Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
We put it down to some kind of food poisoning.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
It took weeks of planning and constantly shushing the two brothers and a husband who kept forgetting the top secret designation it had been given. Despite the warnings (known as glares from mom and discreet shaking of her head), the fact that a hostel was involved was leaked (in the best of intentions) at the dinner table. Crisis was averted when I had someone else “accidentally” leak that we were doing something at the Portland Hostel, thus leading the Birthday Girl in the wrong direction of speculation entirely. Weeks of details like how to get to the train station, what to pack for her to wear, what to do with the pets while we were gone and how was I to get all of my work done before leaving were muddled over.
The day before the trip, the dog (Copper) was taken to a kennel. Of course, first, we had to take her to the vet for $80 worth of shorts, then to the kennel. What will we tell Nicole when she asks where the dog is, I wondered. No worries. The observant child never noticed Copper wasn’t home. J
Thursday morning multiple alarms went off at 6 a.m. In hushed tones, we loaded pre-packed duffel bags into the car. Tickets? Check. Money? Check. Litter box out for the cat? Check. Time to wake Nicole.
I went into her room and flipped on the light, stating loudly that, “Good morning! Good morning! You are the grand prize winner of the 21st birthday sweepstakes. Get up and get dressed.” The rest of her instructions were written on a tablet telling her to give me her laptop and dress warmly. Before we walked out the door, she put on a blindfold.
We drove to the train station, stopping only for coffee along the way. When we got to the station, we had her take her blindfold off. She was utterly confused. Where was the Portland Hostel?
We unloaded baggage and Nicole just stared at it. Where had it come from? We walked in and I scanned our papers to get our tickets. Then, finally, we revealed the plan. Two nights and three days in Seattle, staying at a hostel. She was shaking, she was so excited.
The train ride there was smooth as ever. We were given the four facing seats which was awesome and then one just across the aisle. Everyone took turns napping and reading on the way there, while Coryn checked Facebook and worked on his Nanowrimo book. Once we arrived in Seattle, we walked about five blocks to our hostel, getting lost along the way, naturally.
The hostel was great. Neither Joseph nor I had ever stayed in one before, but of course, Nicole spent the last five months in them. The rooms are as plain as you can get—we got adjoining rooms. Two sets of bunk beds in one, and a bed with a double futon on the bottom and single up top in ours. The bathrooms are down the hall. It is a lot like a college dorm room. We were on the fourth floor and out of our window, we could see the colorful entrance to ChinaTown. We set down our stuff and then headed out to Seattle. The weather was picture perfect. Sunny, about 65 degrees and a bright blue sky. Unheard of for November in the Pacific Northwest.
Our first stop was Uwaijimaya, a Japanese super store. We ate at the food court, each of us trying something different. Then, Nicole and I went to the stationery part of the store. GREAT fun for us (the boys wandered through manga and counted minutes until we were done.) This store has the BEST journals and stationery sets for $10 and under. Our biggest problem is restricting how much we buy.
Next up, we took the underground bus through the tunnel to the Westlake Mall. We got off and bought tickets for the Monorail. This is a very short trip but so cool, because you are up above the traffic and see great sights of the city. It took us to the Space Needle. If you’ve never been, the Space Needle is pretty amazing but also very expensive. To get in the elevator and ride to the top is $18 per person. Yikes. So we explored the gift shop instead and then, in one of those moments you just know you will remember for years to come, we all sat on the outside steps and listened to a group of South American musicians who were playing tiny guitars, and pan pipes. (Yes, Tami bought the CD.) We soaked up the sunshine and just BEING there. It was a wonderful moment indeed.
Back to the Monorail, and back to the mall where Nicole and I had to check out Daiso, a dollar store type place with Asian products. Our goal? The paper aisle, where we got fountain pens and stationery sets for $1.50 each.
By now, it was long dark and it was cooling off quickly, although still a gorgeous night. We took a walk that turned into a WALK. Now, keep in mind that in the middle of all of this, Joseph has a rotten cold and Tami has a hip problem that ended her walking routine a month ago. Despite these factors, we forged on, step after step, block after block. We searched for a place for dinner and found ourselves in an area where dinner was almost impossible to find but guys lurking in dark doorways and making snide remarks were plentiful.
