Approach life gently. Treat life kindly. Live life fully and with enthusiasm.
Respect life--always.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yikes! Time’s a Wasting

75390017After two frenzied weeks of writing—and finishing, I might add—my book, I just looked at the countdown timer and realized that we only have 90 days left until May first.

Yikes! Where has the time gone? I was just telling my son yesterday that we have all been rather lazy all winter and that it had to stop. Nice weather and moving day is approaching, but I didn’t realize it was under 100 days yet.

26270016Those ninety days will pass us by if we aren’t careful, if we aren’t organized, if we don’t keep busy. Hibernation is over. The hungry bears must now wake up. Yawn, stretch. Let’s get moving.

The Raven will finally be home this week, as well. I am so excited to get back into finishing our projects.

I am still pumped and amped and on an achievement high from finishing my book. I know I will crash soon, but for the past few weeks, I haven’t slept much. My plan is to veg the rest of today, get a good night’s sleep, and then start fresh tomorrow.


It will be a brand new day, a brand new month. And the final push toward hitting the road begins . . .

P.S. When my book is about to be published, you will be the first to know. Thank you for putting up with my craziness during the writing process. You realize, of course, that we creative types have often been accused of insanity. SmileSmileSmile Just saying.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls, Redux

DSCN1504For the past several months, I have been craving my mother’s cinnamon rolls. This craving was made especially sharp because I cannot have the gluten or cinnamon; therefore I can no longer have my mom’s cinnamon rolls.

During the past Christmas season, I also missed my mom very  much.  She passed away in 2008. Maybe that is why I was really craving the cinnamon rolls. I wanted my mom. I wanted the warmth of her kitchen. I wanted the laughter we used to share as we made those cinnamon rolls or bread together. I wanted all those things I can never have again.

Life is funny that way sometimes. We always want what we cannot have. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

But, alas, I cannot have the gluten. I know this but I do cheat sometimes. Those Voodoo doughnuts we can get here in Oregon cast their magic spell, and I fall on my knees, sick from eating just one. I am sick for a whole week after just one delectably gooey doughnut.

Cinnamon. I love cinnamon but it does not love me. My migraines are not worth its spicy goodness.

And finally, I cannot have my mom back. I can dream about her. I can remember her each time I make borscht or clam chowder. And I can cry when I cannot quite get her recipes right.

Even with all these obstacles facing me, I still longed for Mom’s cinnamon rolls. So, I did the one thing I could do: I found the next best thing. I found a gluten free cinnamon roll recipe here, and instead of sprinkling cinnamon on the filling, I sprinkled my newest spice friend, cardamom. It doesn’t quite have the bite that cinnamon does, with its slight bitterness, but I am growing to like it, and it tasted absolutely wonderful. They were so tasty, I forgot to take a picture first!


And the tray of actual cinnamon ones, well, you’ll see they are almost gone already.  They could not keep their hands off, even though I insisted that particular tray was for our gluten free neighbor. I did manage to save a few for her.


While savoring each bite, they took me back to my childhood kitchen at mom’s elbow, which is really what I was after in the first place.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This Too Shall Pass

17230015I’ve been in this rut that past few days again. It isn’t depression, but it does keep me down. It is the blasted headaches and pain.  Again. Why must they be here again? I asked them politely to leave me alone. I guess the headaches are from spending too much time staring at a computer screen. But I have been trying so very hard to get my book finished that I have been in one of those writing frenzies—that is until the headaches took over again.

My writing frenzies can keep me up all night sometimes, pounding away at the keyboard. Or it can mean that I wake up in the morning with a pen in my hand. Yes, I do weird things in my sleep. Sleep walking. Sleep eating. Sleep writing.

My nights are oftentimes my most interesting times of the day, so to speak. I mean, what with all that sleep activity plus night terrors and nightmares and night sweats. Then there are CPAPs, mouth guards, wrist braces, and pillows supporting my knees and arms. And constantly readjusting my Sleep Number bed to find even two minutes of comfort. Sleep Number beds may be okay for “the average” person, but for a “major pain” like myself, well, I don’t think any bed can really give me all I need. Except there was that bed in Tahoe last spring . . .

Am I a mess or what?

But this too shall pass. God will ease my headaches, my pain. God will ease my symptoms of Lyme disease and early menopause. And God will even ease my nightmares.


