Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Never Noticed Before...and, A Wedding Story

This picture of Mom and George

has been sitting on top of the piano for almost 10 years right along with this photo from our wedding

and I NEVER noticed until a couple days ago that they're nearly identical poses!

Never noticed it! ....How can that be?

Mom and George's "Scrunch Hug" was outside their hotel room on one of their many five week cross country road trips to see all the family and friends "back east."

The wedding photo (please... no comments about how young, thin, curly, and brunette I was back then) was taken after the cake cutting.

We had agreed to "be nice" to each other. And I was. Then it was his turn to feed me a piece of our wedding cake. He held it out and got a gleam in his eye.

"Wait...what was that?" I thought. He pulled his hand back a little. "He wouldn't! W-would he?"

He looked to the guests, raising his eyebrows with a look that asked, "Should I? Should I?"

I could hear mixed reviews as they were being called out. Some of his friends egged him on while I heard Mom saying, "Noooo."

Everyone waited to see what he would do. Including me. Would my new husband who had pre-maritally agreed to "be nice" go back on his word and smash my face with cake? What had I gotten myself into? Who was this man?!

He raised the piece of cake toward my face. Closer, closer it came. Then.....he gently let me take a bite.

A giant collective "Awwwww!" erupted from the guests.

(But you do notice my hand on his during it all, don't you? I'm no fool! I was ready just in case.)

And he looked at me

as if to say, "You didn't really think I'd do it, did you? We agreed." (No of course not, honey. We agreed! Well... maybe. You kinda... had me going there for a second. Um... sorry?)

I nestled into him for an Awwww Hug. And the photographer snapped this shot.

It's our favorite wedding photo.

While the Scrunch Hug and the Awwww Hug were on the same piano top, they didn't exactly reside right next to each other before. Now they do.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

Thursday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

We almost moved to Australia.

Wednesday provided a fairly nasty preamble to Thursday. We enjoyed such terrible horribleness as:

-computer updates taking 3 hours
-uploading photos to our lab taking over 2 hours for less than half the photos
-the power of our solar system going out right in the middle of the photo uploads at 8pm
-leaving us in the pitch darkness of all our off-the-gridness

And Thursday. Thursday was just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Some of the no good, very badness of Thursday began with:

-much tiredness

which continued headlong into:

-preparations for craft fair getting much bigger than our time
-more computer updates soaking up precious time
-hours with tech support on another issue
-more hours with the photo lab
-stresses, miscommunications, grumpiness
-another power failure, in broad daylight (energy absorbing daylight), right while the computer was on, AGAIN
-the invertor shutting off
-the charge controller apparantly dying
-five phone calls to talk to solar people
-"I'm sorry, everyone's at lunch right now"
-"Yeh, yeh, call this guy at this number because I have to go to a meeting"
-"He's lying down right now can I take a message?"
-"All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later."
-My husband finally figured out what was wrong and fixed it but it made him late to teach his guitar lessons
-mat cutting woes
-missing Mom
-and on and on it went
-did I mention grumpiness?

HOWEVER, in the midst of my mat cutting woes, I decided I was going to crawl out from under all the pressures, stresses, frustrations, and grumpinesses and refuse to let them make me fail to see God's goodness despite all the piles of frustrations. (Finally. I "finally" did this well into the afternoon.) And when I did, my mood completely changed. I changed from being infused with it all, to being apart from it. It seemed to move from inside me where it had wreaked havoc all day to outside me where I could stand apart from it and say, "Huh. I don't need to be trampled by all this stuff. God is still here. He's still Himself. He's still good. It's all OK."

It was cool.

P.S. If you haven't read the children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, you simply have to run out to your local bookstore, or hop on Amazon and order it. It's awesome.

It's The Law

I just have to jump on the band wagon about my friend Kerri's post recently. I'm realizing I'm the not only one who can hang onto things forever, finally decide to give or throw them away, only to have a need for them arise within days. It must be Murphy's Law of Disposal or something.

I am sentimental. Which is why I have too many things in my house.

I am a just-in-case person. Which is why I have too many things in my house.

I recognize and appreciate the value of magazine articles, ministry newsletters, old retreat notes, and dare I say it?, old college notes. Which is why I have way too many things in my house.

And...I have had the regrets that go along with throwing out something that's been hanging around the house for way too long, only to need it or think of a brilliant use for it shortly after getting rid of it.

Which, is why I STILL have way too many things in my house.

Case in point: my old hiking boots. I bought them in 1984 when my friend, Lori, and I were heading to Europe for the summer. Those boots walked through St. Paul's Cathedral in London and C.S. Lewis' old haunts in Oxford and Cambridge. (below)

They got dirty with garden soil as I did my morning work before studying at L'Abri in the company of Francis Schaeffer's daughter and grandchildren. They accompanied me through an eerie 2:00a.m. train station layover in Cologne, Germany...alone.

