Thursday, December 31, 2009

Missed Resolution of 2009

Prompt for December 31: Resolution you wish you'd stuck with (you know there's always next year....)

Last January
I tried to convince myself that I could do something about my constant addiction to being"wired" to the modern flow of information (cell phone, pager, cordless phone, laptop with email at the ready). Laughable. One year later, I think I'm worse! I spend an inordinate number of hours on line, checking email, writing email, blogging (that's probably OK), and text messaging on my cell. Add to that the pager hooked to my belt when I'm on the job and I've made 2 steps backward in 2009.

Will there be any relief in 2010 or is this just the way life is to be? This is my BIG question. How does one strike a balance and cultivate QUIET; time to read, time to reflect, time to allow creativity a passageway to the surface?

I don't have any great ideas except to consciously choose each day to be less invested and less connected to this seeming grand river with its flow of electronic input. I love it, I hate it. It saves time, it wastes time. It helps, it hinders. It thrills me, it exhausts me.

Moving forward into the next decade of the 21st century, I will re-attempt to gain control of this out-of-control beast.

Happy New Year one and all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Advertising Annoyance of 2009

Ad. What advertisement made you think this year?

Today's prompt
from Gwen Bell had me combing through the archives of my brain for an advertisement that was positive. Strike one. Perhaps and advertisement that made me laugh? The Superbowl advertisements on TV last February were fun although I can't recall a single one. Strike two.

So, I've turned to something that is a pet peeve in the arena of advertisement.

Every time I see a television advertisement for a prescription drug, I get annoyed. Sixty seconds is not enough time to present the pros and cons of any medication and more than enough time to embed false hopes and misinformation. They're also for the newest drugs approved by the FDA, brand name, and the most expensive.

Cialis, Abilify, Celexa, Plavix, Lyrica, and on it goes. Remember to "check with your doctor to see if so-and-so is right for you!!!!"


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best Laugh of 2009

Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

Don't we all love a great laugh? Especially the type of laugh that goes on and on, the kind that makes your ribs hurt for the spasms and contortions of your chest, the kind that self perpetuates and keeps you howling just from the sound of the crazed noises coming out of your mouth long after the source of the laugh wanes.

I know there have been more than several this year. Funny things about laughs though; it's hard to remember exactly what provoked the ecstasy sometimes. That's where I find myself this year.

We laughed hard Christmas Eve watching the movie, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, especially when the cat bit through the cord on the Christmas tree lights. Gotta love it.

Here's the movie trailer:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lost Art of 2009

This prompt is out of my league. Stationery. When you touch the paper, your heart melts. The ink flows from the pen. What was your stationery find of the year?

Writing notes on lovely stationery is a lost art, at least for me.

I still write a pretty good letter when I'm in the mood but I type everything and print it on traditional white paper. In days past I might get out my ink stamps and decorate the page with a few well placed embellishments but even that added touch has gone by the wayside lately. Lots of emails (long ones) have largely taken over letters.

Truth be known, if I try to write longhand, it doesn't take much to get my right hand into a painful cramp. What's that about? I shake out my hand and get back to writing only to find the hand cramping up again. Typing never provokes a cramp so I pretty much stick to the keyboard.

Oh well. I'm sure there is lovely stationery out there but I won't be buying. However, I did find this fabulous web sit EyeItalia which reminds me of the many fine stationery shops we saw on our trip to Florence last year. Check out EyeItalia's wrapping papers. Gorgeous.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Social Web Moment of 2009

Prompt for Dec. 27, 2009: Social Web Moment.

Sure, I use facebook and Twitter. In the last year or so I've caught up with dozens of friends from high school on fb, a very nice treat. Some of my former classmates have changed a lot, others not so much. I've also connected with a few friends from college days too. Yeah for fb forging connections that would otherwise probably never occur.

I have to say my most special connection occurred in the past month, courtesy of facebook. I "found" one of my first cousins, my only "girl cousin" named Sue who I have not seen or heard from since I was 7 or 8 years old. I barely remember meeting her since we lived in Aruba and her family was in upstate New York. Our respective families were never close (unfortunately and for reasons I never quite understood) so not only did I not know my cousin Sue, I didn't know her three brothers either.

Sue always fascinated me. My grandmother Shirley talked about Sue frequently. Stories of my cousin set off my curiosity; she was someone I wanted to know. Sue and my sister MM saw more of each other during their growing up years, perhaps because MM went to college in close proximity to my Grandmother Shirley and my cousin Sue. By the time I followed along at the same college 12 years later, Sue had grown up, was married and had moved "far away". I never had the chance to know her.

Sue and I shared some instant messaging on facebook recently once we made contact. I caught up on her life and children. She lives in southern California. There's so much more I'd love to know about her and I fantasize about a visit where we sift through common memories of our families, especially our shared set of Grandparents. Perhaps it will happen but I'll need to consciously pursue our connection and overcome my introverted nature.

We'll see.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aha! Moment of 2009

"Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?"

OK here goes my best attempt at describing the relationship I have with the two most important women in my life.

