A quick update

Well, I have not posted in a little while and have been reminded to “do so”.  So I am!  I have lot’s to catch you up on.  Let’s see…..where to start…..

My biggest news is that I have been accepted to exhibit my oil paintings in the August 2nd Kennewick Art Walk (read about it here). I was SO EXCITED to get this news!  This means my work officially passes muster. I will have 10 or so paintings on display (also for sale).  If you are in the area, come down to the exhibit and check it out. 🙂  It’s from 5:00pm – 9:00pm Thursday, August 2nd. There will also be 5 other artists work on display.  Here are a couple of my paintings to give you a little “taste” of what I’ve been working on…. 


It’s been quite the learning process working with oil paints.  (If you have not read about my very first experience with them, click here).  Between trial and error, asking questions, and reading things on-line, I have managed to increase my knowledge A LOT.  It’s awesome what you can find on that there internet web these days huh? 😉  And here I thought I would stick with Acrylics, cuz they are “easy”…..but I just cannot resist the vibrant colors of Oils.

Let’s see…what else….I got all of my flowers, herbs and some lettuce planted…the lettuce is doing well!  Of course, living in the desert helps…everything loves SUNSHINE (including me).

Here is right after I planted them…

Here they are last week….. (they’re even bigger now yay!)

We had a beautiful Mothers Day weekend.  The weather was beautiful, I got a lot of planting accomplished. Even had some time to volunteer down at one of our local pet rescues POPP (Pet Over-Population Prevention) on Saturday. Every time I go down there, it’s a challenge for me not to load all the pups up in my Explorer and bring ’em home with me. Emma has picked up a love of animals from me as well.  Grandma brought her down to the adoption center for a little while so she could keep the dogs company. These were her favorite (no surprise)….

We had an awesome brunch with my Mom and her best friend Pam, and of course Emma.  Here are a few pics from the day….

Emma and I made Grandma’s Mothers Day gift (of course). It was nothing fancy…but she loved it….cuz that’s what Grandma’s do….love everything.  🙂  You can see it here

 The school year is coming close to an end, so the kindergartener’s had their end of year program.  Here is a picture of Emma during the program.  She is holding the “G”. I was so proud of her!


So there’s a short update for ya. I’ll post more soon. Have a great day! 

Port Angeles

Emma and I went for a road trip last weekend to visit my Dad in Port Angeles, WA.  It’s about a 5.5 hour drive from where we live. We left Friday morning, and returned Sunday evening.

I usually plan fairly well (actually, I usually go overboard) in packing for a road trip that includes Emma. This time…not so much. I guess I should have started packing PRIOR to the morning of our departure. That may have helped. I told Emma what to put in her suitcase, while I was rushing around getting mine packed, feeding and watering cats and plants etc. I forget that she is only 6 yrs old sometimes, and that she is JUST as literal as I am most times.  If I don’t tell her to pack it, she won’t.  We (me), forgot to pack her PJ’s, oops. And we have had SUCH awesome weatherr at home lately, that I didn’t think very hard about coats. I usually have a couple in the car, so I didn’t worry too much about it.  Well, in my haste to clear out room in the car for the dogs bed, and our stuff….I cleared out all the coats. Again, oops. 

Going to Port Angeles this time of year is a crap shoot.  It can be really sunny and nice, or it can pour buckets. This time, it was mostly nice, but it was COLD. And it’s always damper than what we are used to, which makes it feel a little colder AND…..my dad does not use his HEAT, and thinks that 65 degrees is perfectly comfortable. I would agree with him, as long as I have on enough layers and warm socks! I managed to tell her to pack a sweatshirt – but she ended up packing a fleece that has kind of a high neck collar, and she won’t wear it, cuz it feels like it’s choking her. I know, this begs the question…..WHY did you bring THAT ONE then???  I don’t know the answer. And neither did she. So we froze. 🙂   We usually always see some kind of wild life though, and this was no exception. We saw deer walking around the neighborhood…..

 

Saturday we went down to Ediz Hook spit, which is where the Port Angles Coast Guard Air Station is, and walked along the beach.

Emma was of course scouring for sea creatures. We did found some really bright colored crab, which was cool, along with some giant kelp and seaweed, lots of Agates, and of course, lots of birds.

We met another wiener dog. You never know when your going to run into one. 🙂

And came across a cool little fort someone had built out of drift wood

 

More driftwood….

We also stopped at Sunny Farms which is a really cool little local produce and specialty food store that also carries health foods, lots of gluten free stuff, it’s kind of like a smaller Trader Joes.  They also have a nursery with some of the most gorgeous flowers and plants! I was in search of packaged edible flowers, and hoped they would have something like that for cooking, but no such luck. We left with freeze dried wasabi edamame, and dried cantaloupe. I’ve been trying to like wasabi. I don’t know why. On our drive home, I was munching on the edamame, and after accidentally burning my nasal passages 3 times in under 15 minutes, I decided to forget it, and just accept that I DON’T like wasabi. They had tons of beautiful plants and flowers there….

Before we left on Sunday morning, we had to have breakfast at iHop in Sequim.  Ann joined us. Here she is with Emma…..

Then we loaded up the Explorer with a giant solar deck umbrella, some lettuce plant starts, an aloe plant, 3 pots of Crocosmia bulbs, and a drip line system (all courtesy of pops, Thanks Dad!!) that will be this weekends project.  Need to keep my flowers from incinerating in the next heat wave over here. 🙂 

Full Weekend

Busy busy weekend! The weather here in Tricities was AMAZING this weekend.  Felt like summer!  I had to get outside and enjoy it.

