People that hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life. -Faith Resnick

Good thing I like cheese.

I used to love cats.  They start out as adorable kittens with little pointy tails and cute “mews”.  They follow you around and cuddle up on your lap.  I had cats growing up and have fond memories of them.

Notice, I said that I used to love cats.  Gypsy, our current cat who is around 11 years old and has been with us for most of those 11 years, has changed my former love for cats what can only be categorized as hate.  Only the guilt I know I would feel is what keeps her from being hauled off to the humane society.  Seriously.

These feelings are not new.  She has scratched (sometimes while standing on a scratching pad) and ruined more things in the house than I care to count.  Her hairballs are disgusting and plentiful.  She constantly wants in and out of the house, which would be understandable if it wasn’t between the hours of 1-5 a.m.  And the feelings are mutual.  She will hiss at me as she walks by for no particular reason.  She has bitten me in the same manner.  Right now, just to spite me I am sure, she is sitting on the back of same couch purring with her eyes closed like we are the best of friends.  I am not fooled.

Last Saturday, my phone alarm went off early (5:20 a.m.) since Joe’s mom was flying in from Spokane on an early flight.  I was obviously sleepy as I grabbed my phone and glasses and made my way into the bathroom and set them down on the counter like I usually do.  The cat had been meowing to get in the bedroom door but since we try to discourage her from coming in that particular door, I went to the sliding glass door to let her in.  As I closed the door, she ran past me, hissing first at me and then the dog as he made his way towards to door to go out.  Just as I was opening the door for the second time, I heard a crash come from the bathroom.  We have the cat’s food bowl up on the counter since it is the only place that Gypsy can get to her food where Tucker can not….except she is clumsy and can’t always get up all the way, especially when her feet are wet.  She doesn’t fall daily by any means, but it happens often enough that I wasn’t worried especially when I saw her run back out of the bathroom.

Seeing that Tucker wasn’t coming back right away, I went back into the bathroom to brush my teeth when I noticed a black rectangle at the bottom of the toilet.  It didn’t take but a few seconds for me to realize it was my phone.  I grabbed it out of the toilet, ripped the cover off and quickly dried it off with the closest towel.  I ran into the bedroom and woke Joe up (which isn’t easy that early in the morning), said several unladylike words about what had happened and ended up powering down my phone and sticking it in a bag of rice.

Not really having another option, I jumped in the shower, toweled off and quickly got dressed.  To say I was mad is a complete understatement.  I use my phone for pretty much everything from setting my alarm to get up in the morning, to refill prescriptions, blogging, texting, taking pictures, looking up recipes, calling people, music for working out, games for Taelin while waiting somewhere…you get the point.  It was as I was washing my hands after doing my makeup that I went from ‘mad’ to ‘mad and grossed out’.  I realized the towel I had just used to dry off after my shower was the very same towel that not ten minutes earlier had been used to dry off my phone.  Disgusting.

Not having time to jump in the shower again to start all over, I said a few more unladylike words and finished getting ready.  Except that I couldn’t find my glasses. Yep…you guessed it.  They were in the toilet too.  Even more disgusting.  I cleaned those the best I could without scalding my fingers, dried them with a different towel, grabbed my keys and headed up to the airport.

I will spare you the rest of the details of all the things Joe tried but my phone is dead.
And my cat, somehow, isn’t.

Before anyone gets too concerned, the cat is fine.  She, unlike my phone and glasses, did not fall in the toilet.  She likely slipped on her landing and just grabbed onto anything she could as she fell…that anything being my stuff.  She still has been fed everyday although I will say it is probably a good thing that Joe’s mom was here to make sure that happened.  So far, nobody has taken me up on my offer to deliver the cat so she is staying.

In the meantime, I am without a phone.  My contract wasn’t even close to being up and the replacement cost, since we didn’t have insurance, isn’t an option. (Won’t make that mistake again.)  I am sure I won’t get anything as nice as I had.  And while it is just a phone and it is just money, the one thing that I did get teary about is the camera.  There were so many times that I grabbed it to capture a moment, mostly of Taelin but not always, and I there is no way that I will let us spend the money to get a phone with a camera as good as the one I had. It is a silly thing to be upset about and in the grand scheme of things not even really a problem but every time I do think about it another unladylike word just slips out.

Hopefully we will be able to get something for me in the next day or two before we head to Sunriver.  Maybe if I practice my storytelling and keep my unladylike words to a minimum, someone will take pity on me by either giving me a break on a new phone or taking the @#&%!*$ cat.

Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf. ~Jonatan Mårtensson

Tuesday morning I got up early and exercised before hopping in the shower.  After a quick shower, I finished getting ready (changing what pants I was wearing twice) and packed my lunch.  I filled up a sippy cup that I knew Taelin would want once I woke her up and sat next to her bed like I do every work morning as she wakes up, talking to her about the day and what she hoped she got to do at school.

