Monday, August 31, 2015

if we're going to be completely honest here

Vacations aren't usually perfect, right?  They have moments of perfection and also moments of what the heck?

For example.  The vacation Jack and I just finished up was pretty great.  Washington state is beautiful in many ways--trees and trees and trees and rain forest and beach and ocean and wildlife living in the forest and on the beach and in the ocean. 

But there were moments.

For example, when I realized that even though I had recently inadvertently purchased 48 tubes of my favorite lip balm on Amazon--thinking I had purchased one dozen, but somehow purchased a store display container that had four times that number, which may be a lifetime of lip balm--anyway, of course I found myself miles and miles from home when I realized the tube of my lip protection of choice was nearly gone and I'll be dammed if I was going to buy yet another one when I have 47 of them waiting for me at home.  My lips and I spent the last few days in Washington state wishing I had more chapstick-like stuff with me. 

Probably not Washington's fault.

Another not perfect thing about this trip?  Styes.  Multiple.  Way down inside my right eye lower eyelid.  Should have seen or rather sensed them coming on, but I didn't recognize them for themselves until it was far too late to do much of anything beyond massively suffering through them.  Which I did, massively suffer.  A visit to the eye doc today confirmed somewhat confortingly that they do indeed really hurt.  More wet hot compresses, with antibiotic drops and steroid drops and perhaps in a week or so they'll be all gone and my eye will return to its normal size, shape, color, & etc. 

Probably not Washington's fault either.

Another issue with this trip?  Holy cow, Washington is far away.  Long, long drive, and on the way home, with a really sore eye. 

That distance thing?  Totally Washington's fault.

And wind.  Serious wind.  So much wind that trees were blown down, blocking roads, knocking out power, stopping ferry service, requiring rerouting.  We didn't include ferry rides in our road trip, but did need to cross a couple of really long bridges.  Traffic was completely stopped on these bridges.  The wind was blowing so hard, the bridges were jumping and swaying, as was the truck.  It was what I imagine an earthquake would feel like.  Almost completely unnerving, maybe after reading a magazine article a few weeks back about the major earthquake that is due any minute in Washington.

But we made it.  Thanks to Siri and iPhone.  We would probably still be in Washington were it not for those two.  Again, obviously Washington's fault.

Then there were the rainbirds in Idaho.  These were a good, somewhat melancholy moment. 

When I was a kid, my dad liked to go for family drives.  Almost every weekend, we piled in the car and he drove us someplace like Evanston or Heber or Nephi or Coalville where we'd eat dinner or at least have ice cream and then we'd pile back in and drive back home.  He loved to drive and he liked to eat in cafes and diners and at ice cream stands.  One time while driving, he asked me if I saw that on the mountain.  I asked what?  He said that.  I said what?  He said the rainbirds.  There are rainbirds over there on the mountains keeping everything green.  I said, rainbirds?  He said, rainbirds.  The perfect sprinkler.  If they put rainbirds everywhere, everything would be green.  And then he laughed and laughed.  So I laughed.  And every time we went for a drive after that he'd ask if I could see that and I'd say what? and he'd say that and I'd say what?  And he'd laugh and together we'd say, the rainbirds.  Keeping everything green.  If only they'd put rainbirds everywhere, everything would be so green. 

Yesterday in Idaho, as we drove by miles and miles of farmland, I saw sprinklers.  Not just any sprinklers, but rainbirds.  Miles of rainbirds keeping everything green. 

I took pictures to show my dad.  Because even though he can't remember a lot of stuff now, I'm pretty sure he'll remember rainbirds.  And remembering them will bring a big smile to his face and we will laugh together again.

Finally, there was the part of the trip that was pretty much just right, the main reason for the trip--Jack going to his woodworking class for six days to learn how to make a chair using only hand tools--chisels, planes, saws. 

He had a great time. Many perfect moments, cutting and gouging and filing with old friend tools he's collected over the years and becoming familiar with all of the new tools we bought in Maine. 

In approximately 48 hours, over six days, he nearly completed a lovely walnut chair.

I could tell he'd had a great time when he started fooling around while posing.