Friday evening Emma and I met up with my friend Tasha and her hubs, her brother and his wife, and their two adorable boys for some Pizza and then the Shrine Circus. I haven’t been to a circus since…..I can’t even remember when it was.  All I know is I was little, it was the Ringling Bros. and Barnam & Bailey Circus, and there were motorcycles that rode in this giant metal sphere thingy SUPER fast without hitting each other.  I’m not sure why that’s my only memory of it though. Seems odd. Anyway, the circus was fun; those people do some amazing stuff.  They were giving Elephant rides to the kids before the circus started, so my little girl climbed up on the GIANT pachyderm and rode like a pro! I was skeptical if she would really do it, after her hesitation at going on the ferris wheel at the Carnival a couple weeks ago (although once she went on it, she didn’t want to stop).

I just remembered I never posted about our time at the Carnival.  I know you are absolutely just DYING to hear about it (haha).

Ok, back to the circus….Here is Emma on the elephant, right up front….

 

Here is Emma and Tasha’s oldest nephew Drake….with his blue cotton candy mouth…

I am NOT a fan of clowns. They creep me out. (Thanks Steven King). Emma is not quite sure what to think of them yet.  They did have some funny skits during the show. The very last one absolutely made Emma laugh…not just a chuckle or giggle, but actually belly laugh.  There is no sweeter sound to me than that. That was the highlight of my evening. 🙂

Saturday was another beautiful day. I absolutely HAD to get outside and enjoy, so Emma and I went to Lowe’s to get flowers to plant on the deck. Emma found a little inch worm on one of the plants as we were walking around, so that became her “pet” for the duration of our shopping. She carried it around, tried to feed it leaves from different flowers, talked to it, etc.  I wanted to get a few herb plants also, so we went to the herb section where Emma tasted almost all of them.  She did not want to taste the chives, because it looks like grass, but after I made her, she kept asking if she could have more. I knew she would love it.  We ended up with Basil, Chives, and Cilantro.  3 herbs that I use the most.  I wanted to get some Mint as well, however, here must be a huge Mint (or perhaps a Mojito) “following” here because they are always sold out!

Here are two of the barrels planted. (That’s one nice thing about living in the heart of wine country, there is never a shortage of wine barrels to use for planters.) Notice the pretty ornamental grass in the middle….that the cat promptly nibbled on that evening, so now half of it is shorter than the other half. Yeah, NOT happy about that.

Saturday evening, I got to spend the evening with some great ladies!  Appetizers, a couple of drinks (Creamsicles – YUM), and great conversation.  Thanks Jenn and Tiffany!! 🙂

Sunday was my get everything else done day.  My goal was to get some things re-arranged in the garage, and do a little re-organizing. It felt soooo good to get so much done. The bonus….I found my Grandpa’s purple heart medal, and dog tag from when he was in the service during WWII. I also came across some another medal of his (I need to research to find out its significance), some old ration booklets, and some other WWII memorabilia that my Grandma had passed down to me before she passed away.

 

 Also got the dog washed and a couple of paintings done.  One of them was with oils…cuz you know, I’m a pro at toxic…er, I mean oil painting now.  Haha! But I didn’t kill myself or anyone else in the proccess, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t violate any hazmat laws either. 😉

 I hope you all had a great weekend!

Demolition Derby

Emma and I went to a good ole fashioned demolition derby.  I have only been to one other demo derby and it was a looooooooooooong time ago (yes, I am old). This was Emma’s first one.  I have to admit she didn’t really believe me when I told her it was cars that drive around really fast and smash into each other….on PURPOSE.  Apparently, I “pull her leg” frequently enough that she didn’t believe me until we got there Haha. She was pretty fascinated by it.

 I was actually surprised at the amount of spectators and support there was for this local event.  And a beer garden…woohoo! I have to admit that as we watched the cars plow into each other, I got to thinking…how many times have I wanted to do that EXACT thing to someone while driving in traffic? I can see the draw to participate as it looks pretty darn satisfying to me. 😉

Here are the cars all lined up before the start….

The winner of the first event was the only woman in the competition (YEAH!), and she’d just had a baby 6 months ago.  I think she was probably unleashing out 9 months-worth of pissed off and pregnant on those poor guys. No wonder she won.

Here she is…the last car standing……also notice where the #112 car is “parked” haha…

They also had a fun little event called “Jump You’re Junk”. Yes. Really. It was trucks, cars, and SUV’s so I guess anything goes. How fun would THAT be? Take your beater truck out there and do a Dukes of Hazzard off a giant dirt pile?  Yeeeehaawwww!

I didn’t get any good photo’s of the jumping cuz I was using my iPhone, but here is a blurry one…

Then we had an intermission. If there is one thing emma loves, its face painting. If there is face painting at an event, she is ON IT. So of course we haaaaaaaaaaaaad to do that…

After intermission came the main event. They were the older model cars (80’s and older..so pretty much the era’s of the muscle car). Jeez did they have some engine modifications.  They were LOUD! Luckily I always have earplugs in my purse (started when we were involved in boat racing the last couple of years), for Emma to wear. This round had rollovers, fires, you name it. There was also a driver that came all the way from Port Townsend (Washington) to smash up his car, I mean compete. Guess they don’t smash cars on purpuse up there. Here is a picture of the fire…..

Soooooo if after hearing about this event left any doubt in your mind that this was a lil bit (A LOT) redneck the picture below outta seal the deal for you. 😉

You want me to use WHAT?

