Friday, December 17, 2010

Did You See That?

The Unnamed Pup and I took a walk this afternoon. Wish I'd thought to put on gloves. We did another mile or more, but this time he spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder for dangerously marauding joggers.

Halfway down the piece of trail, I saw a great blue heron sitting by the water. That's the first time I've seen one hunting on this trail! He was a good 25 yards away, through the trees, and it was too shady to get a good photo so I'm borrowing this one:

His body was lovely blue-gray, and his head very white. He must have been kind of hunkered down like this one, with his head atop his shoulders. Pretty amazing to be that close to him!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guest Post (by potential New Correspondent)

Hi. My name is A***57 and Lady put me in front of compooter and said I must rite. I are golden lab pup, six monts old, fresh from streets and animul shelter. Here my face:

The Man and Lady brot me to home from shelter and said ManBoys would have to approve me to join famly. ManBoys not all crazy about me. Lady says name "Rufus" and makes cry. Lady slept on couch all night with leash on her foot. I go potty out by tree.

Lady made me go in Car today. We went "walk" on trail. She showed me footprint. Think it susqatch monster, but Lady say racoon. See for self:

I never rite before. I never walk with Lady before. I never have to wonder about ManBoy approval before. I very skinny but have buetiful fur. Lady secretly calling me Polo because I look like polo bear. Nap now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Did I Go Overboard?

I didn't mean to. I was trying to use my waiting time in a productive manner. Reading, after all, is usually quite acceptable. Even in public. But did I do too much? Please, you decide.

I went to Portland this week to present information about Lutheran Blind Mission. Not only does LBM have the world's largest religious lending library of Braille/large print/recorded books, but they also have an Outreach Center in Portland. I was asked to talk about both of these opportunities, and to invite people to invite people to the monthly meals and conversations at the Outreach Center.

My contact person (PK) was on the phone when I arrived, so I introduced myself to a receptionist and took a seat in the lobby. I spent a few minutes reviewing data in my Wonderful Notebook of Information. (It never hurts to have the facts straight before you open your mouth, right?) The gal was still on the phone, but I had plenty of reading material with me.

Out came my Braille magazine. I got in the habit of carrying Braille stuff in my car when my kids were still in school. While I waited for the final bell to ring, I could practice my Braille skills. The only other time I practice is in bed at night, and after about ten minutes all the dots turn to mush. If I want to retain any skill at all, I have to remember to practice. Those synapses get lazy and forget how to fire if they aren't exercised regularly.

As I concentrated on feeling the dots, I stopped paying attention to what was happening around me. Except... I heard part of one whispered conversation as one receptionist told the other that I was there for PK's vision loss support group. Silence. I could feel eyes on me, but I kept reading.

Before I knew it, PK had come out of her office and disappeared to another part of the building. No one introduced us. I think it was assumed that I was a simply a client who would be attending the group. After all, only blind people read Braille by touch! It's likely that neither of the receptionists knew that PK had arranged for a guest speaker at this meeting. It's not that I felt disrespected, but it did seem like assumptions were made once I ceased to make eye contact and began feeling the Braille.

Assumptions. Ouch. I am guilty of making them. It was frustrating to realize that I became the object of assumptions, although I was able to act to change my identity very quickly. All I had to do was close my magazine and stride over to the desk. But there are lots of folks who cannot work so effectively to shake free.

This was an interesting experience of mistaken identity. But I have one nagging question: Did I somehow go too far, so that I insinuated actual participation in the blind community?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Colors of the Day

Who said today was all about black? The Rufus and I enjoyed a very colorful walk in the melting snow. I can't edit these photos, but hope you'll appreciate them anyhow.

Rufus assumed every photo stop meant a sniff stop. A couple of times, he thought he was right on top of a critter. I couldn't get him to hold his snout-in-the-snow or pointing poses, but did catch this angle:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Casting Blame... or, why our Thanksgiving pies are square

Happy Thanksgiving! As a descendant of one of the first Thanksgiving celebrants, I wish you great remembrances and thoroughly satisfying eatables. Happy Thanksgiving!

We had just the five -- uh, six -- of us for Thanksgiving dinner today. Rufus actually enjoyed his bites of turkey liver. (He is so NOT motivated by food, but there are a few treats that take his mind off those tennis balls.) The rest of us feasted on turkey, stuffing (not dressing this year!), mashed potatoes, sweet carrots, and pretty good gravy.

And then there's dessert.

Pete and I went shopping earlier this week, and I looked with some interest at the frozen pie section. "They wouldn't taste anything like the real thing, Mom." Okay, okay. I know a compliment when it hits me upside the appetite. I bought pie shells, canned pumpkin, and Granny Smith apples.

I was going to bake both pies last night, but it turned out I was really tired. I realized I could just bake the pumpkin one last night so it could cool, and toss an apple pie into the oven when we took the turkey out today. One cold, one hot. Perfect! I mixed the spices for the pumpkin pie, and then went to get the pie pans out.

Uh, oh.

Remember one of the highlights of our summer? New flooring, new paint, new fence? I also bought a new set of drinking glasses to replace the set that was mostly broken and gone. Between the kitchen work and the new glasses, I decided to do some minor rearrangement of the cupboards. Way up on the top shelf above the mugs and glasses, I had several pie pans that only get used once or twice a year. Why keep those so handy when I could use that spot for something we're regularly accessing? So, the pie pans got moved to a better place. Then, other things got moved to make the painting easier. Shift and re-shift.

