Saturday, May 31, 2014

Scenes from (around) the bird feeder

My favorite bird in Oregon (besides the hummers)

Steller’s Jay—isn’t he gorgeous?!?


I read something online about it being important not to feed the squirrels.  Apparently they didn’t get the same message.


And last, I’m thinking these are immature blue jays?


(ok that last picture was complete and total luck.)

And this concludes today’s tour of the bird feeder and it’s environs.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

No Expectations


I was driving on Latta one day, early in our life in North Carolina.  I was listening to talk radio as I often did in the days before my kids got old enough to notice what was being talked about.  The psychologist said, and I have remembered forever,

Expectations are the death of serenity.

I had NO idea what she meant.  How could you live without expectations, I wondered???

In the intervening years I’ve thought about this and thought about it and thought about it.  Sometime in the last 10 years I finally began to see the truth of the matter—that expectations kept me from being able to appreciate what was, and set me up to experience frustration because of things I had no control over.

One time I was involved in an activity with a group of women, some of whom I knew well and some of whom I didn’t know very well.  One of the women that I didn’t know well wasn’t able to stay for all of our activity.  Because I really didn’t know her I wasn’t that invested in her participation and felt neutral about her leaving.  I watched one of the women I did know be very upset with this other woman, just because she had the expectation that she would be able to participate fully.  It was interesting to me to observe that the same situation (one woman’s lack of full participation) really bugged someone else and yet didn’t bother me at all—all because of our expectations.

There are several situations in my life that teach me this principle on a regular basis.  In one situation I am usually able to function without expectations.  As long as I do, the relationships involved are fine and I am happy.  As soon as I let even the smallest expectation creep in, I’m almost blindsided by my irritation and frustration.  In another relationship I’ve had a much harder time letting go of long standing expectations, and this situation is usually a stressful one for me.  In the moments where I do manage to let go of my expectations I am able to enjoy the relationship without all of the negative feelings.

These days I’m trying to move forward without expectations, and I’m praying to be able to let go of the expectations I already have.  Because heaven knows, I could use some serenity.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sick Day

Frequently (I’d probably be embarrassed to know just how often) when I am involved in the crush of day to day activities and to-do lists a thought inches forward from the back corner of my mind,

It sure would be nice to have a sick day…

And then I tell myself not to be stupid and how glad I am that I am almost never sick and to get back to work.

Last night we finished dinner and sat down on the couch and I thought “I am exhausted.  Wiped out.”  I could tell it wasn’t a normal night when I decided that I was really going to go to bed before 9.  By then I could also tell I was aching more than my usual amount, and that my normally helpful stretches weren’t making any difference.  Typically the medicine I take before bed (that helps with muscle pain) is plenty to help me sleep well, but last night just to be sure I took 1/2 of a sleeping pill as well.  Turns out my fears were well-founded—I spent the night shifting restlessly and finally gave up and slept the last half of the night in my comfy recliner.  By the time morning came I was sure of it:

I was sick.

I am reminded again today of the things I always remember when I’m sick:

  • this is no fun
  • this is no vacation
  • this is uncomfortable
  • I’d rather be healthy and working.

I don’t feel too bad right now, but that’s after 3 ibuprofen (an unheard of number for me) and a long hot bath.  I have hardly done a thing all day and already I’m restless and bored and wanting my regular life back.

I figured at the least I could sit here with the computer and work on some easy tasks.  Maybe the words will even start flowing and I’ll get a little batch blogging done, who knows.  But one thing is for sure—I’m hoping that tomorrow morning the regular me is back!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fits & Spurts

For the last 6 months I find myself blogging in what I would call “fits & spurts.”  [Or would I would have called fits and spurts before I googled it and found out that another term for intermittent is actually “fits & starts.”  Really???]

Anyway, intermittent blogging.  It’s not really what I want to do.  I want to be recording my life as I hum along.  I want to be recording my thoughts (profound or random, either one) as I have them.

And yet it is SO HARD to accomplish that.  Hard because it’s not just a matter of finding some time in my day, but also a matter of finding the right kind of time.  You know, the non brain dead kind of time.  The kind where words will actually come out of my brain and onto my screen through my fingers.  Coherent, meaningful words.  And some days that kind of time is in very short supply…

I’ve been trying to do some “batch” blogging, taking advantage of the moments where I do have time and words and planning several posts at once.  I have to keep reminding myself that in the end, it is what it is.  And since it’s all just for me anyway, that will have to be ok.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

It’s Ba-ack!

Remember our fight against the invasive bamboo last year?  Well it appears to be almost that time again.  Here is a picture I just took from the driveway.

DSC_3913 e

1=little shoots of bamboo that have been around for some time now.

2=a stalk of bamboo that showed up a few days ago.

3=a stalk of bamboo that just showed up yesterday morning.

