Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Well, I'll be darned...

Hmmm, look who commented on the potato bird! We'll see. I sent the pictures to "the competition" as I feel they should have a fair chance too. Will keep you posted!


Okay, here's my confession: I didn't post this picture of the potato bird before because I didn't want you to see the Hershey Cinnamon Chips wrapper on my counter. That is what I call bad photo composition! But now you know one of my weaknesses. Hershey Cinnamon Chips. They don't have them on the shelf very often so when they do I stock up. That's what I keep in my house instead of cookies for my sweet tooth when Andy is away. When he's here I hide them from him and buy cookies instead! But I am still awed by the unarguable likeness of a bird this potato has. I wish I could figure out how to preserve it. I guess I will put it in the fridge and see if it dehydrates but keeps its shape. I know other potatoes in the fridge seem to keep forever.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Speaking of Birds Dropping out of the Sky...

These were the wonderful veggies I scored from Andrea's garden: fresh tomatoes and basil (Crostini for dinner last night), a cabbage, some carrots and lots of fresh potatoes. I feel rich. Like royalty. To dine on such fresh, beautiful veggies.

And there, hiding in the potatoes, as I washed this one off...a BIRD! A little baby bird. Beak, tufts of feathers on the crown, little wing stubs on each side, little foot stubs on the bottom, little eyes on each side of the head and a pointed tail.

See, eyes on each side. Last week I saw a lady on Jay Leno who had a heart shaped potato. Big whoop. Look at this bird! How do I take this to fame and fortune? Before it shrivels and rots into an unrecognizable lump of vodka? Anybody know. Funny how this landed right after I posted on gods message from the sky. Are birds my omen of something? I was kind of holding out for dollar bills stuck in unsuspecting places. Not necessarily birds. But this is definitely interesting, no?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pondering Over Prayer

I was noodling something over in my head the other weekend while I was gardening. I was going around in my head about it. I took a breath and prayed into the exhale “God, please give me clarity.” At the end of my breath a bird dropped out of the sky. Landed two feet from me. Dead. Like it had been kicked out of a nest. Only it wasn’t a baby and we weren’t under a tree or near an eave. This isn’t the clarity I had in mind. In fact it confused things even more. A dead bird? What kind of clarity is that?

It reminded me of a writing competition from the place where I’ve taken a few writing classes: Richard Hugo House. The competition was around “Answered Prayers and Other Tragedies." The topic caught my eye: how many times does what we long for end up to be a tragedy rather than a blessing when we get it?
I struggle with how to pray. Like should one be very specific? As in "Dear Lord, would you please intervene with Client Cranky Ass and give him major diarrhea. And car troubles. So he won't have time today to check in with me on his majorly difficult project. And then could you maybe write his major report for me, through me? Without any little mistakes because You know he is such a nitpicker. Really, did You have to make him such a pain in the Ass?"

Or, do I just go like "Hey God, I'm pretty stressed out about Mr. Client's project. Please see me through the day." Alright. That was just a rhetorical question. I know the answer. If I leave it to God, He'll come up with something majorly more impressive than a case of diarrhea and a broken radiator. Probably a sick mother out of town or other difficult family emergency. Or He'll teach me a good lesson about trying to be more focused at work and let me take my licks. He's fair that way.

But my point here, and I do have one, is I think it's better to be as indirect in prayers as possible. It gives God a chance to really Wow you. And I am intrigued by those who say it's OK to be really specific in your prayers. Like if you need two hundred and thirteen dollars to cover the mechanic's bill that you weren't expecting it's OK to pray for just that amount. Then you can be knocked on your butt when you open the mailbox the very day you have to pick up your car and find a check for two hundred and thirteen dollars on the insurance bill you accidentally paid twice because you are such an unorganized bill payer that you overpaid it. (not that I ever do such things. I'm just saying...) Well, that's not exactly the kind of example I was trying to get at. But do you know what I mean?

I get uncomfortable when people pray out loud for really specific outcomes. Even like "God, we implore you to remove my friend's stage four cancer. You are the Miracle Man. It's in Your power. We need Your intervention here. Now." I mean that kind of prayer really makes me nervous. Because He doesn't always intervene as asked. And then it feels like He ignored the request. Just looked the other way. And I don't want to believe in a God like that. So I guess I'm answering my own question: better to be real general and let Him Wow, than to ask Him for a specific outcome. And then be open to see whatever happens. And that if the outcome is not as I would have loved it to be, to trust that He's got something better up His wide white flowing sleeve for my friend than I could have ever imagined.

