Saturday, September 5, 2015

2015 -- Year to Date

I planned to add a 2015 mid-year review to this blog. But due to lack of time related to my full-time job, and various stressful things that have happened this year, the year is (thankfully?) now more than 2/3rd over. Since I'm now at the beginning of the welcomed 3-day Labor Day weekend, I felt this would be an ideal time to write this 2015 update.

The stress of 2015 actually began about a week before Christmas, 2014. I came home from work, saw that my hubby was home from work (which is not often the case that early in the evening), walked in the side door as usual to unwind for the evening -- and here was hubby sitting in my chair, holding on to a pretty Great Pyrenees dog I did not recognize. I said, "Who is this?" and approached the pretty dog (who bore a striking physical resemblance to our dearly departed Heidi) -- who started to go into attack mode. Needless to say, considering the size of the dog, that was a shock. Hubby proceeded to explain that Titus was two years old, that his owner, a single man, had suddenly died of a heart attack, and that he (hubby) was the only person he took to, so he wanted to see if things would work out for us to adopt him. Considering my initial encounter with the dog and the fact we already had 3 good-sized indoor dogs (including two seniors) and our surviving outdoor "secret love" collie, Bella, I was naturally apprehensive, but said we could see what happens....

A couple of weeks later, "Ty" went into attack mode on me again, simply because I tried to take a butter wrapper away from him that he'd retrieved from our trash can. Not long after that, he and our almost 12-year-old Jesse got into a scary fight; it took hubby some time to pull them apart. At that point, I insisted we could not keep Ty, and hubby identified a couple who wanted to meet him. (He never did fight with Archie, but Susie has always seemed irritated by him and growls at him.) Shortly before that meeting was to take place, I decided that despite everything, I had become attached to the goofball and felt we should try to work with him, and that it should be OK as long as we kept him and Jesse separated. We've had Ty over 8 months now, and though his behavior has improved a little, we still have issues with him. Hubby plans to take him to the vet soon to have him neutered (which should help his aggressive tendencies) and see if he has any type of chemical imbalance that can be treated. He does live outside more often than not, but I'm hoping that if we can find out and help his behavior, that he can eventually become an indoor companion for me. To be continued! (The photos posted here of Ty were taken last Dec. 21, a few days after hubby brought him home.)

Despite the stress caused by coping with Ty, I was determined that 2015 would be my best year ever. Maybe I could finally begin losing at least some of my 60 or so excess pounds. But as I am about to relate, weight loss is again on the back burner after handling the events of this year. The evening of my first workday following the holidays (Jan. 5th), pulling out of the dark parking lot after having literally no sleep the night before, I got too close to the car next to me and scraped against its driver door with my passenger door. I waited and exchanged info with the driver. His car was only dented, but my right passenger window no longer worked and the entire door had to be replaced. The following week, the health of our surviving outdoor collie, Bella, age 9, seemed to be going downhill. So, with the damp and chilly January weather not helping matters, we brought her inside to live during the second week of the month. She and the other collies were never housebroken by their former owners, but it was worth cleaning up a few messes to have her near us and comfortable. Then on about Jan. 24th, her back end stopped working. She could no longer move from her spot near my chair in our great room. The mobile vet came over on the 27th and said nothing could be done; her organs were shutting down. So the last of our sweet "secret love" outdoor collies, who had been part of our lives since New Year's Eve 2009, was gone....

So, though my year had not gotten off to a good start, I was looking forward to the business trip I convinced my boss to include me on, along with our office manager and another program coordinator -- a trip to San Diego for the Association for Continuing Legal Education's conference from Jan. 31 - Feb. 3. I must admit I was much more interested in seeing San Diego for the first time (and escaping the cold January dampness here) than attending the conference, though I wasn't about to tell him that! Our plane was delayed several hours due to the fog -- so that took away the sightseeing time we hoped to have that first day before the opening session. So that was disappointing, to say the least! I still got to see a little of the city the next few days, but not nearly as much as I'd hoped. However, a huge highlight of this trip, and of my year, was seeing the Super Bowl with my coworkers between the Seahawks and Patriots at a great sports bar on the San Diego waterfront. The atmosphere and food couldn't have been better -- and though the last play of the game was a crushing blow for the Hawks and their fans, it was still a fabulous experience.

In my last blog post, I mentioned checking off two "bucket list" items this April. So I looked forward to that with great anticipation. Prior to that, I realized I had not heard anything, or seen any recent Facebook posts, from my cousin's daughter in Chicago for some time. She had found me on Facebook a couple of years before and we had exchanged many long letters and kept up with each other's lives on Facebook. Though I was bothered by the profanity she tended to use in her posts, I generally kept that to myself since I was fond of her. Now I wondered if something was wrong, having heard or seen nothing for some time. So I sent her a message. I was stunned by her cold reply that she had blocked me from seeing her posts since I had made a "feminist" remark to one of her posts. Whaaaat? I replied I had no idea what remark she was referring to. Turns out, I had teased her by saying "watch your phraseology, young woman" on one of her profanity-laden posts. (Everyone over 40 knows that phrase is from "The Music Man" -- don't they?) Though I didn't like her language and knew that it grieved God (she's Catholic), I had commented in a teasing manner, assuming she would get the message and try to tone it down. Instead, she decided to exclude me from her life, without ever saying why till I asked. I explained I was only teasing. but to no avail. I always thought that if you care for someone, if something they say bothers you, you discuss it and try to make things right. So I guess she never really did care after all.

This also made me three for three in my relationships with people from my past who found me on Facebook via my maiden name. My best friend from 7th and 8th grade was offended that I did not have a photographic memory about everything we had done 40+ years earlier. My long-time penpal out East was offended when all I did was ask her tactfully why (as a Christian) she seemed joyful over the 2012 Presidential election results. And now this. After the fallout with my cousin, I thought that maybe, just MAYBE, enough time had gone by that I could try again with my long-time penpal. I had not seen any posts on her Facebook lately either, so I Googled her name. I learned she had died of cancer two months earlier -- 13 days short of her 60th birthday. So.... my cousin hates me just because I teased her, my childhood best friend turned out to be a lost cause, and I can't try again to reconcile with my penpal and let her know what a big part of my life she was. I decided at that point I'd had enough pain related to Facebook and deleted my account. I don't want anyone else from my past finding me, seeming like they care for me, then throwing me away over nothing.

So for the most part, except for seeing the Super Bowl in San Diego, the first quarter of 2015 had not been good. But my much-anticipated trip was coming up, so things were definitely looking up! I was about to not only finally see the Dallas-Fort Worth area but to see my first Nascar race in person. Then...right before Good Friday (a week before I was to leave), I began developing a bad cough. Last time I had this symptom, it was bronchitis that hung on for several weeks. Noooooo.....this CAN'T be happening!! But it was. I took two sick days from work right before the trip in the desperate hope it would go away. But I knew that wouldn't be nearly enough and that my trip (which I would go ahead with rather than lose hundreds of dollars) would be pretty much ruined. I tried to do as much sightseeing as I could, but I was weak and constantly coughing. The race was OK, though Jimmie Johnson won AGAIN, and I realized I actually prefer watching the races in the comfort of my home anyway. So....I did finally get to see a little of Dallas and Fort Worth, and I finally got to attend a Nascar race. But I've decided that when it comes to vacations that are longer than day trips, I'm going to make the arrangements much closer to the departure date to keep this from happening again.

I was still having the coughing symptoms in mid-May when the same thing happened to our sweet boy Jesse as happened to Bella and most of our other big dogs. His back end stopped functioning and he could no longer work. So on May 19, for the second time this year, the mobile vet came over and determined nothing could be done. At the age of 12 years, 3 months and 7 days, we said goodbye to our boy who we adopted in '04 at the age of 14 months. I hope Jesse was a happier dog than he appeared to be. He didn't have the easygoing disposition most of our dogs have had. And I hadn't taken photos of him after his left eye was removed due to cancer in '09, since he was a little scary looking after that. But he was a good boy and we miss him terribly.

Though Archie was more than a year older than Jesse, hubby called him the "Energizer Bunny", since it appeared he would keep going and going. He was truly a gentle giant and even got along with Ty. We could tell when he sat down that his joints were getting stiff. Still, he went on long daily walks and seemed to be thriving. But as we have learned so often, there tends to not be much warning when a beloved dog's system decides to shut down. I never imagined we would lose Archie just a little over 2 months after Jesse. But once again, one evening in July, he sat down and couldn't get up. Over the next couple of days, he did manage to get up twice and relocate to another room. But the third time, he could no longer move out of the living room. So for the third time, the mobile vet paid us an unwelcome visit on July 24, and this time I was able to be home to say goodbye in person. The vet and her assistant were very compassionate young women and walked us through each step. It was quite peaceful as that type of thing goes. But I was in shock, having lost Bella, Jesse and now Archie in a span of 6 months. (The photos posted here of Archie were taken last Dec, 21st -- 10 days after his 13th birthday.)

So...let's summarize the year so far. I had a car accident that was my fault, lost 3 beloved dogs, didn't get to see much of San Diego, my cousin disowned me, my long-time friend died, and I was sick on my entire trip to Dallas. Nothing else can go wrong, can it? Well...yes, it could. A week after losing Archie, I had a scheduled day off work and drove to my friend Dianne's home. Still under stress over Archie, I pulled too close to her gate and caught my side mirror on the rim of the gate box. When I backed up, the entire mirror popped off and the gate box bent. The maintenance man at Dianne's complex was able to reattach my mirror, and despite the screws being bent and not usable, the mirror has still stayed on. We prayed the gate box could simply be bent back into shape, but the repairman determined it had to be replaced, and I paid for its replacement rather than involving my insurance company for the second time this year.