On the way, we found a fantastic toy store that was still open. We went in and explored it and I was laughing about how I still loved stuffed animals and wanted to take one home. Unbeknownst to me , Nicole slipped away and bought me an adorable, soft koala bear which she gave me later that night. Naturally, his name is Seattle. I also admired these amazing kaleidoscopes, designed entirely differently than anything I had ever seen. They were beautiful!
After the toy store, we finally found a restaurant open called Jimmy John’s—similar to a Subway. We gratefully sank down into chairs (some of us more than others) and ordered sandwiches. We had our picture taken there as well and then began the long, long trek back to the hostel. On the way, we encountered an older gentleman (“Be 70 in two weeks,” he proudly told us) wearing a purple velvet hat with leopard spots. He was a former radio/TV sports announcer, he explained (and his voice certainly sounded like one), and he would be happy to answer any questions we might have about the city. Before we could even think of one to ask, however, he began telling us about how popular his purple hat was. In fact, he said, a man had offered him a $50 bill for it just the other day but he had turned it down. Even more colorfully, a woman had offered him sexual favors of several kinds in return for the hat and yet, he had still turned her down because, he said, “I am a man of morals, you know.”
While he was talking to us about his hat, a person came down the apartment stairs next to us and walked by. This person was clearly male—full 5 o’clock shadow and six feet tall—but dressed as a hooker with little taste—short leather skirt, tank top and heels. I felt my eyes widen and turned to look over my shoulder at Caspian, whose eyes got bigger as well. He nudged Nicole, who nudged Coryn and we all just smiled and kept listening to our purple hatted storyteller.
After walking for what felt like close to forever, we returned to our hostel, gratefully slipping into pajamas. Then, grabbing books and postcards and pens, we all headed down to the Common Room in the hostel. One of the best parts of a hostel is the Common Room. People gather here to hang out, read, eat, talk, write, whatever. You meet people from all over the world. The ambiance is exciting and fun. We would spend many hours here before the weekend ended. When the clock struck midnight, Joseph stood up and asked everyone in the room to sing “Happy Birthday” to Nicole, which they did, and it was a wonderful moment.
Friday morning we got up and decided to start the day off at Pike Street Market. We had been there before and it was such an exciting, exotic place. It is sensory overload . . . . the smells of lavender and fish, flowers and fruit . . . the sounds of multiple languages, offers to taste this apple or that grape, children laughing and the live music that is performed around every corner . . . splashes of color, from fruit markets to tie dyed clothing, from shaped glass to sparkling jewelry. Everything is expensive enough that we are selective, but we did buy two handmade, cloth bookmarks and some tie dye shirts that were on sale—one was free for Nicole’s birthday. We also bought some jam for Joseph’s mother—a tradition when we go there.
The fishmongers are the most popular spot in the market and there was a TV crew filming their antics this morning as the workers threw fish back and forth. One fish (very dead) hung over the side and when people went to touch it, it would flip up and startle them. You could see the guy pulling the string on the other end and he was laughing as much as everyone else.
We had planned to eat at the Crab Pot, a restaurant that we had gone to several times before and we walked many blocks to get there, only to discover a HUGE waiting line. Standing in line didn’t sound very appealing at this point, so we began walking the Puget Sound walkway in search of something else. After almost 20 blocks of additional walking, we settled on Red Robin, yes, a chain, but we were beat by now. You see, that lovely weather I mentioned from our first day was LONG gone. This day was cold, wet, and windy. Not slightly. I mean, POURING rain, harsh winds and temperatures that didn’t go above 45 degrees. Miserable weather to be walking outside in (especially when umbrellas were something you neglected to pack). So we were more than ready to come in out of the weather and sit down. Fortunately, Red Robin was a great choice. The food was good and Nicole was served her first legal drink—a strawberry margarita. Which she LOVED, I might add. She even got sung to by the crowd and a free chocolate sundae.
