Accepting Defeat

December 1, 2014 by

It’s December 1, and something happened that was so unexpected I’m having trouble believing it.

I didn’t win Nanowrimo.

It feels like the end of an era. This was my eleventh attempt — and should have been my eleventh win because I’ve never given up before. Giving up just isn’t like me. In fact, I’ve done some rather incredible feats to win. Last year, for instance, I wrote 22,000 words the last day.

But my heart just wasn’t in it this year. And I gave up — gave up when I still had time to win. Barely enough time, I admit, but enough time.

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Missing My Home

September 25, 2014 by

Last night while I was finishing supper, Girly Girl picked up her dad’s iPad and started cruising his photos (she loves looking at her pictures).

What she found instead was a video tour of the home we sold a year ago, when we moved into the city to find decent schools for our children. I knew Mars had made the video, but I’d never seen it before.

Girly Girl watched it with joy, delighted to see our old familiar rooms.

I watched it with a lump growing in my throat, fighting tears.

That was, by far, the most beautiful home I’ve ever lived in — and probably the most beautiful home I ever will live in. It was custom designed by an architect for himself and his family, so there was nothing standard in it. And the rooms were just exquisite: new discoveries around every corner, and lots of niches and hidey-holes.

It sat on six wooded acres that fronted a forty-acre nature preserve with a private lake that housed a pair of nesting loons. I would lie awake in that beautiful bedroom, looking out at the trees and listening to the loons call.

The move into the city was right, and we are all happier. Even me, and heaven knows I’m not a city girl! This particular city is very special, and we have a huge backyard with full grown trees and privacy.

But watching the video reminded me how much I have lost, and I can hear in Mars’ voice the catch that says he felt the same, even as we geared up to move.

Wanna see my beautiful, former home?

Adventures at the Doctor’s Office

September 23, 2014 by

We finally — after three years in Canada — have a family doctor! Hurrah!! But our relationship with him hasn’t started smoothly.

Why would it? This is me! I can find a way to make the most innocuous of experiences deeply humiliating.

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The Discontinued Woman Strikes Again!

September 4, 2014 by

OMG. This would be laughable if I weren’t crying.

Remember this? Oh, yeah. I have super powers. Anything I love gets discontinued.

In fact, last week, Mars commented that he’d clearly seen the peak of my power when Burger King announced it was merging with Tim Hortons, which … you guessed it … I adore. I mean, seriously … who else can bring about the end of an iconic company just by enjoying a doughnut and a cup of coffee?

But that was last week. This week is another new chance to prove my mettle.

Remember this? It made for a stressful drive, not only to eastern Washington, but home to Canada. I was unable to get the air conditioning repaired in Washington, so I drove all night to avoid the heat when I headed north.

Once I got home, I took the car back to the auto repair shop we use — which I adore.

Can you hear the uh, oh! building?

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Day 3a: Book of Kells and Powerscourt

August 12, 2014 by

I’m back! My computer died Sunday night after I posted, and I couldn’t get it to charge. But now it’s recharged, and I’m back in action — but woefully behind and with no time to post.

Yesterday was mind-blowing. Honestly. From beginning to end. You all totally should have come with me for the entire trip.

We started the day at the Trinity College Old Library.

The big draw, of course, is the Book of Kells, a very old, gorgeous illuminated manuscript of the four gospels.

It was stunning. Just lovely, and the thought of countless monks laboring for years to produce it caught my breath.

I felt a little guilty — and deeply grateful — for how easily and quickly I can pound out a thousand words on my laptop.

But for me, the library itself was the big event. The scent of the place hit me with the impact I felt when I visited my old church. Except this was a place I’ve never been.

You could taste the history on your tongue when you breathed in. You could smell the devotion to literacy and learning. It was a sacred place, devoted to the adoration of books and literature. Definitely my kind of church!

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Day 2: Dublin and Guinness Storehouse

August 10, 2014 by

My mother originally planned to take this trip to Ireland with me, but she got sick and was afraid she wouldn’t be able to keep up. Sandy, the tour director, suggested we bring a photo of her, so she’ll be included.

MomSo we did.

Mom’s picture is in all the group photos, and we bring her out for the most interesting parts of the trip.

Today we did one of the parts she was afraid she’d be unable to do — a three-hour walking tour of Dublin — and I think she made the right decision.

It was absolutely stunning, and I have far too many great photos to post here. But by the end of the tour, my feet were killing me.

DSC_0217We visited Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Temple Bar and Ha’Penny Bridge over the river Liffey.

BridgeWe saw the place where Handel’s Messiah premiered, the hotel owned by Bono, and the last remaining bit of the old Dublin wall.

We walked past the St. James cathedral, lots of Georgian houses, and Parliament.

We saw the pharmacy where Leopold Bloom bought lemon soap for his wife in James Joyce’s Ulysses, Oscar Wilde’s house and statue, and the graves of Jonathan Swift and Esther Johnson (which came alive for me in Trudy J. Morgan-Cole‘s book, The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson).

NeedleWe heard some great stories too. For instance, this monument is “The Needle,” and it’s supposed to memorialize some big event, like the new millennium, maybe.