At that point, I told Dianne, OK, it's July 31. Tomorrow is a new month. The last 5 months of this year HAVE to be better. And August went pretty well -- except that about two weeks ago, I was shocked to discover that my beautiful long-standing web site The Evergreen Refuge had been offline for anywhere from two weeks to two months -- I never did find out for sure how long -- since the web host I'd switched to last October changed servers and didn't bother to tell me. They claimed they notified all their customers, but I never got any notice. I only found out when I tried to access my account to update the info about Archie and Jesse, and could not. I'd changed hosts to what I thought was an equally reliable Christian company to save a few bucks, but found that was a mistake. Thankfully, my former host, Hosting Truth, allowed me to come back at my former yearly rate, though their prices had gone up. Though I have not updated my site much since 2012 (except for updates about our pets), I'd put my heart and soul into that site since 1998 and I want it to remain online for others to visit and hopefully enjoy. When I pay a web host to keep my site online 99%+ of the time, I expect them to do that, or to notify me if there is a problem. I've never had a problem with Hosting Truth and their customer service is exceptional, so I recommend them highly. It didn't take too long to move my site and it went smoothly, but was just one more unexpected development in what has turned out to be a bumpy year.

Since the web site hassle, things have been uneventful, which is good! I have a few days off work next week and had originally planned to go to Portland for three days. But I cancelled the trip, realizing I not only need the money, but the quiet time at home. My birthday is tomorrow, and I hinted to hubby about eating out at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Other than that, I'll just unwind at home and do some crocheting. Lastly, for the umpteenth time since '09, I am again in a state of indecision about what church to go to. I have things narrowed down in my mind and hope that the next time I add an update to this blog, I will have made the right decision and find the place where God would have me worship and serve Him. Here's to an "uneventful" last four months of 2015...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014 in Review

Though I don't update this blog much any more, there have been a few things that happened in 2014 that I wanted to touch on. The first of these is something that I guess can be expected at my age, especially since I remain 50+ lbs. overweight. Specifically, as of around the third week of March of this year, for the first time, I now have a body part - my right knee - that, to one degree or another, hurts every day. It's not the severe pain and accompanying nausea that I experienced with the migraines I had for decades (which thankfully have become infrequent and much less severe) but has been bothersome nevertheless, especially when I get in and out of the bathtub or when I sit in the same position for awhile in my office chair without elevating my leg. In April, after an X-ray revealed no internal issue, I saw my new doctor (who I like very much) at my new insurance carrier, and I thought it was odd when he prescribed that I buy and wear "Superfeet Blue" insoles in my shoes at all times. I do feel the insoles have helped. But I don't feel the situation will change drastically till I lose weight and get in better physical shape. You would think this chronic issue would have been a great incentive to change, but I continue to struggle with my carb addiction, related to the need for comfort and stress relief, mostly due to continuing to have to work at a full-time job with constant multiple deadlines, and no way to retire for several more years (unless the Publisher's Clearing House people decide to come calling....).

I took another trip to Portland in May, and it was definitely the best trip there that I have taken. I hadn't planned to visit again so soon after just having done so in Sept. '13, but decided to take advantage of a Groupon discount coupon for an upscale hotel in Hillsboro, near the Max (transit rail) line. I rode the Max multiple times from one end to the other (the town of Gresham) and went to the Portland Saturday Market, Fabric Depot (probably the largest fabric and craft store in the western U.S.) and the World Forestry Center, and visited other neighborhoods in Portland via bus. The transit system in Portland is so extensive and reliable, and driving in that town is so stressful, that I will absolutely stick with public transit on any future trip to Portland.

(I considered concentrating on "staycations" in 2015 so as not to go into more debt. But that thought didn't last long, as I decided to cross two items off my "bucket list" at one time next April. I'll have more to say about that in my next entry.)

Sadly, we lost a pet in July, but not the pet we expected to lose next. As a follow-up to my "Goodbye, Secret Love" post from 2011, Terra, the second of the three lovely collies who came to live in our yard at the end of '09, suddenly passed away. She was only about 9 and had not shown any signs of being ill. Like her late "brother" Zane and her surviving sister Bella, she was the epitome of calmness and gentleness. Thankfully, Bella is still doing well, as are our other "furry kids", including our beautiful boy Archie who (God willing) will turn 13 on Dec. 11, an advanced age for a Great Pyrenees. (And I must also mention that yesterday, Nov. 21, was the 5th anniversary of the passing of our precious Heidi...) Also in July, we acquired 2 new furballs: "mini-Rex" rabbits Fred (all black) and Barney (tan and white), who we adopted at about 6 weeks old. They are very energetic and fun, though still skittish (Fred will let us reach in the pen and pet him, and can be picked up with some effort, but Barney is hard to catch and I've only gotten to hold him once so far, but hopefully he will get more acclimated before long).

Despite what I said in my '09 blog entry about "the 'K' Word", after receiving an offer for a discounted knitting lesson at a store in Lakewood, I decided to try one last time. So many thousands (millions?) of women can knit and love it, that I thought, maybe I had the wrong person teaching me. Maybe, just MAYBE, I can learn this time, and if I still can't, I'll finally accept that it won't happen. So...I signed up for a Saturday lesson, so that I could combine the trip there with a visit to Dianne. At first, she wasn't going to go to the yarn shop with me, but decided to. We waited...and waited...a half-hour past when my lesson was to have started, and the instructor still wasn't there. I asked for my money back, but the young woman who was watching the store said she would give me the lesson. She was a patient and very effective teacher and after several tries, I actually ended up making the basic knit stitch (the purl stitch was trickier). I was truly amazed and at the time, I felt that with practice, I would be able to at least make basic items. didn't turn out that way. Back at Dianne's house and then at home, I would knit a first row, then the next row somehow came out at a right angle to the first row! Whaaaaat? I could have gone to my local yarn store for help (or asked a new friend who both knits and crochets, who I commute with most days on my way home from work), but I realized something crucial: I do NOT enjoy knitting! I truly have no desire to find out what I am doing wrong, because I don't want to! I continue to truly admire (and be in awe of) women who have mastered this craft, but I am NOT going to be one of them. I will remain a passionate, skilled crocheter and am fine with that. Thus finally TRULY closes the "K Word" odyssey!

Next came my birthday in Sept. I took a few days off work as usual at that time of year, and Dianne and I planned to attend the Washington State Fair (or as folks around here still think of it as, "The Puyallup"), but we never got there. While I was on Highway 16 in Tacoma on my way to her home, my PT Cruiser began the same scary trembling motion that it had done 2 weeks after we had bought it (which was also on the way to her house). I pulled off the highway and onto a side street, and called AAA and my husband. It did again need the same small part, a "camshaft position sensor" (whatever that is), that was replaced shortly after we bought it. This is apparently a chronic problem with the Cruiser, which I wish I'd known before I got my heart set on having one. And inbetween these two fairly minor repairs, it needed its head gasket replaced in May, a large and expensive repair. So I am truly hoping there will be no more issues with this car for the foreseeable future, as we won't even have it totally paid for till Sept. 2017....

I'd remained at the small Lutheran church through 2014 that I returned to after much indecision, but am yet again trying to discern what to do long-term about the church situation. I continue to feel drawn to this church, but our much-loved pastor felt called to transfer last month to another church - and I continue to also feel drawn to the Methodist church I previously attended for several months and had almost joined. I hope I'll soon have true insight into where I should be permanently worshipping and serving, once and for all...

I'll end this 2014 review with a sequel to my '07 post about "three new things I love" (which at that time were Cook's Illustrated magazine, the movie "Elizabethtown", and the delightful but cancelled TV show "Pushing Daisies"). I haven't discovered a new magazine, but this year I did discover a new-to-me movie (from 50 years ago!) and a new-to-me TV show (which aired from 1990-96!), which I both absolutely LOVE, though they couldn't be more different from each other. The movie was one I had heard about due to the fact that figure skaters often skate to its beautiful, haunting theme. When I saw in March that this movie was going to be aired on Turner Classic Movies, I decided to watch. I was so mesmerized that I went on eBay the next day and ordered the DVD, something I don't think I've ever done. The movie was "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg". I'll never again be able to hear the songs "I Will Wait For You" and "Watch What Happens" without thinking about that quaint French village and that beautiful young couple separated by war and circumstances.

And the TV show was one I never had even thought about watching (though I had seen several of its star's movies over the years) - till I became drawn to one of its co-stars who (I hope) is about to (or should) win the current season of "Dancing with the Stars". The night he did his "signature dance" from that show, and I learned it was a frequent feature of that show, I knew I had to check it out. To my amazement, I immediately fell in love with the show and have thoroughly enjoyed catching up on the episodes that are aired on 3 of our cable networks -- and am also buying the DVDs! The show? "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" -- and the man whose engaging personality and fluid dance moves caused me to finally discover it -- Alfonso Ribiero ("Carlton").

I'll continue to update my crochet blog a few times a year and plan to do that either this weekend or next weekend. I'll update this blog after my April trip or if something major happens before then.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Highs and Lows of 2013

Even though I said I wouldn't be updating this blog unless I had something drastic to report, it's been my custom to include somewhat of a year end review. This one will be fairly brief, but I am looking to make 2014 an exceptional year. As indicated in my last post, major changes do need to happen with me physically and spiritually, and I am determined (with God's help) to make those happen. 2013 got off to a rocky start with the sudden and very unexpected passing of my all-time favorite guinea pig, Connor, the previous Dec. 30, and the year never quite got back on track.

