Friday, July 29, 2005

Photo Friday

Girls weekend: June 2005. This annual event we've had five years in a row now, and consists of six of us who have gone to grade school together and all graduated from the same high school. I think it's noteworthy that we are still such good friends after all this time because we went to such a small school. What are the statistics of that happening? Our graduating high school class was a whopping 75 people. And we all honestly like each other! Not all 75 like one another; the six of us, I mean. We've been a group of five for the past couple of years, but hopefully our missing girl will join us again next year. We've manage to get together one weekend per year despite pregnancies and otherwise busy lives.

We always stay someplace at the coast where we eat, shop, and go for walks on the beach. Oh, and there's this little karaoke bar we're fond of...

This weekend has always been fun, but in the last few years it's become more relaxed and easygoing. This past year was the best yet, I think, because we've got a comfortable routine. We know what we're going to do, and we're so happy to see each other and talk. It's good to have some uninterrupted time to catch up, tell stories, and laugh. There's a great energy to this time together.

There is something about a friend you have known since you were a kid. New friends are wonderful, and can be as close to you as ever. But there is just something about my friends from grade school that's just...different from any other friendship I have. There is so much history there, so much change, and here we are. We like each other as we are, even after all those "awkward" years. I love these girls!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Say Byebye to Soy

I can barely bring myself to say it. The thought just makes me angry. But this isn't a place for me to think (singularly), it's about communicating my thoughts through typing. I'll just have to go ahead and say it: I think I'm allergic to soy. And crappity doodah day about that! I have several bottles of lovely Odwalla Super Protein, with SOY. I have breakfast bars, protein-enriched with SOY. I treat myself once a week to a mocha, made with SOY because of lactose-intolerance.

NOW what?

I came to this conclusion thusly: Yesterday after I ate my soy-filled breakfast, I felt a familiar feeling, and it wasn't good little Timmy. Oh no, not good at all. It was The Migraine, lurking in the shadows and promising long hours full of pain right in the center of my brain where no medication can reach it. As the day wore on, it continued creeping its merry way until it reached full strength. Well, not quite full strength: I didn't get to the nausea stage. If I had, I would've left work. There is no way to survive the nausea stage without relegating one's self to a dark room. Instead, I stayed at work and soldiered on, downed 800 mg of pain reliever, and awaited the slight relief it would allow. It was enough to continue through the day, albeit somewhat more crankily. I'm better today. Today’s breakfast was this: a cookie. A wheat cookie. Take that, body! Ha!

It all began when I was 25, and noticed something strange happening every time I ate dairy: my body said, “No way! We hereby enforce the right to quit digesting lactose! Exit stage right!”; then corn, wheat and eggs soon followed suit. Those, I can deal with. Sure, I dream about big, buttery tubs of movie theater popcorn, but the killer headaches that follow such indulgence are enough to make me limit my intake to 2 or 3 per year. And plus, there’s Lactaid, those lovely little white pills that allow me to enjoy a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s. Now it appears I need Cornaid, and Soyaid. I mean, shit!

So far, so good, cookie and all. I'm seriously bummed about this new development, though. I was feeling so healthy (until the raging headache). I mean, soy is good for you, why couldn’t it not make me sick? So many protein products that are wheat-dairy free are made with soy. Do they make rice protein things? I suppose I’ll be on the hunt to find the answer to that. Meanwhile, shit!

I know it could be a lot worse. I could have Krohn’s disease or colon cancer or something, I know. I am grateful it’s not something serious like that. But, food allergies and sensitiivities are annoying, and makes it that much harder to plan meals. Especially breakfast. I guess I’ll have to employ some creativity, and spend more time in the health food section searching out alternatives. Oh well. There are worse things.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Overheard at My House

Me: I'm going to make bracelets for the flower girls. (big shocker, I know...)
OC: And necklaces, wight, mama?
Me: No, not necklaces; because of the way your dresses are made, a necklace wouldn't look very good.
OC: Oh. (thinks a second) That's okay, mama, I can work without a necklace.

Thanks for your sacrifice, honey!

Later that night.....