But the Irish apparently love making up names for things, especially incredibly expensive and pointless things (except … ha ha ha … this one definitely has a point!).

A couple of the nicknames for this one are Stiffy by the Liffey, and Erection at the Intersection. Hilarious, no?

After the walking tour, we limped to the restaurant at the Guinness Storehouse for lunch, and then took the tour.

DSC_0289As always, Mom came along.

It was fascinating. We learned the importance of using the right water (Guinness collects theirs from the mountains of Wicklow).

We learned that the yeast used dates back to the 1800s, with every batch fed by yeast from the previous batch, and that a sample of the specific yeast that makes Guinness is kept locked in a  safe.

We saw a huge vat of barley and learned that Guinness uses three different kinds: plain, malted and sprouted. We saw hops vines growing fifteen feet up the wall. We saw equipment for roasting, for fermenting, and transporting.

DSC_0300Then we took a glass elevator to the rooftop where a 360-degree bar overlooked the city — and sampled a pint of Guinness.

By the time we got to the bar, my knees were aching from all the walking we’d done, so it was very nice to just sit for a bit, especially since we had such a fabulous view and delightful company.

The Guinness wasn’t bad either — though I’ve never liked beer before. They say you should only drink Guinness in Ireland because it’s best fresh.

DSC_0347Last, we toured St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where we saw an organ G. F. Handel once played and the graves of Jonathan Swift and Esther Johnson.

All in all, a wonderful day.

As we rode back to our hotel in the tour bus, I reached for my bag to get something … and realized my mother’s photograph was not in its place. I dug through the pocket — then dug more frantically through everything I had.

It was gone!

Yes. I did. I abandoned my 81-year-old mother somewhere in Dublin. Well, her picture anyway.

Officially, I left her photograph at St. Patrick’s Cathedral — a glorious space steeped with history, literary references, and music.

Because there is no way — no way on God’s Emerald Isle — I’m going to admit I left my mother’s photograph in a bar after one pint of Guinness.

Day 1: Dublin and Tara Hill

August 9, 2014 by

My two older sisters and I are in Dublin.

I know. I can’t believe it either!

airplaneWe’ve been talking about this Hidden Ireland trip since November or so, but I didn’t really believe it was gonna happen until we got on the plane!

We arrived in Dublin about 11 a.m. after flying all night. We were exhausted, but our tour director insisted we stay awake and go sightseeing. “Otherwise you’ll never adjust to the time change.”

So we headed out to the Hill of Tara, seat of the High Kings of Ireland. We stood on those ancient ramparts — of which nothing is left but the shape of the foundation in the land — and breathed in ancient history.

TaraWe were especially intrigued by the Barrows (which made all of us think about Lord of the Ringsand the short (and rather phallic!) standing stone.

Later we had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at The Country Club in Dunshaughlin, checked into our hotel, and went shopping.

But I want to talk about men.

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Hotter Than Hades

July 18, 2014 by

Yesterday, I found myself face to face with an angel.

I’m traveling around the western US while Mars holds down the fort at home, and I’m on the tail end of the trip. Before I left, I took my car in and had everything checked. Among other things, I spent $1700 replacing the a.c. compressor and recharging the system. Hey, I’m not driving to Arizona without a great air conditioner!


The a.c. died the day before I was to leave cool, rainy western Washington for dry, hot eastern Washington. It appears to be the compressor — the most expensive part to replace.

Problem is, that compressor is under warranty — in Edmonton. If I take it to my shop, the repair will be free. If I fix it myself before we go, I have to pay for it.

No worries, I told myself. We’ll take it slow and drink lots of liquids. People traveled in the days before air conditioning, I told myself.

Besides, I added to myself, it’s Washington. How hot can it be?! It’s not like I’m in Arizona or anything.

Remind me not to listen when I talk to myself in the future.

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The Scent of a Place

April 4, 2014 by

The kids and I are spending Spring Break in Washington with my family, and having a blast! Karaoke, Great Wolf Lodge, makeovers, shopping. We always enjoy the cousins, but this has been a particularly fun trip.

Wednesday evening, I left the family at Great Wolf went drove to Chehalis to attend the soup supper and Lenten service at our former church, St. John’s.

It’s a beautiful building, with a steeply pitched, vaulted ceiling finished in wood paneling.


And a fabulous antique pipe organ that I was privileged to play regularly.

One time the power went out during a service, but the service continued in candlelight with Boy Scouts pumping the organ.

I never played the organ without being conscious of all the fingers that have pressed those keys over the years, and all the feet on the pedals.

When I stepped into the sanctuary Wednesday evening, the scent of the space hit me like a body blow, and I started to cry.

It smelled of home.

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A Polite Pat down

March 25, 2014 by

My husband, Mars, is flying to Calgary this morning.

He texted me when he’d gotten through security to say that he had had a full pat down.

I made some appropriately disgruntled comment (I think I said, “Oh, lovely” or something like that), and he texted back that it wasn’t too bad.

“His whole body language spoke apology,” Mars said. “It was a very Canadian pat down.”


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