Last night, I looked in the old place for my nice pie pans. Oops -- silly me, forgetting that I moved them! Um... moved them... uhhhh...

I looked in all the kitchen cupboards. I looked high and low in the pantry. I looked in the garage, where some of my china is still waiting to be returned to the sideboard in the living room. Um...

I looked in the utility room, where the slow cooker is renting shelf space. I looked again in the pantry, climbing onto the bottom shelf so I could look inside a box up high. I looked once more in the garage, in the kitchen cupboards, even in my closet where the jumbo-size china platter is kept.

No. Pie. Pans. Anywhere.


The spices were mixed. The ingredients were gathered. I could bake the pumpkin pie first thing in the morning, since I wasn't planning to eat dinner until late afternoon. No problem. Go to bed, get a good sleep, and surely I'll remember where I put those pie pans. There's a really nice one from my mother-in-law, and one that we received as a wedding gift. I know they're just right here, close by. I'll remember.

[cue rooster crowing]

Morning dawned. The pie pans must have been placed into the sideboard, then boxed up with the china so we could clear furniture out of the living room. The pie pans, therefore, are in that box in the garage.


[insert photo of beautiful square pies, when computer and camera are in synch again]

After our wonderful dinner, I helped Rufus get a tennis ball that had gotten behind a piece of furniture in the basement. Right there, in plain sight, was the box with the pie pans right on top. In plain sight. Where I couldn't miss them. My mother-in-law used to enjoy cleaning her house and finding new, better places to put things. And then, when she needed them, she could not recall where they might be found. I have become my mother-in-law, except for the cleaning part.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Rufus in the Snow


My computer's still being wonky, but Rufus is fine! And if you look closely, you'll see teeny little snowflakes streaking across his nose. It's snowing!!!
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Great Weekend + Wonky Computer = Blogging Frustration

This past weekend gave me enough new experiences for two or three solid posts!

Unfortunately, my main computer is having major problems. I haven't uploaded my photos yet, and I don't want to post without sharing my pictures. Besides all that, it's been a very busy month. Excuses, excuses. I know. But it'll be worth it when I get these gems written and published here.

In fact, I'm so convinced that the posts will be worth your reading time that I'll give you your money back if not satisfied!



This offer applies only to individuals whom I have paid to read the Dog's Blog. Money-back offer not available in states whose names contain at least one vowel. Refund may not be given in actual cash. Please address complaints to no one in particular, and stay tuned for blogging fascination in this space once day soon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Camera + Sunshine = Awesomeness!!!


I got a REAL camera for my birthday, and today was a perfect day for a field trip to try it out. Yay!
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Homecoming Gowns, Nail-Biter Football, and Pink

Last night's homecoming game didn't exactly meet my expectations. Don't get me wrong -- the game itself was spectacular. The scoring went back and forth with long touchdown runs, time-eating drives, and a couple of surprises in the kicking game. It would have been so much nicer if we could've won, but it was fun.

In the fifteen years I've kept the scorebook for this school, homecoming has followed strict traditions. Lots of alumni and family show up, a few past members of the dance team participate in the original 1970's routine, and spiffy convertibles drive the homecoming court to the 50-yardline. They used to have fireworks at halftime, until one errant rocket almost toasted the crowd. Unfortunately, I had an extreme front row seat for that event. Sometimes there are streakers (or pseudo-streakers, wearing flesh-toned Spandex.) Homecoming is nice, if not always exciting.

When we got to the field last night, there was a bubbling geyser at the 20 yard line on the home side. Water was erupting from -- an irrigation pipe? There's no real grass within 100 feet of this field! Aha! Suddenly I realized that halftime was going to be something exciting! Maybe the homecoming court would perform a synchronized swimming routine, and the queen would be the one who was propelled out of the water in an aerial spectacular!

No. The grounds crew finally managed to stop the fountain before halftime. Darn. Good thing it wasn't cold enough to freeze.

There were more security officers at this football game than... lemme think... well, there were so many of them that they scared the streakers away. Darn.

On the other hand, the weather was good enough that the girls kept their gowns on through the whole second half. After the game, a few of them came down onto the track to console their boyfriends. Helmets and tulle. What a sight.

But the pink? The pink was very interesting. For the past few years, the football referees use a blue penalty flag for the first game in October. The blue symbolizes Prostate Cancer Awareness. Somehow, some way, it was decided to draw attention this week to breast cancer. The officials at our game were sporting spiffy pink whistles, and had pledged to donate their paychecks to breast cancer research. The only problem was, they hadn't exactly jumped through all the hoops to get this approved. As a result of this act of civil disobedience, they may be required to forfeit not only this paycheck but also could be banned from officiating a couple of playoff games. (You can read about it here.)

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness, and/or in support of the referees, our team was decked out in pink duct tape highlights. There's the pink.

Boy, I sure wish our team could've blocked that last-second field goal and won the game. It was a lot of fun, but it's more fun to win. Oh, well. It was, indeed, a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What I Heard

I was half awake, but here's what I caught on the morning news from a local radio station:

"Thanks for the memories -- there's lots of ones of 'em!"

