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Friday, December 28, 2012

Gettin' Too Old for this Sh . . . .

In January, I am starting work for two new companies. The work ITSELF, I can do. I have been doing it for 20 plus years, in one format or another. But in today's high-tech world, each company has its own online system that it uses and each one require several hours of phone tutoring and 40 page directions documents. Trying to keep all of these steps and directions straight in my mind, plus use them quickly and smoothly, is proving very challenging for me. I truly long for the days when I could just type the details in Word and send it in as an attachment. Those days have virtually disappeared, sadly. Now I have to download systems, keep a list of each company's passwords and log ins, and remember what order the buttons are pushed.

Sigh.
I think I am getting too old for this.
The knowledge and skills I have.
The patience for learning the technology not so much.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resisting Reality

I have had a little extra time off lately, thanks to the holidays, and I have to say, I have loved every minute of it. In fact, it has really spoiled me. I have been getting up in the morning and instead of thinking of my to do list, and what assignment is due--or overdue--I think about where to go for coffee, or what book to read, or which letters I will answer next. I admit returning to reality is proving difficult. I had a 90 minute conference call this morning and have another tomorrow morning and I had to push hard to make myself DO it. Methinks too much time off is not a good thing for me--I will run with it and become a Work Rebel . . .  refusing jobs in one powerful leap, fighting off vengeful assignments, and annihilating opportunities with a single blow. Snicker. Yea, right.

So, I will adapt myself to working again soon and meet those deadlines. And check off assignments. And take new jobs. And apply for more. But . . . I may just milk these last few hours as much as possible before it's back to business as usual.

Spoiled. Yup.


Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a Zombie Christmas

Never one to be TOO normal, I present Zombie Christmas at the Orr House. Makes you proud that you know us, right? May your Christmas be as full of laughter, family, friendship, togetherness, happiness, and TASTY food as ours!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making a Difference

I have started to post a couple of times in the last few days, and have found myself at a loss for words. That's saying a lot since I make my living with words.

Our local shooting (at the mall where my family and I are often found hanging out in Barnes and Noble) was followed by the horrific one in the small town in Connecticut. Both acts of violence were ones that made me spend extra time walking into my sons' rooms and hugging them. Caspian continues to battle the fantastical realm of World of Warcraft while I hug him. Coryn continues to tweet and post and interact electronically with friends while I hug him. They both know that Mom's need for physical contact is a little higher these days. They always hug back. :)

The problem with today's communication system is that we know about all of these terrible events as they happen. We can't do a damn thing about them, so we feel all of the emotions--anger, fear, hostility, violence, grief--and have nothing to do with it. We can't exact revenge on the sick, sick people who have perpetrated these acts of evil. We can't comfort the parents. We can't save anyone. We are left feeling so helpless--or at least that is how I feel. Sad, worried, scared, and helpless.

Those emotions are NOT good for me. They do not make me a good writer, wife, friend, or mother. So, instead, I vow once again to do everything I possibly can to make this world a better place on a personal level. I am raising children who are loved and love in return. I listen to their worries and fears and try to help them find the right answers and best decisions. I support them, guide them, love them endlessly, and hope that, in doing so, they will go forward into the world and do the same. They will fall in love, pass on those feelings into the world, and hopefully also have children that they will raise even better than I could. And those generations will go on and on into the future, long after Joseph and I are gone, and make the world a better place.

I cannot help the grieving parents in Connecticut or Oregon or anywhere else. I can hold them in my heart and wish them peace. I can send a heartfelt card. I can think of them every time I interact with my children and other people's children. I can love my family, my friends, the world and the people in it, and hope, hope, hope it is enough to make a difference. Enough? Probably not. But it's a step, and I'm grateful to be a part of that step. Making a difference.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teenagers . . .

A friend of mine posted today that teenagers can be miserable, and while I know what she means on a logical level, I have to say, mine are not. My two teenage sons are wonderful, delightful, tender, compassionate, intelligent, funny as hell people. A few days ago, my 16 year old was looking at me and I said, What's up? He said, you guys are just wonderful parents. I really don't take the time to notice it but you are. You love us so much and make us feel safe.

Heady praise, eh?

Just now, my 19 yr old looked at me and said, You are an amazing friend to people, Mom. Thanks for teaching us that with your example.

I know that teens have a reputation in today's culture for being temperamental, and confused, and grouchy, and moody . . . and sometimes they are, but then, sometimes I am too. Teenage years are so tough. They aren't children anymore and yet they aren't really adults either. They live in limbo, dealing with changing viewpoints on life, hormones, a pressure to make decisions about the future, hormones, complicated relationships with friends, hormones, and trying to find their place in the world--plus hormones. I am surprised they don't go insane actually.

As their mom, I try to balance listening with guiding, loving with  advising, and empathizing with nudging. And never, not once, have I thought these young people in my house were miserable. I just love, love, love them and provide a willing ear, open arms, and usually a wise ass comment.  So far, so good.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hearing Loss versus Sleep

So, the other night I ended up, as you know from following my every essential word, sleeping on the couch because we had the dog and she wouldn't stop snoring.
Tonight I am in the living room for the same problem--but this time it is Joseph. Joseph . . . the man who virtually never snores (although he exhales louder than a freight train sometimes) is snoring. And LOUDLY. And so here I am, at 4 a.m., sitting in the living room working on an assignment. I know it is smarter to come downstairs and just crash on the couch, but most of the time, I don't feel sleepy plus I know that I will lose these hours later when I do sleep and then I will be behind again. So, yup. Just finished one passage, and starting on the next.
I have always been an auditory person, and haven't minded, but times like this I despise it. I want to lay in bed and just IGNORE the sound, concentrate on the music playing under my pillow and let go . . .but I CAN'T. I like music, wind chimes, the cat's purr, the wind, rain . . . . but NOT snoring. And no, ear plugs don't work with me. They hurt and drive me nuts. Same with ear buds.
I have already lost about 60 percent of the hearing in one ear years ago and on nights like this, I find myself wishing it had been a little more.
However, I will work a little longer and finally curl up on the couch and drift off to the sound of my iTunes playing softly, the dryer tumbling clothes in the garage, the hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen, and the occasional "ping" the computer makes when an email comes in.
Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kindness--Pass It On

I really, really like surprising people with something nice they didn't expect. (Yes, I am a HUGE hit at Christmas. :) ) Case in point . .. today we went to one of the billion fast food chains and ordered some quick lunch. It seems like good service at a drive up is almost unheard of anymore. Either the person is bored, impatient, can't hear us, we can't hear him/her, we speak different languages, the sound system is lousy--or a number of other reasons. This guy though--clear, patient, helpful. We pulled around and he was this young guy with a big smile. We thanked him for excellent service and dear heavens, the young man was actually humble AND gracious. As we pulled away, I said to Joseph, "Let's tip him!" So we pulled back around and asked if it was permissible to tip him. He said yes, but it wasn't necessary. We handed him $5 (for a $20 order) and he just lit up. I am not sure anyone had ever tipped him before and he was just virtually speechless. We smiled and said, "Merry Christmas".

Then, all the way home, Joseph and I came up with a list of other things we could do like that. I am already feeling the holiday spirit!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Job Report

At the end of October, I posted about the jobs I had been offered and how many accepted/rejected. I realize that this does not exactly make for riveting reading, but I like formally keeping track. So read if you wish.

In November, I was offered a total of 20 jobs.
I accepted 13.
I rejected 4.
3 are pending.

You wonder why I don't sleep?

Not Sleeping, Just Sighing

It's almost 7 a.m. and I have been up all night. Still not sleepy, so thought I would take a moment to blog.
Gosh, that is a less than creative introduction . . . .but after no sleep, my creativity seems to be either on pause or dormant. At least some part of me is resting.
Why am I not sleeping (see, I knew you'd ask)? I went to bed at 11:30 and read for 30 minutes. Turned off the light. Cuddled under blankets. Since Coryn is sick, we had the dog instead of him. I drifted off to sleep . . sort of . . but then the dog started snoring.
Sigh.
I'm a very auditory person and snoring is probably the fastest way to banish sleep for me. I kick the dog just enough to waken her but not hurt her. She stops. I close my eyes and start to drift off and then she starts up again.
Sigh.
This went on from midnight until almost 2. Then I just gave up and came downstairs. Put some quiet music on, Threw a pillow and blanket on the couch, and quickly realized that my brain thought I was up.
Sigh.
Sat and read for an hour. Finally turned off the light, laid down, closed my eyes. Slept for 30 minutes when Joseph came down to check on where I was. That woke me.
Sigh.
So we chatted for a few. I was selfishly needing sympathy. Just some aw damn, honey. That sucks. Come back to bed and we can turn on the radio/move the dog/figure out a way but . . nope. So he went back to bed and I sat at the computer and wrote an assignment that is due Monday.
Sigh.
But hey, that's one less thing to do later today, right? You know . . when it is the middle of the afternoon and no amount of coffee keeps my eyes open any longer?
Sigh.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful--Always

Sometimes I think we should have Thanksgiving a couple of times a year. No, it isn't that I have a vendetta against turkeys or enjoy pumpkin pie THAT much. But  . . . the world seems to take a deep breath and focus on what each one of is grateful for, and that is something we could all use way more of, right? (Black Friday, on the other hand, we could use a lot LESS of.)
So, joining in the ranks of those who are taking a moment for what they are grateful for, here are mine. Yeah, they are redundant--mostly the same things I am grateful for every year, but no less sincere.
1. My husband--30 years together and still going strong. Cannot imagine a day without him making me laugh, driving me somewhere, giving me his hat when it's raining, keeping up with the laundry, groping me at night, and making me feel loved every single moment.
2. My kids--all four of them are delightful people who have made the world a better place for being in it. Nicole is far away, but coming home in time for Christmas. I am relieved to say that 7500 miles did nothing to dim our friendship. And these two boys--they are handsome, funny, and amazingly kind.
3. My work--demanding, exasperating, never ending, and yes, I am so grateful for each assignment. I have been hired by so many new companies this year, I lost track. I am often steeped in assignments that are difficult and confusing, and tedious, and challenging . . . but I am still grateful for them. That work allows me to not use an alarm clock, not put on knee hose or (ugh) pantyhose, and to be here when I am needed by the family. It allows me to wear slippers when I want, take a coffee break when I need one, and still earn enough to put food on the table. I officially thank all of the editors and managers who hired me this year--thanks for taking a risk on me.
4. My location--we love, love, love Portland, Oregon. It is a perfect match up for us. We have been here 11 years now and still mention on a regular basis how much we like it here. We have discussed moving . . . Australia came up a number of times, but large creepy crawlies, a higher cost of living, and the cost of air tickets (plus how DOES one ship 10,000 books?) seems a bit prohibitive. :)
5. My life--whether I am heading down the aisle of a Goodwill, writing a letter to a friend I've never met, working on an imminent deadline, sitting in a new coffee shop reading with my leg thrown across Joseph so we are touching, or immersing myself in research for another book, I know that I am one fortunate lady.
That is something to reflect on often---not just once a year. Now, can I have a piece of pie every time I do?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Trouble in the Land Down Under