I am not my Mother.
I am not my Daughter.

But, I'll be double damned if we don't share major traits that alternately make me feel like a 92 year old and a 21 year old, spinning around like a top out of control.

I love them both with all my heart. I admire their accomplishments. I cry for their pain. I cheer their victories whether significant or small.

The Aha! you ask? I will celebrate the people they are while accepting the things I wish were different about them. For in the end, the things I wish were different about them are the same things I wish were different about me.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

Christmas Day prompt from Gwen Bell's Challenge:

"Gift. What's a gift you gave yourself this year that kept on giving?"

On my days off (Monday and Tuesday) I gave myself permission to stay in my pajamas until noon with my laptop computer, the newspaper, and coffee. If I accomplish great things that's just fine. If I do nothing, that's fine too. What's the definition of "great" anyway? This gift to self is a winner and I'll likely continue on into 2010 if I can.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Life Lessons of 2009

Oh my; we're getting very, very HEAVY here: "Learning experience. What was a lesson you learned this year that changed your life?"

I could write a lot or a little, reveal detail or skim over the surface. The problem with so called learning experiences is they don't seem to change my life for long. I fall down into the same ditch again and again. Maybe the ditch is a little less muddy the fiftieth time around but as for lasting changes, I can't say with certitude that my life learning on certain topics is over once and for all.

I continue to learn lessons in two major arenas.

1. Poor communication is at the root of most interpersonal problems.

2. I cannot do everything alone and need to ask for help.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve all! May your holidays be merry and bright even if not all Christmases are white!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best Web Tool of 2009

Prompt for the day:

Web Tool. It came into your work flow this year and now you couldn't live without it. It has simplified or improved your online experience.

Five years ago the Hospital/Clinic where I work made a radical move to what's known in MedSpeak as "CPOE", (Computerized. Provider. Order. Entry). This was a bold step, considerably ahead of the curve (or technology wave) and there was huge angst during the conversion from our traditional method of writing orders on a paper chart to totally "on line" work.

The first week of "go live" CPOE was torture for me. I fought the process tooth and nail (love that expression) until my teeth and nails were worn down to stubs. I cried (real tears of frustration) because nothing I did made any sense and it took me 10 times longer to do my work. Others like me flailed against system with equal vigor but to no avail. WE ARE GOING TO CONVERT to online computer order entry whether it's a popular decision or not was the word from the top. "Live it or leave it" was the mantra, I recall. So; we did IT and several years removed from the turmoil, I'm savvy with the system which still remains clunky and relatively inefficient. However there are long term advantages and all hospitals are moving in this direction. Thank goodness we've gone through the roughest patch of our transition and can (maybe) help our colleagues in other centers to a smoother ride.

There are some real perks to on line ordering that have phased in over time. One in particular caught fire this past year. To wit: an on line prescription faxing service. Fill out a prescription on line for a patient, press a button and whoosh!, off it goes in the automatic fax queue to their local pharmacy or mail order pharmacy. And, it works! It really works. We no longer carry prescription pads in our white coat pockets and scribble indecipherable words that can be misread by the pharmacist. The process is more accurate, safe, and nicely recorded in the medical record. No need to remember that I just filled that prescription for you Mr. P (and you are asking for it again?). I don't think so.

The benefits are many. I'm a convert to this new process. Out with the old, in with the new. Goodbye ye old prescription pad.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Best New Business of 2009

Today's prompt:

Startup. What's a business you found this year that you love? Who thought it up? What makes it special?

OK, I've only been inside Seattle Pie Company twice; once to order a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and the second time to pick up said pie. However, I'm intrigued. This new business in our own little Magnolia Village has been a huge success and if their pumpkin pie is any indication of the quality of their other pies, we've got a winner here.

I love pie. But, when the subject of dessert comes up I stick with cake, brownies, cookies, ice cream; stuff like that. Maybe it's because I'm intimidated by pie crust; I don't make any pies unless the good stuff is poured into a graham cracker or other cookie type crust. Old fashioned dough is scary stuff for me. Great to eat but not so great to prepare.

Just think of all the possibilities: the glorious fruit pies of summer, the banana cream, the coconut cream, pecan, and pumpkin and my father-in-law's all time favorite: Virginia's lemon meringue pie. Me thinks we should all eat more pie. I intend to patronize our newest Magnolia Village business in 2010 and treat myself to a cup of coffee and a piece-o-pie to jump start the weary engine to life again.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Best Project 2009


"Project. What did you start this year that you are proud of?"

This question, typical of the last few days, takes some thought. These prompts challenge me to be sure. I don't start projects for some reason. Either I'm in a rut or my mind just doesn't work this way. I go to work, do a good job, come home to bed, and start all over again. Boring? Dull? Not really because there are side paths that pull me away, experiences that have nothing to do with either work or bed. I think these keep my life balanced. I think.

I haven't written much about my "doctor work" for awhile so perhaps now wold be the time to share that for the past 12 months I've been working at a new clinic one day a week seeing new patients with kidney issues and following them along as needed. The clinic is quite a trek from home base for me; 50 or so miles round trip. I had my doubts at first about whether this project would be a success or not. It has been a success, in countless ways.