And even though these things shall pass, I am very thankful for all of my life. I am thankful for my gift of writing. I am thankful for the intelligence God blessed me with, the sense of humor, the compassion and love in my heart. I am thankful for my husband, my children, my family, my friends. I am thankful for having enough in my life to always allow us to get by and never be desperately wanting or without. I am thankful for knowing the hard times with the good times, for how could I recognize the good without first knowing the bad? I am thankful there is a God to watch over me and care for me in my illness. I am thankful you are here, sharing my journey with me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Still Looking

DSCF0920My eyes are all buggy and hurting. I have been on this computer for way too long. But such is life when you are trying to accomplish a goal.

I honestly tried to find those negatives of Suzie as a puppy so that I could continue the furry family album series, but I started in the wrong box and got bored with the whole process. No wonder they charge a ton of money to digitize negatives professionally. It is a tedious job. And boring. But at least I got some reading done. I just love my Kindle.

Anyway, three days ago, I set aside the negatives, so that I would not get negative. Ha ha. And then I started in with the whole editing and compiling process to finally get my book ready for publishing.

Talk about a tedious job. When I attempted the editing and compiling a few months ago, it was horribly complicated. All my files are in Word, and there is just no easy way to get them all together without going crazy. And trying to make sure I am maintaining good flow and continuity from page one to the end, well, that is very difficult in Word.

A fellow writer, however, turned me on to an awesome program: Scrivener. I absolutely love it. I can switch back and forth between chapters quickly. I can see everything all at once. I can make notes on the side that will not end up in the final draft but which are important to me now. It is just the greatest thing since sliced bread.

If you write, I would highly recommend checking it out at this link.

Have a great day, and maybe soon I will get those negatives scanned in. Meanwhile, I am quitting for the evening before my eyes bleed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Life’s Little Obstacles

85650004“Whether we’re prepared or not, life has a habit of thrusting situations upon us.”

Lucille Ball


So, it is probably no big news that someone who suffers from depression, anxiety, and a major illness (not that depression and anxiety aren’t major illnesses) would seek out counseling services. I am not ashamed to say that I need help from time to time. We should never be ashamed to ask for help when we need it.

We should also never be ashamed to take time for ourselves, to carve out of our day whatever it is we need to not only survive, but thrive.

Each one of us is valuable and deserving of our own compassion, our own goodness. I am worth the effort it will take to get my own “stuff” taken care of. And part of that “stuff” is getting my book finished.

My main excuses have been that I don’t have space. I don’t have the freedom, with Ken home all the time now, wanting my attention. I don’t have the time, with all the other things that need to be done so that we can get on the road. I don’t feel good. I am tired. Blah, blah, blah.

Yesterday, I confessed to my counselor my real reason for not finishing my book, which is so close to being finished. I fear it will fail. I fear no one will read it. I fear my message will not be heard, despite all my efforts.

My wise counselor asked one simple question, which put everything in perspective. (He has that habit.) If you could help just one person with your story, would it be worth it?

Yes, of course. If I could save one person from suffering the torture and abuse I have been through. If I could help one woman to find the courage to love herself enough to walk away. If I could help one person, of course it would be worth all my effort and all my tears bringing this book to fruition.

Yes, I need to finish my book. Now. Not someday.

So, I need to tackle some of those obstacles that are currently standing in my way.

Today, I took step one to create my own workspace in this small home of ours. The living room is not a viable work area for me because of the television. There isn’t an adequate space available in the tiny bedroom to set up a desk and chair, and I cannot comfortably work on the bed.

And of course, the Raven isn’t back yet. So I cannot work in it. I did talk to Trent today, though. It is going to cost more than I had hoped, but less than I had feared. So, I guess we will be okay, so long as there are no more surprises, like the catalytic converter I found out about today.

DSC00668I have chosen the utility room in the basement. It may seem like an odd choice, being in the “dungeon” without windows, but it will give me a quiet space of my own. Since Trevor works during the afternoon, it is perfect because he won’t be making noise down there either. His bedroom is right next to the utility, after all. If I really want daylight, I can just open his door, and peek through to his window. There is a way to get around everything, if you try hard enough, even sharing space with the food larder and the washer and dryer.



My furry family album had to be put on hold for a while, too, because of my lack of space. I realized after starting that line of posts that the majority of pictures taken during Suzie’s younger years are not digitized yet. For some reason, when the stores started offering CDs when you got your pictures developed, I forgot to check that box at least half the time.