Several weeks after we lost Connor, I was surprised and delighted when my best friend from 7th-8th grade friended me on Facebook in Feb., and we proceeded to share many fun memories over the next several months. I thought we would be back in touch to stay. But she was dissatisfied with my foggy recollection of many of those memories (most of which were 40+ years in the past) and the amount of time I was able to spend in touch with her, largely due to my job. So it did turn out to be what is referred to as a "toxic relationship". Though I am glad to know she (like me) is still married to the same man, involved (like me) in the Lutheran church, and a yarn crafter (like me, except her craft is knitting) and I will always wish her well, I sadly realized that in this case, it appears that the past needs to remain in the past.

The high points of the year were the milestone 12th birthday of our dog Archie on Dec. 11th (our first dog to reach that age), my 3-day trip to Portland, my acquisition of a lovely silver 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser ("Cassie"), getting into "The Pioneer Woman" (Ree Drummond) just a couple of weeks ago and looking forward to enjoying more of her new-to-me TV shows and books, and - after still more church hopping - again landing back at the small Lutheran church I keep coming back to, hopefully this time to stay. The other low points (other than again losing my friend from the past) were the passing of another sweet guinea pig, Patches, on Christmas Eve (so now we only have one left, "Pudding") and "achieving" a new all-time high weight, albeit by only about 2 lbs. Despite my almost overwhelming desire to travel (having had to postpone my Alaskan cruise last Sept.), I feel I again need to postpone that for another year (except for local trips in Washington and maybe Oregon) to work on getting in shape physically, developing a closer relationship with God and my church, and paying down some of my debt. Then hopefully at this time next year, I can revisit my dreams of seeing a Nascar race or even certain cities in Europe.

I'll continue to update my crochet blog at (overdue but will shoot for this weekend) and will report back here with any updates later in 2014. Here's hoping all who read this have the best year yet.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Old Friends, Old and New Cars, and This Blog

I've been very much aware that I haven't made any entries to this blog since the beginning of this year. The year got off to a very unexpected sad start due to the sudden loss of my all-time favorite guinea pig, Connor, at the end of the previous year. Before that, I again had the lofty goal of losing my excess weight this year, and I also had made plans to go on a trip that seemed made for me -- an 8-day Alaskan cruise (the week of my birthday) featuring three concerts by my favorite singer Collin Raye (and the opportunity to spend some time with him). The year took an upswing when my best friend from 7th and 8th grade in Chicago (and the teens and 20s, though we went to different high schools) found me on Facebook. I had wondered for over 20 years where and how she was. We had fun reminiscing for a few weeks, as well as sharing our both being in the Lutheran church and being yarn crafters (she had become a knitter). Then we had a falling out. After that, my '88 Mercedes, "Bianca", needed expensive repairs, and our eldest dog, Archie, age 11, needed surgery to remove cysts. Following those expenses, I very reluctantly decided I couldn't afford to go on the Alaskan cruise and would settle for a birthday trip to Portland instead. I reached out to my childhood friend to rekindle our reunion, which proceeded to go beautifully the next few months. But now....she feels hurt that I didn't readily remember certain details from our pre-teen and teen years that happened decades ago. (I don't remember everything Dianne and I did this year, let alone details from umpteen years ago. It's great that my old friend remembers so many details, and maybe I should too, but my brain just doesn't function that way.) She feels hurt to not have been mentioned on my web site or blogs, though she had been out of my life for well over 20 years. I won't go into more detail here, but she is disappointed in me and that's unfortunate, since I do care about her. The time we spent together and things we did was a huge part of my life, but she doesn't seem to believe that. She feels it's an "excuse" when I explained my full-time job involves what I call "multi-tasking on steroids" and that it takes up a large percentage of my brain cells to keep everything straight, working on about 20 events at any given time, and expected to complete them all by a certain deadline...whereas she is retired. I don't know where we go from here, and I pray God gives us both the wisdom to know what to do. I do want to remain in touch with her, but I can't handle the discord.

I did take a 3-day trip to Portland during my birthday week last month and had a much better time than 2 years ago, when I had gotten a severe migraine halfway through the trip. I ended up postponing the trip by 2 days due to thunderstorms on my original 1st and 2nd trip days, and the hotels I paid for were not refundable, but I was not going to take the trip in terrible weather. I actually took the train to Vancouver (WA), rented a Toyota Camry there, visited Camas and Washougal, WA and then drove to Portland. Realizing I still do NOT enjoy driving in Portland, I did everything the next day by foot and bus -- walked to a Lutheran church 1-1/4 miles from the hotel, took a few bus rides and walked a few neighborhoods, visited a yarn store, and by that time I'd walked at least 6 miles and had painful blisters on my foot. The foot was still hurting too much the next day to walk any more than I had to, so I just hung out in my room, then returned the car to Vancouver and waited there for the train back to Tacoma. I had one more day off work, then worked the next three, not knowing that Friday evening turned out to be the last time I would drive "Bianca". That Sunday, when I tried to get to church, she would not start. Hubby couldn't start her either, and he took me to and from the park n'ride the following week so I could get to work. He talked to our mechanic, and we made the very difficult decision that it would not be economically feasible to try to keep my beautiful car running. Her final mileage: 204,996. The following week, Wed. the 25th was the day hubby was available to take me car shopping, so I took that day off work and prayed I'd come back home with the make of car I've wanted since I first saw them...a Chrysler PT Cruiser. I loved their retro look and felt they would be such a fun car to drive and easy to handle.

Doing online research of dealers, we were very surprised to realize that the dealers in our county seemed to charge considerably more for used PT Cruisers than dealers in towns 30+ miles south of here, such as Auburn and Puyallup, so that was why I needed to take the day off to car shop. Though I was open to other cars, in my heart I KNEW I wanted a PT Cruiser. I didn't think we would buy the first and only car I test drove, but that's how it turned out. We both test drove a silver '05 Cruiser in beautiful condition (aside from a bit of paint scraped off her bumper and a missing tail light which the dealer said he would mail a replacement for) with 116,000 miles. She handles like a dream, and acts and looks new. We were able to obtain same-day financing and I drove her home that same day. I had already decided to call her "Cassie" ("Cass" for short) because the name is cute, old-fashioned, starts with C like Chrysler and Cruiser...and rhymes with chassis! We get along beautifully; I do feel she is the perfect car for me, and I pray I will get to drive her as long as "Bianca" (who was already 17 years old when we bought her) if not longer. We are hoping to sell "Bianca" to someone who is very handy with cars and would have the desire to get her running again. She is still a beautiful car and I don't want her to end up in a junkyard yet...

So now the days are getting short, and as always, I do NOT look forward to having to commute home from work in the dark. And instead of losing any weight this year, I "achieved" a new all-time high weight recently (only 2.3 lbs. more than the previous record, but still...) and surely am presently hovering right around that area. One of the original goals for this blog was a before and after weight chronicle, and while I don't want to say that will never happen, it's easy to give up hope when it's this many years (decades) with not only no progress, but going in the wrong direction. My job takes up so much of my time and I've already referred to the stress, which leaves very little time, energy or motivation to try yet again. Unless this ever changes, I am probably not going to add to this blog for the foreseeable future, concentrating instead on my crochet blog at, which I plan to continue to update about 4 times a year. I will add updates about our pets to my Furballs pages at (and to my Facebook page). If, God willing, Archie makes it to age 12 in a little over 2 months (Dec. 11), he will be our first dog to reach that age. Heidi and Tessa came within a few weeks, Colby was 11, Farley was almost 11 and our dear Gus (who had a stroke) was only 7. Our other dogs, Jesse and Susie, and our remaining guinea pigs, Patches and Pudding, are doing well.

So I guess this will be my last entry for I said, unless anything drastic happens in my life to change that. If anyone actually reads these long rambles, thanks for doing so.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sad End to a Disappointing Year

When the time came to write our 2012 Christmas newsletter, I found I didn’t have much to say. The year did get off to a rocky start with a migraine, a severe icestorm and a bad cold. In some respects it was downhill from there. Didn’t go on any trips, STILL didn’t lose weight, changed churches a few times again (and now yet AGAIN since my last post!), and came home most every weekday from the same job with “brain overload”. As for the “furkids”, Jesse and Archie came through their respective medical issues very well, while Susie has mysteriously decided she is my husband’s dog and wants little to do with me. We lost one guinea pig, Pinky, at about age 7, but the other three piggies were thriving…or so it appeared…

On Sun., Dec. 30th, I was hanging out at home after church. Nothing out of the ordinary, till bedtime (by which time it was after midnight and became the 31st). As usual, hubby got out some veggies and hay as treats for our three sweet guinea pigs. He approached Connor’s cage, paused, looked under Connor’s igloo, paused again. I thought, why is he doing that? What could be wrong? Connor is the liveliest, most active and seemingly happy and healthy piggie we ever had. At the age of about 5, of course we would be enjoying the little cutie’s antics for at least two more years. Then came two words from my husband I still can’t believe he had to utter: “He’s dead.”

All I could say (yell?) was, “WHAT???? NO!!!!!! HOW?????” Of course, hubby didn’t know. So ended 2012 with a thud, with a heartbreaking and totally unexpected development, and so began 2013 with numbness. A second year in a row beginning in a lousy fashion, even more so than the last. The year is young and I keep telling myself, it will get better. But I can’t stop asking God – WHY did You take Connor from us, prematurely and with NO warning??? If You wanted to punish and hurt me for whatever reason, You have succeeded. But couldn’t You have found some other way?