I love my time "out there". I work independently and there are few interruptions. I'm doing the work I truly love. Referring doctors like having an on-site sub specialty physician. The patients don't have to make the long journey into downtown Seattle to be seen. The good news is that in 2010, the plan is to continue this weekly clinic. The trial period was a success and we'll press forward.

As for the 50 mile round trip, I'm now turning off the radio and listening to books on CD as I drive to and from. Great use of time. I highly recommend anything written by T.C. Boyle. Great listening. Great escape.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Unsung Hero of 2009

Prompt for the day:

"New person. Who came into your life and turned it upside down? Who went out of their way to provide incredible service? Who is your unsung hero of 2009?"

Clearly, the unsung hero of 2009 is "G".

Thank you "G" for all that you do at the adult family home to care for my parents. You are a leader; a man whose compassion, insight, experience, grace, and concern for Mom and Dad have made all the difference in their care since that day in late April 2009 when they moved into their new residence. When the moving truck brought their belongings and we shepherded them inside the house, you were there to welcome them. And, since then, on weekdays your consistent presence, sense of humor, and tender loving care has not gone unnoticed.

Dad looks forward to Monday mornings which bring you back "on duty" after a weekend away. He knows his hours will be a brighter for your calm presence and reassuring smile. "G", you've made my life so much easier too. Knowing that my parents are cared for and in a safe place means everything. Thank you, "G". Thank you again and again.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best Car Ride

2009 was not exactly a "car ride" kind of year. Sure, we made the 285 mile trip from Seattle to Spokane and back, several outings south on Interstate 5 and across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Gig Harbor, and a wide several hundred mile loop east on the North Cascades Highway with a return west over Steven's Pass on Hwy 2 during mid summer. But, I'm not sure any of these excursions really capture the spirit of the prompt for the day which reads: "Car Ride. What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?"

The exception would be the several hour car trip Denny and I made through Mt. Diablo State Park in California in mid November. The adventure was phenomenal, most definitely a "car ride" to remember. Having arrived in Walnut Creek, CA several days before our son's wedding, we had a day when not much was going on, a day when all we had to do was make one trip to the airport to pick up Laura and could spend the rest of the time exploring the area. The weather was picture perfect; clear and cool. The 3,864 foot peak of Mt. Diablo, accessible by a winding road with lots of switchbacks, offered magnificent views in all directions. We could see all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

I was with the man I love. The scenery was rich. There was no need for food. The air smelled fresh. I was glad to soak up the natural beauty of the region and to consider the many times my daughter-in-law's family must have made that same journey together. The entrance to this treasure of a state park is literally minutes from their home. I can understand why the mountain is so special to them and was glad to experience what they've enjoyed for so many years. Great suggestion, Wayne and Tina! Thanks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Best Shopping

Shop: online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

Mad money came in very handy when my sister took me on an outing to stores along Harwin Drive in Houston during a visit in October 09. Shopping in this part of town is great fun. The bargains are amazing, the variety of products (jewelry, watches, shoes, scarves, sunglasses, purses, and on and on) is phenomenal. The prices were so reasonable, I walked out many treasures.

I had never shopped Harwin Drive despite having lived in Houston back in the late 70's and through the 80's. The burst of retail activity and its reputation for great deals is relatively recent. Now I understand what my sister has been talking about all this time and why she makes regular treks to check out the new merchandise. Things are always changing.

Check out this wall of pashmina scarves. Every color, every style. Gorgeous. A buyer's paradise. We had a marvelous time and for way less than a hundred bucks, I loaded up some great finds.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009: Overrun with Drama

Today's prompt asks for a word or phrase to complete the sentence: "2009 was ........"

Hmmmmm. I'm looking for a word that consistently describes life during all 12 months. There were "the best of times and the worst of times" during 2009 but picking a word or phrase from the best of the best or the worst of the worst would not be fair representation of the entire year. So, I'm still thinking......but I know what I want to say and will simply throw it out there in a moment of raw honesty.

2009 was overrun with drama.

Mini-drama, drama, and huge drama. Drama in the sense that made me ask.....what in the world can I do about this problem? Nothing. Why does this angst keep surfacing? Why is this misery coming my way? Drama that made me yearn for just a few days of down time from the never ending issues, problems, unhappiness of others. Am I the grand repository for all things miserable, I had to ask?

Reprieve and relief from drama are not in my future for 2010 unless I make a conscious decision to extricate myself from the intoxicating, but unhealthy pull of full on engagement with the woes seemingly inherent in my roles as mother-to-daughter and daughter-to-mother.

Enough said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best Tea of 2009

Gwen Bell's prompt today makes my life very easy indeed.

Tea of the year.

Since I posted about a favorite tea find rather than a favorite food find on December 12th, I'll illustrate my remarkable consistency by linking to my post about Turkish tea and call it a day.

