Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gearing Up

It's almost time for back-to-school! my youngest will be in third grade; middle will be a fifth grader; and eldest will begin what is supposed to be his junior year as a sophomore even though he's still technically a half a credit short of finishing his freshman year. I have to say this has been a most difficult summer for me. The youngest two were home for most of the summer, fighting more than they played and although we've been very busy, we haven't done much that has constituted a vacation. I'm ready for them to go back to school. The eldest, Zack, has done his share of jail time this summer and I'm glad that he'll have something he's supposed to be focusing on. Hopefully he'll hunker down this year and try to do a good job.

For the remainder of this summer break we are doing stuff. Monday we leave to go camping for four days with two other families that are dear friends. Thursday we'll take the kids to my mom's and leave them there on Friday while James and I go on a romantic getaway to an undisclosed location. We come home Monday and the kids go back to school on Tuesday! Hooray!!

During the second week of September I have an interview for the doula program through the Mother Baby Center. I have been waiting since May for this and I am so excited. I also have a client due on September 10 and I'm praying that she doesn't go into labor a couple of weeks early.

Hope you've all had a happy summer.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Playing Tag

RULES - Post rules before giving the facts - Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves - People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules - At the end of your post you need to tag six people and list their names - Leave them a comment on their blog, telling them they have been tagged and not to forget to read yours.

Eight Random Facts About Me

1. My grandparents didn't have electricity, telephone, indoor plumbing, and the only heat they had was from the woodstove. We used an outhouse until my grandfather built a little bathroom onto the shack and installed a toilet and shower stall. I think that happened in the mid-eighties, but there still wasn't any running water. We had to carry buckets of water to flush the toilet and to take a shower, one had to take a bucket of hot water and one of cold into the shower stall and basically take a sponge bath. I think they got a phone in the late eighties or maybe even 1990. Electricity came about the same time as phone and later there was running water. The house was a shack with a tiny kitchen/dining area, a very small living room, and a sturdy, steep flight of stairs that led to the one room upstairs. I lived there for a while with my family when I was very small, and was there on many weekends and most holidays until the property was sold in 2001. Very sad day indeed.

2. I love photography. Those who have read my past posts know this. I still haven't made the switch from 35mm to digital and I doubt I ever will completely switch. I love 35mm. Currently I don't even have a digital camera although I would like to have a simple one just for the instant gratification. I would love to have one of the really nice ones but the one I want is about $2000 and I can't afford that. A while back my husband offered to buy me a nice digital ($5-600) if it would help cut back on film and developing costs. What I didn't know is that he meant I had to give up my 35mm all together. I declined. :)

Here are some newer photos I'm proud of:

Here is my wonderful hubby and dog silhouetted by a glorious August sunset on Birch Bay. As I learned from Niki, you can click on the pic and see it full-screen. Go ahead, you know you want to!

This is also an August Birch Bay sunset, taken about 3 days later.

This is the Inkwell Rhythm Makers playing at Seattle Folklife Festival. May 2007.

I took this pic at the restaurant that I work at. This guy's name is Brian, he works in the kitchen and had just gotten off work and came in for a beer. The light was hitting the bar just right so I asked him to just look at the beer and look sad like all he wants in the world is to drink that beer. I think it turned out perfect.