We are making beaded jewelry together. OC finished hers, so I wanted to take a picture.
Me: Hold your beads up and smile!
OC: (does, although way over the top and goofy)
Me: No, please just smile normally, don't do that cheeseball smile.
OC: (does her beautiful smile; lovely!)
OC: Can I see it?
Me: Sure. (shows)
OC: Oh, that's a good one. It's not all cheeseball.

I will post pictures Friday.

A Word About Comments

Hi. I've been blogging now for oh, over a week now, and so far, no one has left a comment. Am I impatient? Yes, but also I feel all hanging out in cyberspace, not sure who's reading, if anyone. I'm lonely! I need feedback. I invite you to please comment.

You can click on the "comment" link that appears at the bottom of each post, and then type away whatever it is that you'd like to say.

I just wanted you to know that I'd love to hear from you. Thanks!

What I'm Eating Now

For breakfast: Odwalla Super Protein drink in Vanilla Al Mondo, and Odwalla breakfast bars. Soy proteiny good things, and all-natural, mostly organic, ingredients. If I have a soy allergy, I'm going to be so ticked off...

For lunch: leftover Evil Jungle Noodles: rice noodles, spices (make mine medium, please!), cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, green beans, peas, chicken, Thai basil; Yummy goodness that makes the tummy happy, and arouses no allergic responses!

For dinner: spelt spaghetti noodles with fried zucchini. Thinly slice the zucchini and fry with a small amount (maybe 1 tablespoon) of olive oil. Fabulous! We've been having this a lot. A variation: with browned butter and grated myzithra cheese. Both are very, very fast and easy.

Mama’s New Obsession

It all started innocently enough: I wanted to make some table decorations for my wedding reception. It’s an evening wedding, and the tables will have candles and a modest arrangement of seasonal flowers. That will be nice, but I also wanted something pretty, yet unobtrusive to add to the sparkle and glow, while adding texture, color and interest, all in an elegant way. Not one to think small, one day I saw some beaded strands hanging in the window of a bead shop that I walk by every day. I decided to go in and see what beads were all about, when KABLOOEY! I was sucked into the vortex that is the beading world and am now hooked for life. Oh, I love beads, in all their sparkly glory and wonder!

Where have I been that I have not checked into this craft form earlier than now?!? I learned to crochet as a child; I picked up sewing in highschool; and cross-stitch began in college. My mom enjoys doing all of these and taught them to me. She was a great teacher, by the way.

I might as well give a little family background here: Mom learned from her Grandma Squeezie. That name came from me when I was little, and somehow it stuck. She was this happy, short, sweet little woman who was plump and squeezable. Grandma Squeezie was talented at creation, and made many things, including doll clothes, crocheted blankets, and handsewn quilts. Of course, a lot of it was out of necessity, not having access to affordable, readymade clothing while out on the farm. She had 6 kids to clothe, and they had animals, crops, and a vegetable garden in Eastern Washington, and not a lot of extra money. Sewing and quilting were all necessary if you wanted to keep warm at night and not be naked during the day. She probably started making doll clothes for her kids, but it was a major hobby after the kids were grown and out of the house. I remember going to see her and seeing the quilt frame out in the living room, taking up most of the space. I liked to crawl underneath of it, like it was a fort. I was in awe of such a large project. I regret that I never learned to quilt from her while she was alive, because she knew how to do it all by hand. Mom knows how to machine quilt, and I’d like to learn how to do that.

These are all lovely art forms, and I love the idea of keeping these skills alive especially if they’re family traditions. I’d like to teach my daughter when she is a little older, too. It’s like a secret club: you get to share your excitement over beginning a new project, whether it’s with a nice soft yarn, a pretty new pattern, or some lovely beads to turn into something sparkly to wear.

Anyhoo, I’ve never done beading before, and feel I have lost so much time. Oh well, I have discovered it now, and I am definitely, certifiably, undeniably a beadfreak.