I'm trying, unsuccessfully, to buy authentic Turkish tea in Seattle. Unfortunately, Istanbul Imports was all out of tea when I stopped in yesterday to poke around the store located in the Fremont area of Seattle. I was the only person in the rather large shop, surrounded by carpets, trinkets, artwork, clothing, and candles. I spoke with a very lovely lady who turned out to be the owner and she gave me some pointers on how to prepare Turkish tea. She raved about "apple tea"; apparently her favorite. After taking my name and email, she promised to contact me when the new supply of tea arrives. I'll be ready.

Turkish tea is very, very good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Packaging of 2009

The prompt for the day: Best packaging. Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

I worried about this post for days.....I don't have a clue about "best packaging".

But, then I remembered this....

I took this photograph of the engagement ring and the wedding ring the day Chris entrusted the duo to my care back in February 2009 to keep safe until he popped the question a month later. The wedding ring hung out in the box alone until November 2009 but now adorns the ring finger of the love of his life.

Congratulations H and C!

Best packaging of bet!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best Rush(es) of 2009

When did you get your best rush of the year?

As points out, the word rush carries many meanings. I know what Gwen Bell is going for in the prompt for today.

Did this happen to me in 2009? Maybe not one major rush but five or so high moments, pulling in all the senses.....

1. Catching first sight of my daughter at the airport when she arrived home from a study abroad year and many, many, many long months apart. Rush.

2. Hearing the bone chilling roar of the Blue Angels buzzing the expectant crowd on the shores of Lake Washington on a sunny, summer day in Seattle. Rush.

3. Tasting the first bite of a warm pumpkin doughnut on a crisp fall day in Greenbluff, outside of Spokane. Best doughnut I ever had. Ever. Rush.

4. Turning on to Kirby Drive in Houston and catching the first glorious whiff of Jim Goode's BBQ permeating the noontime air of an unseasonably warm October day. Rush.

5. The feel of a certain mother-of-the groom's dress, the first pick off the rack and the only one I tried on. Perfect fit and perfect feel. Rush.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best Home Improvement 2009

The prompt for today reads: What's the best change you made to the place you live?

This one is easy. Early in the year D and I decided that our family room furniture, the L shaped sectional sofa and overstuffed chair that had endured the wrath of two youngsters and other heavy wear and tear over fifteen years needed to go. We had the chair recovered since it was still in pretty decent shape and chose a denim which I love in a family room. The sofa was a hopeless mess which we banished to the basement and replaced with a new sectional piece shown here. Every time I walk into the room I love seeing the new, clean, comfortable furniture. And now, since our kids are out of the house, I won't be cleaning out popcorn hulls, lollipop sticks, and nerds from under the cushions.

The roses on the table are the Anniversary Roses from our 32nd wedding anniversary, celebrated Dec. 10th. One white rose (25 years) and seven reds this year. Thanks, Denny.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best New "Food" 2009

Day 12 of Gwen Bell's Best of '09 challenge asks what great "new food" found its way into your life this year? My new find was authentic Turkish tea, not exactly a food but a glorious, energizing, and tasty drink.

My sister traveled to Turkey in late spring 2009. Along the way she blogged about her experiences, the exciting places she visited and the people she met. She also wrote a lot about Turkish food and Turkish tea. Tea is a staple, consumed multiple times a day, piping hot, and drunk from thin glass "teacups" set on a decorative porcelain saucer with sugar lumps on the side. MM claimed the tea was like rocket fuel, providing endless energy for activities that kept her busy from dawn until way after dark. Not only was the tea quite tasty, but drinking several cups a day kept her alert, focused and ready for the next great experience. No caffeine jitters either!

Wow, I thought; I'd like to try some of that Turkish tea.

MM brought me a can of loose leaf Hazer Baba black tea from Turkey when she returned. Although I drank my tea out of a coffee mug (no authentic little glass cups), the taste was marvelous and the jolt of calm energy (can there be anything nicer when you're feeling a bit weary?) much appreciated.

My tin of Turkish tea is now empty but I'm headed out to a local store called Istanbul Imports to buy another supply. Highly recommended and my "food" find of the year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Best Place For All Time

Prompt for the day: The Best Place; a coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

Well, my best place has nothing to do with 2009 because this particular best place would win the prize every year. I've often been asked the question, "How (or why) do you seem to march through your daytime (we're talking at-work-days, now) with rocket energy and efficiency?" Sometimes I tell the truth and that would be a simple, one word answer: BED.

For me, when the work day (or a challenging non-work day) lies ahead, I reluctantly separate myself from BED; the horizontal position, the enveloping covers, the ultimate symbol of time that is all my own and commit myself to action. Everything I do between that moment and the time I slip back into BED, whether it be early or late evening is done with intention. It's not that I don't live those in-between moments in the now or without purpose.

Au contraire. My focus, for each DAY, is to do the best I can to (1) make it through, (2) be productive, (3) have patience with the insanity, and (4) get back into the BED knowing that my work for that particular DAY is finished. I keep my eye on the prize (BED) and just the thought keeps me moving forward with energy and grace (most of the time). Strong incentive, alluring, and gorgeous, I envision BED and press on.

