirt with brown lettering otherwise I think we both would've bought one.

After a bit, the crowds started to get to John and we headed for the door. We are debating about whether we will bother going next year. I imagine, like the pain of childbirth, we will forget about the horrible crowds by the time next year rolls around and go again.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Illustrated Man

So, I got into a little argy bargy with my cousin last week. She had posted some pictures of her tummy on FaceBook because she is tracking her 3 month old pregnancy in pictures month by month. She is 18 and has only been married a few months but they are already expecting their first child. I was appalled to discover that she has gotten two tattoos just below her stomach of two birds. I was a little shocked and I said so which she did not appreciate. I was told that I was being "judgmental" and it was a trivial matter, etc. I shot back that I was just being honest with her when I told her I didn't really approve and that I was shocked that she would get a tattoo.

Now, this may sound old fashioned and I imagine I will take flak from others because of how I feel about tattooing but I am okay with that. I am still entitled to my opinion as she is to hers. I have had a long fascination with tattoos and tattooing. I personally know a man that has gecko tattoo that he is ashamed to have now. I also knew an older man that had been tattooed when he was younger and when he got to be older, the tattoo was just a blurred outline on his skin and you could barely tell what it was supposed to be. Add to it that he had grown a thick coat of white hair on his arms and it was downright hideous to see that old tattoo standing out blue and livid but covered with white hair.

Now I come to my point about tattooing. On men, I don't mind tattoos so much but I am still not a big fan of them. No matter what it is and no matter where it is, tatoos look trashy on women. I have several friends that have them: a rose, a tiger, a Tweedy bird. None of their tatoos are that attractive to me but they at least had the sense to have them on their shoulder or their bicep where they won't migrate that much with age. My cousin with bird tattoos on her cute little flat tummy now, will soon have them stretched out of shape by pregnancy and then sag as she ages. I imagine they will be down to her knees by the time she is 80. The girls with the pin striping tattoos on their lower back? Well, in 30 years those tattoos are going to be on the backs of their upper thighs! Every young person that gets a tattoo today should ask themselves seriously: Am I really going to still want this when I am 80?

The picture I used today is the 1952 cover from The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury which is a collection of short stories that all thread together around two men, one of whom is tattooed all over. As they sleep next to each other, the tattoos on the illustrated man move and tell stories to the other man. The final story the man sees is of the illustrated man strangling him to death. It is a fascinating set of stories and another argument for not getting tattooed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wonderful and Amazing

Yesterday's post was snarky. I thought I would make up for it by showing you all that is wonderful and amazing in my life:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Horrors of Facebook

I went to high school in a small town on the Olympic Peninsula. (Not Forks for all you Twilight fans) It was a very small private school. I got a really excellent education but I never did like small town life very well. All the people that became lasting friends from those years, moved out of that town almost as fast as I did.

Recently, on Facebook, several acquaintances from those years have sent me Friend Requests. And because I don't dislike them, I've added most of them as friends for the purposes of FB. Some of them have been posting pictures from my high school days. There are class pictures and other candid shots where I am tagged. It doesn't really bother me because I was pretty photogenic and slender in those days and I went in for more the Pat Benatar look as opposed to the gigantic hair look which was fortunate.

In a sick kind of way, it has been fun to reconnect with my old schoolmates and see what they are all up to now. Especially, since I have some pretty vivid memories of kids that grew up in that town saying how they were going to move away as soon as they could. Guess what? They didn't. I did. I am amazed at who is married with a bajillion (its a word, look it up) kids and who is STILL single. Some of their stories are hum drum, some are sad (like a classmate of my sister's with 8 children and her husband of 10 plus years walked out on her last year), some are mysterious and some are just plain strange.

Some of them have not been amused to be tagged in old photos for whatever reason. My problem has been that I simply don't remember some of the kids in my class photos. We are talking 30 people in the entire high school and I just don't remember them! It has only been 20 years since I graduated and yet I seem to have blocked out whole people from my memories. I hope that I was more memorable than they were.

The posted picture is from my senior year. We did a production of Little Women. I REALLY wanted to play Jo but I was working part time and couldn't spare enough time for rehearsals so the director said. She had me be Aunt March instead because she only had 2 scenes and they could "work" around me. So I am second from the end on the right in black. Some other time I will tell you the story of how I made that part so memorable that people still (!) remember me playing Aunt March and mention it whenever I see them. It just happened last year in fact.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Unbearable Randomness of iPod

For Christmas, my husband suprised me with an iPod Nano. I had hankered after an iPod in kind of a vauge non-comittal way since they first came out. After I got my iPod, I wondered how I ever LIVED without it.