Clearly a moment of satisfaction for him.  Totally worth the drive and the wind and the lack of chapstick and maybe even the styes.  Maybe.

Friday, August 28, 2015

i almost forgot about this guy

Look closely.  In almost the center of this picture, you'll see the eagle who was staring me down from the trees by the beach yesterday.  Inspiring.

The presence of a predator bird probably goes hand in hand with the black scurrying beach chipmunk/mouse I saw on the path...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

while in washington

Yesterday was whale watching.  I caught a ride on a boat out of Port Townsend that headed north out of Puget Sound into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  While cruising across the water, I kept thinking how much I'd love to live in a tiny house on the beach, a beach anywhere as long as it faced an ocean.  If I didn't love the four seasons, skiing, and most of all, my family all so close, I'd seriously consider moving to a beach.

We headed north toward San Juan Island. Along the way, we saw many of the 81 orca that live in three pods in the area.  See the two dorsal fins in this picture?  Yes, I really wish I'd brought my real camera.  It would have been good if I'd even had my phone when one of the female orca headed straight towards the rear of the boat and surfaced ten feet from the side of us.  Or if my phone camera had been able to capture the image of the mama orca with one of the four calves that was born and survived this year.

We also saw Stellar sea lions.  They're the brown blobs on the rock in the picture below.  Again, seriously wish I'd brought a real camera...they were huge.  Two thousand pounders out enjoying a day on the rocks in the sun.  Showing off for the lady sea lions.

Then we headed back towards Port Townsend through an area where gray whales had been spotted recently.  For many years, there were no gray whales in the area because whalers had killed them all.  But since the 1970's, they have slowly started coming back, bringing their calves.  And we saw two.  We spotted the twenty-foot spray as they exhaled, saw them breach, exhale, breach, several times.

And then they arched their backs and we watched their tails break the water as they dived deep, deep, deep.  It was so amazing. Two of them, each the size of six elephants.  One is diving while the other exhales before diving deep in this shot. 

Four hours on the water.  It felt so good.


Today, I dropped off Jack at his class and headed to the ocean.  I drove through the Olympic National Park.  I passed a beautiful lake, Crescent Lake.  This shot doesn't do it justice.  It was huge and a deep emerald green/blue color.  Surrounded by jagged mountains covered with dense forest that included evergreens and ferns and mosses.  Who knew there is a rain forest in Washington?  I do now.

My plan was to drive to Ruby Beach.  I drove and drove, clear blue skies after I left the rain forest area.  Siri notified me I was half a mile from the beach.  That is when I noticed the skies were no longer blue, but were instead misty and foggy as though I'd entered the clouds.  Then I spotted the entrance to the beach parking lot.  As I got out of the truck, I could hear the waves crashing below.  I headed through the mist, down a path, towards the sound of the ocean.  I first saw this--

then this--

Then as three people came up the trail toward me, I looked down in time to see something small and dark scurrying across the path just a foot in front of my feet--and had there not been other people around, I'm sure I'd have screamed out loud.  I convinced myself it was a beach chipmunk although I'm certain it was a mouse...but I really, really, really wanted--needed--to get to the beach, so I continued on and as I rounded the last bend in the path, I came upon this--piles and piles of driftwood washed ashore--

And this beach, covered with smooth round stones of all sizes--

And then this.  

My mind told me I was home and I felt the mist, which was warm, not cold, on my face along with tears that started slipping down my cheeks.

I walked along the beach, passing this dad and his boy fashioning a castle--and of course, wishing Jr were here to play in this beautiful place...

All along the beach were waves of jellies...whole ones and bits and pieces that had been smashed apart by the incredible power of the ocean.

Huge rocks, all that remain from years and years of pounding waves--

I must return to this place again.  Deep, peaceful, joy.

Monday, August 24, 2015

one wish

Yesterday was my birthday.  Months ago, Jack signed up for a woodworking class, six days in Port Townsend, Washington, learning to make a Chippendale chair using only handheld woodworking tools.  The class started this morning, thus our two-day road trip through Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to settle in here for the week.

