Didn’t you get the memo?

I love the season of the holidays. Finding the perfect tree, breaking out the decorations, and relaxing with a sense of satisfaction that the joyous giving and sharing season is upon us. The colder weather, a chance of snow, a sense of community and family all around.

I’ve always been the person that takes down their tree the DAY AFTER Christmas. Why? Um. Christmas is over come December 26th. The Canadians are doing it right folks, ever heard of Boxing Day? Box up your shit and put it away. No sense in dragging out the season. The new year is just around the corner and let’s have a fresh start when the clock ticks to midnight. This year, however, with little ones in the picture and a husband who prefers leaving the tree and decor up a few days post Christmas, I obliged. Honestly it was still kind of nice, we paid a lot for the tree and it still smelled like pine. I was liking it. The new year came and a few days later the gigantic tree came down and awaited the Boy Scouts of America, curbside.

That weekend I began wondering, “when are these neighbors of mine going to take down their exterior, CLEARLY, Christmas decor?”. I feared the worst. These people had no timetable. They didn’t adhere to the normality of the seasons. They were instead, going to torture me. Let me say this, I absolutely cannot stand exterior decor beyond the season. CANNOT. You people who leave your lights attached to your house well into March? There should be an acutal law against that type of human defiance. A fine imposed. A scarlet “trash” label that gets affixed to your home. This type of behavior is beyond my comprehension. Yes, I get it’s the Northwest and it rains in January and it’s ‘cold’. That is NO EXCUSE! Get off your ass and get to dismantling.

My home office window looks the front of our house and directly across the street is the display of a string or two of icicle lights the neighbors have strung from their gutter. They don’t turn them on anymore, but they are there. Hanging. Yes they are white and yes they blend in mostly with the white gutter. But I don’t care. I can see them, I know they are there. I have disdain for those neighbors. Why? Because of the lights they won’t take down? Yes. It’s that simple. The weird guy that smokes on the porch doesn’t help matters either.  In fact, that guy is HOME ALL DAY, EVERYDAY and all the more reason those lights should be taken down.

They aren’t the only offenders though. The neighbors next door to us have the same awful icicle lights and other houses in the area still have red bows, ornaments hanging from trees in their yard, and various other ornamental yard decor. And most abundant of all is the wreath. About every other house still has one hanging up. Come on people, you are KILLING ME!

I know this sounds like a rant of something completely insignificant. So what if people still have lights and shit up? Who cares? I care. You know why? Because this is slippery slope folks. What ELSE do they have going on in the INSIDE of these houses? I shudder to think.

house1house2

The Good Book

I have little to no feeling about religion. I’m aware it exists, there are several of them, and while I’m not familiar with the intracacies of each I understand the underlying theme of believing in a power greater than thyself. I’m no stranger to religion however. I grew up with an uber-religious father, who for a time had close ties via his employment to a Catholic church. There are pictures of me at the Confirmation ceremony when I was about 9 years old. I wore a white dress, had oddly frizzy/curly blonde hair and large pink glasses. I remember afterwards the entire family went out to brunch at a local family restaurant. I remember getting presents and cards filled with money. This was awesome, but even then, I remember feeling awkward.

My brother and I attended Sunday school and even attended various church summer day camps in our younger years. Oddly, I don’t recall learning a ton about God and Jesus and their discipiles and shit, I remember more about eating food and playing games. Maybe we hold onto what we choose  to remember. As I got a bit older, into the early teenage years, my dad would harp on me about going to church every Sunday. I’ve been to Sunday mass a few times in my life, but likely less than I can count on my fingers and toes. Hell, I’ve even been to midnight mass! But to me, it wasn’t something I could hang onto.

It seemed like a bunch of bullshit to me then, and now, I just really don’t care. In a way, as a teenager, I was probably rebelling a bit. This was a point in my life where my dad was going to church EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Sometimes, multiple times per day. And every time I talked to him, it was more of the same, “When are you going to come to church with me?” My response was always an emphatic NEVER, which my dad took as a joking matter assuming he’d get through to me one day.

In the last 10 years of my adult life, rarely does the thought of religion ever come up. If it does, it’s because someone is talking about it on the news, or someone in my family died and their funeral is…at a church. Of course I go, I’m not a monster. Now, though, people seem to be hanging onto life so my exposure to the inside of the sanctuary has been non-existent and ever moreso my thoughts about religion.

My oldest Sdaughter* is 5 years old (almost 6). She’s a very smart and curious little girl and she is always asking lots of questions about everything and anything. For Christmas, she was gifted a children’s bible while on vacation. When she returned to our stead after New Year’s she told us all about her children’s bible and how excited she was to have her very own. Prior to this, she had been hearing about God and Jesus through the grapevine, from a little girl at school and an adult in her circle. She had asked US questions on the subject and we stood behind a scientific approach to life rather than a creationism stance. I had never really considered this topic as something that would come to the forefront so soon as neither her father or mother are religious. But I suppose similar to Santa Claus, children hear stories and get curious.