That being said, I do love my iPod but I loathe iTunes with a hate that I normally reserve for people who talk on their cell phones in restaurants. I can upload junk to my iPod no problem but I do not understand iTunes. I find it hard to use and frustrating and a little bit psycho too. I think I may eventually have to take a class in order to get it figured out. (By the way, I am pretty tech saavy to start with so don't go gettin' all up in my grill about how I need to learn to use a computer.)

Today, while doing a somewhat mindless job here at work, I popped my iPod in my pocket and put on my headphones. Since I wasn't sure what I wanted to listen to, I went to Music on the menu. Then I went to Songs on the sub menu and started at the beginning of the list. I have over 500 songs and the iPod puts them in hand-dandy alphabetical order. Here is what I got to hear this morning:

  • The ABC Song from Sesame Street as played by the Boston Pops
  • Ain't That Just Like A Dream by Tim McGraw
  • Alberta (the MTV unplugged version) by Eric Clapton
  • All Star by Smash Mouth (GUARANTEED to put a spring in your step)
  • Always You by Sophie Zelmani
  • America by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Angel Band by The Stanley Brothers
  • Angelia/Zooma Zooma by Louis Prima
  • Animal House theme song from the movie soundtrack
  • Annie's Song by John Denver
  • Annie Laurie by The King's Singers
  • Anon from CHANT as sung by Benedictine monks
  • Anything Goes by Frank Sinatra
And the list goes on and on. I made it as far as Bein' Green (it isn't easy bein' green) also performed by the Boston Pops. The sheer goofiness of playing music this way kept me listening and laughing. I was never sure what song and artist I was going to hear next. My friend, JacQualine, was listening to her iPod too as we worked and at one point I turned to her and said, "Do you sometimes wonder why in the world you put a song on your iPod?" I had just listened to April in Paris as performed first by Ella & Louis and then by Frank and realized that I didn't really like the song no matter who sang it. She just nodded her head and laughed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wayside Chapel

When my husband and I were dating, we spent a lot of time sharing memories with each other. It was amazing what we had in common. One such memory was stopping with our family on our way to or from eastern Washington at the Wayside Chapel. We had even joked about having our wedding at the Wayside Chapel because we figured it would only seat a few people and we could have a small "church" wedding that way. His mom and stepfather used to stop there with him and his brothers when they went to their property in Tonasket. My folks would usually give in to my sister's and my begging to stop there on our way to a friend's cabin outside of Gold Bar.

We went to Leavenworth, Washington this summer for a camping trip with my family. On the way home, we took Stevens Pass which wends its way through several little hamlets. All of a sudden on the right was the Wayside Chapel! I turned on the signal and pulled off next to it. We got out and went inside.

It smelled musty (a general state for any empty building in damp Washington) and it was dusty and cobwebby but otherwise, much as we had remembered it. The little pulpit was still there and the tiny pews that would seat two people on each side of the aisle were still there too. We had a look around grinning like idiots. If we had been children instead of staid adults, we would've played church. Instead, we closed the door behind us, took a few pictures and climbed into the car and went on our way.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


My sister is five years younger than me. In spite of this age difference, we really got along very well as children and played together a lot. Occasionally, when I was between 10 and 13, I didn't like her tagging along with me and my friends but mostly, we got along just fine. As my mother would say, we were EXPECTED to do so.

I went off to college when she was 12. After that, our relationship changed. She became much more independent and sure of herself. For the first time, she had our parents to herself. At the same time, I found out how much I missed her while I was so far away from home. We went from getting along well as sisters to becoming best friends.

When she went off to college, she came to live with me as my place was closer to the university than our parents' house. For seven truly wonderful years, we lived together in a nice apartment in the city. At first, we didn't have much -- she was on scholarship at school and I was at the beginning of my career -- but we had a lot of fun. Later as we became more financially secure, we did so many delightful things together from going out to dinner, to movies, to see a Broadway musical, to opera at the university and many other activities. Those were our halcyon days as sisters.

Then came a time in my career when I was traveling almost constantly and she was teaching school. It was during this time when she met the man who would become her husband. I was maid of honor at her wedding and while I was very happy for her, I was sad for me. I felt at the time that was losing a sister not gaining a brother. I felt the distance between us keenly. It was the emotional distance not a physical one and while it was necessary, it wasn't pleasant.