Initially, Jack thought he would just fly to Washington for his class.  Then we thought about him flying with many heavy woodworking tools in his luggage.  Not too practical, lugging trunks full of finely crafted metal tools. 

Next we thought about him driving his truck to the class with his bags full of planes and saws and scrapers and such.  Fourteen hour drive by himself?  Yes, he's a big boy and fully capable of that drive, but still it didn't seem like the best of ideas.

Jack suggested next that I could drive with him, catch a flight home, then next weekend board a flight back to Washington in order to make the drive home with him.  But seriously, where's the fun in that? 

So we're here.  Or rather, he's off to class and I'm hanging out in the hotel today, making plans for the next few days.  I'm sure it will be a nice break from work and the stresses of life in general.

There's just this one thing.  If I could have one birthday wish--not one of those wishes where you agree to give up everything else, but just a simple wish of what I'd want if I could have anything in the universe right now--it would be so easy to identify that wish.  I'd wish for my kid to be healthy.  I'd wish all of his organs could do their job like any other nearly 34-year-old's organs.  I'd wish for healing and return to normal pumping, beating, filtering, filling, emptying, flowing, maintaining.  I'm not asking for those functions as they exist in a young healthy child.  I'd be delighted if they could be those of a person in his thirties.  I ache for that for him.

And if I can't have that wish, I'd wish that I was whisked home right now, or rather sitting with him at the hospital where I can do nothing but offer the comfort of being his mom, nearby, sitting, waiting for return to his normal. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

idaho, oregon and washington

We made it to our hotel in Washington.  Things I noticed about Idaho, Oregon and Washington on our journey:


Neighbor to the north--I've seen your eastern parts many times while heading to Yellowstone and such places.  Lovely, in a Utah kind of way.  I'd like to say more of the same about your western parts, but I COULDN'T SEE IT for all of the smoke from either your fires or from your neighbors' fires.  So sorry about that.  I had such high hopes for you.

The Snake River--I remember you fondly.  Not that I've ever actually rafted you, but I've thought about you and seen you in Idaho Falls with your broad shouldered falls right in the middle of town.  Or at least that's how I remember you and hope to see you again in a month or so when we head by you on our way to Yellowstone with Stu's family.


Sage brush--hello?  I thought Oregon was all evergreens and beaches and definitely not desert.  But there were several miles where, if I hadn't been driving, I'd had snapped a picture and nobody would have been able to distinguish it from Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and perhaps parts of Colorado. 

Smoke, smoke, smoke.  I thought it was smokey in Utah.  Hold the phone, shut the door, and all of that--Utah, there is a lot of smoke headed your way from Oregon.  I'm sure Oregon is a lovely place, but I couldn't actually testify to that because I COULDN'T SEE IT for the lung-choking, throat-scratching, nose-running smoke.  Oregonians!  Get this under control.  Stat!

The Columbia River--Oh my gosh.  Who knew such rivers existed?  I'm certain it is the biggest river I've ever seen.  And I just saw the Snake River again.  Anyway.  What an awesome river you are.  Bigger than any in my high mountain desert home state, bigger even than most reservoirs in my home state.  With dams and bridges and penguins--wait, no those were pelicans.  You are definitely awesome.


You have the Columbia River, so you win there, and you had less smoke, eventually as we neared Canada, but you also have the Hood Canal, which isn't like any canal I've ever seen, but is more like a salt water version of the Columbia River with apparently oysters and other salt water marine life.  Lovely.  That is what you are.

However.  What is up with all of those Volkswagen Vanagons?  I've never seen so many of those oddities in one place before.  Are we all still hippies here?  I know, legal pot, but still, really?  Vanagons?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

a quick update

Just a few of the things going on around here:

A couple of Sundays ago, Jr and I hiked/walked up to Cecret Lake with his friend, Gina.  It was gloriously beautiful and my body was quite happy to be in the sunlight and moving.


For a few days a week ago, kidney stones, diagnosed by me, made an unwelcome appearance.  I actually found myself mentally feeling curious about the various symptoms, at first surprised, then concerned, then relieved.  Those words would also describe the way I felt physically.  Hoping that's all done for a while and very grateful it wasn't worse than it was.