On the plus side, this comment was made to a friend, and it was only a poor grammatic construct. On the minus side, it was recorded and broadcast because the speaker is the outgoing president of a major university. He's leaving his post here to become head of a national collegiate athletic association. (I won't name him here because I may have mis-heard his statement. Just covering my bases, so to speak.)

Golly gee whiz, we all say things that come out wrong. My mom used to say that she had foot-in-mouth disease. As a kid, I thought she should be able to guard her tongue better than that. It wasn't that she said anything foul -- in fact, she made a point of never swearing -- but either her timing or her content were sometimes very unfortunate. One time, visiting with folks after church, I heard her ask an older man, "Where's your big old fat wife?" His reply? "Right behind you."

Oh, mymymymymy. Unfortunate timing and content, indeed. Mom was always able to laugh at herself, but this was a biggie. She hadn't intended to say anything derogatory; she was just being silly, and out it came.

I did much the same thing recently. In a lighthearted moment, I said something that ended up sounding very racist. Me?! Racist? I'm too embarrassed to recount the details here, but it was one of those foot-in-mouth moments. I didn't realize the potential for harm in my comment until someone else reacted uncomfortably. Oh. (Unlike my mom, this is where I might have said, "Damn.") Well, the words were out, and I couldn't erase them.

The letter of James brings both a little reminder and a bit of comfort.

Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect person, able to bridle the whole body as well.

Teachers, public speakers, politicians, and people like me who know better. We all make slips of the tongue, and sometimes these errors are aired for many to hear. No one is perfect, but I'd better pay attention to the silly things I might say... before they escape my lips.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Football Time!

I thought you might enjoy this photo of me on the field at tonight's game. Isn't this a nice facility?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mustering the Gumption to Catch Up

Hot dog! Here we are again, ready to tackle a bit of writing. There are several things worthy of some catchup, so let's take them one at a time.

Today, more football!

My new scorebook is working well, although it needs a few minor design changes. After Week 2, I realized that there should be a master column/row for turnovers. (We had seven that night. It was ugly.) I plan to use the book as is this year, but at the end of the season I'll make up next year's model and get it printed while it's fresh in my mind. Coach O likes it, and the Athletic Director said, "You're the one doing the work -- it should be whatever you want!" I appreciated those affirmations.

For the first game of the season, my brother was visiting from the Midwest and got to patrol the sidelines with me. What a treat it was to be able to show my bro what I've been doing for about 20 years! We had fun chatting a little and watching the game. It was his first time ever on a varsity sideline. Pretty cool when you get to give your big brother a new experience! (He's way older than me, so aside from teaching him how to give me a bottle when I was a baby, I haven't had opportunity to expose him to many new skills in life.)

Week 2 of our season was an away game, but still at our district's stadium. It feels a little bit different to be on the other side of the field, but it's hard for me to remember is which locker room the guys are using. Not that I've ever been inside, but I'm used to them heading for the north room instead of the visitor's room on the south. Oh, well. The big deal this game, aside from losing big time and committing seven turnovers, was that the National Anthem singer's microphone didn't work. The kids got quiet enough that we could hear a little of her, all the way across the field, with no amplification. Cool! Eventually the home fans joined her, and by the end of the song the whole stadium was singing. The kids were kind of goofy about it, but it was a nice gesture anyway.

Week 3, this past weekend, was marred by rain. As I've noted before, I hate rainy games because I have to move up under cover to keep the book dry. But it's not all bad. This time, I stood next to Mr. F, who knows all three of my sons and remembered me from junior high conferences. Wow! He's a very nice guy, too. In football news, this other team is being led by its seventh head coach in ten years. Sad, sad. How can they ever feel like a team when everything keeps changing? But enough about them. My experience Friday night was filled with rain. Here's the rain, and then a shot of my view of the game from up at the top of the stands.

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The other good thing that happened because of the rain was that I found a couple more friends in the stands. Their daughter is now in the band, and their son is playing football in middle school. They could be around for several years! Cool -- someone else for me to say hi to and (if it rains again) people to sit with during the breaks.

Looking back over this post, it looks more like a report than a blog entry. Why do I care about high school football games? I love hearing the bands, I love the excitement of the games, I like the coaches and their wives, I love watching and listening to the players on the sidelines when no one else can hear them, and I get excited about everyone else's excitement. I'm not there to be noticed, and this is an activity that's definitely not about me. It's just fun, and I'm thankful to be allowed to be there.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Football! Football!! Football!!!

Bad news this week: Apparently no one in the Greater Puget Sound region has a football scorebook to sell.

Disclaimer: Okay, one store in Redmond had three books available. We drove up there to buy at least two of them, but stopped to look at the pages first. Uh, oh. These books might work well for college or professional ball, but high school football doesn't move fast enough to require one whole page per quarter. Since I do the offensive stats for both teams, that equals eight pages per game. Hey, it already takes me far too long to total everything up when each team is on one page!

Great news this week: Finally, after ten years of wishing, I took the plunge and designed my own scoresheet. Yay! Woo hoo! As with any standardized form, there were things on the old scorebooks that were great and things that I wanted to tweak. The form has to be easy for me to use, and also must be easy for the coaches to interpret later. I have no idea what Coach O will say when he sees my creation, but I'll do my best to butter him up when I drop the completed stats into our milk box tonight. (That's our routine -- I take the book home, tally up the numbers, my husband calls the media, and we leave the book in our milk delivery box so the coach can pick it up early the next morning. Very clandestine!)