They moved to Colorado for a few years. I went to visit when I could and we kept in touch via the telephone and email. My beautiful niece was added to the equation six years ago. I loved seeing my sister become a mother. When my niece was three, they moved back to our state. It is a six hour drive from our house to their house but closer than Colorado.

Then two wonderful things happened: instant messaging and my own marriage. My sister works on a computer doing medical transcription and I work on a computer doing case management. We both have instant messaging so while we work, we can also talk to each other. This has allowed us to have a relationship more like it was when we lived with each other. We can "talk" to each other every day. Also, I got married in April and my situation and hers have become more similar. We can talk to each other not only as sisters but as wives.

A few days ago, while she was out running, my sister was knocked down and mauled by a dog (Rottweiler/Boxer mix, thanks for asking). She was bitten rather badly, bruised up and shaken up. Fortunately, all's well that ends well but it gave us all a big scare. We have all gone down the "what if" road of this situation and haven't liked what we have seen at the end of it. My dad said it was a sobering reminder of why it is so important to pray for each other. None of us had any idea that this was going to happen but Providence knew and protected her.

I am so thankful for my sister. Now if I could just have a few minutes alone with the owner of that dog, I would feel better.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Workin' for a Livin'

My past professions have included:

A proof operator at a savings and loan
Doing salad prep for a caterer
Waiting tables at a Bonaza in Des Moines, Iowa
Working in the check department at a savings and loan
Waiting tables at a Golden Corral
Working at a Dairy Queen where I was eventually the assistant manager
Girl Friday at a two man law firm on the peninsula
Receptionist, process specialist, customer specialist and finally, account executive at a large corporation
Case manager and facilities manager for an appellate court

I have also been paid to:

do my uncle's laundry
do housework for a lady
be on a jury
sing at a funeral

I had my first "real" job at 15 years of age and I have been gainfully employed almost constantly since that time. To date, I have never been "laid off" or fired from any job I've had.

I can't wait to retire in 25 years or so!

Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

1. I love fresh flowers.
2. I am afraid of the dark and always have been.
3. My grandmothers have been some of the most influential people in my life.
4. My husband and I have a daschund named Rex, a cat named Shadow and a 55 gallon fish tank.
5. If I say I am going to do something, it gets done if I die, you die and the whole world dies.
6. I learn life lessons the hard way usually.
7. I HATE CARROTS both raw and cooked.
8. I am a much more private person than most people realize.
9. I got to have the exact wedding I wanted to my best friend last year even though not everyone understood.
10. If we had unlimited finances, I would want to travel a lot and do lots of volunteer work for church and the opera and the arts generally.
11. My friends are very important to me and I work hard at friendships. They are worth it.
12. I am a bloodthirsty ice hockey fan.
13. I do not suffer fools gladly or patiently.
14. I have extraordinary and wonderful parents.
15. My sister and I have always been very close despite a 5 year age difference.
16. I hope to eventually read everything Terry Pratchett has written.
17. I am always looking for the fastest and easiest way to do a task because I am lazy. I am always looking for the best way because I am a perfectionist as well.
18. I am closer to my extended family in England than to my extended family in America.
19. The beach (especially on San Juan Island) is our favorite place to be.
20. Cooking isn't a chore for me. I enjoy it and it is more like a hobby.
21. I am not happy about my weight but I am okay with it.
22. My niece can melt my heart with just a look.
23. My husband has made me a better me.
24. I can be hideously sarcastic and cynical and caustic but I try to resist the urge most of the time.
25. Sunshine on my shoulders DOES make me happy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Evolution of Cooking

I have been pondering lately how much cooking has changed through the years. I made shrimp curry today. It is not something my grandmothers or great-grandmothers would have made. Could they have even found the ingredients? Not likely. But now, I can go to my local grocery store and buy a pretty good Thai red curry paste. Add a can of coconut milk (99 cents at Trader Joe's), some fish sauce ($1.49 a bottle at the local Chinese grocery) and some brown sugar and you have a curry sauce for the ages. Throw in some onions, peppers and shrimp and you have a really excellent meal.

My mother talks about going to help her grandmother with the cooking during the threshing season in Iowa in the 50's. They would start the day early by setting the bread before fixing a huge breakfast including biscuits and sausage gravy. Then there would be sweet rolls and coffee mid-morning and at lunch would be a big hot meal like fried chicken, creamed peas & new potatoes and more biscuits and gravy (evidently my great-grandfather had to have that at every meal). Then someone would be sent out with cold drinks and sandwiches in the afternoon and then a big meal at supper too like ham hock and beans and biscuits with tomato gravy. It was long days of cooking and washing dishes.