3. I love tending bar. For some twisted reason, I get a lot of gratification from someone telling me that I make the best Bloody Mary they've ever had. I also like the social aspect of it. You can learn a lot about a person just by serving them drinks.
4. I have a small skull collection. The current inventory includes two deer, a beaver, and a heron. I love that I'm able to name and locate certain bony prominances and specific features such as the zygomatic arch, post-orbital constriction, and the styloid process. My husband found the two deer skulls (and some vertebrae) when he was out working at a couple of different wetlands; a friend and I found the beaver on the Seattle Midwifery School campus; and my daughter found the heron during the wedding reception I posted about, which took place at our friend's 15 acre estate on the Nooksack River.
5. I'm a novel junkie. I absolutely love to read novels and I go through them very quickly. I have a list that I've read several times but I'm always looking for something new. A few titles I've read more than once:
The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
The Mists of Avalon, Lady of Avalon, and The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Clan of the Cave Bear, Valley of Horses, and Plains of Passage by Jean Auel
Roots by Alex Haley
My three new favorites that I read this summer are Moon Women by Pamela Duncan; A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini; Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.
6. I used to have road rage really bad. So bad that some of my closest friends wouldn't ride in my car. That has ebbed almost completely unless I'm in a bit of a hurry then I get frustrated by people who don't pay attention to traffic. I used to flip people off all the time and sometimes even yell out the window. The last time I had any kind of altercation in traffic was about two years ago and I wasn't the one who was the instigator. I was at a red light at an intersection where two lanes turn left. I was in the outer lane and this lady was in the inner. As we were both making a left turn, the other woman merged into my lane, almost causing an accident so I beep-beeped at her and waved. I was completely not aggressive at all, just a friendly wave to let her know I was there. She then sped up to about 40 mph in a 25 zone and flipped me off. As I approached the next red light, she was again in the inner lane and I looked over at her. She had her passenger side window down and was obviously very irate. I had a choice to make--I could ignore her and just go when the light turned green or I could roll down my window and see what she had to say. As my window came down, I was attacked by a stream of profanity that would rival my sailor grandfather. I tried to explain to her that there are two lanes that turn left and we have to be careful at that intersection and she just kept yelling at me. I kind of lost my temper and said something (I can't remember what) that really pissed her off and she said, "Don't make me get out of this car," like she was my mom and ready to pull the car over to give me a spanking. I kind of chuckled and said, "Oh please, you little bitch." Well, that did it and she jerked her e-brake and jumped out of her car. 15-20 years ago I would have jumped out of my car and scrapped her, but I had a choice to make. My husband was in the passenger seat and my 6 year old son was in the back. I could engage in this stupid fight or I could press ever so lightly on the gas and go. The light turned green and I went. All of this happened over about two minutes at a red light. Pretty bad, eh?
7. I'm a slob. No, really. You should see my house. It's perpetually messy and it's not because I have children. It's because I'm lazy. The floor hasn't been vacuumed in two weeks, the bathroom walls are gross, the toilet needs to be cleaned. Am I taking care of it? NO! I'm blogging!
8. Yo hablo un poquito espanol. I took three Spanish classes in community college and would love to become fluent. If I was immersed into a Spanish-speaking community I think I would become fluent very quickly.
Who shall I tag?
I tag:
I think that's all I can tag. Everyone else in my linx have been tagged!
I apologize for everything being squished together. For some reason, blogger will not allow me to put spaces between paragraphs.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Love and Marriage

Yesterday I was priveleged to be the matron of honor and witness to the marriage of two good friends. The bride has been a close friend for more than seven years and I have known the groom for about ten. She was the singer in the band I played bass for, Juicebox, and has been close with my husband for nearly 15 years. The groom is the drummer and singer for my husband's band.
I took on the task of putting together the bridal bouquet, boutonnieres and corsages. Here I am at 10:30 Friday night preparing for a 10:30 Saturday morning ceremony.

The finished product:

The bride with her hair done:

Ready to walk down the aisle:

Groomsmen and best boys (my husband and son in the middle):

The groom (red shirt, white tie) watching his bride approach. The officiant is the also the bride's father.

The bride and groom coming down the aisle.

Just married. Patrick and Patricia!

A kiss before the cake.

The bride vamping with the cake.

They love it, ladies and gentlemen!

The newlywed channeling her inner Betty Page.

The two best Emilys that ever lived. (Sorry Ms. Dickinson).

My camouflaged shining green jewel of an almost-11-year-old daughter.

Playing on the river's edge.

A family's love is the greatest bond. Keith, Karin and Chloe (their son Lucas was too busy coloring and saving the world to be in this photo).

Cake smashers!

Lovebirds! Brett and Kim, together since the beginning of time!

Love my ladies! Gretchen, Kim, Jaime, Patricia, me, Deb.

You're not going to try and look up my skirt are you? Again?

No love like a mother's love.

My nephew, Jaden. Emily is his mom. Can you tell which one?

My radiant friends are so wonderful! Iris and Addie.

I've known the guy in orange for 19 years. His mom took me in as a runaway when I was 14. The other guy is my tattoo artist, doula client (his wife is in the last picture) and friend of 15 years. Izak and Solly.

Hot Carl riding the high hat.

"That is the funniest thing I've ever heard!"

My husband's boss and good friend, Jeff, his wife, Kim (in glasses), and our very dear friend, Melanie. Her third baby was my first time as a doula. Kisses to you, Mel. I love you!

Patricia: one part beauty queen, one part wife, ALL WOMAN!!

Keith and Chloe having some downtime.

Hot Carl on drums, Matt the Incredible Funkmeister on bass, The Hottest Husband on the Block on guitar and my son, the next winner of the Air Guitar World Championship.

Friends all around!

Random shot of the property where the reception was held, owned by good friends. Thanks Erin and Jer!

Love in the setting sun...