The BED is my symbol that time now belongs to me. I do with it what I wish. Read. Sleep. Watch TV. Eat a hot fudge sundae. Play computer games. Waste time on Facebook. It doesn't matter because BED belongs to me.

As I write this today, it occurs to me that BED is the antithesis of my fundamental philosophy, the philosophy expressed in the the title of my blog. BED means I can forget about staying Ahead of the Wave.

Looks like someone else in the blogosphere rates BED highly as well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best Album of 2009

This post is the easiest yet, largely because all I need to do is cut an paste from my post of September 7, 2009.

Whitney Houston's album I Look To You tops my list. I'm old school.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best Challenge of 2009

Yikes. I'll need to take the bull by the proverbial horns with the prompt for the day. Writing about my challenge of the year is a challenge itself; I ask myself how much do I reveal? In the end raw honesty rules because I'm not ashamed of my challenge and I'm not afraid to say I made it through the rough patch of 2009 a stronger person. So be it.

Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some.What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

Depression is an illness, a treatable condition, a potentially life threatening disease.

I know this miserable state of being inside and out. For the last few years I've been in the grip of its jaws more than I have been free of its tenacious hold on me. Summer 2009 was a turning point when my world felt like it was crashing down around me, when hope literally dried up, when my soul asked only to be free of never ending emotional pain.

My biggest challenge was to listen to my heart, to hear the concerned words of people who love me, and to take one tiny step, and then another, and then another to reach a point where I laid myself bare, vulnerable and empty of spirit. I asked for help, knocked down the walls around me, and cried out, "Tell me what to do and I'll do it." The courage to walk away from what wasn't working and forge into what was to be the healing unknown was the challenge.

I am well. I am well again.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best Moment of Peace 2009

Prompt for the day: Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?

Late July 2009. A hot day tent camping in Newhalem, Washington. A narrow path led from the campsite to the rushing, icy Skagit River. A glass of white wine. My best friend. Toenails painted blue and dipped into the flowing waters, sitting perched on a mossy bank my back to a giant tree. Not much talk. Forgetting daily worries. Mind stripped clean.

All five senses engaged; feet immersed in cold, the taste of crisp wine, the sound of ever moving river, the smell of deep woods, the sight of natural beauty all ours. A moment of peace.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Best "Newly Found" Blog of 2009

The 31 days of December blogging challenge continues with the following prompt: "Blog find of the year; that gem of a blog you can't believe you didn't know about until this year."

Hands down here; the best new blog find of 2009, penned by a most fascinating woman who I've never met but would love to, is Ruth Pennebaker's The Fabulous Geezersisters. I love her blog because:

1. Ruth can write.
2. She's funny and wry and willing to poke fun at herself (and others). She makes me laugh.
3. She tells it like it is. I feel the unabashed honesty pouring forth.
4. She makes the ordinary extraordinary.
5. She has plenty of extraordinary in her life; she's a writer (a real one), from Austin (love that) but living in New York City this year.
6. She's an astute observer of life.
7. Ruth is the real deal.

And finally, I feel a connection to Ruth because I would like to be all these things (1-7). Inspired? Yes. Excited to read the next post? Yes.

The Fabulous Geezersisters
; you rock.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best Conference of 2009

Well, well, well...I lead a boring life. There were no out-of-town conferences (or in-town for that matter) or workshops for me in 2009. I was registered for the annual BlogHer conference in Chicago this past summer but a number of "things" got in the way and I ended up selling my ticket.

That being said, I would really like to attend BlogHer 2010 in August of next year; the venue? New York City! I want to go! I want to go!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Best Night Out of 2009

"Night out. Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?"

The sad fact remains: I rarely go out for a night on the town with friends or family. And, if I do would one of those nights from 2009 go down in history as a night that rocked my world?


Saturday, November 14, 2009 two special people, Heather and Chris danced into their wedding reception and started the party of the year (as far as I'm concerned). Friends and family from all over the USA gathered to celebrate with fine food, wine, toasts, cake, and best of all? Music and dancing!

Sister Sledge can easily rock my world when she starts in with We are Family, a veritable tradition at weddings in this family. Whenever we hear the familiar beat rev up, we're out our seats and on to the dance floor; grateful for sisters (and brothers) and friends and lovers.

Check it out, turn up the volume, and rock on world!

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody sing!

Ev'ryone can see we're together
As we walk on by
(FLY!) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose


Living life is fun and we've just begun
To get our share of the world's delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal's in sight
(WE!) no we don't get depressed
Here's what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won't go wrong
This is our family Jewel

......Sister Sledge

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best Book of 2009

Day 4 of the Best of '09 Challenge asks:"What book--fiction or non--touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?"

Over a decade ago I started a log of all the books I'd managed to read. I keep the journal in a drawer by the side of my bed and whenever I finish a book I enter in the title, author, and a few impressions. What I've noticed over the past several years is that I'm reading fewer books and that makes me sad. I love to read; what's going on here? For 2009, there are only 14 books whereas in prior years I'd polish off at least two a month. Seems I'm spending more time blogging, reading other people's blogs, and playing around on Facebook. Rejuvenating my love of turning page after page of an all consuming book is a goal for 2010.