This year my strategy is going to be slightly different.  I’m going to go back to the bamboo place and buy some bamboo barrier.  You have to dig a hole that is 2 feet deep, line it with this barrier, then refill it with dirt.  Then I’m going to try to dig up the rhizomes that have produced these new shoots and transplant them to the spot in my backyard where I want a big bamboo screen.  Will it work?  Who knows, but it’s definitely worth a try.  And maybe I need a little bamboo barrier by my driveway too!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day to me

So—in addition to getting to take an awesome trip that included Mother’s Day (because otherwise I would have run into Memorial Day weekend) and in addition to the lovely roses & chocolates that Brian brought for me as well as for Lindsay, there was a mother’s day surprise waiting for me here at home.  I was really curious when Russ started talking about it, because he mentioned that they had worked on it both Saturdays and I just couldn’t figure out what it could be.




I don’t have a picture from before to show you how bad the garage had been, but let’s just say this was probably hours & hours of work to get it to this point.  What a terrific mother’s day surprise!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Part 4: Operation survive the Portland winter (the Facebook edition)

May 10: I am sitting by myself in the Kansas City airport--a long layover on my way to Miami and then Durham. (My family is giving me the awesome mother's day present of surviving without me for a while!) I had the feeling that I should have been annoyed when I realized how long my layover was, but I just figured it out. I am sitting here. Sitting. Computer in my lap. And not a responsibility in the world...other than get on the plane in 2 hours. Nice....
feeling relaxed.

May 12: I have been in the ocean. Pure bliss....
feeling wonderful with Lindsay Dodge Alder.


May 13: It seems clear that my experiment in self applied spray on sunscreen was a fail. A really blotchy fail...

May 14: You know when you really love something, and you're away from it for a very long time, and you're not sure it will be as great as you remember??
Silly, silly me....


May 15: Goodbye dazzling ocean.


May 15:  Irony: when you plan a trip to North Carolina to escape the long gray Oregon winter and it's raining buckets in North Carolina but perfect sunny weather in Oregon.


May 16: Something I do NOT miss from North Carolina. And something I do miss. (They smelled divine!)


May 17: New view. (same ocean.)


May 17: Sunset...


May 18: Church in Shallotte.


May 19: I'm getting one of these for all of my friends... Winking smile


May 19: Tomorrow I fly back home. I am so ready to see my family, but I am going back with my soul rejuvenated by my time with the ocean and my heart filled by the time spent with my friends.


May 20: In the airport waiting to board my flight back to Oregon after one last lunch with these lovely ladies. What a happy happy happy trip!


Friday, May 16, 2014


“Please don’t tell anyone,” she said.
“Of course I won’t,” I assured her.

And I didn’t.  And haven’t.  And won’t.


Sometimes I feel like my brain is a repository.  A repository of confidences entrusted to me by so many people in my life. 

I never saw this coming.  It was not something I experienced before being an adult.  It was not even something I experienced in the first part of adulthood.  But at some point people started confiding in me.

When it began to happen I wondered if I might feel burdened by it.  Instead I feel honored.  Honored that they would share part of themselves with me.  Honored that they would trust me to be careful with their secrets.  Honored that they would trust me not to judge.

I always want to just hug her, whoever she is, and say, “don’t worry…your secret is safe with me.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The pictures I continually forget to take

I’m really good at taking some kinds of pictures.  I’m good, for instance, at taking out my camera to try to capture a beautiful light on the water.  I’m good at taking a picture of the lovely flower that’s blooming or the strange tree near my house.  I have a good visual record of my life that way. 

What frustrates me are the pictures that I forget—the pictures with people.  Part of it is the the cumbersomeness of it.  I’m a lousy selfie taker (unless I’m trying for an unflattering picture) and so to have a picture with a friend means we need to find someone else to take it.  But even more than that I’m generally having such fun with whoever I’m with that I completely forget to get a picture of us together.

And then I leave my lunch date, or my visit with your family, or my trip to your daughter’s wedding reception and I have no picture.  It’s not that I can’t survive without these pictures, because I can.  It’s just that I want a visual reminder of the great time we’ve had together.  A picture of the two of us that reminds me how lucky I am to have so much love in my life.  Something that will make me smile and remember every time I see it.

I’m going to try harder, I really am.  And hopefully, next time, in addition to the picture of the rose/beach/waterfall/bird I’ll also have a picture of you and me. Together.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Overheard at the dinner table


  (I’m sure you can tell this is not a picture from the dinner table!)


Me: Rachel, you should eat some honey every day and see if it will help your allergies.

Rachel: Yuck!  I hate honey!  I would rather eat sour cream than honey!  I would rather eat brussels sprouts than eat honey.  In fact, I would eat brussels sprouts in a BOWL of sour cream!

Russ (completely deadpan): I’d pay a dollar to see that…


Rachel: Can you believe that in 4 months we can go to dances?