We’ve had 17 piggies since 2000, and most of them have been wonderful and captured my heart to one degree or another. But Connor topped them all with his great personality and unique quirks. I come into the great room each day fully expecting to see him jog in circles around his igloo, then knock over the igloo several times in a row due to his degree of activity. Each time I went to his cage to set the igloo upright, he would come to the cage door on his hind legs to be petted and fussed on. He was also the only one who “sang” (squeaked very softly) when I held him, though oddly enough, our two remaining piggies, Patches and Pudding, are doing that now too. (I told them, “Connor must have taught you that.”)

He was fairly plain in appearance compared to many of our other piggies, just a beige shorthair with pink eyes. But he endeared himself to me more than any of the others….and now, just like that, he’s gone. It still doesn’t seem real. The only more shocking pet loss I experienced was when our darling dog Gus suddenly had a stroke and died a few hours later at age 7. Even our beloved dog Heidi, at least with her, we got a few days warning, and she had a fairly normal lifespan for a giant dog. Our pets are our “kids” and any time we lose one, it hurts. But some hurt worse than others. I have to say this loss is right up there with Gus and Heidi….I asked God the next night to PLEASE protect our remaining pets in 2013. But sometimes I wonder if He hears me and/or if he cares. Sweet Jesse seemed to sense something was wrong and spent extra time laying by my chair the past several nights. He did the same thing when Heidi passed. I pray God has mercy and lets us keep Jesse at least a couple more years…

Then, like the icing on a poisoned cake, I got on the scale New Year’s Day morning and saw a figure I’d begged God to never let me see again. It was “only” 6/10th of a pound more than the scale read on New Year’s morning 2012. But it put me just over that dreaded number. I do have special incentive more than ever to lose the weight by my next birthday in Sept. I’m going on a special vacation I hadn’t planned to, but it felt so right in every way that I had to sign up. More on that when it gets closer.

I’ll update my crochet blog soon. I finished the Amaryllis tablecloth, made several small angel doilies for Christmas gifts, and am now working on another of my fancy Barbies. I went through my many crochet patterns a couple weeks ago and put some on Listia, to get points for more Amazon gift cards. As for the ongoing church saga, I’ll wait to say any more on that till the dust settles. So 2013 begins without my all-time favorite piggie and my faith shaken once again. I miss him SO much. Things HAVE to get better from here (don’t they?).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Full Circle Revisited, and A Tale of Two Friends

I didn't plan to take this long to post to this blog. It's been a disappointing year in some respects. On Nov. 1, I actually weighed a fraction of a pound more than on Jan. 1. A fraction of a pound is hardly anything. But considering I started out the year determined to finally lose 55 (or as close to that as possible), at this point, with my carb cravings as strong as ever (despite going mostly gluten-free a few weeks ago, which seems to have helped my headache frequency and insomnia, I seem to have mostly substituted one set of carbs for another), I feel this may never happen without divine intervention.

Something else I didn't expect at the beginning of this year, but which I do have peace about and feel was the right decision for me, is something I call "Full Circle Revisited". I went from a non-denominational evangelical church to a liturgical church in 2008, spent a year and a half church hopping starting in '09, and joined another non-denominational evangelical church in 2011 (due to my need for fellowship and friendships, even though the worship style was more contemporary than I felt comfortable with). time went on, I longed more and more for the peaceful, deep worship experience I had at the church I'd found in '08, with its multi-faceted liturgy, responsive readings, timeless music and kneeling up front for communion rather than "passing the plate" in the pew. I know that a lot of Christians would find this boring and vastly prefer a band up front with lyrics of "praise choruses" on a big colorful screen. I even tried to tell myself that contemporary worship is meant to be a celebration and if my heart was truly right with God, I would want to celebrate Him in that manner. But as I already knew, I guess I am not like most people and need to have the church experience that is best for ME. So I rejoined my former church two Sundays ago.

I haven't attended the non-denominational church since July, but have continued to care for and miss the people there, especially two ladies I hoped to build a close friendship with. I still hope that will be possible. But of course, it will be more challenging now that I have changed churches, and they have not tried to contact me since I last saw them in July. The weekly Tues. evening Bible study started again a few weeks ago, and the pastor's wife emphasized I would continue to be welcome there. I have not ruled out rejoining that Bible study. But when my friends (who both attend it) have not contacted me in all this time to see where and how I am, it feels a bit awkward. (And my full-time job has been so chaotic lately that I haven't felt like going anywhere any night after work, including to choir practice at the church I've rejoined.) What I may do is to attend my former church's Christmas craft night next Fri. evening, which I expect they will both be at. I want to let them know I still want to get together with them and hope we can do that, and will just see how it goes....

So after all this time, here I am back at the church I left in '08 and realized I have always missed. And similarly, after this week's election, all the campaigning and ads and anticipation of a possible new beginning, here we are back exactly where we were: same President, same Senate and same House. I (and millions of others) sure never saw this coming, especially that first item I mentioned. And thus resulted what I will call "The Tale of Two Friends". I think everyone has had an experience where you think you know someone, assumed they cared for you, but then it takes literally nothing (at least, nothing YOU did wrong) to tear you apart. Early last year, two people from my past found me on Facebook. I was thrilled to be reunited for both of them and exchanged many long letters with both of them to catch up. Prior to election day, I found something on the Facebook page of one of them that bothered me (specifically, something in favor of a President who I feel has acted contrary in every way to Christian beliefs). I asked her about it and she explained her viewpoint. While I was surprised and do not agree, I appreciated that she explained how she felt. Well....when the results were decided, I went to Facebook, expecting my other friends to feel like I did. Instead, the other person from my past thanked God for the result. This was pretty shocking to me, so I sent her what I thought was a tactful private message. I prefaced it that I love her but wondered why she felt as she did. I also stated she is entitled to her opinion but that I just didn't know why a Christian would support someone that seems so anti-Christian. Nothing inflammatory there, or so I thought. Just asking...and expecting they would want to share their feelings with me just as the other person from my past did.

I was totally unprepared for what happened next. This "friend" became VERY indignant that I would dare to question her choice. She unfriended me on Facebook and asked that I not contact her again. Wow!! I sent back a conciliatory message, explained I did not intend to offend, was just asking a question. I heard nothing back. Then late last night, I found she posted to Facebook that a "friend" sent her a "snooty judgmental message" about her vote. Double wow. I believe in forgiveness, but in retrospect, this person has hurt me very deeply and unless they apologize, I do feel it's over between us. I have never had many friends and didn't want to lose one, but her lashing out at me just because I asked her a question is uncalled for. This person has been through a lot in the past couple of years and I have tried my best to be a supportive friend to her. That she would disown me over this is stunning to me. Like I think you know someone and you assume they would care enough to discuss and try to understand any differences in opinion you may have, since that is what friends do. But it appears that will not happen. So unless God intervenes and shows her how she hurt me, I say to her, goodbye and God be with you always...

On a happier note, several nights ago I had the great privilege to spend 2 hours talking on the phone to an incredibly kind, gentle, anointed (and famous...) Christian counselor about the isolation I feel from other Christians and my need to develop close local friendships (and the difficulty that I seem to have being able to do so). I thank God for her and appreciate SO much that she chose to devote her entire radio show that night to me. Among other encouraging words and the many Scriptures she cited, she latched on to the fact that I am an expert crocheter and suggested I look into visiting women at our local nursing home who are lonely and don't tend to get visitors, and bring them a shawl or lapghan I made to let them know someone cares. This is a great idea and is something I will look into in the near future.

After I post this, I will go back to working on the 8th of 9 large (18-inch) squares of a crochet thread project, "Amaryllis Tablecloth". A picture of one of the squares pinned to the blocking mat (to stretch it into its full size and square shape) is on my current post on my crochet blog at Once all 9 squares are finished and blocked, I will stitch them together and add the edging. I hope to have it done by the end of this month (the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend will help there). After this, I hope to start looking into the possible ministry that the wonderful Christian counselor suggested. Stay tuned....

P.S. I had completed this post and realized I left out something very important! My beloved '88 Mercedes sedan, "Bianca", which I have had since (I think) 2005, passed the 200,000 mile mark 3 days ago! Yay, Bianca! Hope I get to enjoy driving her for many more thousands. It will be a sad day when I have to replace her. But so far, she is doing quite well for her age and looks much younger!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Unmet Expectations; Farewell to Pinky

Following the migraine and the severe icestorm that started out the year in January (and having lost almost 5 pounds toward my goal in spite of those stresses), once again things have reversed themselves in my previous "stronger-than-ever" resolve to achieve my weight goal THIS year once and for all. 5 months into the new year, despite posting my intentions on Facebook for accountability, I find myself 2.2 pounds heavier than I was on January 1st. Granted, this is not a lot, the way I have been (over)eating, including having polished off a SIX-pound Costco bag of my favorite craved (addicted to) snack in 10 days. But that is not the point. I have again passed a number on the scale I vowed I would NEVER see again. Why, when I know that giving in to my carb addiction is sapping what little energy I have, making me continue to feel/look like a cow and ultimately shortening my life? It's not an excuse, but with this being a true addiction, and the constant stress 24/7 between my unmanageable workload at a job I feel trapped at and coming home to the disrepair and spouse's hoarding that never changes, my choice has been to give in to the immediate comfort the excess carbs provide. I am not willing yet to give up, to say this will never change. There are 7 months left in the year and while it's highly unlikely I could still make my goal weight this year, I can make progress toward it. Whether I will remains the $64,000 question.