A Down Under update . . . . Nicole's adventure in the Land of Oz has had its ups and downs, for sure. Her stay as a nanny did not, sadly, work out as anyone had hoped and planned, which resulted in her moving out and into Brisbane. There, she is sharing an apartment with a very nice young woman, and has branched out to have several fabulous adventures, including going to a convention and meeting Spike (from "Buffy"). 
However, in the last couple of days we have all come to a sobering realization. Since she is going to have to come back home much sooner than expected, this places her return closer to the holidays. Any guess what happens to ticket prices around Christmas and New Year's? 
Yup. The $1000 she had budgeted for a ticket home is more than doubled unless she waits until February/March. Unfortunately, the money it would cost to wait that long (food, lodging, etc.) is almost as much as she would need for that ticket. 
A dilemma for sure. 
Why not just get a job while she is there, you might ask? Fine question. Australia makes that more than a little challenging. She has to LEAVE the country to change her visit from a visiting one to a working one. This means flying to New Zealand and then staying there one to two weeks while the new visa is processed. Sigh. 
We are spending a lot of time on the phone, IM, Skype and Facebook trying to figure out how to best help her. I'd love to plop a couple of grand into her bank account and make the question moot, but I don't have it right now. A few hundred, sure, but that's it.  And I am frustrated from here as I want her to do all of the adventures she wanted to do, see the sites, take the train trip, and I cannot figure out how to help her do it and still FLY HOME. 
In other parts of my life . . I'm fine. Missing the sun, bought one of those "happy lights" to stave off the depression that lurks at the periphery of my days. Trying to meet deadlines. Loving my husband, and watching my sons grow up so fast that I sometimes don't recognize them when they get up in the morning. 
And mostly worrying about my girl in the Land of Oz and what I can do to help her. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Catchin' Up

Sheeesh. Sorry for the disappearing act. I don't even get money and fame like professional magicians do.

Life continues to kick my butt with work and family. I love my job but I just cannot seem to get caught up. In the last two weeks of October, I kept track and I was offered 19 jobs. Of the 19, I turned down 3, took 14, and two were pending. Since then, both have come through.

I guess that explains why work is kicking my butt.

Family . . . busy boys . and a girl oh, so far away. She has had to make some big decisions about what to do, where to go, and how to spend the rest of her time in Australia and I am hoping great adventure is right around the corner for her. I still get a kick out of talking to her on the phone and hearing those peacocks in the background.

We celebrated our 30th anniversary the day before Halloween. It was a sweet day . . . spent hanging out at Goodwills, going out to eat and working on rearranging the bedroom.

Two broken teeth--not one of my favorite parts of this last few weeks. Dentist on Friday. Sigh. Not a fan of dentists. Currently loving my dad but wishing he had kept his genes for brittle teeth to himself.  I guess if he and mom didn't give me their noses though, I should be quiet and be grateful.

Both boys planning to dye their hair this week. Mom just buys the dye, smiles and gets out of the way. It's hair. It grows back. Pick your battles!

Sorry for this scattershot report. Seems about all I have time for recently. Too many deadlines sitting on my shoulders and nagging me. I've tried to make them shut up, but the more I battle, the louder they get. Mean, just mean.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Wrong" Turns

Today, while out running a few errands, we ended up with a few wrong turns. I was talking to Joseph about some of the bullying experiences I had in elementary school, and he was listening so closely that he missed our turn. We took the next one, but to get back where we needed to go, we pulled through the parking lot of Office Depot. My husband knows that I am somewhat addicted to office supplies, so he pulled in, and I wandered around. My favorite keyboard was on sale from $70 down to $52 and then further to $39! Since I wear the letters off of my keyboard constantly, I can always use a new one. So, I got it.

Then, heading to my favorite Goodwill, we--you guessed it--missed our turn. Instead we pulled through this parking lot where Joseph knew there was a fig tree. He pulled over and picked a couple. I've never tasted a fresh fig before (you know--the ones they use to stuff fig newtons!) and it was really fascinating. It tasted like fig and rain and spring time. I really liked it (not so much the boys though when I brought one home).

It made me think though about "wrong" turns. Today they ended netting a keyboard and a fig. What other "wrong" turns have ended up gaining us far more than we lost? As I look back over my life, I realize that those wrong turns have led to some of the best, most unexpected adventures of my life. In that vein, I wish all that stop by to read here at least one fun "wrong" turn.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Blessed . . . and Burdened

The universe has plans for me . . now if I could just figure out what they are . . .
I mean, does karma simply love me and want to make sure that my family does not go without? Does the universe know that I am a single income earner of a family of four (sigh . . . . used to be six . . . keeps dropping) and is hustling to make it so that we have enough money to pay the bills, put food on the table, and go to Goodwill whenever the mood strikes?
OR
Is the universe tired of having me around so it is trying to work me into the ground? Give me a Voldemort nose from holding it to the grindstone for too long? Give up a social life, reading books or writing letters in order to MEET DEADLINES?
Am I blessed or burdened?
I haven't decided.
I am keeping a journal now of jobs offered and considered.
In the FOUR days I have been keeping it, I have been:
*interviewed for a new company once (got it)
*offered a job with a new company (pending)
*given four emergency assignments (completed)
*turned down two jobs for lack of compensation (so there!)
*given additional work from three companies who are pleased with me (yeah, me!)
IN FOUR DAYS.
No wonder I crawl into bed at night with my head swimming with details and deadlines and due dates. I need a clone. That would definitely be a blessing .  . . unless of course, Joseph or the kids liked her better. Now I'm thinking burden . . .

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Of Better Days

The light at the end of the tunnel is MUCH brighter now. (No, not THAT light .  . . do not go gently into that light!) This weekend is full of work, as usual, but not so much that I wake up in a mild state of panic. Instead, I leisurely took a shower, emailed with my girl, and now I am going out for that one cup of coffee I have each day. I will stop by the bank, the post office, and the library and then when I am back home, I will start tackling assignments and deadlines with a much better attitude.

The weather has shifted from summer to fall and while that means no more sleeping outside (thanks to the rain), I have to admit I am a little grateful. It is MUCH harder to stay inside and work when it is 80 degrees and sunny out there, than when it is 50 and drizzly. Selfish, I know, but those perfect summer afternoons carry such temptation to walk away from inside and dwell in the outside.  Now I look out at the falling leaves and the raindrops and am grateful to be at my desk. Well okay, I would rather be sitting on the couch, sipping hot chocolate and writing a letter, but hey, we take what we can get, right?

Created a fun present for Miss Nicole in Australia, which of course, I cannot describe as then she would know what it was. Promise to post the details once it arrives--it takes about two weeks between here and there. Thank goodness for Skype and IMing and email which helps us keep in daily contact. She met a young man with a brilliant smile and may have her first Australian date in the works. :)

Off for that coffee to inspire and motivate me to a thorough day's work. Happy Autumn to all!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Some Days . . .

. . . . are just . . . hard.
This is one of them. I'm tired. I'm broke. I'm tired of being broke, especially considering i have been working 12-14 hour days for more than three weeks now. The money will come, but  it takes so LONG to do so. In my business, it's always 30 days at least, and for many projects, it is 60 to 90 and that is a LONG time to wait for a paycheck.

And I miss Nicole.
And as fast as I work, I don't seem to catch up.
And summer is ending.
And I feel crabby.

Some days are just hard.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Not Enough Hours in the Day

A few people (I won't mention exact names) have mentioned that I haven't posted for a while, so I am going to post quickly and then get my very sore, worn down, painful nose back to that vicious, razor-sharp grindstone.

All is well . . . I am just absolutely swamped and buried under work. Deadlines are daily and I am working from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, with the only time off being pee breaks, one coffee run, and a meal (only one--I eat the rest at my desk). I am grateful, of course. I am lucky and blessed to be busy and employed, but there are moments where I would trade it all for a day just to read, write letters, and nap.

So, I will keep writing, typing, researching, interviewing, attending phone conferences, writing, studying, learning, and yea, writing, and eventually, I will catch up. Then, I plan to curl up on the couch and be a lazy bum for at least 24 hours.

In the meantime, I miss my girl more with each passing day. She is adapting to her new home away from home--not an easy task so far away, getting to know new people, living in very close quarters, and dealing with huge lizards, huge spiders, huge snakes, and curious "chooks" (i.e. chickens). We are learning the Aussie language by Skype. Nicole has been gone for two weeks, although it feels much longer. Anyone who knows us knows that we go way beyond mother and daughter. We are best friends and we confer, commiserate, celebrate, and communicate about EVERYTHING. We just have to do it from 7500 miles apart. Sigh.