Me (truly startled by this piece of news): NO!  Russ, this cannot be!  We must stop it!

Jenna:  I know, right?!?  We totally need to stop it—I don’t want to go!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Coming to terms with myself: miscellany

There are plenty of other things that I’m trying to come to terms with myself about.  Don’t get me wrong—I’m trying to be careful that I work towards changing the things that I can and should try to change.  But some things have been with me for so long that I am sort of (or all the way) giving up hope:

I do NOT follow schedules well.  Though I’ve been listening to a book on CD called The Power of Less that gives me hope that I may partially be able to overcome this.  Only partially, though, and only if I am absolutely firm with myself.  And I mean absolutely.

In a similar vein, I’m very disorganized.  Almost spectacularly.  I am redeemed from being flat out spectacularly disorganized by random pockets of organization in my life.  Such as my tupperware drawer, which is a (surprising) model of organization.  And my digital picture files also.  Hopefully the Power of Less can help me with this as well, though I will have to stay home for more than a week or two at a time in order for that to happen.

Speaking of staying home:  I like to travel.  I really like it.  I’d rather spend my money on a fun (mostly cheap) trip somewhere than on a thing, I’ve come to realize.  I’ve already done a nice bit of travelling as part of my 2014 plan to combat seasonal depression.  It’s working, and I’ve still got great trips ahead!

I need lots of sleep.  Lots.  And lots.  And then some more.  I blame my parents for this.  This is what happens when a person with high sleep needs marries another person with high sleep needs.  It’s like high sleep needs squared.

I am super sensitive.  And I really hate that about myself.  I heard someone say once that they were never offended by anything.  I was so envious.  I eventually decided that there is an upside to the downside of my sensitivity, and that is that I am generally sensitive of other people’s feelings as well.  (No, please don’t email me all at once to tell me if I’ve not been sensitive about your feelings.  Because it will hurt my feelings.)

I eat slow.  And I mean SLOW.  Like I can have been eating for 5 minutes before Russ gets to the table, and I will still be eating for 15 minutes after he’s done.  (He eats remarkably fast.  But I’m not going to talk about that, because this is about me, and not him.)  I appreciate all of the people over my lifetime who have been held captive by my slow eating.  I appreciate them hanging out and sticking around and talking to me while I chew.  Seriously.

I’m a navel gazer.  There.  I’ve admitted it.  Not literally, of course.  (Although from time to time my belly button does get irritated and then requires some literal gazing, which is always really awkward.)  I’m more of a metaphorical naval gazer.  I’m intrigued by what’s going on inside of my head and why, and I’m just as interested in what’s going on in your head too.  So let’s talk.  About our navels. 

I’m bad at change.  Really bad.  Super bad.  Spectacularly bad, as it were.  Especially in cases when I’ve convinced myself that change would never occur, and yet it did.  I mourn what is lost and work on it and mourn and work on it some more.  And yet the fact remains.  I am BAD at change.


S0 there you have it.  A lovely listing of some of the things I love to hate about myself.  That I am working on coming to terms with.  I’m sure that given 2 or 3 minutes I’ll think of a couple more.  In fact in the time it took to press “publish” and wait for the browser to open a new window showing this post, I thought of another one two three.   Here’s to learning to accept myself for who I really am, (sleepy) warts and all!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Coming to terms with myself: talking to strangers

Here’s something else that I’ve thought about a lot.

I have a chronic habit of talking to people.  I probably never thought much about it until one of my children (he who shall not be named) started expressing annoyance that when we were out together I invariably struck up a conversation with the people that we interacted with.  Each time he would ask me in irritation, “Do you have to talk to everyone???” 

The result was that while I didn’t necessarily talk to fewer people, I felt less comfortable doing it—without even realizing that I had let his comments affect me. 

While we were in Utah Russ & I went to a 3 day seminar.  There were probably 15 or 20 other couples in the seminar with us.  Invariably during the breaks I would end up talking to someone, even though I now have this little voice in the back of my head telling me that maybe I shouldn’t.  But gradually I began to realize that each interaction ended up being a happy moment in the day, that I left the interaction happier than I entered it, and that the other person also seemed lifted by the interaction

So do you know what?  I’m not going to fight it or even question it any more.  I’m going to accept this part of myself.  I am a person who likes people.  I am a person who is interested in people.  I am a person who enjoys talking.

One day while I was in Utah I was in Walgreens.  The man who checked me out had such an interesting accent.  After a moment of hesitation (actually after he did something really nice for me and let me change my mind about which credit card to use) I told him that I thought his accent was beautiful.  He explained that it was because English wasn’t his first language.  When I asked what language was, he said Nepalese.  So of course I had to ask him if he’d climbed Mt. Everest, and we had a nice little conversation.  I left the store smiling.

Hi.  My name is Cindy and I like talking to people.  Even people I don’t know!