Right after I decided to try painting with acrylics, I was perusing the craft store (dangerous), and I passed a rack with massively marked down painting supplies. I ended up purchasing some bulk paint brushes for Emma to use, and a couple of plastic paint palettes, both for dirt cheap. Beside that stuff, was this cute lil bucket of oil paints marked down to almost nothing…..seriously, as in, it was less than $3. I thought to myself, I know nothing about oil painting, and don’t really intend to paint with oils any time soon, so…….just move along, Kel.  But then…….that little craft supply hoarder in my head said….but what if you DO decide you want to try it?  You will NEVER find them this cheap, and what a great starter kit…small tubes of lots of colors. Really, I mean, it’s LESS than a cup of coffee. So I talked myself into it. I’m not positive, but I THINK, that I’m supposed to be talking myself OUT of buying things….not INTO buying them. Might need to take a second look at that theory..…some other time. 🙂   

That lil bucket of paints has been sitting on my craft table staring at me ever since. This weekend I caved and decided to play with them. I filled up my palette with colors, grabbed a couple of my favorite paint brushes, and a couple not so good ones (you know, incase this turned out to be a disaster, I didn’t want to ruin ALL my brushes). I had already purchased some artist tablets of thinner canvas paper to “practice” on, or just goof around with, cuz they are a lot cheaper than actual canvas. (Note: remember that, it’s an example of me actually USING my brain). I did give a quick thought to clean-up, but quickly remembered I had purchased a bottle of Pink Soap, which is a brush cleaner, so I’m good. Ok to proceed with making a masterpiece (HAHA).

I started out just doing some squiggles to get a feel for the paint.  It’s a lot thicker than acrylic.  Me and my love for colors…..I wanted to see how all the colors looked, and tried a couple different things on this picture.  Like I said, just playin around. I thought it was pretty just to see all the colors together….I’m a sucker for a rainbow.

 Then I decided to try a flower.  I love drawing and doodling flowers, so doing one with oils was fun too! Here’s what it ended up looking like. Kind of strange, but kind of whimsical (in my mind anyway haha)…..

 There. I had satisfied my oil painting itch for one evening with those two.  Time to wrap it up and maybe go blog about something. I gathered all the brushes and the palette and the Pink Soap, and went into the bathroom to wash everything.  (The pic below is only a FEW of the brushes I used……)

I start with brushes first.  Turned the hot water on, dab a dollop of Pink Soap on the brushes, and……..voila! Wait…..nothing is happening. The water is just beading up and running off. I rub a little more…..MISTAKE. Did you know, that oil paint SMEARS really well when you add water? Now…..write this down…..PINK SOAP (which by the way, specifically says it cleans OILS, acrylics, and watercolors right on the bottle) DOES NOTHING TO OIL PAINT. Did you write it down? Good. I went from having messy oil paint brushes, to having messy oily paint brushes and BLUE oil covered hands. Really oily hands. Well CRAP. So I laid the brushes down, and reach for my trusty Bath and Body Works antibacterial hand soap (WITH scrubbies in it), pumped a couple of pumps into my hands and  start rubbing them together. All this was doing was smearing the blue oil paint MORE. I tried a few more pumps of soap…….then, I think I heard the soap actually laugh at me as it squirted out of the bottle. It was just making MORE of a mess. So, with my elbow, I turn off the water, because, remember, I now have blue oil paint ALL over my hands. I’m standing in the bathroom staring at the paint brushes in the sink. Clearly, there is actual OIL in these oil paints! Who knew?? Then, my brain turns to chemicals. What can I use that I have in the house? Windex…..no, that doesn’t cut grease. I go to the closet, there is fabreez…..no that won’t work……furniture polish….no….Clorox….no. I see NOTHING on hand that cut’s grease (in my mild state of alarm, I overlook the obvious….dishwashing soap, which now seems like it would have been a great idea)! Ugh. Really? Then, AH-HA! There’s WD-40!  Perfect! I grab the can with two of the tippy top of my finger tips to avoid creating an oil slick on the can, and carry it to the bathroom. It’s a new type of can, with a weird nozzle, not like the old one where you just stick the red straw in and push the button on top or pull the trigger. This one has the straw already in it, and has like some weird double ended swivel trigger thing, with another hole in the other end, and you somehow are supposed to pull that into the “up” position. WTF? Which hole is the straw supposed to go in? And if I put the trigger in the “up” position, it is no longer a “trigger”, so how am I supposed to get the liquid out?? Ugh. Why do they change something when it ALREADY WORKS well the way it was? So I am fiddling with this stupid can, and have now grasped the entire thing with BOTH of my slippery greasy blue hands, so I can barely hold on to the can any longer. I give up, I have NO idea how to get the WD-40 out of the can. I set it down and go back to the closet.

Now I am starting to worry a little bit about safety…….I now have automotive things on the brain with all this oil. I get to thinking; maybe I should just throw these brushes away….and uh-oh….I rinsed some of the oil down the drain in the bathroom while I was attempting to wash….and I know that oil has to be disposed of as hazardous waste in auto body shops, right? And oily rags, they can catch on fire right? So am I going to blow up the entire West Pasco sewer system because I just put “oil” down the bathroom drain? I had visions in my head of the oil contacting the sewer vapors (methane?) that are down the drain, and BOOM. Good grief. And no, I can’t throw the brushes away, they will start a fire in the garbage can (oily rag scenario flashes….)! What do artists do?? How do they paint with all these toxic hazardous chemicals all over the place? How do they dispose of anything?