I can't even remember what it was I was praying for clarity on when that bird dropped out of the sky to my feet. But at that moment it broke the cycle of endless noodling over something that was just getting tangled in my mind. It certainly got my attention. He really is a wise one, that God.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Brief Shelter

Don't you love that split second of quiet and stillness under the overpass when you are driving through a rainstorm. Feels like if you had wings they would instantaneously lift up for a second before slamming back down again after you pass through that void. I'd like to see an overpass up ahead right now!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tear Inducing Beauty

Yesterday evening as I was heading east I got a glimpse of the setting sun in my rear view mirror and gasped. My eyes actually teared up. I'm lucky I didn't rear end somebody 'cause I just had to keep looking. It was the most brilliant glowing orangey red ball. A color that isn't even in my hundred plus crayons Crayola box. Everything it touched turned pink. I imagined stuffy grown men rushing home from work being brought to tears by the same spectacle. I hope so. Can't wait to see the show again tonight.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Art of Pampering

You might recall that one of the highlights of my trip to Southern Sudan in January was having the opportunity to paint the toenails of the women in some of the small villages around Yabus. The above image is one that mostly comes first to my mind when I think about our journey there. I think because it represents something that is near and dear to my heart, maybe even what my soul was specially created to do: to pamper and care for other women on our journey here on earth. When I cradled those rough, dusty feet that these humble women were at first shy to present to me, I felt such an overwhelming sense of purpose and privilege.
Today I am thinking about what I am here on earth to do and following the clues by what gives me most joy: what makes me feel most fulfilled. When are the times when I truly feel like I am doing what God has chosen me to do?
I don't have to go to Africa to experience this. However, it was at this pretty intense moment of really doing some feet washing and nail painting, this extreme pampering, that I understood the value to the soul this gives. Both to those who are touched by my care, and to myself as the pamperer.
In some ways I feel like I was saved by pampering. When I was at a total loss, it was the care of good friends and my sister that kept me alive. It was the phone calls and messages delivered to a dying soul that wanted to isolate. It was the doctor who added to the other life saving work ups two simple sentences "You have beautiful eyes" (the rest of me looked like Hell) and "I like your painted toenails." She loved me from my head to my toes with two pampering sentences. It was the provision of beds to sleep on and food to nurture me when I had otherwise stopped sleeping and eating. It was one beautiful rose placed on my bed stand that cracked the shell and let me sob.
So the other side of pampering, being open to be on the receiving side, is also important. When I am in need of pampering God provides. It seems especially when I find it hard to ask for. I had to learn that while I am healed by this care, it also gives another the opportunity to express her gift and feel purpose in her pampering of me.
Then there is the aspect of pampering that I am learning now in this chapter of my life: self pampering. Like so many young girls: I let my first loves take over my pampering. That went pretty soon to having a family and focusing my time on care and pampering of my mate and child. Typically I was so spent with all the care of others that I did not have time to do much with other women (at least much else that didn't focus around our children or spouses). What wasn't spent with those was used up at work. There at least I could get the satisfaction of being a good mentor to newbies. It helped, but now I realize wasn't enough.
Unfortunately, for me the biggest step I had to take in self care was to leave my marriage. In the healing from that I now have to opportunity to care for other women (which in it's way is a form of self pampering for me) and to find moments to pamper myself. That might include: getting a pedicure; staying in bed and reading or napping or watching mindless TV when my body tells me I need a rest; inviting a friend to spontaneously drop by and not be worried about how the house looks; writing when something hits me that needs to be written about and take care of the housework later; eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or Cheerios for dinner. I am trying to look at my "down time" as a gift; a chance to do what I want for who I want and sometimes that's even me. I think I'm succeeding. God is good.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekend Wimp....

This weekend I haven’t much on the calendar. I was invited to go with a friend to watch a high school football game this evening. I declined. My gut told me no. Why? Truthfully, I don’t want to feel as old as I think I will feel sitting in the stands watching goofy kids make out and be…well, just normal goofy kids. Just thinking about it makes me feel old. My friend asked me why I didn’t want to go. I thought about why my instant answer was “no thank you.” I was self aware enough to know it was the age thing. Then I turned down an offer to go on a road trip with another friend. My gut told me no. Why? I kinda just want to hang around and do nothing. I haven’t done that in a while.

I am going to be spending most of Saturday working at the new Heart and Home Center, helping them get set up to open for business soon. It will be fun hanging out with friends, doing the dirty work together, laughing about the silly things people donate to the center. Sunday is whip the garden into shape day, followed by church at 6:00. Sounds good, right? In the midst of that I have got to catch up the laundry. ‘Else I’ll be wearing my underwear inside out next week. And I am kind of disgusted with having to smell the armpits of my clothes to decide whether I can get away with wearing them again. So laundry is a definite “to do.”