Religion is such a touchy subject in this country, one that should be approached carefully. Many people are turned off by the mere mention of it (like me) and some go on a rant about how one perceive’s a certain religion (like me). I’m not opposed to allowing her (or other kids) to learn about religion, but I think it’s a conversation that parents need to have with one another and come to a mutual understanding before allowing religious materials in an otherwise non-religious set of homes. Children are naturally curious and need to fulfill their curiosities through questions, answers, and sometimes application to real life. I think it’s important to understand and be exposed to variety in life and learn about other cultures and religions in order to gain respect to all, even if you inevitably do not agree.

(*Stepdaughter)

Appreciation.

I think sometimes it’s truly hard to appreciate your life when thrust into the hustle and bustle of everyday tasks, chores, and obligations. Humans get into a routine, a pattern, and a repetitive motion that follows the hands on the clock. There are different things that weigh on our minds, allow that monkey to climb onto our backs, and leave that chip on our shoulders. It can be difficult to see through the fog and over the peak to the sunny valley that lies just over yonder. Some of us get there, some of us do not.

As a society, in the face of insurmountable tragedy, we’re reminded how much we should truly appreciate life and those we love and hold dear to our hearts. It’s easy to forget to tell someone we love them as much as we should. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll call them tomorrow.” It’s easy to put everything off just one more day. Nothing is guaranteed in this life. We take for granted ‘tomorrow’ and ‘this weekend’ because we’re certain we’ll see it and almost everything will be the same; no change. For some of us, that will not always be the case. For some of us, today is all we have.

If there’s anything you take away from reading this short post it should be an appreciation for life, what it has to offer, and most important what you have to offer to those around you. Every single person makes a difference. Yes, I mean you.

101 things in 1001 days.

Call me a copycat. I’ve taken a page out of my dear friend Erika’s book (which she also swindled from another friend) and have come up with the one hundred and one things I plan to accomplish in the next one thousand and one days. I jumped on the idea because I need to set more challenges, pocket some accomplishments, and try some new things. I always have lots of ideas but I’m someone who needs structure. I need a task and I need a timeline. Laid out below are my 101 things. I will begin today, March 7th, 2013 and conclude my journey on December 3rd, 2015.

As I ‘check’ each accomplishment from my list I will be noting it in individual blog entries. Some of these checks won’t be very exciting or contain much content, but it will be an achievement all the same. 101 things may not seem like very many things, but it took me a couple of weeks to come up with this completed list. Whether is 10 or 110, I challenge YOU to challenge YOU. Stretch the limits, explore life. You have just the one.