I finally coaxed her out of bed and helped her get dressed.  We brushed her teeth and combed her hair.  She decided at the last second that she didn’t want ponytails and only wanted clips which was fine by me since they didn’t take as long and I had a staff meeting first thing at work.  I packed up her bag for school with her sheet and blanket for nap time, threw my phone and wallet into my bag and got into the car.  Taelin insisted (again) to climb into the car herself and get herself into her car seat.  That has been happening more lately because she is getting so independent and she usually doesn’t bang her head or leg when she gets into my itty-bitty car.

We got buckled in and started off to our familiar route to her school.  We were on time, even a little ahead of schedule, as we turned the corner and headed up the hill.  I stopped at the stop sign at the top of the hill and turned left, heading down the road towards another hill.  As I came up the road I noticed that there wasn’t a car at the stop sign at the side street I was approaching.  And then, all of the sudden…even faster than all of the sudden if there is such a thing…I saw a kid in the middle of the road jumping off his skateboard.  I slammed on my brakes as he landed with the top half of his body on top of the hood of my car.  He rolled/bounced like a rag doll across the hood off onto the other side of the road and down into the ditch filled with blackberries bushes.  It happened within 2 seconds and I doubt the image will ever leave my head.

I don’t remember throwing my car into park or even what I said.  I grabbed my phone out of my bag that had fallen to the floor and jumped out of my car to find him twisted up, alert and screaming in pain.  I don’t remember dialing or even what I said to the 911 operator.  The boy somehow was present enough to call his dad who came running down the street not a minute later.  He kept saying he was fine and he need to get up and all I remember saying is, “Don’t move.  You can’t move.  Wait until they get here.”

The police showed up…then the fire truck…and then the ambulance…and then more police.  I got my car out of the middle of the road and just stood there as everyone tried to get him up and out safely.  He was crying and kept saying he was sorry and that it was all his fault.  He said he needed to get up because he had lacrosse later.   I answered whatever questions I was asked by the multiple police officers and then finally called Joe to come and get Taelin.  She had missed the whole thing and was wondering why we weren’t going to school.  I will be forever grateful that she missed it.

I was crying and beyond shaken up and then I saw the dad walking over to me.  I braced myself for what I imagined was going to be the most angry parent I had ever come into contact with.  I braced myself to just take it.  It wasn’t my fault, the police later came to the same conclusion, but somehow it didn’t matter at the time. His son was hurt, really hurt, and I couldn’t imagine how he was feeling.  And then…there was no yelling.  He came over and asked me if I was okay.  He told me that it was just an accident, that they happen and that he just the other day ran into someone coming out of parking lot.  He gave me his business card and told me to call later if I wanted an update on how his son was doing.  He walked back over to watch the paramedics help his son.

At some point, his mom showed up.  “Ok, here it comes,” I thought to myself.  I wasn’t sobbing uncontrollable, but I was crying.  She came over and without saying anything hugged me first and then said, “It’s okay.  It isn’t your fault.  It is not your fault.”  What?  Seriously?  She then told me how she once hit a bicyclist and knows exactly how I was feeling.  What?  Really?  She walked away and they got into the ambulance and off they went.

I finished talking to the officers and the one that was doing the paperwork said that I was not at fault but that I did need to file a report with the DMV.  I headed home and then to work, pretty much in a daze.  Later in the day I called and left a message with the boy’s dad which was returned by what I found out later was his step-mom.  She updated me throughout the day about his surgery (he had a broken femur) and then again apologized and reminded me that it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t my fault; I know that…but I feel horrible.  Absolutely horrible.  What if I had just done one thing differently yesterday morning?  What if I hadn’t changed my pants or what if Taelin had wanted pigtails?  What if I had decided to shave my legs in the shower or talked to Taelin and little more or less as she was waking up?  What if I had been driving a bigger car?  What if?  What if?  What if?  I can’t turn my brain off.  I clearly didn’t wake up Tuesday morning intending for this to happen.  But I still feel horrible.

There are a lot of things that are just shocking about this whole thing.  He is going to be ok.  He actually called me tonight to apologize for running into me.  He sounded so tired.  He is home with four screws in his leg and his step-mom says he will probably be back to school on Monday which seems incredible.  He said he was sorry my car got damaged and that I got drug into the whole thing.  I kept apologizing back.  It isn’t like he left his house in the morning intending to run into my car.  It wasn’t my fault but I am still so sorry it happened.  What a hard lesson.  What a painful lesson.

And my lesson? While I am sure that there are many things that I can’t even imagine yet, one lesson I am astounded by is the lesson in incredible grace.  Every time I retell the story (out loud or in my head) or talk to his step-mom, I am blown away and the calmness and grace that his parents have had.  It has to be a complete day from hell. A parent’s worst nightmare. I can’t really describe it…I am just in awe because it seems so far from what I would (and did) expect.