I thought I better pull the reigns a bit on my worrying, and decided to just focus on the current issue. I needed to get my hands clean enough to drive to the stinkin craft store before it closes to find something to clean up oil paints! And I needed to do it before the West Pasco sewer system ignites from my oil mess. Then, like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds, I spot a bottle of GOO GONE. HALLELUJAH! I ran back to the bathroom and sprayed away.  I have never been so happy to see a bottle of Goo Gone in my life. I got most of the paint off my hands.  I didn’t want to use any towels, because, number one, I didn’t want to ruin them, and number two, I still had that oily rag scenario dancing around in my head (is that even real?).  Luckily, since my daughter was born, I have kept baby wipes around.  She is six now, and clearly I don’t need them for diaper duty anymore, but during the time that I did, omigosh did I discover a thousand and one uses for them!  Cleaning the car, wiping counters, wiping sticky hands and mouths, I NEVER go camping without them either! So, I have a package of baby wipes on the counter, and I grab a couple to somewhat wash the Goo Gone “ick” off my hands….and to my surprise, MORE of the blue stuff comes off my hands……with the baby wipe! Woohoo! I start wiping down my hands, fingernails, and paint brushes handles (didn’t do much with the bristles as there was a TON of oil on them) with the baby wipes……and it’s working almost better than the Goo Gone did!  Wow! I was amazed, and felt like an idiot for not trying those first.  DUH. 

I got my hands clean enough to actually touch things, and more importantly, to drive my car. The craft store closes in 40 minutes. I should make it.  I hop in the car and drive over there.  When I pull in to the parking lot (sorry, this is totally off subject…) there happens to be a carnival in the parking lot!  I was so excited!  I LOVE CARNIVALS! But then I remembered, Emma (the 6yr old that I use as my excuse to do fun things like go to the carnival, etc) is with her dad this weekend. DOH! Actually, it’s a good thing, cuz I probably would’ve never made it inside the store, and West Pasco would be smoldering in the aftermath I’m sure. I settled for just taking pictures. Here are a few of them…..

 

Anyway, so I made it before they closed and went directly to the painting section. I asked that girl working back there, how to clean up oil paints. She pointed me in the directions of the bottles……of TURPENTINE. WHAT? Really?  Like, that’s my only option? Clean up one hazardous chemical with another hazardous chemical?

(As I’m typing this, it’s crossing my mind that perhaps my place of employment has instilled some deep-rooted chemical “hazard” awareness in me that I never knew existed, until now, oh, and during safety audits of course ;)).

So I’m looking at the bottles, reading the back labels…..don’t smell it, don’t ingest it, don’t let it touch your skin (good thing I didn’t already have some on hand, I would have most likely used it to clean my hands too!), don’t inhale it, blah blah blah….OMG. All I want to do is clean some freaking paint brushes, and my sink! I closely look at all the bottles on the shelf….hoping there is something else…..and oh! Hey look! There’s Pink Soap! Right next to the turpentine bottles. I resisted the urge to grab every little bottle of that worthless pink crap and chuck them down the aisle because they do NOTHING on oil paints and should be nowhere NEAR them in the store. Some poor bastard is going to buy it thinking he can clean something with it.

Anyway, it’s looking like I’m going to have to buy this toxic chemical to clean up with. Now, do I want odorless, or not? Well, considering the vapors from it can damage your lungs, central nervous system and respiratory system when inhaled, and can cause renal failure when ingested, among other things, I’m thinking it’s a pretty good idea to be able to SMELL if I am inhaling it or not, you know, BEFORE it kills me. I got the regular stuff. Oh, and did I mention it’s also combustible? I’m beginning to think a hazmat certification might be needed prior to taking up oil painting.

I get home with my toxic chemical, and head to the bathroom. Should I do this in the bathroom?  There’s a fan in there. Nope, better do it OUTSIDE. I’m not taking any chances! Then, I wonder….hmmmm….what am I going to put this stuff in to clean the brushes? And how am I going to dispose of it after I do?  It’s a toxic combustible chemical, so I can’t pour it down the drain (sewer explosion scenario flashes through my mind again). Won’t it eat through plastic? Soooo many questions…… Then, I spot a mason jar. Perfect, I’ll use that! I open the garage door and go outside to do the cleaning.  Wow does that work well. Cleaned those brushes right up – with just a small amount. When I was done, I didn’t know what else to do with it, so I poured it out in a patch of gravel beside the driveway. I am sure I have just violated some hazardous waste law, and have killed any living organism or microorganism in the soil, but hey, I’ve also ensured that absolutely NO weeds will pop up through that spot in the gravel this summer, so that’s a bonus.

I left my cleaned brushes, mason jar, and hazardous bottle of combustible chemical outside for the night.  Don’t want that stuff wafting around the house killing my central nervous and respiratory systems when I’m not looking. 😉  

I think I will do a little reading on painting with oils (which, I probably should have done a little earlier), before I continue to dabble in it further. I know it won’t be the last time I use them. But I MIGHT want to be a bit more prepared…..Lol…..

Catching

Growing up around the water, naturally, I learned to love fishing.  Something I think I inherited from my Dad.  Being the good ole Norwegian that he is, my Dad was an avid fisherman. Here he is….

When I was little, living in Astoria Oregon, which is on the mouth of the Columbia River, my dad would wake my brother and I up before the sun came up, and drag us out on the boat with him to fish for Tuna, and Sturgeon. I slept (on the boat) through most of the actual “fishing” part, but remember pretty vividly the commotion afterwards when we would take the day’s catch back to the house, and lay them all out on the front lawn in size order and take pictures, most of the time with myself or my brother in the picture for size reference, haha.   If you aren’t familiar with sturgeon, they are HUGE.  They are the largest freshwater fish in North America. They can grow up to 20 feet long. Yeah. Like I said…HUGE.  Not sure what the longest one my dad ever caught was, but when you’re 5 years old, they all look about 20 feet long! They’re kind of prehistoric looking with the spiny barb things (ultra-technical term) along their backs. Here is a photo I took of one in the tank at Cabelas.

