Monday, October 31, 2005

H A P P Y H A L L O W E E N ! ! !

"Jethro you git that bucket of rust jalopy outta my driveway!  And if I catch one more of them critters tracking mud inta my keetchan, thez becomin' vittles fer my possum stew, Ellie Mae!   Dag nabbit!"


Today at the staff meeting my boss told me she couldn't take anything I said seriously.  I wonder why?



Here on the west coast, things are just gittin' started!  He he he he.


Sunday, October 30, 2005

I See Little Halloween 'Amway' People

Graphic courtesy of PrintMaster 12 


I'm a sucker for the kids down the street.  They often drop by to visit if they know we are home, whether they see us working outside or just relaxing on the porch after a days work.  They are friendly, inquisitive, and funny.  I enjoy their company as they are well-behaved and mindful of their manners.  They have two large dogs, both lab mixes and one of them, Dodger, is the master of escaping from the back yard.  Sometimes I'll hear a commotion outside and look out the window in time to see the little girl, A, being led down the street by Dodger. Moments later, I'll see the two cross past the window again, this time with A in control, Dodger having had his fill of running amuck in the neighborhood.

I'll refrain from using their given names, for the sake of their privacy.  Were the world a safer place I would not hesitate to share their names.  But they are not my children and all three are minors, so I'll just use one letter for each child.  There is the girl, A, age 9, and her two brothers, J age 5, and T age 11..

Last month Sam and I were working outside when all three children came running into the yard, catalogs in hand.  Over the years I've come to believe our schools are turning the children into little Amway people.  Between work, family and the neighbors, Sam and I are constantly under the siege of school fund raisers. 
Thank heavens for the summer as it provides the only respite we'll ever see; after all Sam's oldest daughter is an elementary school teacher and her school does the magazine subscription pitch.  Which, by the way, is the kind I did in my youth.  So, back to the kids.  I can't say no to them, and their school features some very cool merchandise in the catalogs.  With huge smiles, their eyes a light with dollar signs, they stand before me.  Together we take a seat on the steps of our front porch and I begin shopping.  I see lots of things I like, and roughly add the items up in my mind, careful to keep the total purchase from each child similar in cost.  Not an easy task.  I ended up with a box of chocolates, two tubs of cookie dough, Christmas wrapping paper, and more chocolates.  Yep, I'm a sucker.

So, the other night there is a knock at the door and there stand all three children, fully dressed in their Halloween finery, their arms loaded with the fruits of my catalog quests.

"Trick or treat!" they chime in together as they playfully thrust the items into my arms.  Loaded down with my 'necessities' I invite them in, unaware that the artful Dodger has snuck in while my back was turned.  

I set my purchases down on the kitchen table, fussing over their costumes.  T is dressed this year as the 'Scream' guy (you know, with the long white mask), A has selected a witchy princess theme, and little J is all decked out as a cow, his costume complete with a noisy air pump to keep his bovine shape in perfect form. 

It's priceless and I'm about to grab my camera when I see my dog Allie standing in the living room with a rawhide bone in her mouth.

Funny, I didn't give her a bone.  Just then I see the artful Dodger casually strolling through the living room.  Ah-ha!  That's were she got it.  What kind of hostess is she, stealing treats from the mouths of her guests?  I snatch the bone away from her and return it to Dodger,who then drops the bone right all Allie's feet.  Naturally, she can't resist and scoops it right up.  I think Dodger has a crush on her, and so do the kids, who by now are all teasing the artful one about his 'girlfriend.'  Allie gets the bone removed from her mouth again and I send her downstairs.  The kids need to go, so I send them off with a few early Halloween treats.  These past two years they have learned I purchase my Halloween candy early, and they always find some excuse to pay me a visit a few days before the actual holiday.  They love Skittles and M & M, and this year I sent them off with some Dots, as well.

Friday night they came back for more.  More Dots.   Now, they love Dots.

And the cookie dough.  Excellent!  Peanut butter.  White chocolate macadamia nut.  I just baked over three dozen cookies and the house smells yummy!   

Once Upon A Cold Dark Night...

With Halloween just around the corner, many here in J-Land are sharing scary stories.  Sandra, owner of Sandra's Scribbles often finds a ghost story to share.  And our beloved Blogfather, John Scalzi is prompting us to write, to draw on our own experience and relate a bone chilling, flesh crawling, hair raising Halloween story.  Well, maybe not flesh crawling.

Okay.  If you thought I was a little bit crazy before, well I'm about to remove all doubt from your mind.

Somewhere between fear and imagination lies the truth.  And many years ago I learned the line between is often blurred.  During the time that followed I have struggled to grasp the meaning of what happened to me on a cold dark night.  Even now I do not fully understand exactly what happened; but I do remember. 

It is September 19, 1978.  I am a newlywed of just three months, spending the night at the home of my in-laws.  They live in a split-entry house with four levels and the guest room is downstairs, in the daylight basement.  A few hours before, at 12:45 a.m., I received news of my mothers passing. It is now 3:30 a.m. and I can't sleep.  I keep wondering what life will be like with her gone.  I feel cold, chilly, and alone, even as the heat of my husband's sleeping body radiates next to me under the warmth of several heavy blankets.

When I feel the urge to relieve myself, I get out of bed and silently make my way through the dark house to the bathroom across the hall.  I switch on the light, shut the door and go about the business that called me out of my bed.  The events of the night play out in my mind, and I think about what the days ahead hold for my young sisters.  At only 12 and 13, they are so tender and young, too young to lose their mother.