This year there were mindless romps through Twilight and New Moon (Stephanie Meyer) and several really weird books like Hotel World (Ali Smith) and The Way I Found Her (Rose Tremain) which left me asking: what in the world was the point? In the midst of mediocre, I found a true gem in the gorgeously written prose of About Grace by Anthony Doerr. This was a book published a few years back; I bought the hardback edition for my Dad. Inscribed inside the front cover I wrote: "Christmas 2005, To Dad--Happy Reading" He never read the book but I, drawn in by the beautiful dust jacket, plucked it off the shelf in search of similarly beautiful words, earlier this year. I was not disappointed.

I always remember a wonderful passage from Annie Dillard's essay The Writing Life where she explains why we read. She says, "Why are we reading , if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed?" She says more but I'll save that for my followup post when I discover what other bloggers are calling their best book of 2009.

About Grace reads as a hauntingly strange, and touching story. A man, a hydrologist, (and this is key) makes a slow motion search over decades, for his daughter who may or may not be alive, perhaps killed in flood waters. From Anchorage to an island in the Caribbean and back to Alaska, tormented by visions, mesmerized by his passion for water in all its forms, moving and frozen, enormous and microscopic, this socially inept man struggles through a lonely life to find his beloved. Imagery of water, wave and ice holds this man's world together like the glue of life.

"How much, how much, how much? A drop of water contains 10 to the 20th power molecules, each one agitated and twitchy, linking and separating with its neighbors, then linking up again, swapping partners millions of times a second. All water in any body is desperate to find more, to adhere to more of itself, to cling to the hand that holds it; to find clouds or oceans; to scream from the throat of a teakettle." (p. 26)

"Frost, like a miniature white forest, backlit by sun, fringed the bottom of the window. Dendrites, crystal aggregates, plumes of ice--an infinite variety. Strange to think that a few million water molecules frozen now on the fuselage of a 757, hurtling toward Miami, could feasibly be the same molecules that seeped through gaps in the foundation of his house, molecules Sandy might have sopped up with a towel and wrung into the yard, to evaporate, become clouds, precipitate, and sink to earth once more." (p. 81)

"Studying ice crystals as a graduate student he eventually found the basic design (equilateral, equiangled hexagons) so icily repeated, so unerringly conforming, that he couldn't help but shudder. Beneath the splendor--the filigreed blossoms, the microscopic stars--was a ghastly inevitability; crystal could not escape their embedded blueprints any more than humans could. Everything hewed to a rigidity of pattern, the certainty of death." (p. 157)

H2O. Water. Anthony Doerr creates an amazing story on the scaffolding of an oxygen bonded to two hydrogens. Brilliant. Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Best Article of 2009

Day 3 of Gwen Bell's challenge arrives and (already), I'm stumped. Best article? "What's an article that blew you away, that you shared with all your friends, that you referenced throughout the year?"

The fact that I have nothing to write says what?
(1) I never read articles.
(2) I read but don't comprehend.
(3) I read but nothing lit my fire.
(4) I have short term memory loss; there might have been something but "here today, gone tomorrow".
(5) I'm bored and boring.
(6) There was nothing out there worthy of being blown away.

Quien sabe?

"Hinojosa" as Denny and I like to say when nothing makes any sense.

So, I'll leave it at that. Till tomorrow when the topic for the day is Books. Now on that score, I have something to say; stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Best Restaurant Experience 2009

Prompt for December 2: Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year.

Again, there were many meals out at excellent restaurants this year. Who doesn't love Irma's Mexican food in Houston or a steak at The Brooklyn in downtown Seattle?

I'd have to say the best restaurant experience was had at Sky City, Seattle's top of the world revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle. We were a group of eight commemorating the college graduation of our son's fiancee with a meal shared together in June 2009. Two families of four joined together for the first time, excited to celebrate the moments with a fabulous meal and amazing 360 degree views of the city below on a balmy summer evening. I suspect we were all thinking about the future as well; the upcoming marriage of two wonderful young people, the two in the center of this photograph.

No question that this was my restaurant experience extraordinaire of the year. It was about all the "right things".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Best Trip of 2009

December 1st arrives; sunny, cold and gorgeous in Seattle.

It's time to kick off Gwen Bell's (of December Best of 2009 blog challenge. A post a day for the month of December sharing what's been great about this year in various arenas appeals to me right about now when the pressures of the season start to bear down and my creativity takes a hike. Unlike some blog challenges, this one has few rules; posts can be short or long, and might be wordless and marked only by a meaningful photograph or two. 31 mini-topics laid out for the month of December sounds do-able especially when the highlights of 2009 are the focus. Positive, positive.

Topic for the day 1? That would be Trip: What was your best trip in 2009?

Although there were several out-of-town trips in 2009 including a mid-summer camping and pampering trip to Eastern Washington, five wonderful days in Houston in October visiting my sister and seeing her magnificent art show Second Seating, a weekend in Spokane for Gonzaga U's Fall Family Weekend, one trip takes the (wedding) cake.