Strange looking as they are, they make for really good eats! Because my dad was such an avid fisherman, my step-mom, Lulu, had to get really creative with the catch. If you’ve ever seen Forest Gump (who hasn’t?), think of Bubba Gump and his Bubba Gump Shrimp Co…..shramp (that’s “shrimp” with a “southern accent”) gumbo, shramp soup, deep-fried shramp, pan-fried shramp, shramp kabobs, shramp creole, shramp cakes….and so on. It was the same thing for us, with sturgeon.  So, Lulu prepared for us, with copious amounts of love, sturgeon balls (and no, these are not little tiny fish testicles, they were similar to a crab cakes, only in more of a ball shape), pan-fried sturgeon, baked sturgeon, smoked sturgeon, sturgeon steaks, and I can’t remember what else. I do remember that sturgeon balls froze well, so we had them A LOT. Oh yeah, and did I mention that my dad, the avid Norwegian fisherman…..um…..doesn’t like to eat fish?  I don’t know what he ate while the rest of us were eating sturgeon this or sturgeon that, but if I was Lulu, I would have been cramming sturgeon down his throat whether he liked it or not.

Let’s think about this for a minute…..My dad has been fishing all of my life. Tuna, Sturgeon, Salmon, Halibut, Crab, and I’m sure many others, but those were the biggies. Yet he doesn’t like to EAT….ANY of them.  He is a stickler for only having the freshest brightest salmon to smoke, and then he gives it away.  He is the one who opened my eyes (as an adult, cuz I really didn’t give a rip when I was a kid), to the difference between fresh home canned tuna, and the crap you buy in the grocery store. It’s A-MA-ZING. It’s like you’re eating two different things completely….yet HE….doesn’t eat either.  Makes no sense.  We would make smoked salmon dip from some of his fresh smoked yumminess, and then he’d send the whole tub home with me. Not that I’m complaining, cuz…DUH!! I got a whole tub of fresh smoked salmon dip! But wow, giving up gold like that…is just, well, wow. But who am I to question. I can just consider my Dad the “Angel Fisherman” put on this earth to make sure (other) people eat GOOD FISH.  It’s his gift to the world. 🙂

So I grew up loving fish, and learned to fish with a regular rod and reel when I was young. I didn’t really get the “itch” to seriously fish till I was in highschool. I asked my dad to teach me how to fly fish after he moved to Bend, Oregon. I would love to say I learned to fly fish on the Deschutes River, but nope. I learned to fly fish in the yard.  Casting took practice.  So dad had me practice practice practice on land….wide open land, so that I didn’t hook all the trees or bushes. Fly fishing adds a little more “activity” to fishing for me.  I like the movement, of it. I do like to fish with a regular rod and real also, but I sometimes get bored just sitting….waiting.  I can say, that the first river I fished on with my fly pole was the Deschutes.  Dad and I fished together.  It was pretty cool. No, I didn’t catch anything.

Unfortunately, I do more “fishing” than “catching” with my fly pole.  It’s another great lesson in patience for me. 😉  I have made a couple of catches with my fly pole over the years. I didn’t catch my first one till I was in my 20’s. It was caught in the Deschutes River, and as luck would have it, it was caught on camera, so I can’t even tell a tall tale about how HUGE it was.  But really, even though it was the size of a sardine, I was SO excited.  I’m almost too embarrassed to show you my very first catch………almost……………look closely and you’ll see it….. (please don’t fall out of your chair laughing)

 A couple of years later, a friend of the family who had a place on the Canal across the road from ours, John Normand, told me about some beaver ponds up in the hills near Hood Canal that he frequently fished.  Told me I had a much better chance of actually “catching” something there.  I was IN! And he was right!  I know it’s not huge, but remember, this is fly fishing, which is twelve times harder than regular fishing (at least that’s what I’m telling myself!) Here is a Brown Trout I caught there

Here are a couple Pink Salmon that I caught with a regular rod and reel, on the Skykomish River in Snohomish County

My daughter has also learned to love fish. She is more interested in observing and interacting with them, than she is holding a pole with line that disappears into nothingness, and then having to wait. I’m sure her patience will increase with age. Last summer, she was fishing off of the dock at the Canal and I had to laugh at this conversation we had…..

Emma: “Mom, why aren’t they (fish) biting?”

Me: “maybe they’re just not hungry right now”

Emma: “well I’m not trying to FEED them, I’m trying to CATCH them.”

My response was just laughter. Oooh, right, right. Sorry, my bad. 

Here she is the first time she fished off the dock at the Canal. I don’t think she believed me that there were fish down there, because she couldn’t SEE them (like in her fish tank)……

Here is a photo after a successful day of crabbing also…..

 

Self-Confidence

I am always looking for good advice…..and I ran across an article on line about building self-confidence.  It boiled it down to 10 ways to instantly build self-confidence. It’s a good read. I won’t go too deeply into each one, (the link to the full article is at the bottom of this post), but I really to point out the four that stood out to me (highlighted in pink). I have personally made a conscious effort to do these things DAILY…..they Really, REALLY WORK. It’s nice to see them pointed out in this article.

Here they are from the top….