I finish and wash my hands, struggling with the loss I feel in my heart.  Looking up at the medicine cabinet mirror, I stare at the reflection; is the person looking back at me strong enough to deal with this?  Do I have what it takes to help my sisters cope with the heart break I must deliver to them in a few hours?  Beneath my eyes the bags and dark circles belie my age.  I am only 21 yet I look to be in my 30s.  My mothers illness has taken its toll.  I rub my eyes, take a deep breath and step away from the sink.

Without warning, I begin to shiver, as if the temperature of the room suddenly dropped several degrees.  I shake it off, rubbing the skin on my arms vigorously with my hands, eager to slide back under the warmth of those heavy blankets on the bed.  But when I reach out and grab the doorknob, an electrical shock stabs my fingertips.  I stop and pull back my hand.  Thinking it is static electricity created by rubbing my arms, I reach out again, and quickly withdraw my hand when the vibration of electrical energy touches my skin.


I look down at the linoleum, then at my bare feet.  How can I be getting shocked?  I glance at the sink, step toward it and touch the metal fixtures.  Nothing.  Slowly I wrap my fingers around each knob.  No shock.  Okay, so it wasn't static.  It's nothing.  Feeling relieved, I turn away from the sink and cast my sight on the door knob.  That's when I hear it.  An inner voice that stops me in my tracks with the words,
Don't look.Look?  At what?  Gathering my wits about me, there I stand, thinking about being shocked by a door knob while standing barefoot on the linoleum floor in my pajamas listening to some voice telling me not to something.

Nonsense!  This is crazy, I tell myself.  Not to mention silly and stupid.  Again I reach out, ready to take control of the situation.  Even as I wrap my fingers around the door knob, my sense of touch vibrates with electrical energy.  I withdraw my hand, staring at it in disbelief.

What's happening?  This can't be real. 
Don't look.  You must not look.Slowly I back away from the door.  Look?  At what?  Is there something out there?

Get a grip.  I shake my head.  I've been reading too many Stephen King novels.  This is just my imagination getting the best of me.  I'm tired, physically and emotionally.  It's late at night, everyone in the house is asleep, and my overactive imagination is working overtime.  Go to bed.  Just open the door, turn off the light and go to bed.  You've done it before, thousands of times in your life.  Do it again, like before.  Open the door.

Even before I reach out a part of me resists.  I am tired.  I need sleep and I am not going to get it standing in this room.  Once again I reach out, only to stop and withdraw when the shock of electricity hit my fingers.  Don't look.

Again, I back away from the door.  My heart is pounding in my chest, I hear it thumping in my ears.  My pulse is racing.  This isn't happening.  This isn't real.  I know what is real.  This is not real.  As if to convince myself, I do everything I know is real.  I wash my face, splashing the cold water on my skin, willing myself awake.  I'm still dreaming.  I brush my teeth.  I brush my hair.   I run in place.  I do jumping jacks.  And still the knob shocks me and the voice reminds me,
Don't look.

I'm going crazy.  My mother's death has pushed me over the edge of reason and sanity.  There is nothing out there I tell myself.  There is no need for fear  And yet my feet refuse to move, silently disobeying the order given by my brain.

It comes on suddenly, a sense of disturbance in the air.  A feeling of unrest.  In my minds eye I can see something, beyond the bathroom door, up the stairs, past the kitchen and dining room, where the drapes are open, on the other side of the sliding glass door.  It's there, in the car port.  At first I think it is my mother's spirit, checking on me, wanting to know how I am coping.  Dressed in white, she waits for me, calling out my name.  The feeling permeates every pore of my skin, drenching me with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness.  I lean against a wall, propping myself up, my mind swimming with thoughts, desperately trying to make sense of the here and now.  It wanders back in time to conversations about the weakness of the human spirit; particularly when dealing with the loss of a loved one.  I remember stories I heard and read about people who, faced with the death of a loved one, claimed to be visited by something.  Each thought it was the spirit of the departed, bound by love, unable to leave the other's side.  It made sense; what could be deeper than a mother's love for her children.  Maybe what I sensed was my mother's spirit nearby, hovering, lingering, wanting just one last look, before moving on to the other side.

No.  It is not your mother.  It wants to hurt you.

What?  What wants to hurt me?  Mom wouldn't do that!

Don't look.  It wants to hurt you.

I feel like the room is shrinking and the walls are closing in on me.  I need to get out of here.  I want to get out of this room.  A part of me needs to confirm I haven't lost my mind and there is something out there.  But I'm too scared.  There's nothing out there.  It's just my imagination getting the best of me.  I try the door again.  Shock.  Okay.  I won't look.  Just let me out.  I'll keep my eyes straight ahead.  I won't look up the stairs.  Just let me out of here.

Don't look.

Out loud, I say it.  I won't look.  Tentatively, I lift my arm and reach for the door knob.  Nothing happens.  I wrap my fingers around the metal and take a deep breath.  Do it.  Open the door, eyes straight, and move quickly.  Don't look!  I turn the knob and with the other hand I switch off the light.  I jerk the door open and bolt across the threshold toward the guest room.  As I pass in front of the short set of stairs and the open drapes an ice cold chill runs down my spine.  Go!  Don't stop or look.  My knees feel like Jell-O, my feet feel like concrete and I lose my balance, slamming into the bedroom doorway.  I stumble in the darkness, bent over with my arms out, searching for the bed.  What just happened?  I feel the comforter and follow the bed, flinging my body down onto the mattress, then under the covers.  He doesn't move.  I feel like I've made enough noise to wake everyone in this house, yet my husband lies beside me.  Undisturbed, the sound of his slow breathing fills my ears.