Wish me luck with this endeavor. Coach O does not embrace change.

For your review, here's one of the old books and my new creation:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Question of the Day

I have this friend...

Hypothetically speaking...

Have you ever wondered...

Is it okay to clean your oven with a vacuum?

I mean, not that I'd ever do something like this... Except if it came to be that there was a bunch of crusty stuff sitting there... And a vacuum is a tool of expediency...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Old Floor, Solid Heart

Here's a 1970s-era photo of our house:
Isn't that ugly and sad? I'm sure that whoever lived here at the time thought that sun room was just groovy, but I'm thankful that a later owner chopped off the greenhouse and replaced the front deck. Someone before us put a lot of effort into a major interior remodel, as well. They moved the stairs to the basement, opening up the space down there to make it nice and modern. Although it looks like the budget ran short, they scraped up enough to install new kitchen cabinets and make new bathroom cabinets too.

Fast forward to here and now. Thanks to an inheritance, we've replaced the flooring in the main living areas. New vinyl in the kitchen looks superb, and we picked out a very nice carpet for the living room and hallway. It's wonderful to have such beautiful floors!

Before we ripped up the old carpet, I wondered whether we might possibly have hardwood in at least part of the living room. After seeing that sun room addition, and knowing that the front door has been moved, I figured that some of the original floor had to have been replaced. But what if we had a nice section of hardwood? Wouldn't that be something?

The day of the rip-up came. I was at work when the process started, and didn't hear anything about the progress. Guess what? WE HAVE HARDWOOD! Guess what else? IT'S COMPLETE! The whole living room and all the way down the hallway is original oak! And there's a gorgeous green slate hearth, too!

This floor is 48 years old, but when we're ready to tackle the mess, we can restore it to its full luster! I love old, I love original, I love natural materials. I love my house!

This made me think about endurance. Oak trees are sturdy. Oak lumber is strong. That floor was made to last. Even though it's been covered and stapled and walked on for many years, it can be made beautiful again because only the surface has changed. That's how I want to be.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be complete, lacking in nothing.

Okay, I have never been known to cheer about facing a new difficulty. In fact, I've always been susceptible to depression and I tend to think too much about the negative things in my life. But, the truth is, I know that God has allowed discomfort and sadness and obstacles to affect me for His good and His glory. May I, like that hardwood floor, stand the tests of time so that my heart may shine all the more brilliantly for Him in the end.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Good Thing Neurotic Rufus Wasn't There

It felt kind of like a command performance. The Big Boss wanted to come on our first day of driving the Really Big Red Van to visit daycares. My driving partner and I were *not* the envy of our coworkers, let me tell you. This Behemoth Red Van (think bookmobile but 2010) is brand new, and the bookmobile procedures are new to us. Oh, and then there's the driving. It's a good thing I'd had some recent experience driving a large van under stress. It's also a very good thing that I've learned a few tools and life skills, so that I could assess which worries were out of my control and let them go. In this case, I had to jettison most of my concerns once I realized how little control I would have over this situation. Whew!

Fortunately, the Big Boss and the Outreach Overseer were very understanding of the anxieties of the situation. My driving partner and I completed the pre-flight checklist and successfully backed the Behemoth Red Van out of its parking place. The Big Boss declined our invitation to ride in the van right away, rather suggesting that we'd be more comfortable if we had a chance to get used to it first. Ahhhh. Nice!

The trip went well. There were a couple of mistakes (the biggest one was mine) but overall it was smooth. After our second stop, the Big Boss rode along with me for a short distance.

Guess what?

It was fun!

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(pictured: me, my driving partner, and the Big Boss, all unscathed)

Friday, August 6, 2010

There are Appointments and APPOINTMENTS

A misunderstood schedule... taking the scenic route... trying to avoid most of the traffic... an appointment with fate?

We were going to pop down to Tacoma to get my husband's overseas immunizations. Yes, in the mid-afternoon, on a Friday. Mega traffic. Ugh. You know how it is -- the traffic clogs up, crawling for a while, then opens up again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And then...

I remember when log trucks were an everyday sight. Back when I was on the school safety patrol in the 1970s, we tried to get the truckers to blow their airhorns on the highway in front of our school.

There aren't many log trucks here in 2010. But there was one today, on the freeway, trying to merge. Merging toward a little car. Still merging. Merging! The car was boxed in, the trucker didn't see her. MERGING!

Fortunately, the damage was minimal. Truck clipped car, side mirror flew off car, traffic made a hole, car pulled to shoulder. Truck kept merging, not stopping. He never saw her.

Turns out, it was two ladies. The driver was totally shaken. The passenger, despite having had the wheel of a loaded log truck just inches from her shoulder, was okay. We stopped, called the State Patrol, and waited until a trooper came. It's what we hope someone would do for us in that situation. Just. Be. There. Oh, and their cell phone battery was dead. Mark and I both had our phones in hand, ready for action.

P.S. Oh, the immunizations? By the time we got to our destination, minutes before closing time, we were told that that pharmacist doesn't work on Fridays. "We need to change our recording." Um, please do. Now that we helped those ladies, Mark's ready for his shots.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dinner in the Dark, Day Without Sight

In the last two weeks, I've had two experiences with simulated blindness. First was a Dinner in the Dark, an event hosted by a church that's getting ready to open a Blind Mission outreach center in Portland. The second opportunity came when a home school family visited my library during their "special needs week" and happened to check out a Braille item.