They hiked in the Alps of Switzerland.

...went on a gentle walk through the grassy hills of St. Michael, Austria, and they rested on the opposing train seat for an all night trip out of Italy where I had to sleep sitting next to a creepy man.

They went on the Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg.

They were on my feet when I hitchhiked for the first (and next-to-the-last) time outside the tiny town of Carnforth, England.

Once home, they hiked me up Camelback Mountain a few times and they went with me to Singles Retreats in the mountains. I took photos of my boots stretched out in grassy meadows or overlooking mountain views.

Those boots built our house here in the woods. I was a carpenter in those boots, hauling floor joists through the trees, nailing down sheets of OSB, caulking this, assisting with that. They began to fail me during the cabin construction. The edging came apart and I developed splits in the soles where the ball of my foot created a bend with every step. I did my best to repair my beloved boots. More than once I used Liquid Nails on the sides and white caulking on the bottom.

Finally, with the house mostly done (it's still mostly done) and me having to go to work in town, I didn't wear them much anymore. The time came when I had to retire the boots. I tied them together and hung them up on a basement wall. They stayed there for years. I couldn't part with them.

I even considered donating them to a "boot fence" I'd noticed along the highway going into town. I'm sure it was just one family's little monument to their old shoes but I did consider immortalizing my beloved boots by adding to their collection. I planned out what I would write inside them: about Europe, the Alps, and building the house. I never did it.

One day I was determined to be "ruthless" with myself and admit that I would never wear them again and that there was simply no good reason to keep them. With a bit of sadness and a touch of thanks, I put them in the trash bag and never saw them again.

A short time later I was shopping for flowers to fill a totally cute, old, weathered, wooden-chair-planter my friend had given me the previous year. And it hit me: the PERFECT use for my old special boots! Seal up the insides and plant flowers in them! I could've hung them off the corner of my cute weathered chair on the porch!

AAAARRRRGGGGH! I kept those things for years. I'm talkin' YEARS! And within a month of reluctantly and bravely throwing them out I came up with this cute and brilliant idea. Double aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!

I am sad to this day that I don't have those old boots. My next pair of boots just didn't have the right design for it; they were too "trendy". Now, it will be awhile till I retire my current boots and can fulfill this most perfect use for them after their demise. But it won't be the same. It will just be a pair of boots. It won't be my first boots, my most special boots, the boots that took me to Europe and built a house.

Here's some links to stuff mentioned in this post:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finally...But then

Thanksgiving is coming and we have some different plans this year which we're really looking forward to. But I kind of wanted to have a little Thanksgiving Dinner here for just the two of us. So last weekend I fixed one for us.

I did the whole shebang (well, nearly): turkey, stuffing, real mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, gravy.

And a miracle happened.

I actually had everything done and ready at the same time!

On time!

I was amazed.

I was thrilled.

My husband came home from teaching lessons at exactly the right time. All we had to do was dish it up.

Perfection. Long awaited perfection.

And then he said, "Looks awesome! Thank you! Hey, the antelope are up by the highway again. Do you want to come with me and take some pictures?"

Speechless for a moment, I soon realized I was completely satisfied with my success at accomplishing what to me had previously been The Impossible. So I said, "Mmmmm......OK, let's go."

I grabbed a jacket (It was 40 degrees out. I'm not some people who were just in a t-shirt....not to mention any names or anything) and off we went.

The antelope were kind of too far away for my camera.

but he got some good ones with his zoomier lens.

Then we saw the horses and mules that graze in that same pasture.

The sun was so warm and golden. Talking sweetly brought these guys and gals right over to us. I've never really been around mules. They're kind of pretty, in a big, strong, working animal sort of way.

Then there was this one with all its spots.

Horses and mules sometimes get in each other's space.

At one point, I squatted on the ground to get a picture looking up at a horse. Before I knew it, he reached his head right over the fence, so curious about me.

He proceeded to put his nose right to my lens where he sniffed and fogged it all up. He even left a mud mark. It was SO fun looking through the lens at this big horse nose! My camera just wouldn't focus that close, though, or I would've gotten some really fun shots. I kept trying to back up, get lower. I know... I'm reading your mind... Yes, I fell backwards. I seem to do that a lot around animals, don't I? But I was giggling and laughing the whole time.

We came home, heated up dinner (and ourselves), and enjoyed our little Thanksgiving dinner.

As a parting shot, here's some fun with the Coloring Book feature of my cheap Kodak EasyShare software.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's Snowing!

Little sporadic drizzles turned into a very light snow.
It's snowing!