I don't feel safe, just yet.  I feel like whatever it out there is now right outside the window above me head.  Go away!  Whatever you are, leave me alone.  Go away!  Fear racks my body and I shake as I pull the sheets over my head, burrowing myself under the safety of the covers.   Go away.  Leave me alone.  Seconds pass, the tension in my muscles begins to ease, I close my eyes and slowly drift sleep.

When I wake up I am alone in the bed.  I check my watch and remember what happened last night.  What had happened?  Whatever it was, I knew I could not, would not tell my mother-in-law, or my husband.  Neither would believe a word and write it off as a bad dream.  They would do their best to convince me it never happened.  I imagined it all in my sleep and it was just a nightmare.

Thing is, it was.  At least the part about losing my mother.  That morning I remember the haunting feeling of being abandoned.  Sitting on the edge of the bed, with the sound the words I didn't want to hear resonating in my ears, I realized my worst childhood fear had just come true.  My mother had abandoned me.  And that little girl who suffered from the nightmares which woke up her, and everyone else in the house, now found herself alone in the company of strangers.

Until this moment I have shared this experience with a handful of people.  My sister and a few close friends, as well as religious and spiritual advisors.  A couple of pastors and priests scoffed at my words, explaining the events of that night as just the workings of my imagination as they patted me on the back and led me to the door.  But the majority, they listened intently and many came to the same conclusion.  The death of a loved one makes a person weak, spiritually.  On that they all agree.  From there, their interpretations vary.  Some say in my weakness, the devil came to take my soul.  Others say the devil only exists if you believe that it does.   As for me, I think there is truth in both sides.

Throughout my childhood, I had nightmares; dreams in which my mother abandoned me.  On those nights I would cry out for her and she always came to my side, her gentle voice soothing away the fear as she held me tenderly, rocking me back to sleep.  She said she knew when the nightmares would come because an angel told her.  My mother always said I had an angel at my side, silently watching over me.  She said the angel spoke to her, but I never sensed it, or even heard it speak to me.  Until that night.  I wonder if it was the voice of the angel I heard, telling me not to look, warning me.  Guiding me through the darkness and reminding me...I am not alone. 

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Trick or Treat in J-Land

Got this from Teresa.

Hey, everyone is looking for journal exposure or maybe would just like some fun. Let's do both!

Starting Friday night through Monday night visit as many J-land journals as you can, and leave a comment and a link to your journal as a treat. The more "houses" you visit the more trick or treaters you'll get.

Please call your entry "TRICK OR TREAT THU J-LAND".  If you come to a journal that does not have this entry title, consider it a door you knocked on and no one answered! Decorate your journal for Halloween, perhaps a picture of your front door or whatever grabs your holiday spirit. Leave links to your journals where ever you can. Stop at the same journal only once!


Start 7 pm Friday and end 9 pm Monday...whatever your time zone. Report back here (here being Teresa's journal) next week to let us know how many trick or treaters you had.


Graphics courtesy of PrintMaster 12


These just in from my sister Chris, who loves it when I share photos of her family in my journal. 

Vic and Chris in costume.

Beth looks like she's surviving her first year at college. LOL!

James didn't get dressed up, so I warped the back ground for him.

Mathew gets into the spirit of things.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Two for Tuesday

Steelhead season opened recently; every morning and afternoon on my commute the river is dotted with boats.  I'm sure there's a lunker or two beneath the surface.

Any work day that ends with this that's a good day!  'Night all!


~~Everyone is worth loving, because we are all imperfect people.~~

~~Beauty is seen in every soul.~~


UPDATE:  What is a steelhead, you ask?  :)

Idaho Steelhead

Steelhead are actually rainbow trout that migrate to the ocean and return to fresh water (anadromous fish). Idaho's A-run steelhead are usually found in the Snake and Salmon rivers. They return from the ocean earlier in the year (usually June through August) and they most often return after spending one year in the ocean. Because they return early in the year and because they usually come back after only one year in the ocean, they weigh 4 to 6 pounds and are generally 23 to 26 inches in length.

The B-run steelhead most often return to the Clearwater River, but some return to tributaries in the Salmon River. These fish usually spend two years in the ocean, and start their migration to Idaho later in the summer or fall of the year (usually late August or September). Because of the extra year and the extra summer of growing in the ocean, they return as much bigger fish.

Average B-run steelhead weigh between 10 and 13 pounds and are 31 to 34 inches long. Steelhead grow very large when they spend a third year in the ocean before they return to Idaho to spawn. These steelhead are usually larger than 37 inches and often weigh more than 20 pounds. The Idaho state record steelhead was 30 pounds and was caught in the Clearwater River in 1973.

(Information provided by the Idaho Department of Fish & Game)

The river in the above photo is the Clearwater River.

Monday, October 24, 2005

When I Get Where I'm Going

For the past week, I've heard this song in bits and pieces.  Today, for the first time I heard it, completely...on many levels.  Through all the shifting ups and downs lately, today when I stopped and actually listened to the song, the strain around my mouth relaxed a bit, my stomach stopped rolling and flipping and I realized something.  I have much to be thankful for; no matter what happens, I can't control everything, and all that really matters is the love I carry in my heart, and the memories I  Tomorrow will come and everyday when I wake up, I am ready for it.
Sometimes, the simple words in a simple melody bring it all together.
And, for everyone who shared your words of encouragement, thank you.  Your kindness and caring is immeasurable, and deeply appreciated.