This is not meant to be an excuse for all the things I should do and don't, but I caught a bad cold in early March which resulted in 2 more sick days from work, then caught bronchitis in early April which resulted in one more sick day. So I had already depleted most of my sick days for the year just over a quarter of the way into the year. Thankfully -- and this IS a very good thing -- my 30+ year problem with migraines has been much more manageable so far this year. I have not had a truly bad one, the type that results in vomiting and knife-like pain for 2-3 days, since the one in January. My migraines got a lot worse last year, including two very ill-timed severe episodes that caused me to miss Dianne's dad's memorial service and ruined my vacation to Portland and Salem. So I pray this respite will continue. I'm debating whether to visit Portland again later this year for my birthday since I didn't get to enjoy last year's trip very much. I DO look forward to the one-day guided bus trip Dianne and I have planned a few weeks from now to the San Juan Islands. As relatively close as it is, I haven't visited there since the 80s. A great advantage of living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest is, if you don't have the money and time to travel far (which I don't), one can have scenic, fun and diverse getaways without venturing far. The weather has usually been great so far this spring (highs in the 60s and 70s, without much rain) so we pray that will remain the case for our trip.

I need to give a belated mini-tribute to Pinky, our pretty white albino guinea pig who passed away in the wee small hours of April 21st. We got to enjoy Pinky longer than any of our other piggies. We adopted her in Sept. 2006. We don't know what her age was at the time, but since it's said piggies live about 7 years, it appears Pinky had a pretty normal lifespan. She was a quiet but very sweet critter who loved carrots and gave us a lot of pleasure during the 5-1/2 years she was part of our household. So now we are down to three special piggies -- my precious purring, singing athlete Connor and the two pretty tortoiseshell cagemates, Patches and Pudding. We love them very much and pray we will be able to enjoy them for many more years! The doggies are all doing fine -- including Jesse, 9, who continues to amaze us with his great attitude and energy following having had his left eye removed due to cancer last fall.

I updated my crochet blog at on Memorial Day with pics and info about my latest projects, including the two cardigan sweaters (for myself and sister-in-law Val) that I spent much time grappling with crochet patterns that weren't written well and ultimately decided to make both without a pattern. They both turned out well, and it's nice to now be working on another of my fancy Barbies for my collection. I had also continued to be active on Listia, sort of a bartering version on eBay, selling crochet patterns and books and other items to gain points I then used for more patterns, purses and jewelry. I'm now taking a little break from Listia, since there is currently nothing else I need (except a new bod...). I MAY consider offering some items I've crocheted with the goal of ultimately gaining enough points for a smartphone. But I'll take the summer off and revisit that idea later in the year.

I've continued to attend and enjoy my church that it took me so long to find, despite the services still being a bit contemporary for me, and plan to become more involved there. The assistant pastor may be visiting soon and helping with a game plan to remedy things we need help with at home (especially the storm damage to our great room ceiling from back in '09 and the washer and dryer that have still never been hooked up since there is no room in our utility room) and hubby's extreme clutter compulsion....hopefully sooner rather than later since this has continued to be a major stressor for me. I missed church again today due to oversleeping and also missed last Tuesday's small group again due to the brain overload from my workload at my job (despite help from assistants, it still feels out of control). I need to try to get to my Tuesday group this week since I think we are only meeting for a few more weeks till the summer break. So....the year has not been awful but I'm disillusioned with myself and hope to have more encouraging news to report next time re the various daily battles I grapple with.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Icestorm 2012 and Other Obstacles

As often seems to be the case, January 2012 has been a weird month. Nothing really horrible happened (though that was not the case for other area people, mainly due to the weather). But it's been just annoying and cruddy enough to disrupt my usual routine and cause me to again say, "Good riddance!" I again had such high hopes of turning over a new leaf on certain bad habits from the very beginning of the year (such as staying up too late and overeating), and I've NOT given up those hopes. Not by a longshot -- I am probably even more determined now. But January, with its short, wet, windy, cold, dark days, does not provide the most conducive environment for being successful in turning such habits around. I have to believe that January must be everyone's least favorite month (at least those of us in the Western Hemisphere). It's a good thing it comes first so that we all can get it over with and move on to longer, milder days.

I already got my first major migraine of the year (the kind that force taking a sick day) the evening of January 4th and into the 5th. That was fast. I probably asked for it, since I had a fling on New Year's Eve with a certain food that I know gives me migraines if I overeat it. I only had maybe 2/3rds the usual pigout portion, but it was enough. It really does somewhat kill one's desire to eat that food, no matter how good it may taste going down. I'm finding alternatives I like almost as much that don't do that to me.

Then, after a mild winter we all hoped would continue, this area got socked but good with what has been called Icestorm 2012 -- or Icemageddon! It started slowly with an inch or so of snow in the wee hours of Sun. the 15th -- just enough to where hubby recommmended I not try to drive to church in my 24-year-old, rear wheel drive Mercedes. He drove me to the ferry dock and back the next two days so that I could get to work and get back home. Then, the night of Tues. the 17th into the next day, we got at least 6 inches (and many parts of the Metro area got much more -- thankfully, rare for western Wash.) With the hills here, even 6 inches make it pretty impossible to get around, even in a Jeep. So I got snow days off work the next two days. I liked that part, though I now only have 3 more vaca days till they replenish in May. He was able to get me to the dock and back again on Friday -- and the bosses were impressed that I made it in when most of the staff who live in the same town as my office didn't.

By now, the snow was gradually (VERY gradually) melting during the day when it got into the 40s. But this led to a whole new problem when the roads would refreeze into smooth sheets of ice overnight. My church's annual chili cookoff, which was to have been held that Friday the 20th, was postponed one week, and Dianne and I mutually agreed it would be best to wait a week for me to drive the 38 or so miles to visit her, even if I could have gotten my car out (which, however, was still encrusted in ice). Hubby did not have to work the following Sun. the 23rd (rare), so we got to go to church in his Jeep -- where I got a taste of what I was about to experience the next morning. Though they had apparently spread salt, the parking lot was still very icy and treacherous to try to walk on.

Hubby still had to take me to the dock and back for work till this past Thurs. -- that's how long the snow and ice finally took to melt. That Monday was the worst of the icy roads. There were several bad traffic accidents from the black ice on the roads, and when I got off the bus to walk the 3 blocks to my office -- wearing my so-called traction soled shoe boots -- I may as well have been wearing ballet slippers for the total lack of traction I was able to get! After trying it for 1/2 block, I realized if I was going to get to the office without falling (several time), I would have to flag down a car and have them take me the remaining 2-1/2 blocks -- which I did. Thankfully, it stayed above freezing the next night, so that was the only day I had to go through that.

Even though the weather was much better by yesterday, Dianne and I were stressed from dealing with the elements the past week and a half and decided to wait one more week to get together. I looked forward to attending the chili cookoff, since one year ago, that was when I met several wonderful people at church and decided I may need to give this church (which was much more contemporary than I was seeking) another look. I also planned to take a run over to Dollar Tree, and of course, to church today. Instead, I was inside AGAIN the entire weekend. When I got to the park n'ride on Friday, I was surprised to see"Bianca's" (my car) left parking light on -- just the one side light -- as I distinctly remembered turning her lights off that morning. I got a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach what this would mean when I got in to start her up -- and sure enough.....nothing. No Good Samaritans were around to help me; they were all concentrating on one thing and that was going home. So I called hubby at work, waited 1/2 hour while realizing I would either not get to the cookoff or be very late....and he could not start her with his jumper cables. So.....he called AAA. Another half-hour waiting for them. The man examined her and said it WAS her battery; he did get her started with his truck but recommended I not drive her beyond the three miles home till the battery is replaced. Hubby had to work all weekend (as usual) and had no chance to get a battery, so no DollarTree and no church today. I said, nothing tragic but just stressful enough to make me feel like doing not a whole lot at home besides crocheting in front of the tv. (And I did get my crochet blog,, updated today also with my latest creations.) At least my fingers are getting exercise!

The pooches and other critters are doing OK. Jesse is hanging in there well after the traumatic experience of our having to have his eye removed late last year. I vowed at the beginning of this year that as much as I long to travel this year (with my Portland/Salem trip being ruined last June by a migraine), I would instead concentrate this year on getting healthier, exercising, eating less, and paying down credit card debt instead of adding even more to it with train or plane and hotel bills. I still absolutely have this game plan but like I said, January does not lend itself well to health decisions -- especially the January that included Icestorm 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A (Mostly) Uneventful Year

I didn't realize it had been this long since I made an entry in this blog. I always heard that time goes by faster the older you get, and it's true. It feels like only a couple of months ago that this year was new and I was still trying to absorb the shock that my Aunt Bernice, who I spent so many enjoyable hours with for most of my life, had passed away several weeks before and I was never told anything until a couple of scribbled lines on a Christmas card from a cousin who (I thought) knew what she meant to me...and the shock of losing my friend Sandi who was so instrumental in bringing hubby and I together...and the shock of losing our friends Mike and Al, all way too young (55, 61 and 56 respectively). Then there was a BIG situation hubby and I were still going through (finance-oriented) that was not resolved till this year and that I hope I/we never go through again. While digesting all of this and hoping this year would be better, January (mostly was). My cousin's dear daughter Janet and my LONG-time pen pal Ellayne (who I wrote to on and off since we were 15 and 16) found me on Facebook. It has been so awesome getting reacquainted with them. And that same month, I went to the annual Chili Cookoff at First Christian Church (not even being sure why, since it was SO different from the traditional liturgical type of church I was sure I was seeking) and that night, Jill, Mary Ann, Becky and Sharon found me. I gradually came to realize, to my shock after a year and a half of searching in vain, that THIS was the church where I was meant to be. So that was a big part of my life that was finally settled (even though a BIG part of me still feels unworthy to be considered part of a place with SUCH Godly, loving people).