Okay, back to meeting deadlines and reducing that to do list before the next day arrives, and it fills up again. Wish me luck. And if you have some extra hours, could you send them over? Thanks!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

She's THERE

Just a quick update. After 17 hours and three planes, Nicole is finally in Brisbane. I briefly was able to hear her voice as she Skyped from the airport to let me know they all found each other.
I have lost count of how many times I have heard her coming down the hallway. Of how many times just today I have gone to her room to tell her something. Of how many comments I started to make and then realized no one would "get" but her.
Don't let anyone ever tell you that parenting doesn't mean sacrifice. Since the day I held my first child 28+ years ago, I have willingly, cheerfully, lovingly put aside thinking of me first to think of someone else first. I imagine I will keep doing so as long as these four people walk the earth--or as long as I do, at least. Is there a bigger gift to give each other than loving them enough to do what it takes to help them be happy? (Good gawd, Tami, you used to be a writer, but that sentence may destroy your entire reputation.)
I am off to take 15 minutes on the couch to rest this ridiculously swollen throat. But as I close my eyes, my heart is lighter because as much as I miss her, I am even more excited for her and what awaits her. She may be THERE, but she is also RIGHT here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

She's on Her Way

Well, she's gone.
It was . . . tough, really tough. Two things took the edge off. First, we took something to slightly dull our emotions. Second, the last 30 minutes were filled with confusion over a suitcase that weighed too much, and a missing cell phone. They served as good distractions indeed.
Watching her hug her brothers was tough. Seeing her hug Joseph and the tears in his eyes was harder. Hugging me about pushed me over the edge. I kept seeing Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" hugging Scarecrow and whispering, "I think I will miss you most of all."
I miss her so much, I feel like I have a huge hole on me .  . I can feel the cold wind whistling through it and wonder why others don't point and comment. But I am also so excited for her that I am almost beside myself. She has an adventure ahead of her that is like no one I know.
And time will heal the wound, I know. Having it just means that I love her fiercely. As I write, she is waiting to board her plane in L.A. for Fiji! Fiji! Amazing. Send her good, safe travel thoughts and send me patience and a good hug.
Cuz, you know, she's gone.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Confession Time

Not doing so well today.
I AM better, but it's a slow process, and as soon as one thing gets better, the next one seems to kick in. I was up at 5:45 with a killer earache and a throat so swollen, I wasn't sure I could swallow the aspirin I was taking.
Got more sleep (yay!), got up and finished an assignment between 8 and 11. Went out for some iced tea with the girl. Ran into some pretty interesting people in the process, but all I could think was STOP TALKING TO HER. She leaves in 30 hours . . . 28 . . . 26. . . .
It's 2 pm and I have cried five times. No, not IN FRONT of her. Just when she runs to the store or takes a shower or is still sleeping. I do NOT want her plans to change. I just want her to find a way to go off on her adventure AND stay right here.
Not much to request, eh?
Lots of work, too much physical pain and discomfort, and my best friend leaving all at once? Just seems a little mean.
Don't mind me. I will be the one in the corner with the covers pulled over her head, whimpering.
Actually, I will be sitting right here at this computer working and smiling and keepin' on keepin' on cuz that's what life is about.
But . . . not doing so well today.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Inching toward Recovery

I am feeling a lot like an inchworm these days. 
Inch by inch by inch I am moving toward health. Progress is being made, but damn, it is slow. 
What isn't slow? 
WORK and TIME.
New projects coming in fast and furious and I simply don't have enough hours in the day--especially hours where I don't feel like I am seriously sick--to keep up with deadlines. I have been apologizing left and right for missed deadlines and have even told some editors that I just can NOT do it. 
And time? 
Man, just last week I had 100 days before Nicole was leaving. 
Now I have less than 60 hours. It has gone too fast. Each minute becomes precious and none of them are ones that I want to spend writing test questions but instead sitting on the couch holding the hand of my dearest friend before I can no longer do so. 
Today we went on our last Goodwill run together. In the evening, we went to a play, and then over to VooDoo Donuts for a late night treat. Soon, we will go to bed and spend eight hours in sleep. If I could find a way not to do that, I would, but I am finding that cheating sleep only ends up making those inches toward recovery far slower than usual. 
Still coughing. Eyes still coated in gunk. Still exhausted by end of day. And still, time marches on, no matter how I beg it not to. 
Inchworm, inchworm. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Apologizing to Karma

I must have done something really hideous to people that I don't remember, because I haven't been this sick in decades. Nights are awful--I tried taking a cough suppressant so I could SLEEP and found out that all it does is stop me coughing just long enough for it to build up and when I start again, it is terrifying. Coughing to the point of throwing up  . . not good. Plus pink eye matting my eyes shut every couple of hours. Plus on and off fever. And a headache that would stop armies.

I know. Go to the doctor. I keep thinking if I just wait another 24 hours, I will be better. I have flashes of better, but then night comes, and I think heck, maybe I'm dying and someone forgot to tell me.

Okay, enough bitchin'. Off to take a shower and see if I can breathe for a little while. Thanks for listenin'.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Flu STILL Sucks

I really, really, really hoped I would have been completely over this flu by now, but alas, t'is not true. Shakespearian styles aside, I feel like crap. I haven't been sick in YEARS and apparently that means I have to make up for it. I have taken Vitamin C, and lots of aspirin and I feel better long enough to work a couple of hours and then just melt down. I have due dates looming and I feel terrible that they are sliding by me, but I can't manage more than a few hours and then I'm back on the couch contemplating what needs to be amputated in order for me to feel better. So far, the only thing that doesn't hurt on me is  .  yes, I'm trying to think of something that doesn't hurt . . . . my CHIN, there, my chin can stay.

Sorry for the complaints. Just really, really need this to be gone. I have only 8 days left with my girl, so I don't want to spend them sick. Even moreover, I don't want HER to risk getting it. I will actually offer to take it another week or so if it means she stays healthy.

That's it. Nothing witty. No clever last line. See, the damn flu has even taken my clever verbiage.
Send healthy thoughts.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Flu Sucks

This just in . . . . . THE FLU SUCKS.
I know. Shocking news, right? Who knew?
I haven't had the flu in so long, I forgot how NOT fun it is. My son came home from camp with it and guess who got it? Yup, me. Fever, deep cough, sneezing, congestion, and oh man, the muscle aches. I feel like someone ran over with me with the street cleaner and I have blocked it out of my memory. When your fingers hurt on the keyboard, you know you're sore.
So, I am trying to balance working and resting, although deadlines are being pushier between the two. And I am trying not to breathe on anyone else in the family because I don't want Nicole getting it before she heads out of the country, or Joseph because anything respiratory hits him hard.
So, send healthy thoughts and chicken soup. Although, honestly, I would prefer some hot chocolate and oatmeal cookies because, you just learned, the flu sucks.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Countdown is On . . .

My darlin girl leaves for the other side of the world in ten days.
Ten.
Days.
She is leaving under the best of circumstances . . . going to a place that she had dreamt of going for years. Going to live with people who, if I had to design a family for her to live with, couldn't have fit my requirements more. They are funny and irreverent and loving and gentle and compassionate and wonderful. Going at the end of our summer so that she arrives in time for their summer and then back home in time for our summer again. NO WINTER. :) Going with all of the money she needs that she worked very hard to earn. Going while she is young and single and free to explore herself and the world around her.
And I am honestly, sincerely thrilled for her. Man, how many people get a chance like this in a lifetime?
I know we will Skype.
I know we will write.
But the idea of not having her beside me in the aisles of Goodwill . . . . watching chick flicks together in the afternoon . . . . laughing our butts off at something stupid . . . coming down the stairs to give me a morning hug . . . well, that feels like it is ripping me to shreds.
I will adjust. I know that she is going where she will be cherished and loved. It's just hard to be the one that will be doing it from afar.
Ten days.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Nature's Torture Device

I always thought I would be one of those people who could stand up to torture fairly well. You know how you watch movies and think, how long could I stand that without revealing top secret information like my weight, how often I've cried at those stupid phone commercials, or how many times I have watched the YouTube video of laughing babies. A kidney stone a while back taught me humility in dealing with pain. It still ranks as the most painful thing I've ever experienced.

However, a close second is that most evil of ailments . . . . the one that sneaks up on you when you're sleeping peacefully, dreaming of old friends and new adventures . . . the one that attacks without any warning and immediately reduces you to a sniveling, whimpering, cursing victim. You know this attacker. It is Mr. Charlie Horse.

I used to get these fairly often and they made mornings miserable. I haven't had one in ages and apparently, I needed to make up for that. I was hit with one this morning and ohmigawd, it was hideous. Like liquid fire from ankle to hip. To complicate matters, I was sleeping out on the deck, so I was IN a sleeping bag on a low air mattress. Getting out of these on most mornings takes Olympics style leaps and twists, and with a Charlie Horse taking an entire leg out of commission, well . . . . I am not sure what one would call these contortions, but I am sure that "graceful" would not be considered.

I cursed . . loudly. Moaned. Cried a little. Rolled out of the bed and just whimpered, trying to put weight on my leg. Finally, it let go and I could breathe again. Now, less than two feet away from all this action Caspian and Nicole were sleeping on their own air mattresses. Did they notice my agony? Did they even stir? NO. Nothing. Not a twitch.

They can sleep through THAT, but let Joseph reach out and give me a grope, and one of them will mutter, "Get a room." We have a room--it's the deck and you're on it.

Anyway, now I am limping and every time I start to stretch my leg, I wince.  Fortunately, no terrorists were out on the deck with me at the time, so I didn't reveal any national secrets. Chances are, if the terrorists had been there, they would have slept through it anyway.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just Say . . . No

Nancy Reagan reminded us all to do it. It was easy . . just say NO. (As opposed to Nike's Just do it.) Hmmm. Might have been interesting if their slogans had gotten mixed up in advertising. Seems to me like people do it all the time. Just do drugs. Just say no to exercise.

Anyway, I digress.

In the past two weeks I have done something I almost never do. I have turned down work. I have said no to jobs that don't pay well enough or pay decently, but are so stressful for me that I end up having minor panic attacks over figuring out how to do them.

Turning down work is really, really hard for me. I like being asked to be part of a project. I like expanding the resume and finding new companies and having a wide variety of projects to work on. And of course, I really, really like having paychecks in my mailbox.

But I don't like waking in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep for worrying about work. I don't like not being able to spend time with Nicole before she leaves because I have a long list of deadlines. I don't like not being able to pick up a book and just read for an hour for fun. And I don't like the physical repercussions of sitting at this desk for 1o to 15 hours a day.