  1. Dress Sharp – I have heard this many times. Sometimes I do, sometimes I dont. Are flip flops considered “sharp”? 😉
  2. Walk Faster – Never heard this one before. If this is true, my mom should be the most self-confident person on the PLANET. She is a FAST walker. Whether in the grocery store, mall, parking lot…..wherever. If you are going shopping with her, wear your “fast” shoes, and don’t feel bad when she eventually leaves you behind and doesn’t even know she’s done it. It’s normal.
  3. Good Posture – Never heard this one either, although I know it’s good for your “core” muscles.  I need to pay more attention to this one.
  4. Personal Commercial – This sounds a little crazy to me.  
  5. Gratitude – DING DING DING DING!!!! WINNER WINNER WINNER! 
  6. Compliment other people – DING DING DING DING!! Another WINNER WINNER WINNER!
  7. Sit in the front row – I guess this makes sense…..but I have always been a back of the room kinda gal. I feel too awkward with everyone’s beady eyes staring at me from behind. And yeah, I am pretty positive that EVERYONE is there SOLELY to look at MY BACK, never mind the important speaker or event happening at the front of the room. 
  8. Speak up – I agree with this one. Over the past 10 years or so, I have learned to do this out of necessity. But I have to disagree with the statement that most people are dealing with this same fear. Not the people I encounter in meetings at work. I am lucky to get a word in edgewise most of the time. I suppose it could be being in a room full of extroverts….with ONE introvert (me) who does the best she can to pretend to be an extrovert.  😉
  9. Work out – YES YES YES! There is nothing more empowering than being in control of your health, and watching your body transform itself from working out on a regular basis.  YOU are making that change and it’s pretty amazing!  We all know that exercise releases endorphins, but it’s also been known to do many other things from treating depression to increasing your memory!
  10. Focus on contribution – YES! I have learned this through personal experience (long before stumbling across this article). It’s SO TRUE. If you don’t want to click the link below to read it yourself, I at least want you to hear all of this one.  So here it is…..

“Too often we get caught up in our own desires. We focus too much on ourselves and not enough on the needs of others.” (Remember my post about stepping out of the mirror room?  This is pretty much it). “If you stop thinking about yourself, and concentrate on the contribution you’re making to the rest of the world, you won’t worry as much about your own flaws. This will increase self confidence, and allow you to contribute with maximum efficiency. The more you contribute to the world, the more you’ll be rewarded with personal success and recognition.”

Click here to see the full article.

Cancer Sucks

I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that my step-mom (a.k.a. Tutu) has brain cancer.  Here she is a couple of years ago when we were in SunRiver, Oregon…..Oh yea, and She’s a tree hugger….literally. 😉

Before I continue…….a couple of FYI’s: First, we call her Tutu, because that’s what my daughter, and all of her cousins have always known her as. It means Grandma in Hawaiian, and she’s Hawaiian. (Besides, its fun to say, isn’t it?  What girl doesn’t like Tutu’s?  Whether you’re talking about Grandma’s, or a poufy, girly ballet tutu.) Second, the type of cancer she has is called Glioblastoma, which unfortunately, is the most aggressive type of brain tumor there is. 😦

Her cancer journey (I say “her” but it’s also “ours”, because it has affected all of us, and we have been with her every step of the way) started in October of 2010.  She was diagnosed, and then went to Seattle to have the tumor removed. After surgery her ability to “connect” words and thoughts was affected the most.  They had a therapist visit her every day during recovery to assess her progress.  One of the days I visited her in the hospital, I was able to be there during the session with the therapist, along with her other two daughters Malia and Kristi.  The therapist laid down 5 objects on the tray in front of her.  Simple things, like a spoon, a cup, a pencil, etc. Tutu was supposed to say what the name of the object was, and then describe what you do with it.  She was able to mentally make the “connections”, but was unable to verbalize them.  One of the things I have always loved about Tutu is her sense of humor, and sarcasm, and a brain tumor wasn’t even able to take those away from her. It wasn’t long into the session before the four of us were in hysterics (Tutu included) at this little “quiz” she was trying to take, and failing miserably. I have a feeling, by the sober look the therapist had the entire time, that she either thought we were horribly mean people for laughing at (actually with) this poor woman with BRAIN CANCER, or she thought we were all just crazy. Either way, she clearly didn’t see the same humor in it that we all did. Crazy or not, I know that all four of us had the same mindset, that if we didn’t laugh, we would be crying.  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather laugh than cry, and besides, it’s better for your health!

The months following her surgery were hard for all of us.  Glioblastoma has a 4% survival rate.  We (and the doctors) really have no clue how long she has. She started chemo and radiation right away. That seemed to keep the tumor from returning, and kept new ones from growing for a while. Her ability to verbalize her thoughts has remained sketchy ever since her surgery, so it keeps us all laughing during conversations with her.  And amazingly, she has not been the least bit frustrated with it.  Her college degree is in phycology, and she worked in the mental health field up until her diagnosis.  I thought for sure that would be really hard for her…not being able to speak your thoughts. She has handled it well, and as usual, with humor. It’s like an on-going game of charades.  “Sounds like….”, “two syllables….”, “it’s something that you…….”. She can talk her way all around the word, describing it, but just can’t come up with the word itself. It can be pretty funny at times. 🙂 So who knows, maybe all of the laughter over this span of time had helped to keep the tumors at bay.     

Just before Christmas 2011, they found a “spot” on one of her routine MRI’s.  After Christmas, they determined that the cancer was growing again, and this time, very aggressively.  There were some more intense treatments that they could try but it’s tricky when you’re dealing with the brain, but Tutu opted not to go through that.  She decided that her quality of life in her remaining time here was more important than prolonging it. So right after the first of the year, she told us her decision to discontinue treatments, stop taking her medications, and call hospice to prepare for the inevitable. 😦   This was not fun to hear. I know I have mentioned this in prior posts, but I feel selfish for being so saddened by her decision, when it really is just THAT….HER decision.  She is at peace with it and it’s what she WANTS. Sometimes it’s easier just to bury your head in the sand, and “duck out” of the situation…..in attempt to make the pain lessen, or go away, and to be honest, that was my first instinct.  But my love for her turned me right around, and forced me to accept the situation head on and remain engaged.  Since her decision was made, we have talked several times. I continue to be more amazed by her strength and compassion every time. She was the one consoling ME after my break-up in January. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be surprising. She has always been the one I go to for advice. She and I are alike, in that we are both pretty analytical people. We dissect. It’s how we process. So advice from an analytical, TO an analytical, is very helpful.  She was the one who helped me emotionally through my divorce/relationships, and has always reminded me of the good that exists in me, no matter what is happening to me “externally”. That I am who I am, and not to let others define ME. I owe her so much gratitude for her hand in getting me to where I am today……and that is to be who I am, and deciding to “Choose Joy” each day as well. Losing her is going to be tough. Very tough.