The next noteworthy occurrences of the year were downers. Only a few weeks before we found each other again, my good friend Ellayne was stunned by the sudden loss of her husband, who was my age. Yet another somber reminder of the brevity and uncertainty of life. My dear friend Dianne's beloved dad Hal died in April at age 89 -- and I was crushed to not be able to attend his memorial service due to a severe migraine. In May, our darling "secret" dog Zane, a beautiful purebred collie who had lived in our yard with his two sisters since Dec. '09, suddenly died at the young age of 7. And my anticipated three-day trip to Portland and Salem (and potentially Eugene, but I didn't make it that far) in June was ruined by another severe migraine.

The next few months were pretty uneventful -- work most every weekday, stay up too late on weekends, crochet every chance I get, see Dianne every few weeks, try to get to church and to my Tues. night Bible study every few weeks. Then in Oct. and Nov., our wonderful senior furballs Jesse and Archie had surgeries a few weeks apart. First, Jesse had a tumor removed from his eyelid. We were shocked to find out it was cancer,, but the vet was sure he got it all. Then Archie had a hematoma removed from his ear. Aside from the first night when he forced off the bandage and made a mess, he recovered well. But Jesse's left eye gradually started looking weird, to where it looked like a oval divided diagonally, half solid black and half solid pink. So earlier this month, back to the vet he went. We were beyond shocked to learn that the cancer was back and the vet felt that the surest way to keep the cancer from recurring again (though there was still no guarantee)...was to remove his left eye. This was stunning news, but we knew we had to do whatever we can to save our boy. So, on Dec. 14, he had the surgery. It went well....but over the next several days, Jesse scratched the area and removed the stitches. So on the 22nd, he had to go back for a THIRD operation. Now he has to wear one of those dang cones around his neck to keep him from scratching it. He doesn't like it and we don't either, but there is no choice. It's broken my heart that our poor baby has had to go through all this, and we can only pray that he heals completely now and that the cancer does NOT come back. So the year, that started out so well, has not ended all that well. But we are thankful to still have Jesse and Archie, and that Susie (who turned 3 in Sept. and still has not bonded with me after 2+ years, but I do love her) and our piggies (including Pinky, the senior) are doing well.

On Sat., Dec. 17, Dianne and I took a bus trip to Leavenworth (a/k/a America's Bavaria) for their annual tree lighting, which was her Christmas present to me. It was a memorable day in a beautiful setting, and on the trip back, on the bus they showed the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" (the original from '47) which, incredibly, I had never seen. I really enjoyed it, so much that I watched it again on TV on Christmas Day. Christmas itself was quiet as usual, with hubby having to work at the kennel. I intended to go to church on both Christmas Eve and Day, but he was too tired to go Christmas Eve after working all day, so I stayed home with him. I heard it was packed Christmas Eve and not so the next day, but still a nice service. I made cornish hens and the usual simple side dishes, finished the latest fancy pink thread baby dress, and just took it easy the next day, then back to work today (well, actually yesterday -- so what else is new; when am I NOT awake after midnight!).

I'll post my latest crochet projects to my crochet blog by the end of the year, and look forward to another long weekend before the long, dark month of January. Hopefully the coming year will be better for my friends who lost someone so dear to them, and our sweet doggies will hang in there also. I have another hope for 2012 that I won't go into just now, what with all the false starts and literally giving up that it will never happen. I DID give up, but hopefully not forever. And that's all I'll say about that for now, except that I can't do it without the divine intervention I feel has eluded me all these decades....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harry, Susie, Birthdays and Continued Battles

I just updated my crochet blog ( yesterday with my latest projects and also wanted to be sure to update this one before my 3-day weekend is over. It's my birthday tomorrow so it's a major bummer that I have to go back to work tomorrow. But at least it will be a short work week. I took this coming Friday and the following Monday as days off, since Dianne suggested we go to the Puyallup Fair on its opening day (Fri.) for free attendance with a can of food.

It's already been a month since one of our favorite little guinea pigs, Harry, passed away. We were blessed to have him almost 5 years. I did update my "furballs3" page at (the page on my site that's dedicated to the many piggies we've had) the day it happened. Little Harry had to be the prettiest piggie we've had -- he had silky long hair and was tri-tone -- white, black and brown, and he was very sweet. Now we just have four piggies left -- Pinky, Connor, Patches and Pudding -- and Pinky is getting up there in age; we actually got him (or her; we've never been 100% sure) shortly before Harry. The other three boys are still fairly young and doing well so God willing, we'll get to keep enjoying them for several more years.

Our other critters are also doing well, though our precious Susie has some sort of kidney issue. She has continued to be her frisky, happy self so we are praying it's something that can be easily controlled with medication. Rex just brought in another urine sample last week that apparently had to be sent to some out-of-town lab, so we're waiting to hear....Sweet Susie will turn 3 years old next Sat. the 10th, so I want to wish her a happy and healthy early birthday!

Other than that, life has continued to go on the way it always seems to: stay up too late due to insomnia and my "owl" nature, get up most days needing at least 2 more hours sleep, sit in an office for 8 hours experiencing brain overload and wishing I was elsewhere, go home, watch TV, crochet unless I'm too tired to even do that, stay up too late and do it all over again. Yeah, I'm glad to have a job when thousands of others need one, but I'm SO tired of being tired. I know I would feel much less tired and have tons more self-esteem if I ever lost these 50 pounds, but I lose a few and fall back into the same routine of not exercising because I'm tired and overeating carbs for comfort and because I would feel deprived without them.

Spirtually, I blame God for even the tiniest irritation, then feel forgotten by Him because He is not helping me with my weight and it's related symptoms (insomnia, headaches, and a faulty bladder and digestive system). Then each Sun., I go to my vibrant church and feel cared for yet unworthy to be around the others, who all appear to genuinely love God and are blessed by Him. I got my driver's license renewed on Friday and was totally taken aback to how droopy and tired my eyes looked and how fat my face looked. I pray with all my heart to somehow be able to have my next (2016) driver's license picture look a lot more like the 2006 one (which was really the only good d.l. pic I ever had) than the 2011 one. I plan to go to our church's ladies retreat the weekend of Oct. 7-9, so hopefully that will help me turn these issues around if I haven't by then.

I've had it with feeling and looking fat and sluggish day after day, month after month, and feeling so disconnected from this God I'm told loves me. Yet I am also very much aware that this Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01 and the horror that day brought to thousands of innocent people. It makes my everyday irritations totally pale by comparison and makes me feel guilty that my small problems get to me so badly....and yet they do. God, PLEASE change my heart....

Monday, July 4, 2011

Churches and Chairs

A major unsettled area of my life these past few years has finally been settled -- not in the way I would have expected as recently as a couple months ago, but, in a "coming full circle" sort of way, I feel I'm where I'm supposed to be. I've gone back and forth countless times since 2008 (as many entries to this blog since then will attest) regarding where my church home would be. Hubby and I had been attending a small non-denominational church for several years, and while we were (and are) fond of the pastor and his wife and the other people there, the services were very simple (a few praise choruses, maybe a solo or ensemble, a few more choruses, a sermon and an ending chorus), I'd long felt something was missing. (In the meantime, hubby began working most every Sunday and was unable to attend with me.) Through E-mail conversations with my sister-in-law and a subsequent visit to a small traditional Lutheran church, I became convinced that what I was missing was the beauty and history of the liturgical style of service. I wondered if I would find it stuffy and cold, but the opposite was true. It truly ministered to me, and for the next several months, I was excited about going to church. I soon became aware of some policy issues of the church's governing body that I disagreed with, yet I proceeded to join the church in Feb. '09, but ended up leaving (along with many others) three months later.

Over the next couple years, I ended up going back to that church a few times (still having differences with the governing body but feeling unable to let go of that particular church). I attended a Presbyterian church and then a Methodist church regularly for some time and had attended the membership class for both, but didn't feel led to make that final step. I still felt convinced that I needed a liturgical service, but there are only a certain number of that type of church within a reasonable distance of where I live. At times I thought I would never find the right church for me, or that it simply didn't exist. I wanted so badly to resolve this situation and it was so frustrating to feel it just would not happen for me.

One day early this year, having returned once again to the Methodist church but again feeling it wasn't right, I searched online for what felt like the umpteenth time. There was a church called First Christian whose web site had caught my eye before. I could tell it was not a liturgical church, but I could also tell it seemed like an alive and vibrant place and had a lot of activities going on. I attended one Sunday and the people were so very welcoming but the service, as I suspected, was contemporary. But I thought, "I could go to some of their activities without attending the worship services".

Shortly thereafter, I decided it would be fun to attend their chili cookoff on a Friday evening. I made a few rounds sampling the chili and trying to decide which to vote for when four ladies invited me to sit with them. I lost track of time as these ladies proceeded to interact with me like we had always known each other. I had never experienced anything like this at any other church. As I left that evening, I was confused. Why did I feel drawn to this church and these people, when I wasn't looking for a contemporary church? Well, I'd need to attend other activities there while I continued to look for the right Sunday worship service -- because I wanted to see these ladies again. They actually seemed like people I could become friends with, something I'd been desperately missing. I have Dianne, but she's 35+ miles away and we only see each other every 4-6 weeks.