So I made the executive decision to say no to some projects. I've said yes to five new ones in the last week, so it isn't like I am walking away from new jobs. And I am hoping that my mental, physical, and emotional health show some benefits from this unlike me decision.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Gettin' Too Old for this Sh . . . .

You know the rest.
Danny Glover stated this in most of the "Lethal Weapons" and I must say, I have come to agree with him completely.
In the last two weeks, I have been hired for six new projects. This really is great . . . I mean, it means I keep working and the money comes in. But each project has something like 20 plus documents and an online training program and its own uploading system for your work and I have to keep all of this straight. Due dates, passwords, directions, standards, editors . . . and I have found that I am not quite moving and learning as fast as I used to. What I flew through at 40, I don't fly through now. I used to be able to do 14 hour days. Now, I pay some pretty high prices for doing so.
The worst part for me is that the companies keep updating their technology, which I completely understand . . . but I am constantly having to learn new systems. Gone are the days where I could just write in Word and send it in. Sigh.
These are hard days right now, for a variety of reasons, including the one described here. Money is tight. And you know what? I am just tired. I start off a umber of my days with pep talks to get me up and moving. . . .but in the end, I find myself saying, "I'm just too old for this . . ." --you know the rest.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Sense of Humor

Today at lunch, I announced that Sherm had gotten a puppy. It is a very small floater that seems to move in conjunction with Sherm, so I thought of it as a puppy.
My family asked me if I had named it yet. I said no. They encouraged me to give it a name and one came to me immediately. It made me laugh so hard I had a hard time sharing it with my listeners, but finally I did.
I found the perfect name for this little floater puppy.
Spot.

Snicker.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Aliens in Orr Ville

You know that dramatic moment in sci fi movies where the person is on a futuristic operating table, and a person driven to the edge of madness is wielding a scalpel, laughing maniacally as they cut into the poor victim's back and extract a wicked alien looking claw? The music swells and usually, we cut to commercial.

Minus the commercial, this is almost what happened in my kitchen today. I was the patient and Joseph the scalpel wielding madman (the fact that he actually has a doctor's license just enhances the image). His scalpel was a sharp needle . . . and I was on a chair instead of an operating table. Okay, maybe it wasn't EXACTLY like the movies, but I am absolutely positive I heard menacing music playing in the background, and I could swear Joseph was chuckling.

He poked. He prodded . . then he picked up the needle . . . Snicker. Sorry, couldn't resist. The tiny black spot on my back was lifted, as I sat there going ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, (and OF COURSE it is on my RIGHT side) and I heard him say, WHOA.

Whoa?
Then he dashed off for some paper towels.

The tiny little black spot turned out a tad bit larger, hence the "whoa". In fact, after PULLING the damn thing out, Joseph measured it at 1/8 inch. And upon examination, we still do not know what it is. We have had several suggestions and I am still dedicating all of my energy to walling off any suggestions that involve the words "cocoon", and  "larva".

It's out. It's healing.
And if they make another "Alien" movie, I will at least be able to better empathize with the actors.  Cue maniacal laughter . . .

A Reading Frenzy

Yes, that is a bit of an exaggeration. I don't have enough free time to go on the reading frenzy that I would LIKE to go on. . . but I have managed to read 26 books so far this year, and for me, that's decent. Of course, "Wonder Reader", aka Coryn, can read 26 books in a weekend . . . how anyone can read that fast is beyond me . . . . Anyway, here are my comments on a few of the titles I've read just recently:

Talking to My Selves/Jeff Dunham: We are big fans of Jeff and his puppets . . . . we own his movies and we all watch and laugh. Peanut and Walter quotes are used frequently in the house by all. I really enjoyed reading about how he came up with the different puppets and what it is like to be a ventriloquist.

Lone Wolf/Jodi Picoult: What can I say? You know from reading this blog that I think she is one of the finest fiction authors on the planet. This book was wonderful and taught me a new respect for wolves. I already deeply respected Jodi . . .

The Fault in Our Stars/John Green: This one almost left me speechless. It was a young adult novel so I was reluctant to read it. I shouldn't have been. It was amazing and charming and poignant and painful and bittersweet. I was astounded . . and went out and bought all of his other novels.

Ghosting/David Poyer: Fantastic premise . . . dysfunctional family sailing the seas, arguing, getting seasick, and OF COURSE, running into "bad guys" . . . but gosh, you better not really LIKE any of these characters because very very few of them make it to the end of the novel. Make a terrific Saturday night B- movie.

White Horse/Alex Adams: Fascinating take on the plague/end of the world theme. A few almost implausible implausibilities at the very end, but it was worth suspending believability for the story. And wow, can the woman write great metaphors

Happy reading, gang!

Like It? Great. . . It's Over

Companies like Netflix, and Hulu, plus libraries and cable TV have made it possible to watch a huge variety of TV series that are no longer made. In many ways, this is wonderful . . . but I always feel like I am about six steps behind. Everytime I find a great series I really like, it is either (a) already off the air or (b) on its last season. Oh sure, there are quite a few on TV currently that I like watching--"The Big Bang Theory" is charming; "Supernatural" is a family favorite, and I have recently been enjoying the series "Parenthood".  But some of the series I like best aren't around anymore.

It started years ago with "Star Trek: The Next Generation". By the time I started watching it, it was on its final season. Sigh. Then, later I started watching "Buffy" and "Angel". The entire family became Whedonites. And then, of course, both series, along with the wonderful "Firefly", all went off the air. Sigh again.

Now it's "Six Feet Under". I knew that Jasmine loved the show when it was on, but we were in the middle of a number of other series, so I kept bumping this one to the end of our Netflix queue. Finally, it got to the top and we started watching it, and now Nicole, Coryn and I are hooked. Great characters, fascinating stories, unexpected plots twists and what a cast! We started with season 1 and today we watched the first disc of season 5--the last season. We talked about how much we will miss the characters .  . . after you spend that many hours watching them, knowing their secrets, seeing their mistakes, laughing--and crying--at their situations, you feel like you KNOW these people. When I started watching the show, Michael Hall was Dexter playing a gay funeral director . . . Now he has become David playing a serial killer. (If you don't watch those shows, that statement doesn't make any sense . . . I know, just roll with it . . ) We will finish up the show just before Nicole leaves for Oz. Yes, that is only about a month away. BIG SIGH.

Guess there will be a lot of people missed by then, eh?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pet Peeve Up Close and Personal

If you've been reading this blog, writing me letters, or know me personally, you know that one habit I am NOT FOND OF (read disgusted and appalled by) is spitting. Now if a bug flies in your mouth or you're eating something horrible, spitting is permissible. Not on the sidewalk where I'm walking, mind you, but discreetly into a wastebasket or napkin.
This morning I was awakened by our neighbor. (Yes, we are still sleeping out on the upper deck.) Now, they have a little baby (just about one now, I think) and occasionally I am wakened by him crying or someone taking him outside and playing with him. Those are basically good sounds.
This morning the husband was doing something in the back yard. I don't know what it was, but it involved a lot of moving stuff around and making noise. It was only 8 a.m. but that's ok. I am sleeping outside and I do not expect the squirrels and birds to stop chirping and chittering, or the traffic to stop honking and revving their engines, or the neighborhood dogs to stop barking. Actually, I generally like those sounds. Since I have tinnitus, ear plugs are certainly not an option. Then I would hear much more unpleasant sounds.
Today, however, was something completely different. About every 3-5 minutes, this man would make that horrible, guttural throat sound that precedes spitting and then spit. Now, I don't know what is wrong with this young man. He is only in his 20s, I think. But I would be concerned about lung cancer by the sounds of it. How can only ONE PERSON have that much phlegm?? I mean . . . . in the half hour I laid there trying desperately to go back to sleep, he did it at least a dozen times. Each time was rattly and wet and UGLY sounding. I finally gave up and got up.
While I was getting my glasses, putting on my nightgown, hugging my husband good morning and adjusting to Sherm's constant presence, the guy did it another three times. I am sure it must be a real turn on for his wife. Ewwwwww.
If I was writing Commandments, Thou Shall Not Spit (Unless a Bug Flyeth into your Mouth) would definitely be in the top five. At least you can rest assured I'm not coveting my neighbor's spouse!

Friday, August 10, 2012

P.S.

At breakfast today, Coryn told me that I needed to name Sherm's ghosts since I had already named him. We brainstormed for a few minutes and I finally decided on Huey, Louie, and Dewey. I am hoping they are so insulted by being named after three cartoon ducks that they will leave in a huff.
Heck, I just want them to leave.
If I keep hearing sounds that no one else can hear (tinnitus) and seeing objects no one can see (floater), I am pretty sure commitment papers will be imminent. Cue "They're Coming to Take Me Away" theme song.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Supernatural Sherm

Just when you thought it was safe to open your eyes . . .
Sherm is apparently being haunted. How do I know this? Today several transparent ghost-like floaters (ha, now that name is funnier considering) have joined him. They keep to the far right of my vision and  only wave like deep ocean seaweed when I am looking straight ahead. Glance their way and, like the ghosts on television, they dash completely out of sight and hide until I forget all about them. Then they start waving again.
Since it just started this morning, right now it is rather entertaining. By tonight, it will be irritating. Tomorrow it will just piss me off.
Sigh. Sherm should have asked me before asking ghosts to join him. But then, he didn't ask if he could move in in the first place, so this obvious lack of manners is not a surprise.
Maybe I need an exorcist?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sherm, Part 2

Sherm has overstayed his welcome. Admittedly, he had overstayed it ten minutes after I noticed him lurking in my right eye, but a week later, he has really, really overstayed it.
I don't like him. Sure, he's quiet and he doesn't cause me any pain. But when I take a shower, I keep thinking something is crawling up the wall.
It's Sherm.
When I type I keep reaching up to brush back what seems like an annoying hair.
It's Sherm.
When I first wake up in the morning and look around, I think what the hell is that thing?
Yes, it's Sherm.
I want him to go away now. The right side of my body is already so screwed. It's the side with the bad eye, the bad ear, the bad hip. The side I had the kidney stones. The side my back hurts. The side my headaches are on. The side I can't hear as well on, and has 24/7 tinnitus. The side with the carpal tunnel wrist that I have to keep a brace on.
I MEAN, REALLY?!?!
Enough is enough, right?
So, I am serving Sherm an eviction notice. I am giving him 24 hours to move out of my body and into something else like . . I don't know. . how about a fly? They have such wild and crazy eyes anyway, they probably wouldn't notice a sperm-like floater that keeps dancing around. Sherm could see much more interesting places if he hung out with a fly. Nature has to be more interesting than the computer screen I am usually staring at.
Think it will work? Cross your fingers for me. (Don't cross your eyes though!)