While at the bead shop this past weekend, I had OC pick out some beads so I can make her a bracelet. Of course, she chose pink. This shop is different than the one I walk by every day, so I’ll have to go to each one on a rotating basis to check out new things at each one. I’m so grateful to the universe and Al Gore for the internet! Oh happy day, there are bead stores online and they come to your door like little presents! *sigh*

I’m starting to think about things that I can make for family and friends. It opens up a whole new world of birthday and Christmas gifts. And hopefully they will be gifts people like. Luckily, I have two sisters and two nieces, not to mention a mom, aunts, and girlfriends…

See what I mean? Total. Freak. With. The. Beads. Already.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Summer Wind

Summer has finally arrived here in the Northwest. The past few weeks have seen temperatures in the 80’s and low 90’s. There is also a cool breeze from the northwest that makes the nights quite pleasant. This weather is about as perfect as weather can get in the summer. We’ve been getting out to enjoy it as much as possible.

This weekend, OC got to play with a friend her age, both on Friday night and again on Sunday. Friday night was Parent’s Night Out at her friend’s school, where the kids got to have dinner and do fun things, and the parents get to have time to themselves. Occidental Fiance (OF) and I had a date, and went to dinner at Thai Orchid, then for a stroll on NW 23rd. The street was busy with people enjoying their evening, it was fun to be a part of that energy. We window shopped, then ended up at Papa Haydn for dessert. That was his idea. Oh yeah, I love this man!

Saturday, OC and I had a lovely day on our own. OF went home to work in his garden, which he felt was neglected. I did cleaning and laundry, then OC and I went to lunch. We also went to a new bead shop where she was very well behaved and patient while I shopped. I am having so much fun learning to make things with beads! I made a bracelet and earrings for myself in no time at all. I love making something with my own hands, and I also love the instant gratification of having a product that's pretty and sparkly, and can be worn in such a short time!

Sunday, OF and I took the girls to the play park at Washington Park, where we also had a picnic.The girls got tired early on because of the heat, but they had fun being someplace different than the normal neighborhood park.

Last night, I did a sinkful of dishes and got ready for the week. I was able to start a new book ( Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner in case you were wondering), and read until it got dark. What a treat!

Boo hoo, Monday already. I wasn’t done with the weekend yet.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Photo Friday

Starfish at Beverly Beach, February 2005OC and I went to the beach this past February. There were so many starfish! They were in these makeshift little tidepools in the sand rather than in the typical rocky areas. The beach was full of pools that held the water from high tide, but since we were there at low tide we saw all these guys that had been temporarily stranded. We saw probably a dozen or more, all different colors, shapes and sizes.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Snack Food

I have issues with food. I love popcorn and chips and bread, but my body tends to balk when I eat the kinds of foods that contain corn, eggs, dairy and wheat (I suspect this last one…am currently testing my theory). Snacking can be hard, when it ventures out past the realm of fruits and vegetables. Crackers, for instance: nearly all the good kinds are made of wheat. Chips use corn oil. And popcorn is all corn and butter. I indulge in the movie theater kind every once in a while because I just cannot help myself, but if I load up too often, I get the kind of headache that it takes about 4 Advil and a dark room before it subsides. Ick.

So I try to limit these “offensive” foods. That’s why I am very excited about these chips, which I buy in the natural foods section of Fred Meyer: Lundberg brand Rice Chips. They are so yummy, and they’re practically good for you! Okay, they’re still chips and cooked in oil, so I can’t quite say they’re good for you, but if you must eat chips, eat these. The reasons I love them are many:

- there are no fake ingredients, like Red Lake #5 or some such thing.
- many ingredients are organic
- less fat than regular chips
- salty, thick crunchy goodness
- the taste! They are fanfreakingtastic

My favorite flavors are Pico de Gallo and Sesame and Seaweed. Yes, they have some corn in them, but brown rice is the first ingredient. In small amounts, and with no other corn in my diet, I do okay with them. And sometimes “health food” can mean “tastes gross”, but I would not steer you wrong where taste is concerned. Go get yourself some, pronto!

I am interested in food recommendations, please, especially those that avoid the aforementioned headache-inducing ingredients. I love talking about food, almost as much as I love eating what others cook for me...hee hee!