So, why do I feel like I need to have a better answer when I get asked “Got any good weekend plans?” The little girl liar in me fights to make up something thrilling. Like “I’ll be going on a 30 mile hike, followed by dinner in town before catching a play at the Rep.” The little girl liar in me wants to pretend that the cleaning lady will take care of the house cleaning and laundry I must do while I go sailing with friends. And then check out the opening of the Bravern where Jimmy Choo Shoes, Louis Vuitton and Neiman Markus are opening up (though I have to admit I am pretty excited that there will be an Anthropologie and a Trophy Cupcake shop nearby). That’s what all the “it people” are doing this weekend. I am so not it. OK, the sailing would be nice. And I’m sure I’ll take up an offer on something like that soon enough. But I plan to be content just doing laundry, helping out at the shop and doing anything else I can get my butt motivated enough to get off the couch to do. Which may be nothing else.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Leaking Breasts...

Tonight I put together some things to send back with someone returning to Sudan.

Prints of pictures for these mamas. They have never had pictures of their own children. Of their own beautiful selves.

And suddenly, yet subtely, my breasts hurt.
Dang, it's been a long time since they've been put to use.
In oh so many ways.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

On Saturday Mark (my Wasbund) dropped off Andy along with three large boxes of the remanents of my life in the old house. Things I really had no idea I was missing. There were some ski things, several framed prints that had hung in our old house that were clearly more "my things" than "our things", a scrap book from our engagement and wedding planning (he must have kept the wedding album), a highschool yearbook of mine, my college diploma and transcripts and several other odds and ends of the same sort.

Andy went to bed and I opened the wine. And drank.

Drank in the things in this box.

And here are the lies I discovered that I have been telling myself (most go back to my single digit years). Lies I realized and now have been able to dispell (I think...for now...for this moment):
  • I was a homely, chubby ugly girl that couldn't believe that someone as gorgeous as Mark would actually be interested in enough to be seen with me in public, let alone marry me. (wrong....I see that now)
  • Our relationship was not good from day one (wrong...we went into the marriage, happy, full of hope, thinking we could take the world on together and come out on top)

  • I am a drag to be with (no sirreee...I can, and did hold my own in a crowd)

  • See above. Are those green M&M's and check out the talented tongue (see lie below)

  • I am a prude (umm no....just because I was a worn out mother and because I looked for other ways...in addition...to try to relate to my oversexed spouse does not a prude make me)

  • I got terrible grades and am so not an academic (read "I am not very smart"). Well my memories of college are just barely scraping by, living on the edge of flunking out. I couldn't believe when I saw my old transcripts that I never got less than a B- in any of my college classes and that I got through HS with something comfortably over a 3.00. I would be thrilled if Andy had just one college semester with no class grade less than a B-.

  • See first bullet. This is my sophmore HS picture. Andy says I look like Orphan Annie. Well wasn't she adorable? Yes, it's a bit dorky with the curls (major perms). But I was shocked to see that I wasn't appauling.

It seems so weird to see these things. Like I am looking through a box of things that belonged to someone else. Who was that girl in the box? How do I rewire myself to be that girl instead of the one in my head? It may take a few more bottles of wine...

Crusty Pups and Chocolate Covered Bacon: Doing the Puyallup

I was so thrilled to be invited to go to the fair with Jill and the kids. In my book the fair has to be done with kids.

Animals were entertaining

Sam showed Natalie a bunny. The bunny was very curious about us too.

Sam helped me go down the big slide. We screamed. A lot.

And Jill was like the third child. I have never seen an adult so excited for the fair. It was the fair food!

Sunshine (OK, maybe a little too much!), Crusty Pups (otherwise known as corn dogs), Merry Go Round, Big Slide, horses and cows and chicks (Oh My), two adorable kids: invited to go on "vacation" with a good friend. Life is good. The only let down: the chocolate covered bacon was not as good as it sounded (I know, you laugh).

And then, at the end of such a wonderful day: getting to hang out at the lake to cool down with good friends. That's what I'm talking about. Sigh....