See? There I am, in the background, in the spaghetti-colored blouse. (Rufus would have had a heyday cleaning up the floor!) The purpose of a Dinner in the Dark is to show sighted people how inept we can be without sight. It's effective, lemme tell you. Dishing noodles was no fun, but I finally realized that no one could see me so I might as well use my fingers to help.

Actually, eating wasn't the biggest challenge I felt. Rather, it was the disorientation of conversation. All of a sudden, a man's voice right above my shoulder said, "I'm going to take your plate to put the sauce on for you." Oh! Chatting with my neighbor was okay, but I made sure to point my head in her direction so maybe she'd know I was talking to her and not Mr. Deep Voice.

Thinking back, I guess it felt like I was in a bubble. I knew there were lots of people in the room, but I didn't have a sense of where they were. The sighted helpers' footsteps were silent, allowing them to appear and disappear without warning. (Also, the blindfold was over my ears, muffling the sound just a little.) It was kind of spooky. If I'd had more time, I would have been more careful of what I said and when, not knowing if there were other ears listening.

I've had one other dining in the dark experience. Several years ago, during my second conference with Lutheran Blind Mission, I put on a blindfold to go to dinner. Someone loaned me a white cane, and another person guided me through the food line. Again, eating was okay, but conversation was difficult. I could concentrate on my dinner or I could really listen to what was happening. Navigating with the cane was fine, because I knew the hallway well. When a blind friend offered to guide me back to the conference room, I relaxed and let him lead the way. I even trusted him not to walk me into a doorpost!

Back to the present. The mom and three elementary-age kids said no, they didn't have any Braille besides the library book, and no one to help them with it. Thanks to my friend's quick thinking, we came up with a plan for them to come to the library when I got off work on Thursday. I subscribe to a monthly magazine in Braille, and have lots of old copies sitting around the house. I brought one for each of them to use.

We talked about their one-day taste of blindness, and it was interesting to hear their perspectives on this experiment. These kids are confident, self-assured folks, and they approached each day of their "special needs week" with a can-do attitude. One day was spent being mute, another day in wheelchairs, yet another day on crutches or wheelchair, and then came the eye patches and sunglasses. Oh... a funny aside. One of my coworkers offered the family a tour of the library. It didn't dawn on me until much later that the librarian couldn't see their eye bandages because the sunglasses covered them! I'm sure she was not the only person that day who thought they really were blind!

One of the girls realized that she had never seen the room we were using. "I wish I could take my patches off just for a minute so I could see where we are!" That reminded me of when I lost my sense of smell. I said much the same thing, many times, wishing for just one more chance to get a whiff of my sons' heads or a new recipe or a wild rose. In my case, memory will have to serve.

There wasn't time for a full-blown Braille lesson (as if I could teach one anyway), but I had them search in their magazines for a full cell of six dots. That represents the word "for" and is, obviously, pretty common. A page of Braille is about equal to a third of a page of print, and that gave them a better understanding of why their magazines are so bulky. I read a sentence or two for them, using touch only, and did not wow them with my speed.

We discussed some statistics about the blindness community -- 70% unemployment, 18% Braille literacy rate, 60% unmarried, 95% unchurched. Isolation is very common. Towards the end of our time, one of the kids sank into a very deep state of (ahem) contemplation. His breathing slowed enough that one of his sisters noticed and asked him if he was sleeping. "No," he mumbled, sitting up straighter. "Just thinking a thought that needed thinking," or something like that. Hahahaha! The hidden danger of wearing eye patches!

Good opportunities for learning, for thinking outside of our own boxes, for trying new things.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Quiet Day

Maybe a little headache is a good thing.

Busy day yesterday. Went into the city for a wedding. Traffic was icky, but the wedding and reception were wonderful. Weather was perfect. Came home to do some prep for tomorrow's painting/flooring project. Took a two mile walk with Rufus. Spent time with a son, including a trip to the hardware store for a tool... and a jacket for him, and a good colander for me, and browsing new light fixtures.

Today, I woke up with a niggling little headache. Coffee helped some, an after-church nap helped some, but it's still there. I had a good chat with my sponsor (that's 12-step talk for a mentor), stopped at the store for a new computer mouse and some much needed glassware. Sigh. Still that little headache. Came home and stretched out on the couch next to an open window with sudoku and bird songs. Nice.

I am an extroverted introvert. I love being with people, and it energizes me to be with a variety of folks. But I also need distinct alone time. Quiet, unencumbered time to ponder and listen and rest. Time to listen to God and maybe talk to Him a bit. Nice. Very nice.

May you have an afternoon of rest and relaxation, or an invigorating time with friends, to restore your energy and bring a song to your heart.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Kingdom of Rufus!

King Rufus is lord of all he surveys, as long as it lies within the bounds of our new fence. Finally, finally, we were able to complete the fence around our back yard, and Ruf isn't the only one who's happy enough to roll in the grass!

Two years ago, Rufus had an unfortunate encounter with the neighbor's cat. Since then, he's been nearly banished from chasing his beloved Preciousss-es (aka tennis balls). We couldn't trust him to stay with us, in our yard, if temptation came mincing by on cat paws. It took longer than we hoped, but now there's a good fence to keep Rufie in and other dogs or coyotes out. If a cat hops over, it had better be able to run.