The best trip of 2009 came in November 2009 with five great days spent in Walnut Creek, CA celebrating the marriage of my son, Chris to a most wonderful young woman named Heather.A time for reunions with family and friends not seen for years, a time for children, a time for laughs, a time for tears and joy, a time to join together with a new family; what's not to love?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dirt Bag Alert

This sign, boldly positioned, in the parking lot of a very tasty Texas style BBQ Restaurant in Walnut Creek, CA made me laugh. Gotta love it!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

They Wore Red

They Wore Red

The youthful hearts standing aside the bride
and groom wore Red.
The ladies, lingering in an enchanted drape of crimson,
drawn to the matching vest of proud groomsmen.
Red speaking boldly, never in a whisper, of
love, and hope, and dreams.
Red celebrating wildly, arms flung wide, hearts open
to unfolding moments.
Red remembering sweetly the reason for song, and toast, and tipping glass.
Red, forever a reminder of memories sweet, of memories dear.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Life Force

..........from Martha Graham, famous dancer and choreographer (1894-1991)

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

The early morning sky viewed through the south facing deck doors of my bedroom tantalizes with glorious shades of peach, lightening by the minute into daylight. Dry, cool, and gorgeous are the beginnings of this most favorite day of the year for me. Thanksgiving Eve.

Laura is home. Chris and Heather fly in from Oakland today and will be joining us round the table for the feast tomorrow. There are many blessings in my life and for these I'm grateful and give thanks.

To all; have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fork in the Road

I scurried down the hall of the intensive care unit to write down verbatim what he had stated so powerfully, so exquisitely. His words resonated deeply with me, defining the challenges we so often face when caring for the sickest patients.

"We're coming to a fork in the road and we plan to take it but we don't know which one it is."

This past weekend I was "on call", making hospital rounds for the kidney service, writing notes, and coordinating care plans with colleagues. One patient was extremely ill, admitted in the middle of the night with a septic syndrome, renal failure, and myriad other complications. This (unfortunately) is not unusual. The critical care doctor in charge of his management is excellent; someone for whom I have the highest regard. We had a several minute conversation regarding this patient, acknowledging the ambiguities of his care, the decisions that required attention in the setting of "no good options", and the need for a thoughtful "time out" before choosing the path.

How different is real-life medicine from glamorized television shows such as E.R. or Grey's Anatomy where there's seemingly only one choice, the "right way" and the "wrong way" with doctors making crucial decisions in seconds, suddenly knowing exactly what must be done? Not so.

I agree with my colleague; there are many times when there is a fork in the road. We will take "it" because the time will come when we must decide, but right now in this moment we don't know which fork we'll walk. We understand this implicitly although others may not. An observer may conclude that nothing of substance is happening but until a decision is made, the choices weigh heavily on those who must forge ahead on behalf of those that cannot decide for themselves.

Tale of 4 Pairs of Brown Shoes

Four pairs of brown shoes found their way into my suitcase for the "wedding weekend". I wore autumn colors for the dressed up and dressed down moments so basic brown worked just fine for footwear. A couple of brown purses; one for everyday and one for the wedding made the outfits complete.

My feet, for the most part were "happy" during this five day excursion because I wore the weathered, broken in shoes I took to Europe last year more than any of the others. These shoes have walked me hundreds of miles and leave my feet feeling comfortable and ready for more. They look it too.

Trouble is, these gems were appropriate for part-time usage only and the three other pairs phased in for dressier events; such as the rehearsal dinner (casual but Texas style; boot worthy), a lovely dinner out with Wayne and Tina, and of course, the wedding itself with the dinner and dancing that followed.
These boots, despite the tapered toe are actually not too bad; probably because they're wide enough where it counts and the leather is soft and pliable. These worked fine and my feet were still quite happy.

Next up were these "mules", not too bad on the feet either unless you're walking long distances where steady gripping of the toes is required to keep them on your feet. I kept that to a minimum and defaulted to the grungy ones up top whenever I could.

Ahhhhh....but the best (or worst) comes last. These wedding shoes made me stop and ask the very good question again: Why do we women do this to our poor feet???? Why do we purchase a shoe for looks alone? First off, I needed a three inch heel because I was too lazy to get my dressed hemmed and needed the height to keep me from dragging on the floor. Secondly, I got a good deal. Third, they looked HOT and were the right color. Sure, I tried them on and walked around Nordstrom Rack in front of the mirror for all of 30 seconds. Sadly, 30 seconds cannot begin to compare to the nine hours I spent in them, including an hour or so of dancing on the day of my son's wedding. By the end of the night, the shoes were still quite HOT but my poor toes were a swollen, sore mess; screaming messages to my brain which fortunately was too high on JOY to notice until I shed them in the car on the way back to the hotel.

Just like wedding gowns, and mother-of-the groom gowns, one wonders what to do with shoes that probably will never really work with any other outfit or event that I attend. Three inch spike heels with a severely pointed toe in size 8, anyone?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hard to Believe....