  1. Get in my best shape.
  2. Learn more Spanish.
  3. Buy a kayak.
  4. Get married.
  5. Get project management certified.
  6. Run a 1:59 half marathon.
  7. Go to Hawaii
  8. Plan for a new house.
  9. Embarrass Keilee on her 16th birthday.
  10. Greet my 35th birthday with grace.
  11. Spend over $100 on my hair in a single salon visit.
  12. Eliminate unnecessary debt.
  13. Read 50 books.
  14. Blog twice per week.
  15. Take Ashtin to Chuck E Cheese.
  16. Become a SMOM.
  17. Redecorate my sister in law’s house.
  18. Eat at home for two weeks.
  19. Organize printed pictures.
  20. Repaint the office.
  21. Paint the outside window trim.
  22. Eat vegan for two weeks.
  23. Run a marathon.
  24. Host GIRLS NIGHT once a month.
  25. Spend more time crafting.
  26. Go skinny dipping.
  27. Build a fire on the beach.
  28. See a 49ers game in San Francisco.
  29. Visit St. Louis, see a Cardinals game.
  30. Go to Chicago.
  31. Mardi Gras it up in New Orleans.
  32. Learn to cook chicken cordon bleu.
  33. Improve my posture.
  34. Make birthday gifts for an entire year.
  35. Live a healthier lifestyle.
  36. Visit Mt. St. Helens.
  37. Go to Crater Lake.
  38. Drive down the 101 in California.
  39. Visit the Orcas Island.
  40. Run one 7 minute mile.
  41. Send a handwritten letter to someone once a month.
  42. Volunteer for a charity.
  43. Eliminate all dairy from my diet.
  44. Finish the LOST series.
  45. Reorganize the garage.
  46. Finish visiting all McMenamins brewpubs.
  47. Go to a Sounders game in Seattle.
  48. Hike to the top of Multnomah Falls.
  49. Stay the weekend at Skamania Lodge.
  50. Attend a Broadway musical.
  51. Drink 100oz of water each day.
  52. Keep a daily journal.
  53. Stay at all McMenamins hotels.
  54. Hike around Beacon Rock.
  55. Run a 5k in 25:00.
  56. Picnic at Hoyt Arboretum.
  57. Wine tasting in the Gorge.
  58. Design/plant/grow a garden.
  59. Brunch at Salty’s on the Columbia.
  60. Master three Julia Child recipes suited to my diet.
  61. Treat my mom to a nice dinner.
  62. Go to Portland City Grill happy hour with my sister.
  63. Walk across all bridges in Portland that span the Willamette River.
  64. Get a tattoo.
  65. Go TV-free for an entire week.
  66. Spend a day watching all the 80’s John Hughes movies.
  67. Plan a European vacation.
  68. Take the kids bowling, frequently.
  69. Take a road trip outside of Oregon.
  70. Visit Ashland, Oregon.
  71. Fly to the Big Apple.
  72. Walk Annie.
  73. Make little kid lunches.
  74. Write a poem.
  75. Get a chemical peel.
  76. Get a seaweed wrap.
  77. Donate blood.
  78. Go skydiving.
  79. Run up Powell Butte.
  80. Shoot a gun.
  81. Complete my family tree.
  82. Go fishing.
  83. Become a notary public in Oregon.
  84. Ride/drive a jetski.
  85. Do all produce shopping at a farmer’s market.
  86. Visit PittockHel Mansion.
  87. Enjoy an entire day at the spa.
  88. Find serenity at the Portland Japanese Garden.
  89. Watch Vaux’s Swifts prepare to roost for the night.
  90. Ride the streetcar in San Francisco.
  91. Tour Alcatraz.
  92. Visit Victoria, BC.
  93. See The Colbert Report or The Daily Show in person.
  94. Be a tourist in my own city.
  95. Advance my career.
  96. See a Cubs game.
  97. Go to the Chihuly art museum in Seattle.
  98. Run from my house to Kim’s house (10 miles of danger).
  99. Help someone move.
  100. Buy a new bed.
  101. Be happy.

My funny valentine.

Valentine’s Day has never been high on my list of favorite days of the year. I experienced some trauma in my 4th grade classroom back in 1989 and I haven’t been the same since. I wish that young man well and all is forgiven, but that simple moment defined my disdain for the 14th of February for nearly twenty-five years. Fast forward to 2013.

Some of my views and attitudes towards various things in my life have changed over the last year and I have developed some new perspectives. Most of all is my perspective on life and what is important, what is not important, and what things just need to be left by the wayside. I can’t change anyone’s attitudes or perceptions but I have 100% control over my own. I’ve learned to let go, pick up, move on, and define for myself, new experiences and generate outcomes I had never before imagined. My relationship with my boyfriend has made me think differently and has highlighted what is most important in my life. His kindness and generosity have not only provided a certain nurturing to my soul, but also made me love every single day of the year, even Valentine’s Day.

I still think that Valentine’s Day, much like many other major holidays, are very commercialized and add to the pocketbooks of money hungry executives. The two weeks prior to today see the highest prices of flowers; flowers that you could get nearly any other day of the year for 50% cheaper. The price gouging happens at various times of the year; I’m not naive. I don’t think that flowers, candy, and stuffed animals should be reserved for just the 14th of February. Love and kindness should be any day, any time. (For the record: stuffed animals should NEVER be given as a gift unless to a child under 10.)

Americans can be a generous people. I’ve seen it. In times of national disaster we give, we donate, we want to help the less fortunate. But the need to give, donate, and help should not be reserved only for the times of dire straits. Giving back should be something we do as we can, not waiting for an event to tell us to do so. Instead of buying that new album from iTunes, donate $10 to your local food bank. Instead of buying that new outfit, donate the money you would have spent to your favorite charity. This morning a high school friend of mine made a donation to the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) in lieu of her and her boyfriend exchanging gifts and the usual fare of this day. She wanted to set an example for her young son and year after year hopes to teach him to help others in need. I thought that was really kind and I envy her choice. Her simple token of generosity challenged my own thoughts and inspired this blog post.

Even though we did exchange gifts this year, I’m going to challenge us to reach out and help others less fortunate in the years to come. There are people in this world, country, state, city, and community who can benefit of even the tiniest bits of generosity and are likely forever grateful.

Date night. news you can use.

Wednesday was date night. It had the promise of many things and just so happened to be hump day AND my day off. I was already half way through the work week where I had only worked one day. Things were definitely looking up.