It's a beautiful sunny day, so I've got the kitchen door wide open. For the first time in Rufie's life, he can go outside at will. Amazing! Of course, he's on the floor at my feet right now. But he has gone out a few times, and loves the freedom.

What's a little surprising to me is how this fence gives me a sense of freedom. Now that I know exactly where the line is between our yard and the neighbors, I can boldly go right up to it and stand there. Amazing! Now that there is a tangible boundary, I see that for years I have stayed well away from any appearance of touching their property. It's been a respect thing, but maybe there's a little fear in the mix. I wouldn't want them ever to think that I was presuming to encroach on their lives, so I shrunk back. Our yard is much wider than I had let myself imagine!

Next time you see me, if there are grass stains on my clothes, you'll know I was reveling again in the vast expanse of green that is ours!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dismal Nitch (sic)

"About 3 oClock the wind lulled and the river became calm, I had the canoes loaded in great haste and Set Out, from this dismal nitich where we have been confined for 6 days…"
--William Clark

The husband and I had a terrific road trip this past weekend. The main purpose was participation in a "dinner in the dark" for Lutheran Blind Mission. However, since it was our 28th wedding anniversary, we added a few extras to this trip and revisited one of the historic sites from our very memorable honeymoon. (That's a great story in itself, but I'm not telling it now. It would scare Rufus to hear of our perils.)

Just before we crossed the Great and Marvelous Bridge to Astoria, we found this wayside rest area with a name too good to pass by. In 1805 as Lewis and Clark made their way westward along the Columbia, they reached this memorable place on a stormy November day.

Please refrain from cleaning fish in the restroom, and another sign requests that you limit your stay here to less than eight hours.

No problem!

I couldn't get over the name. Dismal Nitch. If you've ever found yourself in a dismal niche, I'm sure you did not choose to stay there long. This is a place to wait out the storm and move ahead as soon as possible.

But then, in the restroom, I found this not-so-dismal piece:

Just for you, Diane! Flowers to soothe the soul in a dismal place.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Practical Tips for Practical Jokes

I pulled a good one on a thirsty coworker today. She's marshaling four -- FOUR! -- family members to devise a reciprocation. I wonder...

Although I enjoy playing practical jokes very much, I have my own code of conduct in this matter. After all, I want to ensure that the jokes are harmless enough that I can continue to play them 364 days a year. Therefore, here are a few of the guidelines that I use to design and execute a funny prank. Take what you like, leave the rest.

First, do no harm. Ever since that time in junior high PE when another girl pulled my shorts down to my knees, I have had no desire to do anything that would cause serious embarrassment or injury.

Second, who's gonna clean it up? Consider the end result. If you prop a cup on the top of a door, what will you have to pick up off the floor later? Marbles would make an amazing noise, but they'll roll away and perhaps pose a hazard to someone else. Either use a single tennis ball or find small lightweight objects that won't roll away.

Third, leave no marks. Need I say more?

Fourth, subtlety is most efficient. Elaborate set-ups are fine for special occasions, but most of my stuff is done on the fly. Time is of the essence if a person wants to remain in good standing with her supervisors. Initiate a casual conversation about rabid squirrels, right before you know someone is going to turn around and to find a stuffed animal staring them in the face.

Finally, weigh your options. Is this a "good" day to prank this particular person? How will he/she ultimately respond? Does the victim possess adequate maturity to refrain from whacking you over the head with the nearest baseball bat?

After running through all these rules of prankster etiquette, I knew how to *help* my coworker today. She was helping a family get library cards, and had a frog in her throat. We are not in the habit of having unsecured beverage containers in the library, but she didn't blink an eye when I showed up with a paper cup. In the back room, I had found a few little strips of clean paper. (Strips are easier to pick up than tiny confetti!) Coming around the side of her desk, in full view of her patrons, I tripped and spilled the "water" all over her lap. Riotous laughter ensued, witnesses provided safety against immediate retaliation, and a good time was had by almost all... But go back and read my opening paragraph again. If I suddenly sprout green feathers and squawk like a chicken, you'll know that my friend fixed me!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Another Picnic, Another Adventure

Almost a year ago, I wrote about an interesting experience that happened at a picnic. That was then, this is now. New year, new thrills.

This year, I was thrilled to be allowed to borrow my church's big van to help transport friends up to the park. That was exciting, because at least eight of us (and one wheelchair) would be able to ride together instead of several of them taking separate public transport vans. This would give us time to talk and make each other laugh. In addition to this, I was also asked to help transport city bus riders to and from a bus stop at the bottom of the hill. Great! I've got a whole van full of seats!

Here's a photo of me driving the van. (I took this while alone, so no riders were in any way endangered by this photograph.)

I picked up six friends here in the suburbs, and we drove without incident to the park. Shortly after arriving and disembarking, I went with another lady to see exactly where the coming and going bus stops were located. Fine and dandy.

The neighborhood near this park is old, expensive without being pretentious, and beautiful. As I waited for incoming Metro buses, I enjoyed the streetside gardens.

A large group of picnickers got off the next bus, and I happily drove them up the hill. One more bunch came on the bus after that, and included was a man who didn't know exactly what the ACB does, but he heard there would be fellow blind and visually impaired people here so he came to check it out. As we went up the hill, I talked a little about the ACB and about Lutheran Blind Mission so he'd get a taste of what each group is about.