When I get where I'm going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly

I'm gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I'll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I'm going
Don't cry for me down here

I'm gonna walk with my grand daddy
And he'll match me step for step
And I'll tell him how I missed him
Every minute since he left
Then I'll hug his neck


So much pain and so much darkness
In this worldwe stumble through
All these questions I can't answer
So muchwork to do

But when I get where I'm going
And I see my maker's face
I'll stand forever in the light
Of his amazing grace
Yeah when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will love and have no fear
When I get where I'm going
Yeah when I get where I'm going

Music video by Brad Paisley performing When I Get Where I'm Going. (C) 2005 BMG Music

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Halloween Decorations and Greetings

Spent the weekend decorating a bit for the kiddies next week, and now John Scalzi says...

Let's get spooktacular for this shoot:

Your Monday Photo Shoot:
Halloween is just a week away! Display your current decorations and preparations, or show off a favorite from years past. Pumpkins, holiday cards, decorations from Halloween parties and porch displays -- it's all good.

As Alvin would say "Okay!"

First photo is the front and breezeway.  It doesn't show up very well, but I have spider webs in the windows, and all over the breezeway.  You can almost see the big spider I made out of puff balls and pipe cleaner hanging right above the hose.  Don't know what that bright thingy is under my pumpkin porch light and in front of the lawn chair.  Maybe a bug, caught in the flash? Spooky looking tho...and how did it get in my photo anyways? 
Weirdness.  Ironic weirdness if you ask me.

Second photo is my favorite decor...blinking, glowing eyes.  I think they are cool, in an eerie kind of way, and keep one in my car for when I'm driving around at night.

Graphic courtesy of PrintMaster12

Just About Town

Took a little drive about town yesterday to capture the seasonal transformations of the local trees.  I didn't have to drive very far to find something beautiful and something spooky.

A magnificent beauty clothed in a spectrum of greens, yellows and reds.

Having lost most of its leaves, this tree has dressed down in preparation for Halloween.

After taking these shots, I decided to make a quick stop at the local Wal-Mart.  It soon became clear many people had the same idea as I found myself in a long line of cars waiting to make the left turn into the parking lot.  During that time I witnessed an exhibition of anger that took me totally by surprise.  In the car directly in front of me were four teenagers, with a boy and girl in the back seat.  When the boy turned around and suddenly glared at me, I wondered what he was doing.  The girl turned and followed suit.  As I watched, I saw the boy angrily mouth the words 'back off', his face contorted with rage.  What?  I checked the distance between least half a car length of pavement separated my vehicle from theirs; in fact, I was far back enough to see the license plate.  Did the rules of the road suddenly change, mandating that all vehicles stopped to make left turns maintain a distance in excess of one car length?  I had my sunglasses on so neither could read my face, and I remained calm, my face registering no reaction to his message.  I have no idea what set them off.  But he and the girl continued to glare at me, their eyes narrowed, throwing all their anger in my direction.  As the traffic moved I decided to expand the distance between us.  But still the two glared, as if daring me to cross some imaginary line in the sand.  No thanks.  I haven't done anything wrong and you two need to get a grip.  As the vehicle turned into the parking lot the boy rolled down his window as if to yell something at me and I thought to myself how very little it takes for some people to completely blow up.  What struck me the most was the fact that I had done nothing to them, yet they felt completely justified in exacting some pent up rage at me.  And I wondered if they were acting out what many people are feeling.  When it was my turn to enter the parking lot, I decided if this is any indication of what shopping at Wal-Mart would be like today, maybe I had other things to do.  So I left; who wants to be stuck in a crowd filled with that kind of energy?  Not me.  Not now.  Not ever.

Someone needs to tell those two Halloween is next week and they should save the scary behavior for that time.

Hey everyone, be good to each other.  The survival of our country depends on it.  Actually, the survival of our world depends on it.

Graphic courtesy of PrintMaster 12.

Oh, and today marks 1 year.  Can't believe its been one year since I started this journal.  Wow!

~~Strength is admirable and courage is respectable.~~

~~May peace be your anchor in the storms of life.~~

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Something in the air...

Something isn't right.

I can't explain it, can't put my finger on it, but lately I feel swallowed up by this foreboding sense of doom.  I can't shake it and I don't understand it.  I just want it to go away...disappear.  I hate what this is doing to me.  It keeps me up at night, at least two night a week.  I'm constantly worried about what the day will bring and how it will unfold.  I seek to calm myself and tell the worrisome demons in my mind to leave.  Even now as I write this my body shakes.  But I'm not cold.

Anxiety is no friend of mine and I have never sought to keep company with it.  I've never experienced panic attacks, yet there are moments when I feel I cannot breathe.  But I do breathe.  I command myself to take deep, full breaths and as I exhale I expell the negative with each release of air.  My will is stronger than whatever it is that haunts me and I refuse to be pulled down or drained by this feeling.  That is what I tell myself. 

This is not me.

I try to rationalize it all in my mind.  Maybe I'm just on sensory overload, what with all the tragedy going on these past few months.  But I was talking to a friend of mine at work, and she admitted feeling the same way.  I hadn't mentioned these thoughts to her at all and as I listened I was struck by the similarities.  We both feel something was hanging around us, like something terrible is going to happen in our world.   Something will change.  All week the office has been busy, yet as we took the time to share our concerns, the phones were silent, the front door remained closed.  We were given time to share this with one another.

I don't know what to make of it all.  But whenever I've had a worrisome thought, I always stop myself and say, "I release that fear to spirit.  I don't want it, I don't need it.  It doesn't belong to me."  I have learned not to draw negative energy to myself, that it is better to release it and let the universe deal with it.  And so I release these feelings out to the universe, sending them far away from here.  Yet still they linger.  So I busy myself with chores, tasks and projects, hopeful this work will keep my mind preoccupied enough to distract me from the thoughts; and it works.  All is well for a while, but then my mind wanders back to those thoughts and I find myself caught in this struggle again.