A few weeks after that, I began (and am still) attending a Bible study every Tuesday at the home of one of the ladies from the chili cookoff. This became such an anticipated weekly event (despite my thinking I did not want to go anywhere on a weekday evening after a long day at work) that, at first occasionally, then more often and finally every week, I began attending on Sundays also. I found I was getting more used to the contemporary services because of the love of God that was so evident everywhere at this church. To my astonishment, I decided a few weeks ago that THIS is where God was leading me as my church home, and I was officially welcomed as a member on June 26th. It IS very different from what I thought I was looking for, but I'm convinced it's the place I've been looking for all this time. As I mentioned on Facebook, I feel privileged to be there but also unworthy to be among such genuinely Godly people, and I pray more of what they have will rub off on me!

In the meantime, my dear friend Dianne has settled into her new smaller 1-story home in a gated 55+ community a couple miles from the home she'd lived in the past 11 years, and she and her 3 little dogs are really enjoying it. I went there to visit her a week ago Sat., the day before I joined First Christian. She knew her mom was looking for a recliner and phoned her to see if we could take her to ReclinerLand in Auburn to look for one and then go out to eat, and she agreed. I said, "I wish I could get a new recliner; mine broke a couple weeks ago!" I'd sat in, sometimes slept in and bounced around in the poor thing the past few years and it was getting pretty rickety. Then one weeknight, I went to push the footrest down and it didn't go down. I pushed harder and the right side came off! We have a spare recliner that was actually quite similar, so I figured that would now be my chair.

While Margaret and Dianne were looking at recliners, while having NO intention of buying myself a new one, I tried out some of the more affordable ones for future reference. I came to a $742 chair in a dusty medium gold fabric that was on clearance for $295. It was SO soft and comfy. As with my church, I felt drawn to it. It just felt SO right and though the color was not my first choice, it was neutral and I felt it would look good in our great room. I told myself, "I work hard and need a comfy place to relax when I'm home, and the price is right". After arguing with myself for 20-ish minutes while Margaret ordered her chair, I decided to buy the comfy gold chair. I thought my hubby would have a fit (since we had the spare recliner and also said he could fix the broken one), but to my surprise, he agreed it was a practical purchase and a good price! It was delivered this past Saturday and I'm enjoying hanging out in it this 3-day weekend. I'll post its picture here, but it looks nicer in person than in the pic. I love my chair!

Not a lot else is new. I completed the Barbie in the cream and burgundy striped gown (pic coming soon to my crochet blog at, and now my large glass cabinet where I display my Barbies is full. So I'll need to figure out a display method for a few more I plan to make. I'm currently working on a green shawl (same pattern as the peach one I made for one of the graduating senior girls at church) in sage (looks more like apple green) Simply Soft that I found for half price on my recent trip to Portland and Salem which turned out to be a disappointment (got lost a LOT despite multiple Google maps and was sick with another of my major migraines the entire third day). That was hard to take after having to postpone this trip last year, but joining my church and having my new chair has helped ease the pain. usual as this time of night, I'm not sleepy. Hopefully I will be soon, so I don't sleep away half of my very rare day off work. Happy Birthday, U.S.A.!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Goodbye, Secret Love

Since New Year's Eve 2009, Rex and I have had three lovely collie dogs in our lives. These are really not dogs we adopted in the same sense of our current pet dogs Susie, Archie and Jesse, or our other past pet dogs chronicled in the Furballs section of It was more like we became their caretakers when their original "mom" became terminally ill and their original "dad" could no longer care for them. This was not my idea, as we already had three dogs and had only adopted Susie three weeks before. But apparently, according to my husband, these folks could find no one else to take all three collies. (I found, and still find, this hard to believe. There are rescue organizations that would have be glad to have them. I think it was just that Rex wanted them. It was easy to see why; all three were so sweet and docile, and very beautiful.)

Though I didn't like the idea, and it has been strange to generally not be able to tell people about these lovely dogs (since technically, we are only supposed to have four dogs in this county), I grew fond of the collies, and they have literally been no trouble. All they ask is to have food and water brought to them each day, and to be together. I understood why their former "mom and dad" asked that they not be separated. The only issue has been that Zane, the lone male, who I believe was about 5-1/2 when he and his mates (Bella and Terra, age 4) came to stay in our yard, had an occasional seizure which seemed to be some form of canine epilepsy. He would be on his side for about 15-20 minutes and then would gradually get up and seem to be fine again.

Though all three collies are very pretty, Zane definitely had the classic Lassie look. He was the only one of the three who occasionally came inside. He spent the least time in the large doghouse Rex built, so he would often get wet in the frequent rain, and we would let him in for a few minutes and dry him off (just a few minutes, since he and the girls were never housebroken, as they had always lived outdoors). He seemed to be having seizures less often than he used to and seemed fine. At the age of not quite 7, he seemed to be in the prime of his doggie life, and we naturally assumed to have him and his sisters for several more years. But tonight, Rex saw Zane laying in the same position in the rain for quite some time. He went to check on Zane but he didn't respond. So Rex carried him inside on a board, dried him off and covered him. He never did stir from that position and died sometime tonight. This is so sad and unexpected; sort of like when our Gus suddenly died of a stroke at not quite age 7. We wonder if that's what happened to Zane. It's not the same devastation as when Gus, my indoor buddy, died. Zane lived outside and I didn't have that same bonding with him. But I wish I could have known Zane better. He was a wonderful dog and we will miss him very much. I think it will be harder on Rex since he spent more time with the collies than I did. Rex just had his appendix out three days ago, and though he is healing quickly and should be able to return to work soon, I know he was not planning to have to build a doggie coffin later today.

It's so hard sometimes for me to understand and accept many of the things God allows to happen -- and to not happen. I don't know why he took Zane and Gus at a relatively young age when they should have had several more happy years. Even more so for several of the human friends who passed on last year -- Sandi Lee, Al Haymaker, Mike Peterson. Then there was my having to miss Dianne's dad Hal's memorial service on Good Friday, after I rearranged my work schedule all week so that I could be there to support my friend and pay respect to her dear dad. Instead, I was hit with the mother of all migraines and was too sick to go anywhere that day. It really hurt me to miss Hal's service, and especially because, as I wrote in my last blog entry, I'd resolved to sacrifice and cut back on foods I craved and FINALLY lose the weight. I felt as though I was being punished for doing the right thing. As a result, I AGAIN gave up on this lofty goal and AGAIN resolved it will never happen, instead indulging in those foods I crave. I figured, if God isn't going to bless my efforts and instead shoot me down with a major migraine, then why deny myself? It will be quite some time, if ever, before I again muster the resolve to lose the weight. It's hard to have that resolve when God won't help me, as He knows I can't do it alone. I had decided it was too much with my work and church schedule to rejoin TOPS, but I know how to lose the weight on my own. I've done it before. I just don't feel inclined to keep trying when my efforts keep getting shot down.

I'm still attending the contemporary church I described last time and still struggling with how contemporary the services are compared to what I'd grown used to the past few years. But the place is so alive and vibrant, that I can only hope the love of God shown by the people there rubs off on me. Though it's not what I thought I was looking for in a church, it's what I need at this time, and who knows, maybe for the long haul!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Losses and New Beginnings -- continued

I didn't realize I hadn't posted to this blog since January 1st. I guess I was concentrating more on my new crochet blog (, even though I've only posted once to that one in 2011 so far. Soon I'll be adding another entry there with the latest few Barbie (and Skipper) gowns I''ve crocheted.

Spring finally arrived a few weeks ago, and was most welcome despite chiller-than-usual temperatures. I always enjoy the later sunsets and longer days. The weeks continue to rush by, with too much time needing to be spent at my demanding but necessary full-time job and never enough of the leisure time I treasure. Even though it seems I'm seldom able to take any days off work, I'm now out of vacation days till they're renewed in a few more weeks. Since I'll be at my present job 5 years as of May 15 (hard to believe), presumably I'll now finally get the long-awaited 3 weeks per year, so I can take a couple mini-vacations per year (funds permitting) and an occasional day at home to catch up on things or just hang out. Definitely looking forward to being able to do a bit more of that.

Sadly, I have another loss to report -- actually two. A few weeks after the thrill of my long-time pen pal Ellayne finding me on Facebook after many years, and the joy of learning she'd been happily remarried for the past 10 years, I was sad and shocked to learn of the sudden passing of her soulmate, who was my age. This was a terrible shock for my friend and she has been very much in my prayers. Just another solemn reminder that tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

Of all weekends for me to not check my E-mail till Sunday night, this weekend was not the one I should have delayed. When I finally got online a few hours ago, after a relaxing weekend of going through recipes, a long-overdue washing of my car "Bianca", and a nice Palm Sunday church service, I found my dear friend Dianne's daughter Lisa's Facebook message that her grandpa and Dianne's beloved dad, Hal, had passed away Friday night. Hal had gone into the hospital a couple of weeks ago following a heart attack and things looked dire, but from what Dianne said Monday when I last spoke with her, it looked like her dad was stabilizing and hanging in there. I was going to phone her this weekend but figured when I didn't hear, that the situation remained the same. Now I wish I had phoned. Hal was 89 and a devoted Christian, so Dianne can take comfort in that fact (I have no such assurance with either of my parents). But I know that this is still a painful ordeal for her. I will check in with her tomorrow and hope she will understand my not having done so earlier. Hal was a wonderful man who I had seen many times over the past 21 years that we've lived in Wash., and I too will miss him.