What prompted me to write this post, was having an awesome conversation with her last night.  And guess WHAT?  I made it through the entire convo without crying once. Every time I talk to her, I tell myself…..Kelly, DO NOT CRY. That is NOT what she wants….pppffttt yeah….that never worked. I did it anyway. She just sounds so normal and “herself” on the phone (except for the charades thing) you would never know she has anything wrong with her. Her laugh is the same, her voice is the same, and her humor/sarcasm is still there, everything. It’s hard to actually believe that the person I am talking to, will not be around soon. The only way I can describe it, is it kind of feels like talking to a ghost. But she is still here, so I want to open myself up and soak up every bit of her while I can, so I hang on every word she has to say, and every laugh.

This picture was taken after her diagnosis, and is a pretty accurate portrait of her attitude these days……

Last night we were talking about things going on in my life, some things that she too had been through earlier in her own life, and she reminded me just to keep them in perspective. She had been through them, and came out the other side a better stronger person. While they weigh so heavily on me right now, they will pass, and become distant memories. I look forward to that day, but I also am looking forward to making every day in between then and now as AWESOME and as POSITIVE as I can. 🙂

Butterflies, Science, and Seagulls in Seattle. Oh my!

A cousin of mine that I haven’t seen in probably 15 years, who now lives in Michigan (but originally from the Seattle area, like me), flew out to visit family in the Pacific Northwest for spring break, with her 7yr old daughter Kaitlyn. I HAD to take this opportunity to see Michelle, and wanted Emma to meet her second cousin.

So, from the Canal (where we “stayed” for the weekend), we headed to the Bremerton ferry dock to ride over to Seattle.  We parked on the Bremerton side (for only $5 bucks for all day!), and walked on (more on this parking adventure later in this post).  Here is Emma at the fountain and sculpture park they have by the ferry terminal.

And climbing…

Emma has been on a ferry several times before, but the first few times she was less than a year old, and the rest of the time has been sitting in the car on the car deck below.  This time she got to take FULL advantage of being “topside”.  Personally, I didn’t think she was going to like the wind out on the front deck……WRONG.  She stood out there in it THE ENTIRE WAY.  She would take a huge gulp of air, then turn around and point her nose up into the wind. She looked at me and said “I can breathe in it (the wind), I just can’t talk in it!” Haha.  I snapped a few pictures, then huddled behind the shelter to shiver, then popped out to snap a few more, etc.  Here she is enjoying it……

 

 

We docked in Seattle, and my Cousin Michelle, her Mom Marilyn, Kaitlyn, my Uncle Rick were waiting for us on the other side. Emma and Kaitlyn met and pretty much instantly got along like they already knew each other. 

Arent they cute?….

I was so glad to see that, but of course, Emma being an only child, she CRAVES other kids.  She will walk up to ANY child, and just say “Hi”. So many times we have been sitting in a restaurant and a family will sit down next to us and she will start looking over at the kids, then back at me, then she’ll ask “Mom, can I go meet them?”.  I hate telling her no, but jeeeeez, they are having dinner with their family, and while YOU are not shy, some kids might think your nutso just going up to them like that (not to mention interrupting dinner).  It makes me feel bad sometimes that she is only child.  I had always planned on having more than one, but then I got divorced, and well, that just was not in the cards, I guess.  But hey, maybe someday she will have step brothers or sisters. Ok….sorry, that was a major side track!  Back to our day…..

First we hit the food court at the Seattle Center to get the animals (kids) fed.  I have not been in the Seattle Center since probably middle school.  Michelle and I were both amazed at how much smaller it seemed now.  And not as many cool places to eat, although, cool at 38 and cool at 14 probably differ greatly.  🙂  This may shock you, but Emma and I ended up eating pizza.

Next up, Pacific Science Center. Uncle Rick ended up surprising us by paying for us ALL to get in.  Thanks Uncle Rick!! There were SO many cool things to see there!  If you have kids and haven’t taken them yet, DO IT!  

Parents Warning: those sneaky people placed the gift shop right inside the front doors.  We had to create a quick diversion accompanied by the promise that “we’ll stop at the gift shop on the way OUT”. We spent some time checking out the bodily functions area, bones, balance, etc. I touched a sheep brain….EEWW. It was soft, and strange.  Emma wouldn’t touch it.  She’s such a chicken!  Lol. Then it was off to the planetarium.  Lot’s of cool stuff in there.  A HUGE rubix cube.  That was way more exciting for the adults (a.k.a. children of the 80’s) than it was for Kaitlyn and Emma though, considering they didn’t have a clue what it was.

 

There was also a tide pool for investigating sea creatures. Em actually TOUCHED them. When I took her to the Seattle Aquarium a couple of years ago, she wouldn’t touch anything. They even had a little hermit crab habitat at the tide pool, that contained my worst nightmare…….a NAKED hermit crab, without it’s shell.  Gross. Then it was on to the snakes, reptiles, naked mole rats, which are actually cuter than a naked hermit crab.  No joke. Really. 😉

The next stop was the highlight (for me anyway) of the visit.  The Tropical Butterfly Exhibit.  I had been in it a loooooong time ago, when it was still part of the Woodland Park Zoo, but it has since moved to the Science Center. They import 500 butterflies a week for the exhibit (raised responsibly in sustainable rainforest farms). You walk in and there are literally hundreds of butterflies everywhere you look.  Sometimes they land on people, which is very cool.  Now I know that they like bright colors like orange, pink, and red.  If you go, where a shirt that color and you’ll increase your chances of a landing.  I was wearing dark blue, darn it.  Luckily, part of the Otterbox I have on my iPhone is pink, and a large butterfly landed on it!  Wooohoooo!  I happened to have my digital camera in my other hand (I was a double fisted shooter in there), and despite being totally retarded at doing anything left-handed, I was able to snap this shot….