As I write this blog post, I think back to exactly a week ago. We were gathered at the church for the "rehearsal", lining up just so, and taking direction from the pastors and wedding coordinator. Once the "rehearsing" finished we headed to the Back Forty for a casual BBQ feast with the wedding party and out-of-town family and friends.

Can it be a week ago already? Seems like it was just yesterday that I picked up the microphone to welcome all of our guests to the event, acknowledging the distances traveled by so many, and all the states of the USA represented. We were blessed to have so many extended family and friends make the trip to California to celebrate the wedding of two very dear young people.

But yet, has it only been a week? Seems like so much has happened since that perfectly cloudless evening of 60 degrees when we toasted the bride and groom with Coronas and pushed back smoked ribs, brisket, and chicken prepared Texas style in a party room above the main restaurant. The following day, the Wedding Day was jammed packed with activities from early morning to late at night and the following days and nights full with leave taking, goodbyes, and phasing back into "real life".

It's curious how the perception of time is challenged by major events (like a wedding weekend). A week may seem to pass in the blink of an eye on the one hand and on the other, be so immensely consuming that the time expands making seven days feel more like several weeks. Right now, I'm feeling in a time warp, as if I'm still in wedding mode but yet plunged back into daily life and far removed from the festivities of last weekend. Whatever can be said about all this, one thing I know for sure.....Once the celebrations begin, the events whiz by and before you know it, they're over.

But, the memories remain.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Savoring the Small Moments

So many advised me that the emotional, gorgeous, and action-packed moments of a wedding weekend would feel surreal and blurred around the edges. Although we arrived in California several days early and stayed an extra day after the wedding, the time whizzed by and before I could take it all in, the celebrations were over. Thankfully, there are hundreds of photographs, specific memories, and feelings to process.

In the midst of the experience, I consciously tried to pull myself into the moment to see, hear, and feel details that might have otherwise passed me by. This was no easy task but in the hour or so I spent in the "Sweet Room" with the bridesmaids, the bride, and the mother of the bride as we readied for the photo shoot planned for early afternoon and later the wedding, I felt very much in the present. We all were bundles of emotion. For me joy, excitement, bittersweet, and jitters coexisted all at once. Once the make-up and hair stylist left, the photographers arrived and the suite became a bevy of activity as gowns left their hangers behind and cradled us in fabric, textures, and colors. Gorgeous moments to savor.

The flowers arrived around the same time; wonderful bouquets of red and salmon colored roses for the bridesmaids, nosegays of orchid and roses for the mothers of the bride and groom and of course, the gorgeous white roses for the bride. What I noticed and savored were the tiny droplets of moisture on the rose petals in my nosegay. Beautiful.

The floor and every other flat surface of the suite bore signs of activity. Coffee, water bottles, snacks, make up brushes, hairpins, jewelry, clothing, and shoes of all types (flip flops next to 3 inch heels) interspersed with all the women who were breathing the anticipation of the day. I made myself stop, breathe, and look out on all the wonder. And, it was fun; so much fun.

Amidst the frenzy there was much joy and a sense of connectedness one to another. I'm sure we all carry our own specific memories and tidbits of focus. For me, those beautifully perfect dewdrops on the rose petals of my bouquet captured perfectly the value of slowing down to witness the intricacy hidden in the momentum of that most treasured hour spent in the "Sweet Room".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

....of Silver Goblets and Wedding Cake

The day after the wedding is an interesting bit of time to negotiate. My thoughts take me back to yesterday at this moment when we walked down the aisle of St. Matthew Lutheran Church where in front of extended family and friends, Chris and Heather committed themselves one to the other in marriage. The ceremony was beautiful, emotional, and the view from the front row pew on the right side of the church made for unobstructed views of the wedding party. The vision of those two young people surrounded by the love of so many was powerful, the pastors words equally powerful. There were moments of humor, surprise, and of course misty and more than misty eyes all around. Ahhhh, weddings. Was I overcome with a flood of tears as I had suspected? That's the subject for another post.

The reception was dreamlike. The hours seem to float by on joy unfurled. Great food, drink, company, music, dance and toasts. The picture above shows the silver goblets and the wedding cake on Heather and Chris's table at the reception.

The goblets have a special history in our family. Purchased in 1966 by my sister Mary Margaret for my parent's 25th Wedding Anniversary, these goblets have been used in family weddings and anniversaries ever since. The tradition continues. The weathered box that holds them in between uses is covered with my mother's handwriting detailing the dates used and the particular event. I'm hoping I can get my Mom to write Nov. 14, 2009: Heather and Chris's Wedding on the lid of that box along with all the other names and dates when I get home to Seattle.

The wedding cake was a vision, replete with fall flowers. I'm sorry to say I never got a bite, so busy was I socializing and moving from place to place. Before I knew it, the honored couple stepped into the waiting limousine and was whisked away. More than one person told me, "Enjoy each moment; they pass so quickly".

Today is a day for memories, reaching back for the sweetness of those hours passed in the presence of all things that come from joy and hope.

Blessings to my son and new daughter-in-law. I love you!