What a great party that was. Just so's y'all can see what it looks like, I'll post a pic or two of me in my weddin' getup. I truly love you guys, Patrick and Patricia. Thanks for an opportunity to lavish upon you all the love and gratitude I feel for you. May your lives continue to be rich with love and light with happiness.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Upcoming Births

My friend and client is gearing up for labor very near labor day! She's 37 weeks now (if you go by the ultrasound-generated due date; 36 weeks going by dates calculation. I just realized this morning that I will be on vacation right around her due date and am making plans in case I have to make a quick trip home. I've decided that if there are changes in her cervix between now and when I'm supposed to leave then I'm going to stay behind while my family goes camping with some friends. In the event of labor coming on suddenly, I will plan to be ready to leave right away at any given moment to make the 4.5 hour trip back to town, hoping that this first-baby will be a longer labor. Of course, she's pretty in tune with her body and I think she'll know when she is in pre-labor. Any suggestions from midwives and doulas?

I went to see a couple of friends at their recently-opened Italian deli on Saturday and discovered that they are pregnant as well! In fact, they are in the same birth class as my current clients. Yeah, I cried when I realized that they're going to have a baby this October. I think it was a combination of PMS and seeing my friend all grown up. He said for a long time that he didn't want any babies, but seeing his wife and him at work together in their deli made it an emotional moment for me. This is a guy who I'd never have thought would fulfill his dream of opening an honest-to-goodness deli (friends on the east coast, you can feel where I'm coming from with that) and have a baby. When I get permission from them, I'll post a pic I took of them in their beautiful deli.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

On The Road Again

It's been a bit so I better continue my story. I've had a couple of requests. Where were we...oh yes, I-70 in Colorado.

The first thing that happened when we hit I-70 was we got pulled over. I think we had been traveling for a little under and hour when Tom muttered, "Oh shit." And I looked to see two state patrol cars flipping a u-turn in the median. Tom must have been going pretty fast because the officers were aggressive about turning around and catching up to us. Of course, with no driver's license between the two of us, we were looking at some trouble--we were at least going to be searched and we had a bong in the back of the car. Needless to say, they found it. Frosty the Snowman. Tom tried to convince the cops that it was a gift from a friend who had since passed away, but they weren't buying his bullshit and they confiscated it. We actually were let go. Even though we had been caught with a bong and neither of us had a driver's license, they let us go. Amazing.

Try as I might, I'm never able to clearly remember all the events of this leg of the trip. Names of towns that I thought I'd never forget are failing me. Maybe if I look at an atlas I could figure it out.

Tried the atlas...I have no idea.

Tom had decided at this point that we would beg at churches for food and gas money. He said that if we made sure to go to Catholic Churches they wouldn't turn us away. However, the first church we stopped at was a Baptist Church. Of course, I have no idea what town we were in, only that we had definitely crossed the state line into the land of flat golden wheat fields; also known as Kansas.

On a Saturday night, we pulled in to the parking lot of a church and Tom approached a door to knock on it. When answered, Tom explained that we were passing through town with no money and no place to stay but we didn't feel comfortable continuing because we were so tired that driving any further would surely result in an accident. So the pastor of the church put us up in a motel and invited us to service the next morning. We obliged the congregation by attending the next morning's services and the most amazing thing happened right before my religion-denying, bitterly agnostic eyes. When the pastor sent the tithing plate, he told the congregation that, instead of keeping the donations from that Sunday's tithe, he would be giving it to us in blessing for a safe journey. We were then invited to brunch at a restaurant with all of them. After the meal none would let us use the money from that morning's tithe to pay for our food and even handed us more money. I think we left there with about $70.

We were floored. Astounded. Struck dumb.

When we left this congregation of people I had more faith in the goodness of God than I ever had in my life. Even to this day.

Of course, the money was gone by the time we hit Topeka, the only place we stopped in the great state of Kansas whose name I can remember. To this day I don't know what happened to all that money over the distance, but when we got to Topeka we were looking for another benefactor.

The two main things I remember about Topeka are the shelter we stayed in and the hitch-hiker we picked up. I'm trying to remember if we had already picked him up when we got there or if it was the next day, on our way out. I guess it doesn't matter. What matters is that he drove me absolutely mad. The shelter wasn't really that remarkable. It was not unlike other shelters I've stayed in over the years, but for some reason it left a permanent imprint on my brain akin to my first drinking or pot-smoking experience.

Anyway, from Topeka to Baton Rouge, Louisiana there isn't much to tell about. Somewhere in the first 24 hours of riding with the hitch-hiker we discovered he was an serious alcoholic, which posed a series of irritating circumstances in the dry counties of Arkansas. By the time we reached Texarkana on the state line between Texas and Arkansas (bet you couldn't guess where that was), I was about a step and a half away from murdering the hitch-hiker with my bare hands. The only whining I have ever heard, even now, that equalled this guys incessant blithering over the fact that he had no alcohol was the night Rabbit missed his vein and shot heroin into the decimated musculature of his arm. And so it was in the lovely town of Shreveport, Louisiana that we gave him a five dollar bill and asked him to run into a convenience store to buy some cigarettes...and left. Without him.

I think we rode the first 45 minutes in total silence. It was glorious.