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Busy Morning

It has been a while since I described a typical morning in this writer's life, so here you go.

I have been up for almost 4 hours at this point. During those four hours:

1. I did a phone interview for 30 minutes with a truly charming almost 14-yr-old.
2. I called and scheduled two additional interviews with other people.
3. I sent interview questions to two more people.
4. I was given and accepted six new books for a new company. I choose titles and due dates and signed contracts.
5. I downloaded four files for a project I will be working on this afternoon.
6. I sent and received more than 50 emails ( a mix of personal work).
7. I signed two contracts and got them ready for faxing.
8. I had a brief discussion with a friend of my husband's and discovered that his stepfather is a really famous children's author and was amazed. Those books were part of my kids' childhood.
9. I went out for coffee.
10. I accepted a new item writing assignment due next week.
11. I updated my money coming in, current assignments and to do today lists.

And what's up for this afternoon?
1. Doing at least two more phone interviews. Probably three.
2. Writing two introduction to business lesson summaries.
3. Researching library books for the book I am working on.
4. Keeping up with incoming emails.

It is now almost 1 p.m. and I feel like an entire day has passed. I wonder why?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Meet Sherm

I have a new companion. He hangs out with me 24/7, literally never leaving my sight--even when I close my eyes. He is a long sperm-shaped floater in my right eye and I have named him Sherm the Worm ( yes I know that Sherm the Sperm would work, but the idea of a sperm in my eye was even more disturbing than a worm!). He is apparently shy because every time I try to look directly at him, he slithers to the right, just to the periphery of my vision. He doesn't cause me any discomfort. He doesn't turn around and talk to me (Joseph told me to be sure and let him know if that happened.). No, he just shows up constantly, and swims around, making himself especially known when I look at a white computer screen or a white page of a book.

I am not sure that I like Sherm. I mean, I didn't invite him over. I didn't ask him to move into my right eye. I am not sure how long he is planning to stay. Each morning when I wake up, I put on my glasses and then check to see if he is still there. So far, yes, he is.

Sherm Orr. Sounds strange. But I guess it sounds slightly better than Sperm Orr, right?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Channeling my Mother

Last nite, as I was crawling into bed, Nicole ran up the stairs and brought me my heating pad from the living room. She plugged it in next to the bed and said, "Here, this might make it easier to sleep." :) (Yup, she is always that nice.)
As I settled the heating pad under my right hip (which is making my life FAR too challenging this past week), I thought, Oh dear, I am channeling my mother . . .  She slept with a heating pad every night for the last 20 years of her life due to back pain. For just a moment there was nothing more in life that I wanted than to pick up the phone and call her. I wanted to say how sorry I was that I didn't pay more attention when she was in pain. I wanted to tell her I UNDERSTOOD now. I wanted to hear her smile over the phone and reassure me that she still loved me. That I still "knocked her socks off". Instead, I pulled up the covers, turned the heating pad on low and snuggled with the other person in my life who loves me that much (is this where I say, oh yea, Joseph was there too? Heehee.)
Last year, in June, we had a strange confluence of events that resulted in NO INCOME for the entire month. This year, it is apparently going to occur in August. Not NO money, but about one-fifth of what I typically get in a month. That means life will change for a while. Less leaving the house. More careful eating. No visits to the thrift stores.
But that's okay. Goodness knows, this house has no lack of good material for reading, stacks of stationery for letter writing, and movies for watching. Best of all, it is filled with the people I find the most entertaining, compassionate, patient, and loving in the world. Good place to hang out, I'd say. Even if I have to do it with a heating pad behind me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

B-ewbs

Tonight, at midnight, we were sitting at the table eating watermelon. It was a crazy day, with all of us going in a dozen different directions. Finally, we were all at home and at the table.
You might think the discussion was on the field trip two went on. The job interview one went on. The new friend one person met, or the overnight another one had. You might even think the discussion was on the work I had gotten done, or other mundane topics.
No.
Ninety percent of the meal was spent with Coryn pronouncing the word "boobs" as "b-ewbs" and then all of us getting the giggles. He then combined the word with wiggling and other sordid gyrations, making some of us who shall remain nameless spit watermelon juice on the tabletop.
Laughter rolled out the sliding glass door and into the backyard. Anyone listening would have been . .  perhaps appalled at the topic of choice, but I like to think, they would have instead have been amused and even inspired by seeing a family enjoying each other's company and happiness that much. I know I was.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ideal Morning

One of the questions that I send back and forth with a number of the people I write letters to is, What would a perfect day be like for you?
This morning I was reminded that mine hasn't changed.
After dropping Nicole at yet another class, Joseph and I headed to Gresham to track down a cup of coffee. Instead, we found the Street Art Fair. Ooooh, fun. Parked and wandered for an hour among stalls and carts full of food, jewelry, art, knicknacks--paradise for this woman. My first purchase? 6 handmade cards to send to penpals. My second? A beautiful necklace for a mere $7. Then a fun bookmark drawn by a young woman in full regalia selling anime sketches. Then another bookmark for me with a zentangle design. Finally, polish dogs on a stick to snack on.
On the way out, Joseph and I bought an AMAZING creme puff and shared bites until it was gone.
I was thinking about how much fun I had had (including trying on rings at a jewelry store and listening to some GREAT live music) when Joseph saw the topic of my post. He said, "It was really fun, wasn't it? But you know what the best part was?"
I smiled and said, "When I stopped and stood up on the curb and kissed you?"
He just smiled back at me.
See? An ideal morning.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

And for a Different Kind of Movie . . .

Yeah, the Orr clan watches hokey children's movies like "Grandpa's Magical Toys" and "Hook". But lest you think we are always that wholesome . . . . this past week Nicole and I (and six other women) went to see "Magic Mike".
Gosh.
The estrogen in the theatre was running down the walls. There were about 200 women and four men, all of whom I am sure were there in the hopes of getting lucky later that night for attending.
The movie was better than I had originally expected--good story, excellent acting. But I admit (risking tarnishing my innocent reputation) that the strip numbers were my favorite. Men who can dance AND have muscles AND are good-looking are just  . . . . hmmm . . . attractive, shall we say?
It was fun to do this with a group of females and then going out after for drinks and dinner was fun too. It is something I haven't done in AGES. Of course, having Nicole there with me made it truly enjoyable. It was our first time in a bar together and we had fun ordering exotic drinks and trying each other's (and gasping at the fact that the drinks cost more than OUR DINNER did!).
A fun time. I wanna do it again sometime soon . . . .

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Stroll down Memory Lane

Thanks to the ever expanding world of Netflix, in recent weeks, our family has been able to rent some old favorite movies that the kids haven't seen in years and years. It is such fun to gather in the living room and put on one of these movies. The kids compare what they remember and giggle like they used to. They reminisce about when they last saw the film, and I sit there just soaking it all up.

Recently we have been getting the Wee Sing movies. The first time I saw one of these was wayyyyy back in 1989 or so. I had my own parenting newsletter and I was sent "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" to review. It sat on a shelf for months and then one night when Jasmine was up late (due to a late nap probably), I pulled it out and put it on. To say she loved it would be a vast understatement. It became one of her favorites and she watched it again and again and again. We discovered more and more of the Wee Sing movies and by the time Coryn was born in 1996, we had almost all of them and they had become family favorites.

Watching "Grandpa's Magical Toys" this week brought back those memories. One of the many songs in the movie is "Come Over Playmates" and Joseph and I immediately sang the lyrics as, "Climb down my cellar DUR . . . . we'll be jolly friends foreverMUR" because that was how Jasmine pronounced the words when my mom taught her the song long ago.  Sweet memories indeed. (Heck, when we see a little girl wearing sparkly sunglasses, we STILL go "It's little Miss Hollywooooooood" because that's what Jasmine called herself when wearing sunglasses. Isn't it funny which memories stick with you?!)

I also found it highly amusing that as we sat here and watched the movie, all three of the kids were sitting here with laptops . . Nicole was writing, Coryn was surfing Facebook, and Caspian was playing a kill multitudes of zombies game. The contrast between the movie and these ADULTS in my living room was poignant and bittersweet.

Of course, strolling down memory lane is always poignant and bittersweet, isn't it? The memories tug at your mind and heart and bring tears of sorrow and joy at the same time. I just feel blessed to have these memories in my life and try to remember that each day we live, we are creating more of them for the future.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Motherboard Dies, Panic Ensues

Well, it was quite the weekend! On Thursday night, the computer that I don't use that often but contains 80 percent of all of my documents and current projects crashed. Much cleaning of floor and blowing out of dust followed, but the machine could not be revived. (Since it did not have DNR file on record, we just kept trying . . . )
I realized when geekster Coryn couldn't even get it to respond that the computer was beyond all hope. This meant NO access to most of my files.
This meant PANIC.
I put a call out to the mighty world of Oregon homeschoolers and lo and behold, a wonderful man responded that he knew computers and sure, he would be willing to come to my house over the weekend and take a look in return for "gas money". (Which could be interpreted in Oregon as millions since we were just at $4.29 a gallon a couple of weeks ago.)
He came. He could not revive, but he could still download my files. Bless his soul.
So I am almost back up and running, scrambling to make up for the lost time over the weekend and groveling to editors for a little extra breathing room on deadlines.
I also have told this talented computer man, who also knows Volkswagens, that we plan to adopt him. And yes, I gave him more than just gas money.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Oh and yes, Here are our Balls

Exercise balls have many uses, including sitting on for pictures. Who knew we all had such big balls? (Shuddup Ami!)