Lots of walking, a bus ride, more walking, stairs, more walking, escalator, more walking, and then back to the hostel, wet, cold and happy to be back. PJs, the common room, postcards once more. This time, the kids played several rounds of Foosball, Joseph read his VW manuals and talked to people and I wrote more postcards. We ordered sandwiches in from Jimmy John’s (they delivered by bike in LESS THAN 15 minutes) and then later, extra food left over from an earlier event was shared with everyone in the Common Room. Chicken satay, fried rice—all good but too spicy for this woman. Sleeping that night was challenging—Joseph kept coughing and my hip felt like someone took a sledgehammer to it thanks to all of those miles we walked.
Admittedly tired this time, we had plans in place to head over to Vashon Island off the coast of Seattle to visit some friends. Coryn had stayed with them in the past and we were eager to meet the family. We got directions on how to get to the right ferry dock first. We had to walk about 10 blocks to pick up a bus. The walk was actually very pretty—not raining at the moment and in the middle of the city where the architecture was fascinating. We finally got on the bus, and rode it to the dock, about 30 minutes away. We got off, paid for tickets and got on the ferry. That was great—a big ship with lots of comfy seating and amazing views out of the window. The ride itself is only about 15 minutes or so. We got off, met our friends and climbed in the minivan they had borrowed to fit all of us.
Vashon was a lovely place and our friends’ home was amazingly beautiful. Many acres with a forest of riotous color and texture that made you keep looking out the window. We had a delicious meal and found out that this couple is a LOT like us—heck, they even look a little like us. I have a feeling we are going to be friends for years to come and this was the first of many visits. (I hope so!)
After eating and chatting, they dropped us in the small town of Vashon, and we grabbed some coffee. That was when chaos kicked in. Already a little concerned about time, we found out that the bus we thought we would step out and get, only came once every hour. The next one wouldn’t arrive for 45 minutes—and we would never make it. After all, to get to the train station from where we were meant a bus ride, ferry ride, another bus ride, a 10 block walk, a stop at the hostel for luggage and then two more blocks to the station. We had 90 minutes.
Here is what happened . . . . Nicole and Coryn had a friend who owned the bookstore in Vashon. We ran back to her, explained the situation. She called her boyfriend. While we were waiting for him to arrive, a man in a bandana scurried over thinking that our little cluster was a group of pot smoking peers and he hoped to join us. How disappointing to find a hectic set of parents and their kids waiting for a ride.
The boyfriend picked us up in a TINY car . . . Nicole, Joseph and I squeezed into the back and Coryn literally LAID across our laps. Cas got in front. We raced to the ferry dock, got on, rode 20 minutes . . . . got to the dock and caught the next bus. We asked directions to another bus so we wouldn’t have to walk those 10 blocks again. Got it, got off, found the bus stop, got on the bus and got dropped right in front of the station. At this point, I pulled out the tickets and discovered instead of boarding at 5, it boarded at 5:30. That HELPED.
So, Joseph and I headed to the train station (three more blocks), while the kids raced (and I mean RACED) back to the hostel to get the luggage we had stored there. Then, they raced (and again, I mean RACED) to the station. THEN, I get out the tickets and there are FOUR, not FIVE. Joseph’s ticket is missing. EEEEEK. We ask what to do at the information desk and are told that even though the computer system shows we have FIVE tickets, we have to HAVE five tickets, so we had to BUY ANOTHER ONE. Eeeeeeeeeek again.
BUT, we did it. We got on. We sat down. We finally started breathing again. The train started. The trip home was brightened by meeting a young woman dressed in medieval garb behind us. We commented on her lovely outfit, began chatting and soon bought her wonderful CD, which ALL of the kids like (a rarity indeed). Caspian spent most of the trip talking to a young man and woman across from him, plus a non-English speaking grandmother next to him had her granddaughter call and ask him to help her get off the train and meet her in the lobby.
Other than a 30-minute delay while the train repaired a broken air hose, the trip was smooth. We arrived in Portland at 9:30, got in our van and came home. As much fun as we had, it sure felt good to be back in our house again. It was a fabulous trip—with so many memories created, I know it will linger for a long time to come. For now, I will wait for my hip to heal and forgive me.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Anyway, 29 years ago we said "I do" and today, 10,585 days later, I know I would still say it--and even to the same guy. Snicker.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Crying over a store seems a little stupid, I know. In this economy, a closing store is certainly nothing new. Let me explain why this is so sad to me.