Then we decided to switch drivers.

Tom had been driving pretty much straight through from Topeka to Shreveport, stopping a few times for gas and to either scam or beg money for food and gas, so we agreed to switch just outside of Shreveport. As I pulled out into the small amount of traffic, I checked my rearview mirror and saw no one. However, as soon as I turned left onto the freeway onramp, I saw blue and red lights behind me. I pulled to the right and awaited the officers arrival at my window. He asked for my license and registration, with which I quickly obliged, and waited for him to ask me why I thought he would mistake my Washington State ID card for a valid driver's license. Instead he asked, "What were you doing when this picture was taken?" Then I realized that the picture on my ID card had been taken shortly after shaving my head at the end of October of 1993. Not only was I bald, but I was pale, having been out of the sun for a few months. I think he expected me to say that I was a heroin junkie living on the streets of Seattle. However, I replied by explaining to him that I was living in an apartment and working as a CNA at a nursing home. He then took my ID back to his car for what seemed like an eternity. Upon his return he said, "Well, your name came back clean for now, but I'm going to keep an eye out. You can be sure that when I find what I'm looking for, I'll find you." His throaty southern drawl still rings in my head when I retell this story. I was terrified.

The rest of that day's drive was uneventful. Lots of oil rigs in people's back yards. Shanty towns and little villages and miles and miles of green highway with sometimes tiny canals giving the quickest glimpses of Deep South Swampland.

Heaven, or Hell?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Knowledge. Gratitude. Love. Blessings.

What is knowledge?

Shining wisdom that has the power to connect the mind to the heart, or disconnect the soul from the mind?

Throughout time many have sojourned to find the truth within borders that do not exist. Some brought knowledge to others, many died trying.

Is it enough to simply say that I know why the sky turns red with the setting of the sun in the west? If challenged, could I explain it? Would I use words like "particles" and "refraction of light?" Would I simply turn up my nose at the idea of someone challenging my wisdom?

I think it would depend on the person. If it were someone with whom I enjoy pondering the wonders of the world, it would be a pleasure to engage in this conversation. If it were someone with whom I don't get along, I may find it irritating and exhausting to explain and I may hide behind my false sense of pride, feigning self-assuredness that I DO know what I'm talking about. Why would I need to prove to anyone that I am knowledgeable?

Does this make me evil? Intolerant? I do not have infinite patience. Just ask my children. My lack of patience is my most prominent weakness, my Achilles heel.

Even the Zen Master has an Achilles heel. Something that makes him human. Few are beyond reproach. None are perfect.

The quest for perfection saturates everything. Its many manifestations permeate the very air we breathe, suffocating and reducing us. From the noblest to the most petty, the things we seek to perfect bring us down.

I ran into a friend today that I haven't seen in some time. She has always been very environmentally and natural-health conscious, buying exclusively natural, organic and eco-friendly foods and products; riding her bike everywhere instead of driving her car; recycling--going out of her way to find facilities that would take whatever recycling items our own facility would not take; composting, etc.

Her small body is riddled with cancer. She has tumors on her lungs and liver that are growing instead of shrinking in response to treatments. Her skin is jaundiced and swollen, the belly that sustained and contained her children swells over her frightfully thin hips, showcasing the tumors that are sucking her life from her. There is a very strong possibility that her cancer is a result of pollution. Breathing in the exhaust from cars she biked behind for so many years, and living next to a stream that is reported to contain several cancer-causing agents are likely the cause of her cancer. Irony in it's most evil form.

Yet she smiles.

She smiles when she talks about her son's upcoming wedding, her husband, her sister's trip to the U.S. from Israel for the wedding, her father's upcoming surprise 80th birthday celebration.

Through all this sickness and uncertainty, she is grateful. To stop and talk with her was a lesson in gratitude. I almost didn't do it. I was feeling very selfish. I haven't been feeling well and she has always been one of those friends that you had to make sure you had a bit of time to chat with if you planned on approaching her. I can't tell you how many college classes I was late getting to because I stopped to say hi to this friend.

I am so glad I stopped to say hi. Watching her pull out a photo of her son and his bride-to-be, the way she was glowing while she told me (again) how they had been together since their first year of college, was a blessing. A blessing that I almost passed up.

What is knowledge? Is it something learned from books? A feeling or sensation emanating from within? Is it a chance encounter with a person from whom the most valuable of life's lessons can be learned?

Don't count your blessings, friends, for counting them will only make you sad when one day you miscount or discover one missing. They aren't ethereal beings that remain with you always. They are like the rivers and tides, always changing, ebbing and flowing; like the wind, breathing softly at your neck or pounding at your back as you walk down the beach.

Don't count your blessings, friends. Keep your eyes open and your soul ready for them--they find you in the most unexpected ways.

Love. Gratitude.