I want it to stop.  I release these fears to the universe, and I draw in the white light of love and hope.   All is well, now and always.  This is what I must believe.  Stop the shaking, stop the thoughts.  Outside the sun is in the sky, shining.  The skies are blue.  Hold that thought.  All is well.  Hold that thought.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Color My World...

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun...

A silent swimmer makes his way across a pond.

Idaho from the air...taken on my way home from Georgia last May.

Where the red fern grows Sam disappears from view. He's in there, honestly.

Heaven truly is a place on earth.


Graphic courtesy of PrintMaster 12

~~Send a love note today and remind someone of how much you care.~~

~~Understanding is a key that opens many doors.~~

Turkey Noodle Soup for the Soul

For Robin, and anyone else who needs it.

On a cool fall afternoon, there's nothing better than a bowl of home made turkey noodle soup...for the soul.  Okay, so I didn't raise the turkey, or the corn, or the celery, and I didn't make the noodles.  But I did raise those Walla Walla Sweet onions and that's good enough for me.

Stuff this good never comes from a can!

Graphic courtesy of PrintMaster 12

The World of Narnia

It's coming!  This Christmas.  One of my favorite and beloved adult escapes will be delivered to the silver screen very soon.  Narnia.  A few years ago I discovered the Chronicles of Narnia.  I had always known of these stories but wrote them off thinking the writer had one audience in mind...children.

But I was intrigued.  And wrong.  How very small minded of me.

Bored with the printed offerings lining the shelves at local bookstores, I had reverted to re-reading several favorites such as Marion Zimmer Bradley, Diana Gabaldon and Lilian Jackson Braun.  My favorite genres are fantasy and mystery.  But I wanted to expand into other worlds, and discover something new.  Somehow, the Chronicles of Narnia caught my attention and after reading The Magician's Nephew synopsis, I purchased all seven books.

One word best describes my state of being when C. S. Lewis took me on this adventure.  Enchanted.  Total and complete enchantment.  Following Digory and Polly in the first book reopened my sense of wonder...that childlike essence that captivates every aspect of the mind, balancing real with imagined and aligning pragmatic with discovery.  Something I needed when the stress of my day job overwhelmed my persona.  Narnia helped me see my own world through new eyes, helping me realize a creative approach to problem solving, at work and home.

I once read somewhere that in the early part of last century, two drinking buddies wrote two completely different fantasy stories--one was the Lord of the Rings and the other was Narnia.

And now Disney is bringing Narnia out of the pages and into the theatres.  One of my favorite film companies from my childhood is now connected with one of my favorite adult discoveries.  For some reason, I'm not the least bit concerned with what Disney will do with the story.  When The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe appears in my town, I'm going...back to


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

On Soulmates

I do my best writing early in the morning, before the confines and constraints of the day have time to catch up with me and overload my head with senseless meanderings.  Problem is while I'm sitting here keystroking to my hearts content by the dawns early light, I often find myself arguing with that nagging little voice that says, "There's work to be done and here you are at the computer."  That's about the time I put a sock in it. 

Maybe that's why I have so many mateless socks sitting in my laundry room.

Writing this early in the morning has its ups and downs.  If I post an entry between 6 or 7 am you can bet your sweet bippy I was up way before the dawn.  Like this morning, I woke up at four o' clock and could not go back to sleep.  I tried, but half an hour later I knew I couldn't fight it any longer.  My mind no longer wanted to rest.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.  Most of it related to boring work stuff, but some of it has to do with me stuff.  And the topic of soulmates.  A year ago, during an IM session with Robin, she asked me if I was with my soulmate.  It was the topic of soulmates that led me to Robin and her journal.  I wasn't sure how to answer that question, because I wasn't sure if I was.  So I told her no, I was not.  For years I have had this notion about soulmates...and I clung to an old worn out romantic ideal.  I was caught between what my heart told me and what my head was saying, and both messages were totally different.  Neither reconciled with the other.  But within it all I found the same underlying words:  If it is meant to be, it will happen.

Just before I met Sam I tried to hook up with the man I thought to be my soulmate, whom I had lost touch with years before.  At that time I was convinced this man from my past was my true soulmate.  As a teenager I did extensive reading and research on soulmates and so I thought I had all the answers.  Such is the folly of youth.  The answer was right in front of me the night I met Sam.  The signs were all there as well, and while I didn't really miss seeing them per se, I didn't connect the signs back to the source.

Sam and I hit it off from the start and found much common ground between us.  He asked me out and as time passed we eased ourselves into the relationship.  Together we mended the other's broken heart.  Within the first year I began to wonder if Sam was really my one true mate.  He is my soulmate, of that I am certain; but there are many kinds of soulmates that come into our lives.  My sister Chris is a soulmate of mine.  From the moment I first laid eyes on her, the day she came home from the hospital, I felt a connection to her.  A connection that transcended family ties.  This went deeper.  As Chris and I grew that connection grew into a profound bond.  We knew things about each other and we felt things about each other, even when thousands of miles separated us.  I have friends who are soulmates; those people with  whom I immediately connected with on some level.  Soulmates are friends, family, co-workers, everyday people.  They are people who enter our lives for a reason, whether we know it or not; sometimes for the simple reason of just being there.

But back to Sam.  Yes, I felt that connection with him, and with him I grew as an individual.  He freed me from the confines of my past, he brought love and stability into my life, which had been missing for so long.  And yet, a part of me felt he wasn't my one true mate, because I believed Sam's first wife was his one true mate.  I was convinced that those two were the true soulmates.  The whys are many.  They met when they were young, he was devoted to her and his family, and they had a wonderful life together, bringing into this world two daughters.  And, since I had already met my one true mate years before, and Sam had already met his, then we...he and I...could not possibly be true soulmates.  We only get one true mate.  If Sam and I really are true soulmates, then why didn't we meet sooner?  We grew up just miles from each other.  If we were meant to be together, then why didn't our paths cross when we were young?  That's what I believed, for years.  This year everything changed.