Friends? Yes, friends. Because over the years, we had met the people who worked at Border's and they had become friends. We went to their weddings. We meet their children. We went out for a drink. At one point, when my writing workload took a nosedive, I even worked at Border's. I knew the store forwards and backwards anyway, so thought I would give it a try. I worked the (shudder) holiday season and learned that retail is not the job path for me. People are just. .. . strange. But I learned even more about the store and the people who worked there. I had some amazing times and when I had to suddenly leave my job for a few days because my dad was in the hospital in Indiana and very sick, the single sympathy card I was sent when he died was from the staff at Border's.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
This week, however, I will be more than eager. I will be anxious and excited and impatient. Why? Because two things are coming that are probably going to change my life . . . the first one is a new computer. Oh man, this is the DREAM computer too. I special ordered it, piece by piece, to be exactly what I've always wanted. Three monitors. A built in TV. Lots of memory for speed. In preparation, we've been cleaning desks and rearranging furniture. I am anticipating that this new computer will make going to "work" a lot more fun.
I said no to all of those things . . .just stuck with the original order of bras.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
But DAMN, I miss them. And saying goodbye is hard. I want to hug a long, long time. Until they are squirming and trying to get away, in fact.
DAMN, I miss them.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Well .. . until morning comes. And then nature gets just too friggin noisy. The chirp of morning birds is fine--very nice even. The increase in traffic is also a welcome background sound. Here are the sounds that are not so welcome:
1. The Bickering Duo . . . . apparently we have a squawking bluebird and a chittering squirrel who do NOT get along. I don't know what they find to bicker about every single morning, but they do. Like clockwork, the bird squawks, the squirrel responds and they do this back and forth for over an hour. (I had NO IDEA squirrels could be so loud!) Do they want the same tree real estate? Vying for the same snack (worm? nuts? they have different diets . . . )? Just grumpy until they get their morning coffee? WHAT? I am about ready to hire a mediator to step in and negotiate a truce.
2. The Cat from Hell . . . now we have this neighborhood cat who sits on either our bottom deck or our stairs and YOWLS. I don't mean a gentle meow. I don't mean a little purring. I mean Y O W L I N G. Miserable unhappiness piercing the late night/early morning hours over and over. It moves fine so doesn't seem to be in any pain . . . doesn't act hungry. I am guessing it is in heat, which means it sure picked the wrong house since our cat is also female and fixed. I don't suppose if I tossed down a sex toy and told her to get lost and take care of the problem, it would help? I'm about to try anything to shut her up. I also spend way too much time wondering how awful it would be to have to announce to the world you're horny and just yell until some cat comes along to help you out. Hmmm. Guess it does sound like a few college friends I used to know . . .
3. Earth Swallowing Trucks . . . This morning, added to our mix, we had a truck of some kind. Not sure what it was since it isn't trash day. . . but it was amazingly loud and was doing something at each house . . .it sounded like it was sucking up the foundation and crunching it into compost, to be honest. It was 7:55. Seems a tad early for foundation sucking, but then, who knows, the truck driver might have made a deal with the cat, the squirrel and the bird. Maybe it's a conspiracy to get those Orrs off the deck and into the house?
Hmph. Not until summer is over. Until then, where are my ear plugs?
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Case in point (and you knew that there had to be one, right?), I just finished up the second most intense and demanding (and well paying) job of my 20 plus years of writing. It came out of the blue . . . a quick email from an editor I just finished working for saying hey, I have a new project--interested? In all honesty, it should have read, "I have an insane project that will require you to stop sleeping or doing any other work, that will involve miscommunications, confusing editors, missing documents, a huge amount of work and virtually no time to do it--are you interested?" Had I been able to glance into the next four days, I am pretty sure I would have had some serious doubts. But since I couldn't and the money was goooooooooooood, I said "Sure".