Once at the picnic to stay, I ate too much (same as last year), watched a game of tug-of-war (didn't participate this time), and escorted a few folks to the antiquated comfort stations. Yep, it's that park. While waiting outside, I enjoyed the flowers and the sunshine:

All in all, it was a lovely day. But what, you may ask, was the adventure? What was the one fly in the ointment, the ants at the picnic, the rain on your parade? The van, my friends, the van. Although my church uses this van to take children and teens and the occasional adult to various activities, I don't think it usually takes only adults anywhere. The step to get up into it is quite high, and the seats are very close together and run just a few inches short of the side door. Getting into and moving inside of this vehicle should not be attempted by the faint of heart. Not only that, but anyone with a mobility issue is going to have a heck of a time of it.


It seemed like such a good idea.

In spite of that, I had a lot of fun, and I hope my friends did, too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

While I Have Your Attention

One of my cyber friends, Sandra, shared good questions and comments following a recent post. I'd like to add a bit to her thoughts.

Once I got the hang of blogging -- using text and illustration to communicate short bits with an audience -- I realized that I love the opportunities this medium affords. It's nice to be able to write a short note about whatever is on my mind, without having to use an outline or make it fit a certain word count. The photos add a lot, both in terms of what I can express and what the reader can apprehend.

There is a lot of stuff I don't share on this blog. Most of the time, I don't identify specific people. That means I don't have to ask permission to use their photographic images (at least I hope that's true) but I can post a creative visual feature related to the text. I don't write about details of my own journey, but I can use this vehicle to communicate general situations or concerns from my life.

When it comes to journaling, I have realized over the years that I go through seasons of heavy writing and other times of sporadic entries. I'm okay with that. When I have a lot of emotional "processing" to do, I get a pen and starting writing in a journal. Since this blog doesn't have a wide audience of people who are counting on me to brighten their day, I'm okay with not posting any more often than I have a post-worthy idea. So, to put Sandra's heart at ease, I won't be giving up either form of writing any time soon.

Oh, and about my audience... I see who you are. Yes, you over there in India! And you in Sweden, and that other visitor in New York, and the one in Brazil and another in Japan and... It's fun to look at my Sitemeter stats and then pull up Google Maps and guess at your precise location. Maybe you live on that street, in one of those quaint little houses, or way up in that big apartment building. On a good day, I'm getting about ten hits here. Ten! Underwhelming, I know. Most of those are one-time shots, never to return. If I were working to establish a platform as a writer, this would be a huge problem. But I'm not counting on this blog to get me anywhere, so I'm okay with this, too.

So, long posting short, thanks for stopping in and reading. I'd love to get to know you better, especially if this is not your first visit. If you're cruising through, hitting that next blog button, thanks for making it this far down the page without even a photo to ease your pain. It was nice being read! I have been privileged to make a few friends here, and it would be amazing to meet them face to face someday. Fun to think about that!

See you in the blogosphere.

P.S. to the guy who offered to interview me on his blog review site -- Thanks, but I'll pass for now. I was thrilled to be invited, but my ten visitors a day wouldn't bring you enough traffic to make it worth your time. Sorry!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Clearing Our Heads

Actually, only one of us needed head-clearing, but both of us needed a good walk. We did our four miles (give or take) but took it a little easier than usual. I stopped to take pictures, and the Rufus took those opportunities to get his paws wet, hunt tiny woodland critters, and look for more tiny woodland critters to hunt. He's such a... well, a dog.

The head-clearing was much needed. Eldest son is moving ahead in his journey, trying new things. Middle son is currently on a plane to Tokyo for an 18-day adventure. Youngest son turns 18 next week. It's time for me to fully, finally, relinquish the parenting reins and let these young men be young men. All of them.

It's not that I don't want them to grow up. I look forward to them someday finding their soul mates and starting families. It will help when they're able to leave my house, eh? But when I got married, my parents didn't exactly know what to do with themselves. Dad called me almost daily for the first several months. There was nothing much to discuss, but that's how it was. I won't do that to my kids, but that means I'd better do what I can to grow up myself into this new adulthood. I think I can do that.

While I'm growing, here are today's photos for your enjoyment. Note Rufie's concentration on the meadow view. He was thrilled.

Hey, does anyone know -- is this a Nootka rose? Sorry the photo's so washed out. I'll try to fix it later. There are two varieties of wild rose on my walking trail; the other one is darker pink.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Need to Write, But...

The other night at a 12-step meeting, I bemoaned the fact that I haven't used up even a quarter of my personal journal pages this year. In 2009, I filled a whole notebook, and it felt good to know I had written (and processed) that much "stuff". I like to journal; I like the feel of pen on paper, the look of my words on the page. It's a great way for me to mull over the half-formed thoughts blobbed in my brain.

This year has been different. I still have a lot of stuff to process. But I'm talking about things a little more, and Rufus and I have been walking a lot. We try to get out at least three times a week for about an hour of fast walking. It's a great time to be a little closer to nature as we walk on car-free trails. I'm working on remembering the plants my Gramma told me about many years ago, and I hope to learn to identify more bird songs. But mostly, it's relaxation for the minds and exercise for the bodies, and the Ruf and I love our walks.