Actually, the past twelve months changed everything.  I had a major paradigm shift like no other before in my life.  It's complicated, as such things usually are, but this summer, in late July, everything became crystal clear to me.  Through much soul searching, thinking, and writing I reconciled my heart to my head and both agree.  Sam and I are together.  He is the one.  Somehow in this crazy mixed-up world which rarely makes sense, something went right and our paths crossed.  We are among the lucky, the fortunate ones, who find each other.

So, Robin, if you are reading this now, ask me that question again.


And about those mateless socks in the laundry room...I keep them around, just in case.  In case the mate shows up one day, unexpectedly, the way Sam came into my life.  I can't bring myself to throw away one sock when I know the mate for that sock is out there...somewhere.  :) 

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Happy (belated) Birthday

To my nephew James!  I remembered work...then suddenly remembered just now! 


H A P P Y  1 7 T H   B I R T H D A Y!


Mom once told me, "You can't depend on anyone but yourself, so don't expect people to be there for you."  I was 16 years old at the time and her words took me by surprise; not so much because I didn't want to believe her words portrayed a world full of cold uncaring strangers, but more because I felt she was telling me I could never count on her again.  As if she was admitting she wasn't the person I always thought she was.

I didn't believe her, then.  But I do now.

It's not that she was saying the world is full of cold people.  No.  She was giving me an example of some earlier advice she'd given me, years before.  That no one knows me the way I do, and to survive in this world I have to be my own best friend.  She wanted me to be independent, self-sufficient, self-sustaining.  And consequently I had lots of time to contemplate her words.  Time alone, in my room, in the darkness of my basement bedroom, listening to the music of the 60s and 70s.

During the years that followed, I put her words to the acid test.  In times of trouble, I reached out for a warm, friendly hand.  Surrounded by people, I often (but not always) found myself alone, unable to connect with others.  At times I felt people didn't care.  And during those times, I heard one song playing in my mind.  "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" by Simon and Garfunkle.  I heard it every time I reached out, alone, and found no one there.  Through the sound of my tears, I heard the words, Sail on silver girl, Sail on by, Your time has come to shine, All your dreams are on their way, See how they shine.

Now I know what she really meant.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pay It Forward

1- First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.  A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed t o be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.  A
special note was attached..

It read:

"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along.  Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."


Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.

"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.
"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.  "Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.  "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, was one quarter, two dimes and five pennies.

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables.  Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had
been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had
developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away".

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Now you have 2 choices.

1. Ignore this post, or
2. Repost it so other people can read it.

I hope that you will choose No. 2 and remember.

Most importantly...

"Work like you don't need the money, sing like no one is listening, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like you do when nobody's watching."

NOW more than ever - Please...Pay It Forward...hug three people you love and ask them to pay it forward as well.

~~"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away" -Unknown~~

~~"The risk takers might not live long, but the cautious never live at all" -Unknown~~

Saturday, October 15, 2005

My head...oh my aching head

Five Tastes of Wine fund-raising event last night.

                    People leave early, giving me their unused taste card.

I have more than five tastes of wine last night.

    And a major headache this morning.




                                                          But the wine was pretty good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Into the woods...

Autumn leavesTen years ago, if you asked me what my favorite time of year is, my reply would be simple.  Summer.  The warmth, the fun, the activities, the clothes.  Carefree days basking in the sun, filled with family, friends, and food.  Nothing better.  Can't be beat.

That was then...this is now.  Summer is great, but give me a beautiful autumn day filled with the warmth of a color kaleidoscope provided by nature and I am in heaven.  Why the shift?  Who knows.  Time...maybe.  But I love fall.  Summer too, for it will always hold a special place in my heart, but whether you call it fall or autumn, this is my favorite time of year.  Especially in the mountains.

Friday night Sam and I headed up to our place in the mountains.  After a stress filled week (for me anyway), we were both looking forward to some down time at the cabin.  With less than 15 miles to go, I knew we were in for a very special weekend.  It started off with a spectacular sunset treat...a jaw dropping vision of beauty that no camera can really ever capture.  Even now, this photograph does not do the moment justice.  Oh, it was beautiful, and I felt blessed to have witnessed it.

Sunset valley

Around each bend in the road, a surprise waited.  We saw more deer on this drive than we have seen in many years.  They were everywhere, eating in fields, standing along side the road, leaping over fences with their silent grace.  It was good to see their numbers; for too many years our drives to and from the cabin have been lacking this very sight.  I was getting worried, concerned about what appeared to be a sudden decline in the population.  Don't know where they have been hiding, but they were a most welcome sight for these sore eyes.

Early Saturday morning we took a walk, and toward the end we heard an elk bugle, a sound I've never heard in the wild before.  A few minutes later we came across another cabin owner, also out for a morning walk; he'd heard the bugle as well.  Excitement stirred the crisp morning air as we continued, and within minutes we saw them--a small herd of elk.  First, a cow elk ran across the path a few hundred yards ahead.  Then, a movement in the distance caught my eye; we stopped walking and listened.  And inhaled that telltale, pungent elk scent.  A flash of brown crossed our path again and we spotted several more cows with two small calves dashing between the trees. 
Morning light.We walked on, chatting with even more excitement at seeing elk again.  Like the deer, the elk populations have been scarce for several years.  The sight of these cows, and their calves, brought relief.  We reached the bottom of the draw, the place where the elk had been, and a spike bull stepped into view a few hundred feet away.  Armed with my camera I tried, in vain, to get a clear shot of the bull.  But he was much too high-strung and would not stand still; not when there were several cows nearby.  It is after all, the beginning of the 'rut'...the breeding season, and bull elk have only one thing on their mind.  Standing still for an amateur shutterbug like me is not at the top of their "To Do" list.  We returned to the cabin, our steps light, our smiles wide; what a morning.