But never fear, I bought myself a Christmas gift to take care of such a problem: A negative scanner.

And as soon as Trevor gets the power cord for me and takes the scanner and a few boxes of photos downstairs, we will be back in business!

And look here, he did it already! What a sweetheart.


Monday, January 16, 2012


016_12AI have all of these awesomely cute pictures of my Pugs as Puglets, er, puppies, and so I thought I might share a few, along with each of their stories. And since I like to talk about my babies, I will give each of their stories its own post.

Please enjoy this little side trip through our furry family history.

Our first little darling was Max. He soon became known as Maxamillion Puddles. You see, Max was a rescue. He came to us at two years old, with absolutely no training or house manners whatsoever. His previous owner had gotten him, evidently as a Christmas gift because Pug puppies are so darned cute, and then they decided it was too much effort to train him. Being a male, he must have taken to marking the furniture, because they chose to stick him in an outdoor kennel and basically left him there for his first two years of life. Pugs are not built for outdoor life. They cannot handle the heat of even a mild summer, nor the chill of a mild winter for any length of time.

When we got him, he was so excited to have the attention of a family. He was the happiest dog I had ever seen, but it did take quite some time to train him and make an attempt at socializing, even though that is all but impossible after the first year of life.

He was also the sickest young dog I had ever dealt with. He had infections in his ears, wrinkles, and eyes and various other areas, which took at least six months to get under control. These infections left him with scars and the beginnings of blindness due to corneal scarring. His corneas have continued to deteriorate in part due to the breed’s tendency to not make enough tears, but I also believe that such severe infections probably had something to do with his inability to produce enough tears.

Despite his blindness, which is almost complete now, he is still one of the happiest dogs around. His arthritis acts up once in a while, but at twelve, that is to be expected.


This is Max enjoying the comforts of the good life.


Here, we are camping at the beach his first summer with us. The pollen from the trees was a real nightmare for Max his first few years with us, probably an aftereffect of the infections.


Max really enjoyed running on the beach as a youngster. Here he is with my daughter and her friend on his first beach trip.

025_22 (2)

Max also loved playing tug-of-war, especially with my daughter’s pant legs. When he could still see well enough, he also liked catching mice in our garage. Who needs a cat when you have a multipurpose Pug?


My sweet boy.


Max and Ken used to play as much as Tinker Belle and Ken play now.


Next episode: Little Miss Suzie Angel Eyes



Friday, January 13, 2012

Mental Health Day, Please

digital 2009 417“It’s a great life, if you don’t weaken.”

That’s what my wonderful hubby always says. It is usually said when I am blubbering, bawling my eyes out, yelling and screaming, or otherwise having an emotional breakdown of one kind or another. I do have moments of self-pity. They usually last a whole ten seconds, until worry of others takes over my life again. One cannot spout constant “why me’s?” when others need her. I guess it is called being a mother, being an adult. Priorities and responsibility. Okay, sure, I do have self-pity sessions that last longer than ten seconds. It is called depression, and it strikes hard and fast sometimes. But that is not what this is about.

We all need to vent once in a while. To cry on someone else’s shoulder. To scream into a pillow. To have a mental health day, as it is now politically correct to call an otherwise unapproved day off from work. To just be alone for half an hour without being bothered. Or just to get a hug. We all have a need to be weak every now and then.

Life. It is great. But about weakening? Sometimes being vulnerable is a good thing. It shows we are human, that we need each other, and needing each other is definitely a good thing. That is how God planned it. That is why God gave Eve to Adam. Even Adam, big, strong, first-man, needed someone.

But do I have to be needed so much, sometimes? Don’t answer that. It is rhetorical.


Two days ago, my seizure prince, my son, had another grand mal. Usually I can see them coming, if I am there. He blacks out first, just stares off into space, and conversation ceases. This time, we were watching television, and he took a nosedive sideways off the sofa. He got himself into quite the predicament, with his head stuck between a piece of furniture and my totes of craft projects, and his legs became jammed under the couch. If I had seen it coming, I may have been able to safely guide him to the floor, as usual. This feat isn’t easy, guiding a seizing, hulking young man to the floor safely, but it tends to be a whole lot easier than fixing the situation after he goes down alone.