The Orr's. . . . Version 2012

Yesterday was not only the Fourth of July but also family portrait time. We are blessed to have a best friend who is a photographer in her "spare" time and we always love the pictures she takes. She sees the real us and our smiles are genuine instead of pasted on. We had lots of "serious" pics taken . . you know the here's the family and we're sending this to relatives and friends so look fairly presentable photos. And then, of course, we had to break out and be the real REAL us. We all pretended a spider was crawling on us and made faces. We had no idea what each other looked like until we got the pictures on the computer. HA. Best Orr Photo ever, wouldn't you say?

(And yes to all of those people who have commented on how much hair our family has. We are indeed a hairy bunch.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stopping to Catch my Breath

Sorry for the disappearing act . . . . man, have I been BUSY. Still trying to take a moment to catch my breath.

So, here are the vital updates.
Caspian is HOME. We are delighted to have him. The people at the camp charged him $128 to drive him to the bus station (70 cents per mile from the site) . . . and they proceeded to let him know that by "being a quitter" he was risking not getting hired by any employers . . . damaging his resume and his reputation . . . setting a bad example .  . grrrrrrr. Just made me that much happier to have him home.

I taught a workshop at the state homeschooling conference and it went really well. I had almost 30 people there. Nicole was on a panel in another session and also did a wonderful job. We had fun seeing people we only seem to connect with every year or so.

Work is keeping me more than hopping . . . I really am longing for some time off, but it's not in the cards as of yet.

We started back on the paleo diet a few weeks ago. This time it was actually at my urging because, just before heading to Maupin, my BP was running 220/110 WITH full medication and I was getting nervous. The ONLY think that drops it is this stupid diet that drives me nuts. So now I am running under 130/90 consistently and that is with NO medication (I was taking five pills a day for it). I'm sleeping better, losing weight and feeling more energetic. Doesn't mean I like the diet or enjoy it, but . . . hard to argue with results like those. Instead, I shall just grumble a lot.

Nicole leaves in about 80 days. Sigh. So excited for her, but miss her already. Currently she has finished taking doula training, and is now in bartending classes, which will be followed in a couple of weeks with scuba diving lessons. I asked her if she planned to be the first person to help a couple with an undersea birth and then toast with a drink so she could merge all three interests. :)

Coryn is well and fine . . . gearing up for his third year at Not Back to School Camp. Talking about getting a driver's license. Snicker. Not yet, buddy. One child at a time and we just got Nicole taken care of. Insurance may force us into bankruptcy otherwise.

That's my update for now. Joseph is fine, I'm fine. Life goes on. I try to appreciate every day and most of the time, it's easy to do. Hope you can say the same.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grab a Stamp--Please?

Hey there. Just returned from visiting Caspian and struggling to help him fit in with a bunch of kids he really has nothing in common with. After sitting in the circle with him and listening to everyone discuss their 'greatest accomplishments', I realized that since he hasn't done drugs, been abused, or gone to school, he really had nothing to connect with most of these kids.
Anyway, he told me that letters and cards make all the difference to him, so I am asking anyone who is willing to take a moment to send him a note, a card, something to make him smile. Just leave a comment here or contact me via email and I will share the address with you. Thanks!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Updating

Hello all (yes, you DOZEN of followers, I mean YOU!). We had a wonderful trip to Maupin. It is the first time we have gone there and back and not spent time on the side of the road with some kind of malfunction. :) Almost made me nostalgic for engine problems. Almost.
It was a hot, sunny, windy weekend and I was reminded of how much I adore camping there. The beauty is amazing. Nicole and I read two books each, wrote lots and lots of letters, and talked. There were a few naps taken, plus tasty meals from the cooler and made on the cook stove. Both sons were missed, but we also did not have to worry that they were bored AND we never ran out of food. :)
Since we have returned, I have gotten back to work, Nicole is taking doula training, and life continues.

Here is one thing I don't get though.
If you've been reading here or know me in person, you know that high blood pressure is a problem for me. I have been to a couple of doctors and I am taking three medications to keep it under control. Well, to try and do so, because basically, nothing works. They thought it was caused by kidney stones. Stones are gone now (some MUCH MORE painfully than others). They attributed it to the hyperparathyroidism. They fixed that too. High BP is still there. WITH meds, it averages 180/110. Without, well . . . let's just not go there.
Only ONE THING seems to stop it. ONE. And it makes me mad 'cuz I really don't like the ONE at all.  It's the paleo diet. J. wants this diet 24/7 and I cannot argue with the research, but it just isn't ANY FUN. I really struggle with it.
What happens when doing something you really, really don't like results in two things you REALLY DO (lowered BP and losing weight)??? Talk about ambivalence!
I don't know what it is about the damn diet that has this reaction with me. It isn't not drinking coffee, because I've gone coffee free before and it made no difference. It isn't not using salt--I don't use salt. Whatever it is, it's fast. Today, with meds, my BP is down almost 100 points from where it was a week ago. That's a bunch, man. (And helps to explain why I am so tired I don't want to get off the couch.) I'm already cutting back on meds and we've only been doing this for TWO DAYS. That just doesn't make sense to me. . . .
Oh well. It's just food, right? Eat what you don't like but live way longer (or maybe you just feel like you do?!).  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Maupin Bound (One Way or Another)

Tomorrow is the departure day for our annual trek to the desert region of Oregon. Yes, boys and girls, time for VW camper buses from all over the country to gather in a lovely valley appropriately named the Oasis. Surrounded by the roaring white water river on one side and mountains on the others, it is time for hippies to reunite amid tie dying, beer tasting, music playing, and much more. It is the highlight of our summer in many ways. We start counting the day when spring is just starting.

This year's experience is going to be a bit different than in the past, however. A BIG plus is that Nicole will be here. Last year, she was in Alaska when we went to the event and although I had a nice time, it was definitely not as fun without her with me. Those long hours writing letters in the sunshine were a lot lonelier. This year, she IS home and will be with us. Another plus is that my work schedule opened up enough that I won't be worrying about what I should be doing.

On the minus side of the equation . . . . neither son will be with us. Caspian is back at NYC doing the summer session of work out in the wilderness. He will not be home until July 22, but a parent's weekend will let us visit somewhere in between. Coryn is going to stay home so that he can go camping with a group of his friends from the community center. The six are already down to three. :)

The other minus . . . we will be driving our Mercury Van Villager to this VW event. (I wish I could find a license plate holder that said, "My other car is a Volkswagen . . . but it's in 500 parts in the garage.") Why? Because the engine of the bus is not IN the bus. Joseph has been working on it all week and got to the point of putting it back in . . . and can't do it. He tried for hours and hours and hours yesterday. Coryn and Nicole were right there helping him. Today, his arms are COVERED in bruises--looks like someone beat him. And the engine is still on the floor. We have asked others for help, but to no avail. Everyone is . . .  too busy, apparently.

So today will be spent unearthing the camping trailer, filling the coolers, checking sleeping bags, buying a new air mattress, and making lists of what else needs to be done. I am very sad that we can't go in the bus, more for how I know it impacts Joseph than anything else, but I am still excited about getting away for four days and soaking up the sunshine in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The carriage that takes me there is just not relevant to me.

Off to the desert!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Life Lessons

Yesterday was a . . . tough day. We dealt with an  . . . organization, shall we say? . . . that was rude enough and unpleasant enough that I heard my husband YELL for the first time in . . . 20 years? He just doesn't do that. Half a dozen phone calls, and lots of tears (on my part) later, the situation is resolved, but not in the way we had hoped at all. Nicole wisely reminded me that from every crappy thing life has ever done to any of us, we tend to either find (1) laughter (later, sometimes MUCH later) or (2) valuable life lessons. Smart girl.

So, what did we learn yesterday?
1. Banks see you as numbers, not people with unique circumstances.
2. Sometimes laughing, even when you don't feel like it, helps.
3. Nothing makes challenges easier than the love of your family.
4. My children are amazingly generous souls.
5. If you hang tough and tight together, you can get past almost anything.

Thanks for the reminders, life. Lessons learned.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oh No! Not another educational experience?!

In the last few days, our family has actually watched a couple of educational movies and . . . oh my! . . . . enjoyed them immensely. We watched "Temple Grandin" and found it amazing. Claire Danes was incredible and all of us were fascinated by Grandin's brilliance. Then, we watched "The King's Speech". Also just amazing. An insight into history, as well as the portrayal of great friendship, dedication and courage.

Of course, now that they are over, the husband says, "Put in 'Zombie Strippers'".
Education has many different faces, right?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Followed by a Perfect Saturday

This morning, Joseph and I slept in until 9. We then got up and went to downtown Gresham for a delicious coffee and a stroll through the Saturday Market. He bought tomato plants and herbs for the garden, while I bought some bagels. Then we followed our tradition and bought a bratwurst (on a stick, Jose!), sat on the curb and ate them while we people watched. Then, we walked slowly back to our car. All I could think the entire time is that these ARE those moments we will remember and cherish. I can't imagine going through my life with a better man, or being luckier than I am to have him, four beautiful and successful children, a strong and fulfilling career and this perfect Saturday morning.

There are worries, concerns, problems and conflicts, of course. But for today, they have been pushed to the background and I am focusing on the blessings. Wishing the same for each of you who stopped by to read.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gold Star Day

Yesterday was one of those really nice days . . . highlighted by: resolving a tax issue that had weighed on me and it was virtually painless; Nicole PASSED HER DRIVER'S TEST, so she is a licensed driver now (and drove herself to work this morning, which was wonderful since she has to be there at 5:15 a.m. and that is SO hard to do) and we went out for ice cream to celebrate. As we were leaving, my two sons--my all grown up 16 and 19 year old sons--started dancing with me (yes, both at the same time) and seeing who could twirl me the best. :)
Those are the moments I want to cling to with both hands and never, ever, ever let go. A good day.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Disappointments and Gratitude

So . . . the conference this year was disappointing for most of us in the family. I am not faulting the conference itself. I am sure it was the life-changing, empowering experience it always is for most of the people. I don't know if we had changed. .  or what.  We just didn't seem to connect with anyone like in the past. No long chats, no deep conversations, just quick hugs in the hallway and moving on. Nicole and I's song for the Talent Show (of which I was absolutely terrified of doing) just didn't come off the way we wanted it to at all. We were sandwiched in between three year olds doing dance moves and six year old violinists (all absolutely precious, believe me, but it made doing a song about Viagra seem a tad incongruous). The mike was the wrong height and the acoustics were such that we couldn't hear the music well enough to stay where we should be. Nonetheless, I did it--a major milestone I have struggled with since the years in the past when Jasmine wanted me to go up for the Clonlara Talent Show. And Nicole and I are sufficiently inspired to perform the song this summer at the VW camp out.