As for the new beginnings continuing, since 2009 it's seemed that every time I think I have my church situation figured out and have made a decision on which church I belong at and will join, something happens to change that. I went from the non-denominational church Rex and I attended for several years to the small Lutheran church I have many happy memories of and where I feel a piece of me still resides, to the Methodist church, back to the Lutheran church, back again to the Methodist church. I thought I finally settled on that Methodist church, and still, something was missing. I enjoyed the services, and doctrinally, I felt comfortable. I just felt I should have more of a sense of belonging and fitting in with the others after having attended for several months. I wasn't sure why, a few months ago, I felt led to visit another non-denominational church; I was sure it would be way too contemporary for me. But I felt led to attend nonetheless. The service was indeed very contemporary and not at all liturgical. This was NOT what I was looking for in a church service. At the same time it seemed like such an alive, joyful place that I felt drawn despite my resistance to the style of the worship service. I learned they were having a chili cookoff that Friday, and I thought that sounded like fun, and I wouldn't mind having some free delicious chili! So I went. I made the rounds a few times, sampling the various offerings, when four ladies invited me to join them at their table. For the next hour or so, I experienced more fellowship and friendship from these lovely ladies than I literally ever had at ANY church I had ever been to. This was the missing link at the other churches -- this could be the answer to the isolation and lack of friends I've felt, well, pretty much my whole life. But again, this was NOT the style of church I was looking for. So now what do I do?

Well, I learned that this church had several small groups starting in a few weeks. I thought, why can't I keep going to the Methodist church on Sunday but join one of the small groups from the contemporary church to fill my need for fellowship and friendship? So about 8 weeks ago, I started attending the small group on Tuesday evenings at Mary Ann's house. We have been studying the book, "God Will Make A Way: What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do" by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Mary Ann and Jill, two of the ladies who befriended me at the chili cookoff, are two of the members, in addition to several other wonderful people I'm feeling increasingly close to. It took a leap of faith to begin attending this group through a church that I was sure I had no intention of being part of, but I'm so glad I did. In the meantime I continued attending the Methodist church on Sundays, tried joining the choir, signed up for their monthly brunches, but still the unshakable feeling of not belonging continued. So.......for the past few weeks, I've been attending worship services on Sundays at the very same contemporary church that I felt was everything I was not looking for. I still struggle with the lack of any liturgical elements to the service and the emphasis on praise choruses that, to me, sound like someone made them up as they went along -- and yet, it appears God led me there. I have an appointment with the pastor this Thurs. after work, and hopefully he can help me resolve the reservations I have. Everyone I've met at this church loves God so much and is readily able to extend that love to someone like me who desperately needs to be more like Christ. So I think that's the kind of environment I need to be in, in spite of the service style.

The other new beginning is, after deciding a few weeks before that I was going to give up on the idea of ever losing the excess 50 pounds I've carted around for decades, it seems God has led me to try one more time. I can't even remember now who expressed the thought that changed my mind or if it was just that God put it in my mind. But it went something like, "You're thinking of food all wrong. The purpose of food is not to be a comfort or a stress reducer. The purpose of food is fuel for your body, PERIOD. If it tastes good and is enjoyable to eat, that's a bonus. But that is NOT the main purpose of food." Now, I've known this all along as well as I know my name. But when the thought came to me a few weeks ago, it was like something clicked and the next thought was "TOPS". I had attended weekly TOPS meetings (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) on two other occasions for several months and did make some progress, but quit after only losing 15-17 pounds each time. So I decided, I MUST have the in-person accountability. It's become clear I can't do this on my own. So I'll attend each week and not quit, and will either make steady progress or give up the whole dream once and for all -- but I can't let that be an option. This weight is making me sluggish, causing insomnia, headaches, and major lack of self-esteem, and will shorten my life. It HAS to go, and this is my last hope. The love I've experienced these past couple months from my new Christian friends is empowering me to become what God wants me to be. I started last Monday, getting off to a slow start (still too tired to exercise much), but God willing, in the long run, THIS time will be different.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lost and Found.....and Another New Beginning

Well, I made it to 2011. Several people I've deeply cared about did not. If I'd posted this last weekend like I planned to, I was going to call it "More Losses". That is true, as on December 20, I was stunned to learn of my biggest loss yet for the year. But since then, I've also made a couple of finds -- and am trying now to look ahead rather than behind.

After learning earlier in the year of the passing of our friend Al, then Rex's friend Dick from Chicago in Sept. (he was 69), and then the loss of our friends Sandi and Mike (see previous post), I prayed, PLEASE, God, no more losses. Yet, I knew there was one person I hadn't heard about for some time and didn't have good news about when I did hear earlier in the year -- my 85-year-old aunt in Chicago, whose home I spent many enjoyable visits at over the years, and who I had not seen since I was last able to visit Chicago in '98. Financial and job issues made it difficult to get back there again. Then I stopped even getting Christmas cards from her a few years ago, so I asked my cousin for periodic updates. The last I'd heard, she didn't even know my cousin (her daughter) any more. So of course, I've been concerned. But I figured that surely, if anything happened, she (or someone in Chicago) would notify me. Well, that notification came in the form of two scribbled lines on a Christmas card received on Dec. 20: "Mom died Nov. 12. It's been hard getting through the holidays".

Of course, when something like this happened, you blame yourself for not doing a better job of staying in touch, yet you also wonder how your relatives 2,000 miles away wouldn't have realized I never stopped caring about my aunt and why they wouldn't have thought to call, send a quick E-mail, a card in the mail -- SOMETHING -- when it happened, not two scribbled lines six weeks after the fact. I couldn't have afforded, or gotten time off work, to go to her funeral, but that's not the point. "Out of sight" does not mean "out of mind". I don't want to write much more about this, since it is still an upsetting situation and not the way I could have imagined things would end between me and someone I literally grew up with. Hopefully one day, I will see my aunt again and she will realize that.

Then the same evening I learned about my aunt, another of our sweet guinea pigs and one of my favorites, Joey, the black longhaired fellow who looked like a mop and was such a cutie, was dead in his cage. So now we are down to five piggies. Thankfully, so far, the other five, and our doggies and chickens, are doing well.

After that, finally, things began to look up a bit for the last 11 days of the year. Since my job is so busy and I haven't gotten much time off (that should finally change a bit after this May, when I should at last be eligible for 3 weeks vaca per year), I looked forward to the day and a half off for Christmas and the day and a half off for New Year's. It's been nice to hang out at home with the pets, do some crocheting and watch holiday programs and movies on the tv. On one of the figure skating specials, a Canadian program (including Kurt Browning, one of my all-time favorite skaters), much of the background music was provided by a country singer named George Canyon (ideal name for a country singer!). I knew I'd heard of him but wasn't sure why, but I was impressed enough by his voice and music (and looks!) that I left the program on the DVR to watch again, and went online to learn more. It was then I realized why I'd heard of him. He finished in 2nd place on the 2004 edition of "Nashville Star" (the former country version of "American Idol"), and I'd voted multiple times for him since I didn't care for the fellow who ended up winning. Why George didn't become a huge star in the U.S. as he did in Canada, I have no idea. Though I don't buy many CDs any more, I bought his current one off eBay, the rationale being that this is the only way I'll get to hear him, since his music is not played in the U.S. (which, again, is a mystery!).

The other highlight of the quiet Christmas weekend, besides giving Rex his present (a Gevalia programmable 12-cup coffee maker, which he seems to like), was that I finally got my "Comfort N'Joy" crochet blog online -- it's at and has been well-received by those who have visited it. I realized a couple years ago, when I had posted my 5th crochet page under my crochet section of my site, The Evergreen Refuge, that most crocheters and other crafters nowadays seem to be showing off and discussing their creations on a blog as opposed to multiple pages on a web site -- and besides, even if people do still visit my site, I don't know that they are going to all five pages (I may reverse the order of those pages so that my more recent items show up first), which is a shame. So -- The Evergreen Refuge Blog (this one) will now be pretty much a narrative of things that are going on with me, whereas the Comfort N'Joy crochet blog will be just that! I hope many people will bookmark it and visit regularly. I'll also eventually post pics of some of my earlier creations on Facebook, so that people who know me on there can see them.

And speaking of Facebook, four days ago came my biggest find of the year -- an even bigger find than NCIS, which has honestly become my all-time favorite TV show (and I thank God that Dianne's mom Margaret told me about it this past summer!). I was looking at my E-mail on my lunch break at work when I came across a Facebook friend request. As soon as I saw the name Ellayne, it was all I could do to not fall out of my chair. The last name had changed, but I knew who it had to be -- a lady who I had originally become penpals with MANY years ago when she was 15 and I was 16 (back in the days of snail mail; no one had heard of E-mail). We exchanged long letters for many years, eventually lost touch, re-established contact after Rex and I moved to Seattle (STILL before the days of E-mail) and lost touch again. I continued to keep many of her old letters all these years, thought of her often and often wished I could find her again. I even looked on Facebook, but didn't have her new last name. But mine was the same (and I had recently added my maiden name to help people find me), so she found me! I was SO thrilled to hear from her -- and I'm going to send her a long message later tonight. I hope we never lose touch again!!

So that was a delightful surprise to end the year. I've had another relaxing long weekend watching several good Bowl games (including the UW Huskies' big win in the Holiday Bowl over Nebraska -- YAY, Huskies!) and finishing some Christmas crocheting (we never did get our tree up, so that gave me something Christmasy to look at). It will be rough to get back to 5-day work weeks for awhile (at least for me; Rex's hours may go down somewhat again for the winter) but we are thankful to have our same jobs in this economy. As for resolutions, I don't really make them but I WILL strive to do a much better job of not letting relatively small annoyances irritate me, to go to bed earlier (by midnight) and be less sleep-deprived, and as for the weight loss thing -- OUCH -- I want it so badly but I just need to want it more than the instant gratification of overeating. We shall see....