And now it's not.

Anymore, if it starts to rain or snow around here and you feel like going out to look at it? You'd better do it immediately...because, it's bound to stop within minutes.

By the time I brought my camera inside and began setting things in place to download my photos...the snow had stopped. It had barely started when I went out to shoot a picture!!

A Blustery Day

Yesterday was a blustery day.

A cold and windy day.

A day to keep a cozy fire going in the stove.

A soup kind of a day.

A hot chocolate kind of day.

A knitting kind of a day.

A cold and blustery day outside. Warm and cozy inside.

Friday, November 13, 2009

All Talk No Action

It's a blustery day today.

It's been talking a big talk all day long but hasn't proven anything. It sprinkled icy sprinkles for about 15 minutes this morning and that's about all. We have hopes of snow tonight. My husband just called from town and said it's raining buckets there. We're hoping it will come our way.

You see, we need water. We live completely off the grid and collect our water from the rain and snow melt. We didn't accumulate much over the summer because our gutters and downspouts were much more clogged than they first let on to us. They spent the summer mostly overflowing rather than flowing into our tanks.

Speaking of tanks, I thought you might want to see what I'm talking about.

This is our above ground tank. Rain water and snow melt drips off the front half of the roof, down onto the front porch roof and then into the gutters. The gutters flow into the top pipe which flows into the top of the tank. The pipe along the ground is our overflow system. When the pictured tank is full, the excess water flows into the pipe along the ground. It graphs into another pipe, the one that carries water from the back half of the roof into our underground cistern. So when the above ground tank is full, the excess run-off flows into the underground tank. If THAT one is full, the excess flows into our tiny orchard of fruit trees.

We started out with just the underground one, and lived off it for many years. Just last year we added the above ground tank to help boost us along through the dry seasons.

We get water into the house by way of a pump in the underground cistern. Water is pumped into a pressurizing tank in our basement and from there it feeds the house. The pressurized tank only holds so much. We pressurize it to 55psi which produces about the same water pressure as city water, I think. When that tank is empty we have to go down to the basement and pump water into it again. This isn't as bad as it sounds. The only time it's a problem is when we're using a lot of electricity. Since we don't want to overload our solar system, we generally turn everything else off before we pump water. Sometimes it's an inconvenience when we're in the middle of a TV show or on the computer or something. But we're pretty used to it.

We recently drained what water we had in the above ground tank into the underground one for use in the house. There is so little water left in the above ground one that we're concerned about it freezing. You can see that my husband has insulated the spigot and hose connection for the winter, so at least the components won't freeze. He wrapped the whole thing in insulation, covered it with pine needles, and then placed a board over top of it to keep fresh snow off of it.

We'd really like to get a nice steady rain to fill our tanks. But since I began writing this post, that massive rain storm in town has not made any sign of appearing over top of us. Bummer.

Homer Marina

As long as I wrote about our exciting Time Bandit experiences in Homer, I thought I'd put up some other photos I took at the Deep Water Marina.

I love these colorful floats.

I wonder who LB is? I figure he was the welder. My husband's a welder and I believe his initials are in several places where he's worked.

I don't know what this sea encrusted thing is, but it was sitting on a ledge of a very tattered ship and I thought it looked pretty cool. The modern day, clean plate near it lets me know that this ship is not completely abandoned.

LB's ship again, here. There have to be many stories behind such a rusted hulk. I wonder what they are.

Love the rich worn textures on this rugged and battered ship. Across the dock from this old beauty was a ship with tons of activity going on. It was being given a fresh coat of cobalt blue paint, and there were sounds of welding and grinding. I was so wanting to ask about the ship, curious to know what they were doing, what the vessel's destiny is, and what the story is of the man who owns it and is attempting to make a living with it.

And I think this one is my favorite. This is LB's ship again. I love the simplicity of this photo. It's simple yet holds such richness.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deadliest Catch

Remember way back in the Alaska journals when I mentioned that we found The Time Bandit's shop in Homer? Well, I didn't post completely about those visits. Let me explain...

But first, let me explain about The Deadliest Catch for those of you who don't know about it. The Deadliest Catch is a reality show on the Discovery Channel that chronicles the experiences of several captains and crews engaged in one of the world's deadliest occupations, crab fishing in the Bering Sea. We've been hooked on the show for years. We each have our favorite captains and crews. It's quite a show, full of hard, dangerous and weary work, thrilling and scary moments.

When we were in Homer, Alaska this past summer, we went down to The Spit. The Spit is a 4.5 mile long natural jetty which is home to the town's marina, many tourist shops, restaurants, etc. We've been there several times before but this time when walking along the boardwalk, we saw a building that said Time Bandit on it. The Time Bandit is one of the fishing vessels starring in The Deadliest Catch.