The grand evening plan was the Blazer game, section 102. I only mentioned where I was sitting because I’m used to sitting in 302-land where the air is thin and the players look thinner. Being up closer and personal is great on a number of levels. Less strain on your neck and eye muscles to look downward for several hours. Second, there were only three steps, okay maybe four, to my seat. The beers and baños were nearby making the viewing as convenient as sitting on your couch at home. But the question remained, even with all of these great amenities, how would I feel should the Blazers lose to the Pacers?

Beforehand my boyfriend decided upon a happy hour spot he’d been wanting to check out. County Cork Public House is nestled in the rising neighborhood on NE Fremont.  It’s an Irish pub that caters to people of all ages. Typically I don’t like to imbibe in spaces where Littles can run at my feet, but I was feeling exceptionally permitting this day. Walking in just seemed like a regular bar, nothing exceptional. The space felt a little cold, both in temperature and atmosphere and surprisingly there were about a dozen people or so enthralled in conversation, throwing back some brew, and awaiting their meals. We sat in a wooden booth along the bank of windows that open wide during the warmer months (read: July, August). This was January and it wasn’t one of those warm ones. A pair of Lagunitas IPAs were ordered as we decided on happy hour eats. The ales were satisfying but I was a bit worried about the food choices. Judging by the atmosphere and space I didn’t have high expectations. I expected mundane and greasy bar food. We settled upon:

  • Buffalo wings
  • Scotch egg
  • Fish and chips

I know what you must be thinking. What the fuck is a Scotch egg? Yeah. My boyfriend described it to me as a hard-boiled egg wrapped in ground sausage meat, lightly breaded and deep-fried. Okay. Weird. Those were my inaudible thoughts. The Scotch egg came out on a plate cut in half so each side had equal parts sausage and egg. The waiter suggested we use a little sweet hot mustard and we would NOT be disappointed. Well. Truth be told, he looked like a hippie and I rarely trust that kind. I was surprised at how much I LOVED it. It was delish! So were the buffalo wings. Crispy and the right amount of saucy and spicy. Perfection. I’m not really a fish and chips gal. Fish and chips can be very heavy and leaving you feel like a bomb went off in your stomach. Not these. They were excellent. I mean, excellent. The fish was perfectly moist, the breading not overly greasy. And the tartar sauce was so yummy I could have dipped anything in it just to finish the small container we were given.

If you’re ever in the area head over to 1329 NE Fremont. Just pay attention to what door you walk into. Why????

Because as we were hustling in the cold to get into a warm space, we went into the wrong bar. What we thought was our destination was actually a chic, dimly lit bar called Free House. It was just before 5pm and there was only one other patron at the bar besides us. Realizing our mistake we decided to stick around for a beer and give the place the old college try. It was a nicely decorated bar with wood tables and chairs. The atmosphere felt very comfortable despite the absence of humans. There was a TV mounted above the bar and music playing throughout the space. There were food entrees listed on the chalkboard and we vowed to return here at a later date to taste some of them. I can’t remember what we imbibed but they have a plentiful tap list, in addition to canned and bottled selections. I didn’t check it out up close but they have a patio space out back that is heated and was OPEN that evening for guests. Next time! I loved the bar. I wanted to stay all night and just people watch (well, provided more people showed up!) It was definitely our kinda place. Head on over to 1325 NE Fremont and check it out!

Despite the Blazers seven game losing streak they beat those smugly Pacers by twenty points and everyone got Chalupas!!!!! (Except us, because we didn’t care.) The front and off-centered experience was great. A win is a win and even though the Blazers aren’t the most exciting team this year, I still have a great time when I’m at a game. Win or lose. I look forward to more nights like this, trying new places, hitting events and making memories.

Resolute.

My friend asked me last night, “Are you making New Year’s resolutions?” My response was “No. I hadn’t really thought about it.” Truth is. The latter half of 2012 has flown by so quickly it seems like I’ve barely had time to prepare for what December usually brings. In a flash it was here. And by that same token, it has gone. About a decade ago, I remember some elder person telling me, “Life flies by when you get older. Enjoy it while you can.” As with most advice tossed my way, I kind of shrugged that off and figured I’d be more apt and spry than they were.

Okay. So I was wrong. Since turning the big 3 3 this past summer, life has seemingly flown by in an instant. Here today, gone tomorrow. I’ve let a few things go by the wayside lately and I’ve resolved today to get back on track, find Jesus Christ, and learn a new language. Okay. So not the second thing, but the other two. True. Resolutions do not have to be extremely grand. They can be as small as you need them to be in order to achieve them. However, you should provide yourself a bit of challenge, something that will push you into stepping outside of your comfortable, cozy box.

Something simple could be “resolving to be kinder to others”. You should try it! (Let me know how it works out. That one seems a bit too tough to me.) Whatever you decide upon should be something that betters your mind, body or soul. You can do anything you set your mind to. If you want it, you can make it happen. All you have to do is believe.

Happy New Year.

 

 

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