But the day was just getting started.  I learned some new things aboutSam on the roof my husband; I've always known he has an amazing sense of balance.  And Saturday I watched him climb up on a neighbor's roof to help finish roofing a new addition.  I've seen him up on roofs before; at home as he cleans the rain gutters out each fall, and several years ago when he built our cabin.  He just gets up there, without hesitation it seems and gets right to work, while I stand on the ground, saying a silent prayer for safety.  With the tin securely attached to the roof on the outside, the guys moved inside to install the stove pipe for the wood stove.  Bill propped a ladder up against the trusses and climbed to the top with the pipe, followed a short time later by my husband, who just shimmied up the ladder and, with the agility of a monkey, positioned himself within the truss framework to help with the stove pipe.  Sam up in the raftersDid I mention that he is 50 years old?  Watching him from the safety of the ground, I was amazed by the ease with which he moved, suspended some 17 feet in the air.  No net, no safety harness, no rope.  He still amazes me.  And when all was said and done, after the task was finished and he stood by my side I had to ask him if he climbed many trees as a child.  His answer, of course, was a simple yes.  Lots of trees, apparently.

Saturday night we joined our friends for a wonderful feast, followed by a moonlight ATV ride in which we saw another cow elk, and a huge bull elk.   Late night rides are a mixed bag for me; on the one hand I love the feel of the brisk night air on my cheeks as we ride, but on the other hand it is so dark and there's no telling what is out there.  Bears, is the woods after all.  For the most part, the noise of the machines does a lot to scare off the animals, and the guys do arm themselves, just in case.  Maybe it's just the makings of my overactive imagination, but night rides are a bit scary.  I love them, but I love the sense of relief I feel walking back into the cabin afterwards, more.

Buck printSam and I went on another walk Sunday morning.  Early on we saw the white flash of a couple of white-tail deer, but that's all.  Saw plenty of tracks.  Elk, deer, coyote, wolf.  Lots of tracks, such as the one made by a large buck, complete with dew claws.

Like all weekends, this one ended too soon for me.  There was much to see, smell and experience, and as we reached the highway that would take us home, an unusual sight caught my eye.  At first I thought it was a parachuter, then a hang-glider...can't recall what they are called but I was able to catch its slow ascent back to earth.  Just as it hit the airport runway, my view was blocked by dozens of trees.  I really wanted to get a shot of the landing, but was 'foiled' by nature.  Ah well.  It was a special treat and a wonderful way to close a really great weekend.

Flying home


~~Courage is what gets us to the other side.~~

~~Birds sing after a storm.  Why shouldn't we feel as free to delight in whatever light we can find?  -Rose Kennedy~~

Friday, October 7, 2005

Parting Shots of Summer 2005

Big on photos, small on words.

Clicking on the photo will take you to another website, Flickr, a photo blog and yet another place for me to stash my photos on-line. With the exception of the last photo, all were taken from my place on the passengers seat in a vehicle moving at 60 mph  :)


Harvest time
Harvest time on the rolling hills of the Palouse.

Crop keyhole
Crop circles? Nope, we have crop keyholes.

Idaho Elk
Ah, the lazy days of summer.

A sense of humor
Hot August Night humor.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

A New Way to Help Katrina Victims

Yesterday while reading the IRS Digital Daily I came across this.  Maybe we really do have a kinder, gentler IRS.  IMHO, a most excellent idea.

Leave Donation Program

The IRS is encouraging employers to establish Hurricane Katrina Relief leave donation programs and is providing special tax treatment to support such programs. Under a leave donation program, employees can elect to forgo their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for the employer making cash payments to a qualified tax-exempt organization providing relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

For more information, click here.

Comedy of Errors

Sometimes I think there is more comedic talent in J-Land than there is in any television studio here in the U. S..  I've watched most of the new comedy shows, not all, but most...and for the most part I haven't laughed.  Not once.

I am not amused.

Yet on any given day I can tune into J-Land and within minutes of stopping in at someone's journal be in absolute times laughing to the point of tears.

If those comedy writer's had any sense in their heads they'd be hanging out in J-Land, too.  Now there's a thought.  Wouldn't you just s**t your shorts if you were watching a show and something you recently wrote about in your journal played out before your very eyes on the television, and the characters used the same exact wording?!?

Hmmm.  What are the odds, and who would be the wiser?


Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Ring, Ring,

I am in awe of my husband.

He can wake up from a deep sleep and within ten seconds speak in complete and coherant sentances.

Me, I can barely muster to open my eyes let alone figure out whether I'm still dreaming or awake.

This morning the phone rang shortly after five.  It happens with his job, especially when he's on call.  The phone can ring at anytime of the night.  And those times when we are both fast asleep, he always picks it up on the first ring and immediately begins carrying on a conversation using words like evaporators and turbines.

One minute he's sound asleep and seconds later he's wrapping his brain around complex physics, analyzing problems and drawing conclusions based on abstract input from the caller. 

By the time he's solved the problem and hung up the phone, I'm laying there blindly smacking my night stand in a desperate attempt to hit the snooze button on an otherwise silent alarm clock, which isn't due to go off for at least another hour.  But I can't figure that out.  I was asleep.  I heard a noise.  It is my duty to hit that snooze button at least five times before I wake-up.