Cue . . . .five days of craziness. I mean, such intense craziness that several times, I pushed my chair back from the computer and went storming up the block on a walk trying to keep my cool. Rants. Crying sessions. Texts to editors at midnight. That kind of craziness.
Everything had to be turned in by July 1. I finished at 2 a.m. that morning. When I did, my amazing family--who brought me ice water, heatpacks, nightgowns, chocolate, coffee, made me take breaks and just breathe, gave me massages, endless hugs and multiple rally sessions--put me in the car (yes, at 2 in the morning) and took me for a drive so I could just R E L A X. Then they poured me into bed.
Friday morning I opened my eyes and my first thought was, Ok, what do I still have to get done.? Then that GLORIOUS, just-like-the -last-day-of-school feeling hit me--I was DONE. Not only was I done but,
(1) It was Friday of a holiday weekend.
(2) It was warm and sunny.
(3) I was paid, actually PAID, for another project and had enough money to not only take a deep breath but hit a couple of Goodwills without guilt.
That, my friends, made for a PERFECT weekend.
So, this weekend, what have I done? I sat out in the sun. I took a nap. I read a book. I wrote letters. I watched a movie. I am going to see fireworks. I am going to probably take another nap and finish my book. PERFECTION. And while that is a good weekend, what came before it, those intense days, made it a perfect weekend (ok, not perfect. Nicole isn't home. But close). And within 30 days, when that check arrives in my mailbox, we are going to sit down and just stare at it for awhile. Then it will get dispersed to things like taxes and bills but also a few fun things. (Of course, to me that means road trips, books and paper and to J that means anything VW related. The boys are just counting on new computers.)
If I could have glanced into the future and seen what this job entailed and what a mess it would be, how stressful it would be to me physically and emotionally, would I have taken it? I doubt it. But I"m glad that I wasn't psychic and I did say yes because when that check comes, you can bet I will be smiling.
Now excuse me, I have an almost perfect weekend to get back to. . . Oh, Happy 4th of July. May it be your own version of a perfect weekend as well.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Caspian handed us the $40 we had given him to go to the organic farm. "Here," he said. "I am fed three times a day and don't need anything else, so use it."
Monday, June 6, 2011
If you were at work and you ran into a problem or obstacle or issue, you wouldn't be laughed at for turning to co-workers or managers for help. If you were sitting in a classroom and were confused or frustrated, you wouldn't be ridiculed for asking the teacher for assistance. If you were having a terrible (or wonderful!) day, no one would think twice if you grabbed the phone to share the news with your best friend.
BUT substitute PARENT for any of those positions and suddenly, it's wrong.
When Nicole walked into her new kitchen with the new team, they had put up a sign welcoming her. Awesome, huh? We were all pleased with that. The new team has been wonderful and she is sooooo much happier. But, on break, when she reached for the phone to call and talk to me as she does each afternoon, she saw it. The head shaking. The couched question . . . Calling your folks again? The veiled looks.
When Caspian walks into the kitchen at the farm and the only piece of mail on the board is for him from me, he gets the same thing. When he picks up the phone and calls us to tell us about his day, people wonder why in the world he wants to talk to his (say it with disgust here) . . . . p a r e n t s.
Why??? Why is that wrong? These children are certainly not immature and overly dependent. Look where they ARE! Nicole is 2,500 miles away in Alaska, living on her own. Caspian is spending the summer in a tent doing extremely demanding work. How can examples like that be linked to immaturity because each one of them takes a minute to call us and tell us what is happening in their lives?
Society is messed up, especially when it comes to our children. We know that. A weekend spent at Life is Good unschooling conference helped me to re-connect with the loving, supportive, bonding kind of families that give me hope for the future. And just because our children are too close for other people's comfort, we couldn't imagine them being anywhere else.
Thank you for listening. Stepping off of the soap box for now.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Nicole is MUCH MUCH happier with her new team. It isn't perfect . . . her new boss was told that she was a "meek, parent dominated, sheltered homeschooler" (grrrrrr) so she has that false reputation to overcome. I have no doubt she will do it in a matter of days seeing as she is NONE of those things.