I guess I'm a frustrated photographer. I love to capture the moment, but a cell phone camera isn't the best tool. Many of my attempts fall short. Once in a while, though, I hit on something beautiful. When I get a really good shot, it often ends up either on my computer desktop or on my cell phone screen. Here's what I've got on my phone right now:

And this is a shot I took tonight, now blown up on my desktop:

Back to writing about writing, as my title suggested. I'd like to leave a legacy in words, a written account of my journey. But these pictures represent the song of my heart. Maybe I'll write more and explain this more fully later.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just for Diane

I don't have a fetish for this kind of thing or these places. No matter what my friend thinks, I don't spend my days checking out new and unusual facilities. But...

In our quest to find non-automobile walking routes, Rufus and I took The Dad to a park in Seattle. We walked a 2.5 mile loop along the lakeshore and saw wonderful old vegetation and a panorama of civilization. At the beginning and end of the walk were these facilities for our convenience. I love old, unique architecture, so here they are:

This reminds me of the witch's house in Hansel & Gretel -- which is why Rufus was afraid when I disappeared.

And a detail from the other one:

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Solid Foundation

Last weekend I went to a conference with 170 other folks. (The photo here is my favorite scene from the conference grounds.) I had met just two of them beforehand, but didn't know either of them well at all. Unlike many of the other conferences I've attended, the purpose of this one was not relationship-building, so I met a lot of people but didn't form lasting bonds with them. It was easy to focus on the training, so I learned quite a bit and it was well worth my time.

On the personal side, I learned a few things, too. According to all the tests I've taken in my life, I'm an abstract-random learner, a Golden Retriever personality, and have strong co-dependent characteristics. All of these traits come together to make me generally very patient with other people. In fact, I can be tolerant to a fault, but I digress.

The conference was populated by folks from all walks of life, and from all parts of the state. Some of them probably have a spiritual outlook similar to my own, but many of them come from very different traditions and perspectives. That's okay, and I like to hear about others' life journeys, but last weekend I ended up feeling quite alone. I needed to know that my God was there, and I needed to be reminded of the depth of relationship I have with Him.

It has become my practice to read a Psalm on Saturday night, to help prepare myself for the Sunday morning worship service. The passage last weekend was Psalm 51, and I felt drawn to a topic that I usually shy away from: my sin and God's judgment.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,
And done what is evil in Thy sight,
So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak,
And blameless when Thou dost judge.

It was totally comforting to contemplate the absoluteness of God. He is holy and will not abide by sin. He punishes transgressors. And yet... He has extended His loving compassion and mercy to all who ask. The Father sent the Son as Savior of the world, not to condemn but to claim. What struck me last weekend, in that very beautiful setting, in the midst of some who are working out their own opinions of god, was the solidity of my faith. The foundation of my spiritual journey is the God of the Bible, who has set forth His expectations and has punished sinners according to their due. But the hope and joy of my faith is that this same God condescended to make a way for sinners -- especially me -- to be near to Him now and forever.

I am so very thankful that this is not my opinion, but my belief and the rock on which I stand.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sunny Day at the Locks

One of the advantages of having my car serviced on the other side of town is that I get to go to the other side of town once in a while. When I was up there a couple of weeks ago, I decided to spend time at the Chittenden Locks in Ballard.

I saw sculpture...

...and water (from the fish ladder viewing room)...

...and an interesting bird...

...and other interesting subjects.

I don't like being a tourist, a visual consumer if you will. But there I was, next to a class of Asian preschoolers on a field trip, gawking at the sailboat as it came up to the level of the lake:

From this angle, you can't even see the boat -- only the mast and some lines. But as the water lifted the boat, there was a young-ish couple on board who were rather amused at being the center of attention. The lady and I exchanged shy smiles, and she waved politely at the children. I didn't want to include her photo on the blog, as I have no idea who she was and I don't like to post images without permission. You'll just have to imagine her little inflatable life vest (more like an elongated collar), the bandanna holding her dreadlocks, and her gentle manner. The boat was registered in Alaska. Imagine that! It's only May -- do you suppose they made the trip down already this spring, or was this a practice sail on Puget Sound to train for the return trip up the inside passage?

While watching the boats come up, I overheard a little chatter about a log boom on its way from Lake Washington out to the Sound. This was a few days after opening day of the boating season. As part of the festivities, a temporary moorage* is anchored out on the lake. Pleasure boats can tie up to it to watch everything from their own front-row seats. When the party's over, the boom has to go. Very interesting. I didn't stay to watch the log boom go through the locks, though. I had another place to visit, and I'll post those photos in a few days.


*P.S. Blogger wants to correct this word to be "moo rage". Yep, if cattle were forced aboard yachts, there would be moo rage indeed!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why I Was Tired This Weekend

Or should the title be, "Where I Went This Weekend"? Or maybe, "What I Ate This Weekend"?

Our bi-annual church women's retreat was terrific. We had wonderful accommodations in Leavenworth, Washington, great speakers from Arizona, and delicious food from Bavaria. Want to see some photos? First, here I am with three of my four roomies:

There were fun activities, good photo opportunities (scenic ones!), but for now I'm skipping to today's lunch at the Tumwater Inn:

German sausage, bratwurst, und sauerkraut. Ausgeseichnet! And then we had to try some dessert:

Do you recognize my friends from the first photo? Yep, all the same gals. Yep, we were very polite and didn't stab each other trying to get to the cake.

There was a lot more to this weekend, but this is enough to post for now. I think it's time to vegetate.