Friday, September 11, 2009


Sometimes when I write I get stuck because I want to be profound. To put down words that sew up all the questions and shine light on the complexities of life. And of my soul. Which of course I can't do. Because I live the answers every day. They have to be experienced. Not told. Which makes life more interesting, but not always easy. Is it enough to feel at peace but know it's only fleeting?
Today is September 11th. I am watching the events of this day, eight years ago, as they unfolded on TV. Like the day I gave birth to my son, just over 21 years ago, I knew on that day that life had changed forever. And almost exactly six years ago to the day, another life changing day when I woke up from a very bad dream and suddenly knew I could no longer go on sleeping through a bad marriage. Life changing days. December 26, 1992. The call received that my mother was gone, and I knew that life would forever have a vacancy.
But most days are not profound. And I wish I could appreciate them with the same intensity and strength of memory as the other ones. I have to remind myself to experience things. To hear and smell and taste the things before me (and just to drive that point home Satchmo, who is resting on the couch beside me has startled himself with a fart, but that really wasn't what I had in mind in hearing or smelling). But maybe it is. It is this Friday evening that I have shared with my son who is home for the weekend: talk, laughter, delicious food, sharing a movie (Frost Nixon). These are days that aren't life changing, but life giving. Not profound. But found fondly. It's a weird experience to watch 9-11 unfold again, just as it did that morning. But seeing it from the safety of home, and distance of time. A lot of life has happened since that day. Not all good. Some pretty tough, awful stuff. And too, wonderful, unexpected beautiful stuff. But mostly, just normal, everyday, life. Not profound. Simple. I just need to breath it in more fully. To save it up and remember it for the times when the life changing stuff hits and we know that life will never be the same.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

Andy's due date was Labor Day, 21 years ago. I love a play on words so I was very excited to think that I might be in labor on Labor Day. However, Andy made his appearance two weeks early. Labor was just a softly horrific memory by the time labor day rolled around. My new labor was a labor of love. And of working a milk factory to provide sustenance to my little product. But every Labor Day I think of my delight in having Andy due on Labor day.

This year Andy was nowhere to be found. Well, honestly I wasn't looking. He is already back in his University town. And he took a road trip with friends. So he was off having a good time. And I was otherwise occupied with a wonderful task: showing my Niece, Sj, area colleges. I picked her up mid-day Saturday and delivered her mid-day Monday, and between that we toured 5 colleges, had dinner out with friends, saw some ferociously clever exhibits at the Tacoma Art Museum, hit Fireworks at the mall, had a quick visit with Sj's cousin who was at Bumbershoot, and took in a great movie. It was all a labor of love, I tell you: I loved every minute of it.

I never got to mother a daughter. Actually, I understand that's a very difficult thing. As delightful as Sj is for me I know that being her actual Mom, I would see more than just her most delightful side. So I like being a fun Aunt (at least I think I am) and just pretending that I had a daughter, a very polite, communicative, sweet daughter for the long weekend.

At a few of the schools (SPU and UW) I had enlisted the time help of gals who were more familiar with the campuses: one a current student, one an alumna. I learned things I didn't know about the campuses. Unfortunately the schools were not yet in session so it was difficult to get a feel for what the student body was like. And then one was my Alma-mater, UPS, and so I had fun walking through the campus, into the library and the student union building, and remembering a very special season in my life. I could tell Sj where I met some of the women that are still close friends. Ones that ventured with me to Italy over 30 years after we first met. We even found the old apartment building, a few miles from campus, that I shared with them during our Senior year. I smile as I'm typing this with the memory of those times. I am happy for Sj that she has this in front of her, wherever she lands.

The movie we saw was "About Steve." Sandra Bolluck plays a quirky character so well. I want a smirk like hers. And red go go boots. It's a good movie. You could wait to see it on DVD, but if you are looking for a fun evening out I recommend it.

I took Sj to Fireworks to shop for a birthday present for a friend of hers. And then I am the one who ended up spending money. I grabbed up these flowers for my courtyard. They were on a tremendous discount (end of summer season I guess) and cried out to me to be placed in the courtyard so I could have flowers into the winter. They already cheer me up when I arrive home.

The current temporary exhibits at the Tacoma Art Museum are around jewelry art. Several artists are exhibited in the large collective room. One artist, Nancy Worden, is showing a collection titled "Loud Bones." Her pieces, though "jewelry" are more art, most unwearable, but all presenting true concepts about what it is to be a woman, chapters in our lives, political comment and other ideas much deeper than the collection of materials she uses. The materials are fun in and of themselves. Lots of found items, such as curlers, typewriter balls, eye glasses frames, trinkets, money, beer caps. She has turned the junk into striking, organized statements. This is one of the few exhibits where I wanted to read about each piece to decipher what her inspiration was and to understand the deeper messages. The introduction on her website offers the key to why I think I was so intrigued by her work. "Reflecting her passion and personal conscience, [Warden's] jewelry is forceful, unapologetic, demanding, and gripping. Her investigations are often humorous and sometimes painful, but her voice is never timid."--Rock Hushka, Tacoma Art Museum Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art
Necklace: "Initiation" by Nancy Wardon

The description of her art is how I hope to develop my writing: reflecting passion and personal conscience...often humorous and sometimes painful, but never timid.