Is it just me or are all men that alert when they wake up?  Are men just hard wired to wake up with complete capacity of their senses, and women are destined to start the day bleary eyed, irritable and always somewhat confused?

I think God has a sense of humor and mornings like this provide some form of entertainment.

Shortcuts Really Cut Me Up

It never fails.

There are few things I can count on these days, but one thing I know will hold true over the ragged test of time is the fact that I can't take short cuts.  They just don't work for me.  Because a shortcut equates to more work. 

Case in point, last nights "Easy" entry in which I posted two of my fall photographs.  Because both photos were already uploaded on my Webshots photo album, I thought I'd just take advantage of that fact and link to them there.  Take the shortcut.  And I have a lot of graphics already stored in my ftp files here at AOL, so I didn't want to push the maximum size limit.  After I finished my entry, I checked and of course both photos handsomely appeared on my journal page.


This time I got to hit the
button.  Yea!

Not so fast missy, let's not be doing our victory dance just yet.

Come to find out, not everyone can see the photos and some only see that handsome X we all know and love so much.  So, this morning I uploaded the photos to AOL and linked them to my journal.

My little shortcut aka timesavor, as always, faithfully added one more task to my day.  And the sad truth is I know this to be true and yet I always have to try 'just one more time' because I am convinced this time will be different.  Wonder what kind of trouble I can stir up at the office today.  Lord knows I'm off to a great start!

Happy Hump Day!


Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Easy - Week # 26

Tell me.....

"What does fall mean to you?  Not everybody in J-land has 4 extreme seasons, so what does the season change mean where you live?"
An excellent question Kelly!  And a beautiful one to ask as well...

Here in Idaho we enjoy all four seasons, with mild winters, generally.  Fall is a favorite time of year for me, and last year I sat down and put my feelings into words, completely.  Reading it now, I really don't think I could improve or expand on those words; I still feel the same way, today.
I was just standing in the kitchen, fixing coffee, looking out the window, thinking.  Outside the leaves on the neighbor's tree, yellow and fading, were moving softly, dancing in a gentle breeze.  Swaying, swirling, in the sunlight as they clung to limbs gracefully arching over the yard.  I just stood there, waiting for them to begin their slow descent from the heights and safety of the tree.  But the leaves held fast, never letting go.  I walked away with my coffee, returned to my room, sat down at my computer, and thought about those leaves.

Fall is in the air, the days and nights are getting colder here in Idaho.  Squirrels are scampering about in the yard, preparing for the winter.  Every now and then I hear the sound of a walnut, heavy with its fruit, hit the roof above my head with a THUD just before it rolls down to the cold earth below.  Cushioned by a bed of yellow leaves, the walnut rests, its life cycle almost complete.  Rich in fat, soon it will be discovered by one of those squirrels, who will carry it off to a secret place, where it will lay until the time is right for it's purpose to be served.  The day will come when that solitary walnut provides the nourishment to sustain another of God's creatures through the cold harshness of the winter season.  The cycle will be complete, yet never ending.

Sitting in my room, through the window the sky is blue, and were it not for the warmth of the sweater I have wrapped around me, I could almost believe it was summer again.  Here, in this room, I can not see the leaves of the walnut tree slowly fading away.  What I see is the evergreen of several aborvitae, standing tall and straight along the fence line, always reaching up.  From my room, the view is very different than the view in the kitchen.  Through one window, the scenery is changing, and through another, it remains the same.  Life, it seems, is like that.

Through the window of our eyes, and hearts, we see the landscape of our life.  We can touch it, smell it, hear it, know it, live it.  It's just there.  And as we travel on our journey we meet people, and sometimes they become a part of our landscape.  We hear them, see them, feel them, know them, love them.  And we can touch them, both physically and in many other ways. 

The other day, I posted a poem I wrote many years ago to an AOL poetry group.  For years it has laid in an old spiral bound notebook from my high school days.  I have shared that poem with only one person before.  Someone very special to me.  And it touched him.  But the other day, I thought it was time that poem saw the light of day.  They are simple words, written long ago as I struggled to understand my life's purpose.  When I posted it, I had no expectations.  I just wanted to awaken the poem from it's long, silent slumber.  To bring it back to life.  On that day it took on a life all its own.  It's words touched another person in ways I never thought of.  Rising to another gloomy day, they too had been looking out the window, feeling...lost, yet hopeful.  Then they read my poem, and saw the gift I had given.  In one simple act, I gave another person something special, a different view.  So moved by my words, this individual was inspired to honor my feelings in their own poem about that moment in their life.  They too, posted it to the poetry board.  And I have shared my poem with you, as well. 
I give to you a tear and a smile
These are my gifts, please keep them for awhile.
A tear to open your eyes,
And teach you to be a stronger person,
When the world can be so cold.
A smile to open your heart
Like you opened mine.
A smile in hopes
It might open the hearts
Of those who can be so cold.

(c) 1976 D. L. Lannon

I'm looking out the window again.  Gone is the blue sky, replaced by the heaviness of thick, grey clouds moving in from the west.  It would be easy for me to let those clouds darken the life of this day, but I won't.  They are, after all, just clouds that come and go, here one minute, gone the next.  Like the landscape of life, with its vibrant colors living each day in the moment, soft and subtle, yet strong and bold, we humans have within ourselves a wonderful power.  The power to live, to grow, to love, and to touch another.  Our strength lies in our numbers, and  together we can create simple miracles in the landscape of another's life.  It happens every day, whether we see it or not. 

Look around you because it is there.  Sometimes it just depends on your view.