But that is where adrenaline comes in. After all, a mother has been known to lift the car off her husband, run back into the burning building three times to make sure all her kids and the dog get out safely, and face down an armed robber trying to steal what she managed to get onto the lawn before the building exploded—all in one day—and still have a wholesome dinner on the table by six, with a smile on her face and a sparkling clean kitchen to boot.

Wow. Talk about stretching it. What I am trying to get at is that adrenaline can kick in, and we can do miraculous things when we have to.

My problem is that I don’t make enough adrenaline. I have enough for that initial surge, but with adrenal insufficiency, it doesn’t go very far. I can guide my 6-foot-5-inch, 260-pound son to the ground safely, and I can even pick him up enough by the waist of his jeans to pull him out of trouble, as I did the other day, but that is as far as my adrenaline goes. With adrenal fatigue, I then don’t have enough to keep me going the next few days. My brain stays on high alert, and I don’t sleep that first night after he has a seizure, and then my brain is still on high alert the next day, causing panic attacks at every noise, every phone call, every knock at the door. But my body has given up at this point. There isn’t even enough adrenaline to carry out the normal functions of daily living. I spend the next day or two in bed, trying to recuperate.

I don’t know how adrenaline junkies do it. Sure, I used to love the rush, too. I used to tempt fate as a teenager like so many other young people. Who doesn’t at one point or another in their life? It is the thrill of knowing you are alive by facing your fears. An adrenaline high is like no other. But do the adrenaline junkies have a letdown after their thrill seeking adventures? Does their adrenaline eventually run out?

I wonder.

Even though vulnerability is seen as a weakness in this modern world, I will remain just that. Vulnerability and needing each other are vital human qualities. We are not robots.

Responding to the vulnerabilities of others is also vital. God gave us compassion and empathy so that we might help each other in times of need.

And adrenaline is there to help us face our fears, initially the fear of hungry beasts or marauding savages. Today with our penchant for bungee jumping and parasailing, we forget why God gave us that all-important fight-or-flight hormone.


Survival. But survival of humanity, not just the fittest. The strong are there to help the weak, not just take home the prize.

Do you see yourself as weak or as strong? Or are you the perfectly imperfect, weak and strong, human whom God created you to be? Think about it.

And thanks for listening to this imperfect human.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


DSCF2781OR . . .

What to do when you cannot remember what you came to the computer to do.

I was reading in bed tonight, and I got the notion that I needed my computer for some odd reason. So, off I toddled to the living room to fetch it, leaving my Kindle reading behind. Erma Bombeck is a riot, by the way, even if so many of her colloqialisms are outdated and her references are less than timely for this decade. Hey, maybe that’s it. Maybe I wanted to look up one of her funny references. Who are Damon and Pythias, anyway? Okay, so I did look that one up. Their relationship has to do with the ultimate in true friendship and loyalty in Greek mythology. Duh. Why didn’t I remember that from my seventh grade mythology class? Um, probably because that was, like, a century ago. Oh, and as a side comment, why is it that we can study Greek gods in public schools, but we cannot learn about the one true God in those same schools?


Anyway, upon firing up my laptop, I could no longer remember what I had wanted the silly thing for. Don’t even suggest I should take up paper and pen before approaching the computer. I have tried that route with very little success. Even with a pen sitting right beside me, by the time the tip touches paper, my brain is empty. It is like there is a thought vacuum hovering above me that just waits for me to have something valuable up there in my noggin, and then, sluuuurp, its gone forever. Burp. At least it could say excuse me.

So, what to do while I wait patiently for that thought to magically reappear? It seems wasteful to just turn the machine off right away, only to have to turn it back on again in two minutes when the thought returns. If it should return, that is.

That was over two hours ago, and here I still sit. Waiting. Waiting. Hm hm hm hm hm hm hm. Somebody play the Jeopardy theme song please.

What did I do with those two-plus hours, you ask? Well, I will tell you. I decided to catch up on some reading. I have been neglecting the blogs I follow, and I have been feeling guilty about it. How can I expect you all to follow me, if I am not a diligent follower myself?

Sew a Fine Seam is a cheerful blog. I have recently discovered her and have enjoyed all I have read so far.

Then, I like to play blog roulette sometimes, too. If you will notice, there is a link at the top of this page that says, “Next Blog.” It will randomly take you to different blogs. Some end up being real dogs, but others are great. That is how I found Sew a Fine Seam, after all.