Friday, September 4, 2009

About Face (Book)

It’s sick. And a sickness. Facebook, that is. So called “social networking.” Really? It’s a freakin’ weird “social” if you ask me. Fine line walking is what I do with it. So many people I talk to had the same experience as I did: you venture into it with one toe because one person lures you in with an offer to share pictures of something intriguing. Then as soon as you “accept” the network is spun. Little fingers poke through your addresses and every email you ever sent or received and before you know it there are a bajillion names that this freaking computer suggests you should consider being friends with. Really? What does my computer know about what I require in a friendship?

I have “ignored” many requests to be friends. But it feels mean. Like I am saying “no, I don’t want to be your friend.” Which isn’t the truth. I just don’t want to have a Facebook relationship. Though it feels like I am in 7th grade and have determined that someone can’t be in my group of friends. I hated having that done to me in 7th grade. I hate doing it to others now that we are way past 7th grade. But I really don’t want people I don’t have much interaction with to be privy to my everyday stuff. Or my friends' every day stuff. And then there’s the guy who is on the friend list of a mutual friend. Every time I post something on my friend’s wall he invites me to be his friend. Every time I push that little ignore button. Umm, is he familiar with the saying “She’s just not that in to you”? This is one I really do not want to be a friend with. Let’s get a clue, buddy. And me? Well I am too self protective to ask to be anybody’s friend that I think might not want me to be. I don’t want to feel that 7th grade rejection. And so I don’t even set myself up to be ignored. (By the way….this is a major reason why I have not even ventured onto the on-line dating thing. I’d rather live with the fantasy that I might possibly be winked at by a decent possibility than face the possible truth that nobody would be interested in me. I am avoiding 7th Grade all together! Ha.)

And then on Facebook, I can’t help but play the 6-degrees of separation game. I check out the friends of my very limited set of friends (I mean the Facebook ones). And then if I recognize a potential connection I check out the friends of that friend of a friend. And so it goes. Which is how I ended up in the very sick place of realizing that my Wasbund has more Facebook friends than I do. Ewww ick. Ick because I find that I care. Ick because, well, in my humble opinion, he’s just icky. Ick because I find that I care even though I suspect that he’s accepted every invitation he’s ever received to be on Facebook and I, as I said earlier, am being particular so ick that I should even feel badly that on Facebook terms he has more friends. But mostly ICK because I actually did this: followed thread of friend to friend to friend to find that my ex and I are at 4 degrees of separation. Why couldn’t I leave well enough alone?

Sam's Bedtime

Jill brought Sam and Natalie by last Saturday evening on their way home. I was really happy that Anne, Nancy and Kathy were able to finally meet Jill’s kids. After they left there was much buzz about how cute and delightful both Sam and Natalie were. Nancy was relating the conversation she had with Sam when she asked him “What time do you go to bed?”

To which Sam, who was very determined to give a really good answer though he had no idea really what time he goes to bed…just knew it was related to numbers and he had to come up with something, responded “Well, I usually go to bed, um at um bed time um which us um the time is um well just about this” (as he holds his hand flat at chest level).

Brilliant! Love that kid! Natalie also got a kick, along with everyone else when Sam and I showed them how I’ve trained Sam to do the same trick as Satchmo. First we put a piece of food out for Satch and said leave it. Satch waited patiently, looking at me, not daring to look at the treat until I released him with an “OK.” Next I put a chocolate chip on the table in front of Sam, telling him “Leave it!” He waited and waited looking at me until I released him with an “OK” and he gobbled it up. We all clapped. Sam held his head proudly as if he had just won a quiz show. And Natalie just laughed at her little brother. Too cute!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nat Goes Back

to school! Isn't she gorgeous? I am digging the back to school outfit. Too cool for school!

oooh oooh That Smell. Can't you smell that smell?

It must be because today is September 1st. Lots of talk on the news about kids returning to school. The weather turning to the perfect balance between cool and sunny. That must be why, when I got off the lobby elevator from the garage the lobby smelled like….a school cafeteria. You know that smell. Something like the smell of browning ground beef and mushroom soup. And paper bags. It smelled just like that to me and my heart went flutter with anticipation: will this year be a good one? Will I have the same lunch period as my handful of friends? Will a boy maybe like me this year? Will I feel less like a dork? Will I get one step closer to leaving town for a new beginning? Will my clothes be cool enough? Enough for what I don’t know, but enough? Will I get good enough grades with my lack of effort to do so?

All this from the lobby smell of lunch cooking. I am soooo glad it was just the smell and not the whole experience again. That would have really stunk!