A Girl and Her Shoes

A couple of weeks ago, OC told me she wanted a pair of Dora sandals, as in Dora the Explorer. She needed some summer sandals, and so the weekend before last I was able to find a pair with Dora on them and bought them. She was so very excited. She kept thanking me for them, again and again.

She's had them for over a week, and for some reason thinks I got them at Payless. I don't know why she is concerned about where I got them, but allrighty then. We walk by a Payless Shoe store everyday, so it must be fresh in her mind, because just yesterday as we were walking by it she said, "That's where you got my Dora sandals, right mommy?" To which I tell her that no, I actually got them at Mervyn's.

"Where is that?" asks my inquisitive child.

"At the mall, honey." I reply.

"Oh. I didn't even realize they had Dora sandals at the mall!" said OC, enthusiastically.

Ah, sweet innocence and simple pleasures.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Skin I'm In

My ancestry is English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Native American (Cherokee) and possibly also German. That’s a whole lotta Northern European going on there, isn't it? Despite the American Indian the recessive genes won over, by sheer numbers most likely, and I am a natural blonde with fair skin. My hair has turned a darker in recent years, but I have a great hairdresser who can whip up some natural, sun-kissed highlights. But I digress…

Due to this ancestry, (or not; Who knows where they come from?) I have moles. Most of them are light, and simply look like freckles. Then there are a few scattered about which are dark, raised, nasty-looking things that catch on my clothes and just look, well, nasty! Of particular ugliness were one on my upper back, and the ginormous monster on the front of one shoulder. More than once have I caught some article of clothing or gotten a hair wrapped around that thing and it bled…ouch! Since it is now finally summer in the Rose City and therefore tank top season, there they were for all the world to see. I felt so self-conscious about those two ugly moles, I wasn’t comfortable in a tank top if I was going to be around other people. I would only wear clothing that revealed the moles unless I was home alone. I have some cute, dressy tank tops that would look good with skirts, if only I could wear them unselfconsciously. Which I couldn’t. I thought: "Something must be done!", and so in the interest of making my wardrobe functional (I am a practical girl, you know...) I made an appointment with a dermatologist, which was today.

I asked her with a sort of "Out, damn spot!" fervor, albeit without the profanity, to please, oh please remove the two ugly bastards today. Despite this being my first appointment, and therefore only the typical 15 minute allotment, she agreed they should go and so they're gone! I'm so happy they're gone!

They're running some quick tests on the two they removed as a routine. I also had a mole check which revealed two or three moles they want to keep an eye on. This involved taking a picture of each with a little measuring strip, and I'll have to come back in 6 months to see if they’ve changed. I’m not worried about it, although it is hard not to have a kernel in the back of your mind of what if that weird, misshapen or multi-colored mole is something scary? It’s probably not, like I said, I am a freckly person.

I know this seems like a terribly vain topic, I admit that. I will also say that, if you could see the big ugly moles, and see just how much they stuck up, how much they pulled the eye to them as soon as you saw me, then you would know how conscious of them I felt. Those suckers were ugly!
I am proud of some of my body’s marks: I have a mole on my hip that I’ve had since childhood that I love. It doesn’t stick up and get caught on things, but it’s big and round and rather cute. I have stretch marks from having a child, and even though I won’t look the same in a bikini, nor tan the same again as before I had a child, I don’t mind those marks at all. They signify something special. The moles, on the other hand, didn’t signify much of anything at all. Those that were removed were eyesores on the canvas that is my skin.

Good riddance to you, I say. Hello, pretty tank tops, not to mention to the unselfconscious wearing of you pretty little numbers!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Should I use pseudonyms or real names? I read blogs that use real names, and blogs that use pseudonyms, common nouns (e.g. husband), or nicknames. I still can’t decide. For now, since I am Occidental Girl, my child will be Occidental Child, or OC. Until I can decide one way or the other, I think I'll use these pseudonyms.