At the shop, there was a crowd of people spilling out the door. These boardwalk shops are really tiny, so we just thought there happened to be a big group of people shopping. So we hovered around the side of the shop waiting for some folks to leave so we could fit inside and have a look. Looking through the side window, I noticed a guy in a leather jacket bent over the counter. Hm. His jacket had a huge version of The Time Bandit's logo (which unfortunately is a skull and crossbones). Hm. I wonder........ Hey, wait...... I think that might be the captain of the Time Bandit.......and he's signing autographs!

I didn't want to post the WHOLE story before because we bought my nephew's birthday present there. He loves the show, too, so we thought it would be fun to get him an autographed photo of the Time Bandit. Just in case he wandered onto this blog, I didn't want to give away the secret. But now that we've given it to him, I'll complete the story here.

So we got in line, peered into the building better, and sure enough. It was Captain Johnathan. He and his brother, Captain Andy, own the Time Bandit together and they are both on the show, depending on who's out on what catches.

We came away with the photo for my nephew, a book for me, and t-shirt for my husband...all signed. (I'm glad I didn't get the book for my nephew. While I like reading about people's unusual lives, I don't think he likes to read that much. AND as I read the first few pages over the summer, it only took two pages for the *f* word to appear! Should be a colorful book. I should have known.)

I guess that "Shut up and fish" is his famous phrase. Captain Andy's is "No crybabies!"

So we got our autographed items.

And then...

What fun! I'm such a groupie.

While holding onto the photo all summer for my nephew, I began to second guess the purchase. What if he's not that into The Deadliest Catch anymore? What if this isn't that big a deal? What if it's suddenly and somehow not "cool" to be a fan of the show anymore? What if this gift I'm so excited about giving to him turns out to be totally dorky and just another example of a behind-the-times aunt giving stupid gifts?

When I went back to Alaska in the fall we went down to Homer again. We went into the shop again and found out that this time the Time Bandit itself was actually there. All 120 feet of her. The woman in the shop told us how to get to the Deep Water Marina and even went so far as to say, "I think they're on board. If you holler out, they might let you on board."

Well, we were all excited. We got over there and discovered there was another ship "parked" next to the dock and The Time Bandit was on the outside of it. I guess there are some permanently moored ships there and when a new one comes in from sea, it has to double park. On top of that, there was a huge semi-sized storage container right in the middle of the deck of the ship closest to us. We couldn't see the main part of the Time Bandit at all. So, there was no way we were going to stand on the dock and try to "holler" at the top of our lungs to catch the attention of people who may not even be on board the ship we could barely see docked two out. Dang!

But we did get photos of the front and back.

Regardless of my second guesses on the gift idea, I forged on ahead. I made prints of us with Captain Johnathon, the shop front, and the ship itself. I bought a plastic "sign frame" that stands on the table. I put the autographed photo at the front and then affixed the personal photos on the back.

When he opened it, he LOVED it! (Whew!) When I told him to turn it around, he said, "No way! You met him?" It turns out, not only does he still love the show, but it's his favorite ship and his favorite captains. How great is that! Here I was all insecure and it was a perfect bulls eye. It was SO fun giving it to him and seeing how much he liked it.

So, as Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the REST of the story.

The autograph hound strikes again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Deer Farm Photos

I promised you I'd post photos of my afternoon at the Deer Park and here they are. It was a lot of fun and despite the farm's not-very-pleasing aesthetics, I still want to go again with my husband. The deer are so cute, beautiful, and fun.

Standing out in a crowd

I really liked this photo. Until Blogger turned it sideways and the red glow showed up in front of her nose.

The deer are VERY accustomed to people coming in and feeding them. The moment you walk through the gate with your cup of food (purchased at the gift shop) you get someone's attention and they make a sauntering beeline for you.

Pretty soon, here come a few more.

Before you know it, you're surrounded.

Yes, there's deer behind you, too. You pretty much can't move for fear of stepping on their dainty feet. And if you don't turn around to include the ones behind you...they'll let you know. They grab hold of your shirt tail and give it a few tugs.

And if you don't make them stop, they start to chew. And more and more of your shirt seems to crawl into their mouths.

It's gross, but I must confess that I was a rather slobbery mess by the time I left. Gross, but fun.

And sweetly beautiful:

This little guy (gal?) was one of my favorites. A young one with the sweetest face. It was rather shy, though, and I had a hard time getting a picture. This is about the best I could do.

When I first got there, the sun was really bright and casting photo-unfriendly shadows. As the sun went down some, the light became really warm and cozy.

I saved the best till last for you. There were three babies there. Three tiny, tiny, adorable fawns.