The drummer and his wife blessed and named their new baby girl at church last week--Meredith Myrth, her middle name being in honor of Whitney's recently deceased grandmother.  In a sweet and interesting turn of events, while clearing out her grandmother's home and belongings, someone found a package labeled, "To Whitney" that contained a lovely white linen blessing gown.  The grandmother spent her last few months in a care center and prior to that had no access to shopping or driving.  While she knew they were expecting a baby, she passed before anyone knew a wee girl was going to join them.  No one knows how long ago she purchased the delicate gown Meredith wore for the blessing given by her father.  But it seemed fitting that her great grandmother could be there, at least in thought and spirit.  Herschel said Meredith watched him intently, eyes open, throughout the entire blessing.  He said he knew he should close his eyes but he just couldn't bear to break away from her gaze. 

After church, we all gathered at the drummer's house for lunch.  There were over 60 people there to celebrate the birth of that tiny, sweet, adorable girl.  It is good to come into families and be with friends who have so much love to give.


This is an orchid my boss/friend gave me for my birthday three years ago.  She also bought one for herself since we share the same birthday (although I'm five years older than she).  Once a year, for my/our birthday, the little orchid who could once again blooms.  My friend/boss discarded her orchid after the blooms died the first year.  But see what happens if you are patient?


Been doing some shopping lately.  Online of course.  These are a couple of things I chose that I won't be wearing at the same time but will work for me just the same:

We'll see if I get to wear those shoes before one of the dogs chews them up.  Something about animal prints is really enticing to them.

But the best thing--maybe ever--that I've ordered online is these:

Jack kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday.  I thought and thought and thought.  And finally came up with those boots.  I've wanted a pair of Lane boots for years.  The ones I originally wanted were red hot chili pepper.  Sadly, they are no longer available.  But these wisteria embroidered, turquoise soled babies will be at my house on Tuesday.  I would never have paid so much for a pair of boots for myself.  But Jack did.  For my birthday.  xo


Jr and I had pedicures last night after work.  I chose a fine slate blue shade of polish that matches his car.  He did not choose polish.  Sadly.


Gus eating


JoJo, who knows something is up. 

Jack and I are headed out on a ten-day road trip.  Well two days of driving to Washington state and six days there and two days driving back.  He is enrolled in a woodworking class to learn to use his hand tools to make a Chippendale chair.  No power tools allowed, just hand saws and planes and scrapers and such.  During his six days of class, I'll be free to explore the beautiful northwest.  I plan to head to the ocean, of course, but also will likely wander around the little town of Port Townsend and maybe I'll hit Whidbey Island or the San Juan islands or maybe I'll even venture into Canada, passport in hand.  I might see a couple of movies or buy some books or find a zumba class.  See, the whole week is wide open.  I hope by the end of each day that Jack will have some energy left to see some of the sights of the area, but after standing all day working wood, he might just want to collapse on the hotel bed with a peanut butter sandwich.  And that will be fine too.


So now I'm off to finish the laundry, clean out the catboxes, fill the pets' food dishes, set out their daily pills for Jr to dispense, water the plants, and start/finish the packing.  Then we're outta here, on the road again, off to a new adventure.  And when we get back, we'll have a finely built new piece of furniture and I'll have those incredibly wonderful new boots.

Monday, August 3, 2015

all the things

First, she had all the things she loves:

Then Gus came along:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

and then because life is good

Last night, I got to see my other eight grandkids.  At my house.  Together.  Playing together, eating pizza (well not Gwen because she's a baby), but everyone together and happy almost the entire evening.

Snapshot in time to remember--in my mind because I didn't have a camera or phone handy--I peeked into the toy room to see seven of them (because sweet Gwen was with her mom and dad and Meredith was with her mom and dad), but all seven were huddled together near the open closets in the toy room, some sitting, some standing close, all involved with the same pile of toys or imagining the same adventure story they had created--all seven so close together they would have all fit in the same picture. 

Seven kids, all grinning, all participating.  A video game-loving nine year old girl down to a ball-throwing boy a year and a half year old and still able to play together.  It was a great moment and a perfect example of this good time of life.