Here’s the thing about me: I take a long time to decide things. I mull, I ponder, I mull some more. Once I decide something, however, I stick with it. It may be an annoying process, but it’s what I do. I like to take time to consider all the possible outcomes, ramifications, and try to see how it fits in to the bigger picture. I am an INFJ, after all! This type of decision-making process has a fairly obvious downside: It takes a long time to make a decision, and since I can’t know all of the possible outcomes, it is sometimes an unnecessarily agonizing process for me. What I do is try to balance out the agonizing pondering against the quick, on-the-fly decisions depending upon importance. It’s not an easy thing to sort, but when I can do it, it does make life easier.

OC was cracking me up last night. She is 4, and says the funniest things sometimes. Hmm. I should have written them down last night because they are mostly gone now. Another thing about me: I have a bad memory. Here’s what I can remember:

Me: Did you go to the park?
OC: No, because somebody took the van. So it was an interesting day.
(Note: Another group used the preschool’s van; the phrasing makes it sound like it was stolen, which is what I thought at first. It was an interesting day, apparently, because they DIDN’T go to the park…)

Later, as we were sorting beads:

OC: That is not appropriate!
Me: What?
OC: There was a bug in the beads.
Me: Oh, really? What kind of bug?
OC: No, I mean a leaf. There was a leaf in the beads.
Me: Well, thank you for removing it.
OC: You’re welcome!

Really, she comes up with the most hilarious things. That didn’t quite capture all the silliness that is OC. And she’s four, so it’s pretty funny to hear words like “interesting” and “appropriate” come flying out. You have to see her face, all serious as she says things, too.

It's good to revel in the cuteness….

Monday, July 18, 2005

New Floors, New Life

I spent the weekend moving furniture with my fiance. We moved it out of his house so he could have the hardwood floors refinished. It took a while longer than we both thought, but it's done. Now the floors can be sanded, stained and polished to a new glowy finish. Then we can move in the furniture we’re keeping, and rearrange to our heart’s content.

Having the floors done is exciting, because it feels like progress. It's a tangible step in our relationship; Making the house more of a home so we can build our lives together. Yes, I know it's a bit of a stretch to make an analogy between a relationship and floor refinishing, but it works for me.

We're getting married in a few months. I am so excited, and not in the usual way brides-to-be are excited. This is like, relief to have found myself after the recent, excruciatingly painful couple of years. To reach this point, I survived the deaths of two close family members, divorce, single motherhood, loneliness, and terrible doubt to come out the other side. Now I can say with pride that I am a good provider, a pretty good mom, and that I can take stand up for and take care of myself. These are not words that would’ve entered my negative mindset thinking, even up until a few months ago! But now, I'm at the point where I can say, yes, I am a good partner; I am ready to be married. I am at peace with myself. and what a feeling! I am relieved to have found a man to be my partner; an honest, genuinely sweet, warm person who loves me like there’s no tomorrow and I love him back just as hard. By all miracles, our relationship survived and now it’s thriving. I am ready to plan the future!

The wedding this fall will be the first time my entire family has come together for a happy event in more than a decade. I'd say it's high time we get together and have fun times, damn it!

That's not to say my family doesn't like to get together; We do. We love each other, it's just in our own complicated ways. Families are nothing if not complicated. The sadness of the recent years with the death of my brother and father were really, really awful and sent us spinning off in our own directions, unsure of where we'd end up. More on family later.

Looking back at my life, I’ve noticed that my tendency is to bring people together. It looks like I'm doing that again. I recognize that may be my purpose in life, that I’m needed to bring people together who need to be together for whatever reason. Or not. Maybe I’ve done it once and that’s enough. Who knows? All I know now is, I look at life symbolically now, and that makes it easier to understand. It’s definitely more peaceful that way. I relax into the knowledge that all I have to do is show up….and pay attention. I am truly grateful for the gifts I have been given. I’m learning to quit fighting, to understand that I really don’t have control. It’s been a wonderful relief not to carry that burden anymore. Things have fallen into place, and for that I am grateful.

I am also grateful that my entire family will be in town in three months! I can’t wait to see tham, all at once!

So this is my first entry. I guess I should talk a little bit about why I started this blog. I like reading blogs, for one. I started a blog because I want to record instances, experiences, and funny stories. It will be about my life, things I have learned, and will probably evolve quite a bit. This will be fun!