Here are a couple others I took….

Oh!  Anddddd, here is one of THE RAREST and MOST beautiful of ALL the butterflies…. 😉

Had it not been for the fact that it was about a zillion degrees in there with 80% humidity, I could have spent all day in there playing with the butterflies.  They are SO beautiful and amazing.

After that, we headed back down to the waterfront, and stopped to have some grub at my favorite fast-seafood restaurant in Seattle, Ivar’s.  Baby Prawns n Chips for me every time I go, and a cup of their famous white chowder.  Ahhhh it’s hard to beat Ivar’s. 

I think Kaitlyn and Emma had more fun on the pier feeding and talking to the seagulls than they did anywhere else that day.  Left up to them, we would have fed the seagulls every morsel of food we bought! 

After feeding every seagull in Elliott Bay, Emma and I hopped back on the ferry back to Bremerton. More freezing to death in the wind. Well, Emma was, I was shivering behind the shelter watching HER freeze to death in the wind. 

This brings me back to the parking topic.  I was excited to see it was only $5 for parking in the garage near the terminal on the Bremerton side.  That’s cheap!! Especially since it’s $25 for parking at the Seattle Center. Upon arrival back in Bremerton, we walked off the ferry, stopped by Starbucks for a coffee and a hot chocolate (for Emma) and walked over to the parking garage. As I was getting closer to my car, I noticed an envelope on my windshield. What could that be I wondered…..I know I paid for parking before I left. I opened it, to see a parking fine…..WHAT? (Grrrrr).  Apparently, I read the tiny sign wrong on the pay box. It was $5.50 (even though there was a LARGE red lettered “Parking $5” sign out on the street in front of the garage). I guess they ment “AROUND” $5…..not actually $5. Guess how much the fine is?  $30!!!  Yes…..I have been assessed a THIRTY DOLLAR fine, for FIFTY CENTS. Really? This sounds like a TRAP to me. The sign outside says $5, and the paybox itself says $5.50! I had steam billowing out of my ears.  I tried calling, and of course no one answers, you have to leave a message, which I did, and big surprise, no one has returned my call. I was so mad I didn’t even think to take photos of the “trap” to plead my case. I take photo’s of everything else under the sun, jeeeeez, how could I not think to do that (again, Grrrrr).

Click here to see more pictures of this trip in the photo gallery….

Spread the Shine

I heard about The Shine Project, through another blog (lilblueboo), and really liked the idea of spreading “shine” which encourages us all to pay it forward.  I’ve taken the opportunity to purchase a stranger’s coffee behind me in the drive thru at the coffee shop a time or two, and also have been the recipient of the same act of kindness. I took those opportunities to pay it forward, by purchasing the persons drink behind me.  It’s a win-win.  I feel so much gratitude for the stranger that purchased mine, and I get the joy of helping someone out by doing the same. While I can’t speak for the person behind me, I know that no matter how hurried, troubled, or whatever, my morning may have been going, in that instant, that all melts away.  It REALLY does! The thought that someone is nice enough to do that for a total stranger, is awesome.  It helps you to take a step back, step out of the “mirror room”, and remember that life is bigger than what is happening TO JUST YOU.  Think of OTHERS.

For someone with low self-esteem (me), it’s hard not to be overly critical of myself. I am discovering that the more I focus on OTHERS, and doing kind things FOR others, the less energy I have to spend criticizing myself.  For lack of a better word, it’s “cleansing”. As each day passes, it becomes easier and easier for me to Choose Joy in my daily life.  I suppose that lends to the saying that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Maybe it’s becoming a habit.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?  I do have those moments during the day when I get to thinking about the things that cause me or people I care about pain, and wonder why they are happening, or have happened.  The difference is, I’m not consumed by it and I’m learning to look at those things from different angles.

The Shine Project has many different ways of helping people. (You can also read more about it yourself here).  One of them, is the “Pass it forward cards”. The idea being, that I purchase (which I did – they are really inexpensive) some cards (below) from the project then, I go out into the world (well, my community anyway), and do random acts of kindness for others.  When I do, I give that person the “Pass it forward” card (but first make a note of the number that was on the card).  The card explains the project to them, and encourages them to then go out and do the same thing for someone else. Then, I go back to the website, find the card number, and log my random act of kindness (what I did and where). The idea being that the person I give it too, will do the same with that very card. 

The first card I gave out, was at the drive thru coffee stand one morning.  It was easy…I just paid for the persons coffee in line behind me, and gave the card to the Barista to hand to them with their drink.  The second one was to my daughters teacher when I gave her a gift Emma and I had made her, but this was a little different, and as I started to explain it to her, I started to feel a little like a salesman. Kind of like saying “Here I did something nice for you, now go do something nice for someone else….and then record it, and do it NOW!”  She had kind of a glazed-over look on her face, which was a pretty good indicator I was going in one ear and out the other.  That’s when I decided I wasn’t sure about this card idea.  I think it’s a fun idea, and it would be awesome to be able to “spread the shine” and actually “watch” it spread, but it just felt weird to me. 

I am absolutely going to continue to do random acts of kindness whenever I can, but I’m leaving it up to fate as to whether that person pays it forward, or not.

If you have never done it, give it a try. Think of how it could change someone’s outlook on the day, and perhaps even on life in general, given to the right person in the right circumstance.  In the words of Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”.  🙂