I read through several of these random offerings, and I discovered something interesting.

It is not just me.


No seriously. I am not the only one who has scattered thoughts, who strays off topic often, whose creative inspirations often must be torn out or erased and redone. I am not the only one who longs to be knee deep in the intricate details of a project, yet only allow myself time for a cursory onceover. I am not the only one who dreams big and falls short, then gets up to dream big again. I am not the only one who gets bogged down in thinking too far ahead when I should be concentrating on the here and now.

I am not the only one who enjoys the process, sometimes more than the end result.

For me

Joy is in the doing.

Joy is in the dreaming.

Joy is in those crazy, scattered thoughts.

Joy is in the details.

Joy is in today.


For you, Joy is where you determine. Where is your Joy today?


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chasing Squirrels

DSC00622I realized this morning, in a rather rude fashion, that I had not posted any Pug funnies lately. You see, our home is full of Pugs, three to be exact, though when they are underfoot, it seems like there’s more. A whole lot more!

Our Tinker Belle, famous (or infamous???) now because of all this exposure, is the youngest at almost four. She is a riot, especially when it comes to her toys. Being very toy-aggressive and possessive, we cannot even say the “S” word in our house. In fact, we have had to resort to spelling s-q-u-i-r-r-e-l, even when we see one in the yard, even though, thankfully, she has never tangled with a live one. She is just obsessed about the squeaky, furry, stuffing-less ones we get at Petco. In fact, she loves the squeakers so much that her sharp, little teeth have usually punctured all of them by the end of the first day. The last toy Ken bought for Tink had at least 20 squeakers in it, and that one barely lasted two days. I’ve looked online for industrial-strength squeakers for devil dogs, but, alas, I cannot find any.

Oh, I just realized that I have not told you about my rude awakening this morning. And no it wasn’t a slobbery squirrel in the face, though she has done that to me before. At times, to get the dog to go to bed, we have to hide her toys. Last night, Ken hid her squirrel in the bathroom, hanging on the showerhead. Well, it doesn’t take a dog with an awesome sniffer long at all to figure out where her toys have gone. This morning, she was in the tub, on the shower seat, screaming and crying like a wounded animal—all in an attempt to get at the showerhead and her beloved squirrel.

And during all of this, where are her buddies, Max and Suzie? Ignoring her, of course!


Why, just check out that look of boredom!


If only she were a few inches taller . . .


Now, I love my dog, but that stinky squirrel ain’t going anywhere near my mouth—ever. Ken must be crazy.




Walk tall, carry pointy chompers.


And if that doesn’t work, sneak up on it from below.


Maybe jumping at it will work.


Ken is driving Tink crazy with a tiny whistle.


Hey, she finally got it!


To the victor go the spoils.


A good time was had by all.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gardener’s Dilemma

47560023My fingers are already itching to dig in the dirt, and it is only January. It is about this time of year, every year, that I start to plan what I would like to plant. Some years, we have planted huge gardens, with bok choy, broccoli, shallots, artichokes, peppers, and all the usual suspects. Always tomatoes. One year, we planted heirloom tomatoes, and they over-produced. I’ve never seen such huge tomatoes. Why, a few filled quart jars on their own—one per jar! I wouldn’t be surprised if we still didn’t have some of those canned beauties in the far reaches of the basement.69890023

A few years, when I felt my worst, we only planted tomatoes. Those were sad years, when I barely had the strength or desire to pick our berries, either. Speaking of our berries, we had marionberries, boysenberries, raspberries, and even strawberries for a while. Also three types of apples and plums and peaches too. What a glorious garden we had when we had our house, with beautiful raised beds.

This year, I must curtail my gardening urges, for we will most likely be gone before harvest time. The wheels will roll in about 114 days, according to the counter.

Never fear, though. I have been contemplating how to garden in little pots. I have also been contemplating where to keep them in the Raven. Hmm. One solution might be slightly larger pots which could be placed outside when we land somewhere and which we haul in the back of the Jeep. We must ponder all these thoughts. At least little pots with herbs and lettuce. Someone once suggested we get one of those tomato hangers and hang it in our shower. Yikes! Now there’s an interesting solution.

Always remember, for every problem, there is a solution. It may not be convenient or normal, or even logical. Sometimes you just have to stand on your head to see what needs to be done!