This was my first year leading workshops at the conference and I was very, very excited. I spent hours preparing outlines, getting prizes, sending out for freebies . . . . . and had to get up early to get there on time and set up. No one came. Zip. That has actually never happened to me at a conference. I usually draw a decent crowd. I was really disappointed and walked out for the rest of the day, cancelling my other workshop that afternoon. Yeah, I felt like a little kid stamping her feet, but I was just disappointed.

For a number of other reasons, the conference simply hasn't worked for us. We will pick Coryn up after today's picnic. Since we dropped him off on Wednesday, we haven't seen him for an hour. (Another issue, but that's for later.) Mostly we heard from him when he needed money or clean clothes. :)

On the other hand, I have a great reason to be smiling today. This is the 30th anniversary of my first date with Joseph. Thirty years ago, on Memorial Day, he pulled up in front of my parent's house is his T-top orange Corvette. I watched him through the window, nervous as can be. We had a great date . . . and it snowballed from there such that we were ENGAGED 17 days later, married six months after that.  Now, 30 years later, I still get butterflies when I see him across the room, and he can look at me and say, when I ask how he wants to spend this holiday, "I just want to be anywhere that you are."  Cue butterflies.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

So Bad, It's Funny

We ate at a restaurant so terrible tonight that what started out as irritating, and developed into exasperating, finally turned into hysterical. We ate there on the recommendation of someone. We walked in, and picked a table. We sat down. We waited. And waited. And waited. We didn't see a single server, other than a busy bartender. We waited a little longer. Finally, I went up to the bar and asked for some menus.
Strike 1.
We got them and studied the options. In fairness, the menu was extensive and reasonably priced. We made our choices and finally the busy bartender took our order.  He walked away, leaving me holding the menus out to him. Finally, I got up and took them back to the bar.
Strike 2.
We waited for water that didn't come. So we asked for it.
Strike 3.
Just then, a small band began playing music. It was decent music . . . but WAY TOO LOUD. WAYYYYY. Such that I couldn't hear anything my kids and hubby were saying to me at the table. That is too loud.
Strike 4.
We ordered. We tried to ignore the loud music.
The first dish came. It had NO presentation and actually looked awful. (Cottage pie . . . their house "specialty".)
Strike 5.
The other three dishes came out one by one over a period of ten minutes. By the time the last one came, mine was cold.
Strike 6.
Nicole's cream of potato soup was almost too spicy for her to eat. (When is cream of potato soup SPICY!?!) My dish was unbelievably boring. They forgot the bread that goes with the soup and when we asked for it, we were told they would TRY and find a piece somewhere . . .
Strike 7, 8 and 9.
They never came back and refilled our water glasses so that we were completely out for the last half of the meal.
Strike 10.
When we asked if they could ask the band to turn it down a notch, we were told that no, that just wasn't possible.
Strike 11.
They didn't bring the bill to us. We had to ask for it. (I was all for walking out and not paying, but ethical husband couldn't do it.)
Strike 12.
At strike 4, we were annoyed. By strike 8, we were appalled. By strike 10, we were laughing and counting strikes.
We could have gotten so upset we ruined the meal. We could have been in rotten moods and not enjoyed each other's company. Instead we laughed, walked out and made jokes about it all the way home. Full of good food? Nope. Full of love? You bet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Unexpected Situation

Sometimes your family still has the power to surprise you, even though you know them better than anyone else in the world.
Tonight, we did some running around, including picking Coryn up from his cooking class and Nicole from her Zumba class. We stopped for a quick dinner and then capped it off with strawberry shortcake from Burgerville (yum). We were all in a silly mood, making jokes about middle names and nicknames and making funny (and yes, lewd) shapes with our ice cream.
Just as we got close to home, there was a large shape in the road. We narrowly missed it and the car behind us hit it head on. It was a very large dog and it was clearly dead now. On the side of the road, a woman stood crying.
Joseph called 911 to report the dog, then pulled the car around and placed it in front of the dog so that no one else could hit it. I stood with the woman, telling her how sorry I was and occasionally patting her shoulder (I offered hugs but she did not seem receptive). We stayed with her for the long 10 minutes it took for the police to arrive. Minutes after the woman's husband joined her and just down the street, I could see several children holding hands and watching and knew this was their family pet. It made me cry.
It brought back memories too. I lost several family dogs to the very busy street in front of my parents' house as I grew up. My brother lost his first dog there as well. More than a decade ago, we also lost our beautiful collie Pasha when she nosed the gate open and ran out into the road and got hit by a terrified and tear stricken 16 year old boy. It was one of the only times, in 30 years, I have ever seen my husband cry.
Once the husband and the police arrived, we moved our car and came on home. I found out that both of my sons were extremely disturbed by the death of the dog--to the point of silence. When we got home, both were quiet and sad and needed a little extra touch and attention, in their grown up ways. :)
Tonight, I was reminded that my husband is a man of tenderness and integrity, my daughter is able to step in and take charge, and my sons still have sensitive hearts under those young adult facades. I am almost unbearably proud of each one of them.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Report

I was so busy spouting off, I didn't get to report on Mother's Day at the Orr House.
So here we go:
Caspian made us breakfast in bed plus gave me a lovely keychain I had admired two months ago. He bought it and saved it for me.
Coryn bought me a stuffed Tigger with a photo of Pooh and Christopher Robin, plus a Hoops and Yoyo card (my all time favorite).
Nicole gave me two singing sock monkeys :), a statue, a journal, a snowglobe, a smiling crab (as opposed to the generally nonsmiling crabs), a Vera Bradley computer bag, and a Pooh organizer. On top of that, she gave me a beautiful Zentangled card that I will be framing and putting on the wall.
Oh, and Joseph? He bought a wonderful floor lamp for our living room. We have been searching for weeks and he finally found just the right one.
Feelin' loved. Uh huh! Hope yours was lovely as well.

Too Quick to Judge

One of the lessons I have ever so slowly learned as I got older as how important it is to not JUDGE people just because they do things differently. Moving to Portland has certainly helped with that.. . . compared to Indiana, this place is a mecca of diversity and alternative lifestyles. The lessons started long ago though, when I chose to be an attachment parent. That photo on the cover of Time magazine that has people so troubled was a common image in my house. All four of my kids nursed for between 3 and 4 years. It wasn't weird. It wasn't sexual. It wasn't forced. It wasn't harmful. In fact, it was the opposite. It was compassionate, close, nurturing, gentle, loving, and very right for them. Labeling people because they do things differently as WRONG is  . . . well, wrong. People eat different ways, parent different ways, love different ways, work different ways, talk different ways . . . and that is OK. If it works for them and no one is harmed (and anyone who thinks that attachment parenting is harmful hasn't done enough homework), then just LET.IT. BE. (I now step off of my soapbox and return you to your regular, nonranting program.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to All

To the moms who are just starting, like I did almost 28 years ago . . . scared and excited and absolutely head over in heels in love with this little person in my arms. To the moms of toddlers who are sure these long, tiring days will never end and yet they do, FAR too soon. To the moms of teens who hopefully discover that underneath the hormones and emotions, these young adults are amazing human beings that will turn into our best friends ever.  To the moms of grown up children who are continually astounded at the beauty, intelligence, wit, creativity, humor, and integrity of their babies. To the moms who can't sleep at night because they worry, worry, worry. To those who laugh so hard with their children that they can't speak and to those who cry with them when the pain is too much to carry alone. To the moms who listen to and keep secrets and to those who know when staying quiet is not the best choice. To those who see their children suffer and would do anything to stop it and to those who know pain is out there but continue to encourage their children to risk pain in return for love and adventure. To those mom who love with all of their hearts, even if it means the deepest hurt, the most frightening fears, the largest investment, and the hardest work. Because, in the end, every moment is worth it when they turn and call you "mom". Happy Mother's Day all.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Out on the Deck

Each spring, Joseph and I watch the weather report eagerly. We wait and wait and wait for the rains to slow down and the temperatures to rise because that means . . . it's time to put our air mattress out on the upper deck and sleep outside again. It's the most wonderful way to end a day. Fresh air, moonlight, the stars, breeze in the pines. It's private, sheltered, and just beautiful. This week was the first time we say a 10 day forecast that indicated little to no rain, so he blew up the mattress, hauled out sleeping bags and set up our bed. A few days later, he even brought out another one so that Coryn and Nicole could join us outside.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, nature is noisy but it is usually a wonderful serenade. We hear a lot of it even though we live in the city . . . bullfrogs, squirrels, birds, cats, dogs, and once even an owl. We hear wind and rain and chimes and distant traffic and train whistles. Other than one bird that I would gladly take an Uzi to (see last year's posts), I love all of it. I especially like that we have a baby next door this spring and I can hear it laugh and gurgle now and then.

Last night, however, I discovered what I can't tolerate . . . . a mattress with a leak. When we crawled in, all was well. However, I kept waking up every time I rolled over. Instead of just moving, I would slam into Joseph or almost topple off the side. When he got up earlier than I did, my head dipped down and my feet went up. If I hadn't been so sleepy, it would have been pretty funny. I dreamt that I was being swallowed up by some mysterious beast and then woke to find it was the air mattress. (We have been through SIX of these things now . . . are they just not built to last or what?!) Finally, at 6 am, Joseph woke me and we went inside and crawled into our bed.