My grandmother had ten children so every meal included enough food to feed an army. My father recalls when he was dating my mother that whenever he stayed for supper at her house, it felt like a party because there was so much food and so many people. My grandma was well known for her home cooking and she was a master hand at many of the dishes I mentioned in the above paragraph. She didn't do a lot of experimenting because she had a big family to feed and couldn't afford to waste food. She did make some Italian food and when my grandfather became a diabetic she worked on keeping sugars and starches out of their diet. She is also a great source for recipes and I regularly ask her for a recipe of something she has made that I remember fondly such as her oatmeal cookies.

My mother, being the wife of a pastor for forty years, has had to do a lot of entertaining. She has always done a lot of cooking, canning, pickling, baking and experimenting in the kitchen generally. Every year she throws a big Christmas party for the church people and she does all the food. It always includes some particularly impressive finger foods. This year there was a cheese ball that had been shaped and decorated to look like a snow man. She had a cream puff Christmas tree sprinkled with powdered sugar. People come every year just to enjoy looking at and eating her food.

Now we come to me. About a year ago, I came to realize how much I really love to cook and that it was more than a chore for me -- it was a hobby. I love to talk to other people about their cooking and eating experiences. One of the judges at the court where I work loves to bake and we hold quite serious conversations on the merits of various baking methods. At a family reunion, I discovered that one of my cousins shares my passion for cooking (see the Julie Jams blog) and we have become much closer in talking about food in general and organic foods and community supported agriculture in particular. I pour over cookbooks and websites and the Food Network. I subscribe to Bon Apetit and actually make some of their recipes from time to time. I have even made some of Martha Stewart's hideously complicated recipes a few times. (My dad refers to any recipe that dirties half the dishes in the kitchen as a Martha Stewart recipe.) As my husband says, I love to cook and he loves to eat so its the perfect match.

And it was all this that got me thinking about what a tremendous time it is for cooks particularly in America. We can get all kinds of unusual and exotic ingredients and spices. We can make Indian curry, Filipino lumpia, Greek baklava, Spanish paella and a host of other ethnic foods. I can get fresh fruit, fish, meat and veggies year round. I have access to Hungarian paprika and Creole seasoning and fresh ground pepper. In other words, the world is my oyster!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mr. Sudsy Car Washes

The NO CHANGE light had been blinking on the lobby copier for two days. After finally eking out some time to investigate, she opened up the change dispenser and jiggled it about for a bit. What appeared to be a Canadian Toonie dropped onto the floor, she picked it up to examine the coin more closely. She looked down at the Mr. Sudsy Car Washes token in her hand. The logo on the center of it showed a man made of bubbles carrying a bucket in his right hand. He wore a drum major’s hat and in his left hand, raised like a baton, was a tiny mop.

It was always nice to have one’s faith in human nature confirmed.

Seriously, some person plugged a car wash token in the Washington State Court of Appeals lobby machine copier. The same copier that is there for the use and convenience of the public and charges an exorbitant fifteen cents per page. Due to the Mr. Sudsy token, Xerox had to be called to come and restore function to the copier because the change ended up all over the place and in the wrong slots.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Birthday Boy

I come from a family that CELEBRATES birthdays. Your birthday is your day and you should have things just as you want them for your birthday. My husband's birthday is the second of January but because of various circumstances beyond our control, we have been celebrating for almost 2 weeks now.

December 31st -- let him open present, only the one but it was an XBOX 360 Elite which he has been melding with ever since.

January 1st -- made him breakfast in bed, went to see his aunt & uncle and exchange Christmas and receive birthday gifts, pick up his very special order birthday cake (marzipan), went to the Museum of History and Industry, to Ivar's Salmon House for lunch and to the Sci Fi Museum (whoopee).

January 2nd -- went shopping for XBOX 360 games, an extra controller and to the hobby store so he could spend a gift card on 2 box cars for his train set and a collector's edition model of the Starship Enterprise.

January 3rd -- he played XBOX for several hours.

January 4th -- had his mom, step-dad and half-siblings over for the remaining cake and ice cream and to open the gifts from them.

January 5th -- more XBOX.

January 6th -- dinner at The Keg so he could have his free birthday prime rib.

And the celebration continues this Friday night when we go to the Red Robin for his free birthday burger. Now some may find this all to be excessive but remember, my husband is a twin and his birthday falls right on the heels of Christmas. I figure he deserves to have his birthday celebrated with style for a change.

Plus for the next six months he is only four years younger than me instead of five.