We did sleep much better there for another couple of hours, but I missed nature. Gotta find a trustworthy air mattress before the next patch of summer weather!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Birthday Report

So, how did my birthday go? It was lovely, with a couple of unexpected serenades to make it even more special.
I received a lovely card from my husband and kids. I went out for early coffee with hubby and then got a special treat because we came back home and took a nap! That is a real treasure. We went to four Goodwills and one consignment store. What did I buy? PAPER, of course. Best find? About $150 worth of Asian style stationery, much like I buy when I am in Seattle, and all for about $6. Lunch at the Franks-a-Lot hotdog kiosk. Sunshine all afternoon despite a prediction of rain and gray clouds. (Although a wind storm came through and knocked down our umbrella on the back deck and shattered our glass table! What a mess.) Dinner at a restaurant I really like but rarely get to, then home for sitting on the couch, getting a massage from Nicole and watching episodes of "The Big Bang Theory".  Oh, and tasty pecan pie instead of a cake. All in all, a great day.

The best part (other than not working all day)? The unusual serenades . . . first, the lady who owns the hot dog stand put on her hot dog costume and brought us free desserts and sang to me, complete with a jump and a "WHOO!" after each line.
Then, an hour later, standing in Goodwill, my phone rings and it is my friend Ami. She puts me on speaker phone and then her entire class of 20 plus sing "Happy Birthday" to me, complete with the cha-cha-cha's after each line. WONDERFUL surprise that created happy tears.
Next, at dinner, the panic on the server's face when he realized it was my birthday and that usually meant everyone coming over to sing . . but it was late enough that he was the ONLY server really left. He weakly asked, "Do you . . . . want . . um . . . ME . . .to sing?" And I said, "Sure!" Poor man. He got out a single "Happy Birthday" before faltering. Fortunately Joseph, Nicole and Coryn all chipped in and helped him through the song. He was a GREAT server--a real sweetie.
Finally, almost 2 a.m. and in bed and Nicole and Coryn come in with a single lit candle, singing the song just one more time and urging me to make a wish before the celebration ended.  It was a no brainer. I wished I could always feel this loved.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Happy Birt-Day to Me

Yup, I am 53 today (53 on 5-3 . . . kinda cool). Worked hard all day yesterday so I could take most of today off of work. . . going out for early coffee .  . hitting a couple of Goodwills this afternoon, once Nicole gets off work.
What is about birthdays that makes us reflect on our lives so much? I guess it's due to the in-your-face reminder of time passing, eh?
So at 53, I would look back on life and say . . . I've been very lucky. I had wonderful, loving parents and a fun childhood. I met and married the man I still want to spend my life with. I gave birth to four shining, beautiful, unique children who I love dearly. I found a job that keeps us fed, clothed, and sheltered that I actually enjoy (MOST of the time . . . .bad week to ask). I live in one of the most scenic, accepting, diverse places in the country. I greet almost every day with gratitude (some mornings are a little harder). I have friends that love me and who I love in return. Some I see face to face, and some visit my mailbox on a regular basis.
I guess, if I had to define success, it would include all of these elements that I have found in my 53 years. Not a bad reflection at all.
Happy Birt-day to Me!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sigh.

Well, the job I was excited about fell through. I was supposed to go out there next week and suddenly was told that they "went with another candidate". Trying really hard not to be bummed about it. I made it through the first three levels . . . so, back to life as usual. Work is keeping me busy, my family is happy, and I have a birthday tomorrow. Shake it off and keep on smilin'. Right?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Little Struggle

I am struggling today. . . . it is my youngest's 16th birthday and I am sure that plays a part in my rollercoaster emotions. To see my littlest guy get this big . . . not easy. Plus Mother's Day is around the corner and I miss my Mom so much. I think of all of the things I didn't say that I should have . . . all the time I could have spent with her and didn't . . . . all the love I should have shown her every day and while we were very, very close, I wish I had told her more often.
I think, most of all, I am aware of how much time has passed and how FAST it goes. It makes me want to stop every single person on the street and say, Forget any petty arguments you have had with friends and family. Let it go. Chances are they never meant to hurt you. They were doing the best they could with what they had at the time. Look past it and see how much they love you and love them back. Let the past go and make the present better and the future even more so. Don't let old arguments, or differing opinions, or difficult memories, or perceived insults stop you. Just LOVE. Because, before you are even close to ready, that person just will NOT be there anymore. And all you will remember is the words you didn't tell them and the moments you let go, refusing to partake.
So, there! That's my message to the world today. Nothing lasts forever. We have to grab life while we have it and make sure we love as fiercely as we can. Even the 16 year old who is trying to stick his fingers in the cake icing when he thinks I am not looking.
Maybe even especially him. :)
Go out and tell someone who IS NOT expecting it that you love or care about him/her. You will never regret it, but you will regret NOT doing so. Guaranteed.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy 16th Birthday, Coryn!

16 years ago, our family welcomed Coryn Aslan Sebastian Orr into our household. He was our only "unplanned" baby . . . and what a blessing he has proven to be. From the very beginning, he was a ham who posed and smiled as soon as a camera was brought into the room. He has turned into a handsome, sweet, funny, smart, delightful young man. We are proud of him, when we aren't rolling our eyes at him and his smart ass-edness. Please join me in wishing this "baby" of ours, a very HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY.








Sunday, April 29, 2012

Don't MISS this Book!

I have been a huge fan of Kathy Hepinstall's for years. When I read Absence of Nectar I was absolutely mesmerized. I then tracked down her other books and read those, finding them just as wonderful. Prince of Lost Places especially touched my heart.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered Kathy was coming to Powell's in Portland to promote her new book. Nicole (who has also read all of her books) went with me and we had a wonderful time. Kathy was funny, pretty, young, and entertaining. I honestly felt like I could invite her out for coffee and we would have had a wonderful time. Nicole and I stopped to chat with Kathy's mother as well--a charming lady that reminded me sweetly of my own, who I miss every day.

Nicole and I, of course, bought Kathy's new book, Blue Asylum. which she sweetly signed for us.  Then, Nicole and I took turns reading it, 50 pages at a time. We would read, talk, point out favorite scenes and lines (the woman can write a metaphor that gives you goosebumps) and then read again. For the last 20 pages, we took turns reading aloud so that we could experience the ending simultaneously instead of consecutively.

We were both in tears. Stopping in our reading to take a deep breath, wipe our eyes and then read again. When we were done, we just sat there . . . sighing, sniffling and marveling at what a wonderful novel it was, how sad we were that it was over, and how much we would miss the characters.

 If you enjoy reading, if you want a story that will touch your heart and create characters you will likely never forget, please read Blue Asylum. Stop at the bookstore, go to the library, grab your e-reader, but read this book. It is not to be missed.

Pride . .. and Joy

Yesterday, the four of us packed into the van, each one of us with books and pillows and music, and we headed south/west to the coastal region of Oregon. We were going to Caspian's Parent's Day 300 miles away. We left at 10 am and didn't arrive until 5 pm . . . . thanks to two gas stops, multiple pee breaks thanks to multiple coffee stops, and of course lunch! It was like a mini-road trip. Nicole took the wheel for part of it, and we all took turns reading.

After not seeing Caspian for three weeks and wondering every single moment how he was doing, we were all eager. As we got out of the car, I looked up and noticed a handsome guy headed our way (no lack of them at this camp!) and I went to point him out to Nicole (her radar for good looking young men is always in the "on" position) when I realized it was Caspian. It was a shock. In three weeks, he was taller, thinner, older, wiser . . . I worried about hugging him--didn't know how it might affect his reputation at the camp with his friends, but I didn't worry long before I was clasped in a huge, powerful, heartfelt hug from him. (I got at least ten by the time I left.)

The transformation in Caspian was startling for all of us. He has always been kind and funny and sweet and handsome, but he has struggled with fitting in, with speaking out or letting go enough in front of others to be silly. He tended to be quiet and stay on the sidelines. Now he was introducing us to people left and right. Everyone knew him. Three people stopped us to tell us how wonderful he was--kind and supportive and INSPIRING to others. Apparently Caspian is the one that helps keep his team going when they are tired and want to stop pulling weeds or carrying heavy loads in the rain.

I tear up again thinking of watching him there. He was in his "element". He SWAGGERED. He was CONFIDENT, the one thing that had eluded him for so long. He was as happy as I have ever seen him. His feet are a mess of scaly skin and blisters, and he has had a cold, and his tent got flooded--and he is smiling. He dropped and did THIRTY push ups for us just to show he could. He hugged us all repeatedly, even the brother. During the circle activity, he raised his hand and volunteered answers. We were told that during "personal history", where campers speak about themselves for an HOUR (an HOUR!?!?!?!), he volunteered to go first. This, from the boy who preferred to keep quiet and just let others talk. His leaders had heard the story of how Joseph and I met, Nicole's trip to Alaska, and Coryn's penchant for computers. He even said there were rumors he might be voted as the worker of the week . . .

The moment that about did me in was the moment where he took me inside his tent to show me where everyone slept (a crowded and muddy mess of blankets that I can't imagine sleeping in . . .  ) and he said, "Here, Happy Birthday, Mom". He handed me a beautiful glass sculpture of the lighthouse that is right next to where they are camping. "I knew this would be important to you." He knew my dad loved lighthouses, so I have a soft spot for them.

So, in the middle of working, when they had a little time off, he went into town to the gift shop and he bought this for me. His leader told me they had to hustle to get there before the store closed. It is the only thing he has spent money on, other than showers and laundry, since he left. I cry every time I think of it and you can bet the lighthouse will go somewhere where I can see it every day. He also brought me a shell that he had found on the sand. I cannot begin to explain the depth of appreciation I had for this moment.

We have all missed Caspian every single day and are eager to have him back in two weeks. There is no doubt in our minds, however, that this was the single best thing he has ever done. He is already planning to go back in June. He earns a good amount of money at this camp and deserves every penny.

Our drive home was FOREVER, along dark and winding roads with endless pine trees on each side. At  one point, we pulled over and got out to gasp at the ocean under the light of the moon. It was mysterious and beautiful and one of those forever memories. We were driven inside by the cold wind, but the moment of standing there under the moonlight, listening to the surf and feeling my heart full of gratitude for my family will remain.

We pulled in our driveway at 5 a.m. Checked mail, fed the cat, brought in stuff from the car, noticed the morning birds, and then fell into bed. Up four hours later, I find myself still with that smile on my face and a heart full of gratitude--and a beautiful glass lighthouse on my desk. I am truly full of pride---and joy.