I have been completely consumed by the feelings these last two days. Guilt, fear, worry, anxiety…more guilt.  I have been all over the place and while I feel better today than I did yesterday, I think it will be awhile before I even out.  I keep replaying it over and over in my mind, wondering if there was something different I could have done…not that it matters.  I get caught up in the “what if’s?” and get sick to my stomach.  I am feeling everything so much more right now because of this…lots of things that have nothing to do with the accident.  And at the same time, things that would have seemed like a big deal are so not a big deal to me.  It is going to take some time as the feelings come and go.  I am easily irritated, overly sensitive and have little patience for pettiness…not exactly a flattering description, I know, but it is an honest one.

I am trying to understand how to navigate all of these feelings and remember that while there isn’t anything I can do to change what has happened, I can choose what to do with each feeling as it comes.  I am sure I will continue to think, talk and write about this accident.  I don’t know how much will be done here versus with good friends or even just in my head.  I can only hope that this young boy and his family can ride through all the emotions they are bound to be feeling too.  It is just all a little overwhelming.

If you made it all the way to the end here with me, thank you.

December Daily 2011…DONE!

You may or may not remember my post where I talked of my plan to create a December Daily mini-book for 2011.  The idea behind it is that you capture the moments of December and put them all in a scrapbook.  Because December is usually a crazy month, ideally you try and finish as much as the scrapbook ahead of time so that all you have to do is stick the pictures in later and journal.  It is something I have been wanting to do for the Taelin’s first two Christmas’ but it didn’t happen…but it did this year!!!

Here are a few pictures…

The cover…which you already saw in the other post.  But this time the ribbons are all there.

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The “rules” regarding Santa

Taelin was ready to go trick or treating again a couple of days after Halloween.  It has been a little tough trying to explain that we only get dressed up in our costumes once a year to go begging for candy. (We wear Halloween costumes year-round in this house, but the begging for candy thing only happens once a year.)  Her requests have become a little more urgent as she is seeing her bag of candy loot becoming more empty as the days pass.  And as I try to reassure her that there will be trick or treating again in her life but just not for awhile, I hadn’t really considered how tough it was going to be to explain some of these things that we just “know” about.
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consternation: a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that results in utter confusion

 

When I was around 6 or 7 my parents enrolled me in ballet.  I didn’t understand at the time, but the primary reason I was there was that my doctors thought it would help me.  I was severely pigeon toed.  So pigeon toed, that at one point I had to wear this contraption at night that was basically a pair of shoes bolted on a board that forced my feet to turn out.  They thought ballet would help with my problem and I was totally on board.  I mean, really, what little girl doesn’t want to be a ballerina at some point?
I spent several years dancing and loved every minute of it.  I took it very seriously and was not patient with the other girls that didn’t.  I loved my ballet shoes, my leotard, and the music.  I loved my teachers and I wanted to be exactly like them down to the way I held my fingers. I practiced every day while looking in the mirror trying to perfect each of the routines.

Then there were the recitals….oh how I loved the recitals.  In addition to everything else I loved about ballet, recitals brought it to a whole other level….there were costumes.  There were puffy pink tutus and silver sequined leotards.  There were lights and an audience and although I was shy most other times, I loved getting nervous and then shining on stage.  The applause…oh the applause.  It was pure joy.

At the pinnacle of my ballet career, my ballet class had a routine to the song Music Box Dancer.  We were the oldest girls that our teacher taught and as a 4th grader with several years of ballet under my tutu, we were clearly the models that all the younger girls wanted to be like.  We were the last routine of the night, except for the big finale of all the girls, and I took the whole thing very seriously.  Our costumes looked exactly like the ones that you see in music boxes; long pink tutu’s with white tights underneath with a simple white leotard on top.

Even today, I remember the dance. For weeks leading up to the recital, I practiced and practiced.  My teacher had put me in the front, clearly because I had so perfectly memorized the moves from beginning to end.  I was the back-up in case someone forgot what they were supposed to do.  I was very important.

I remember stretching out my arms with my fingers in just the right position and jumping and landing gracefully at the just the right moment.  I tilted my head ever so slightly so my hair just barely fell in front of my face as I turned on my tip-toes.  I had never felt so beautiful as I did that night.  The audience clapped wildly for us when we were finished and I was sure that had we an encore prepared, they would have surely loved it too.

Around this time was when the first video recorders had come out and while my parents didn’t own one themselves, some other parent did.  About two weeks after the recital, I came home from school with a copy of our performance which I watched again and again. I relived that moment for weeks and it was just as great every time.

The next year we moved and I had to quit ballet.  It was heartbreaking because I was only one year away from being able to start using pointe shoes…the ultimate ballerina shoe.  Eventually, the regular watching of the video tape ceased but of course was kept for memories sake.

Fast forward about 12 years.  I was in college and home for the weekend.  Joe, who was just a boyfriend at this point, had come home with me.  My task for the weekend was to go through the stuff I hadn’t taken to college to determine if I really wanted my mom and dad to continue to store it.  I came across my sticker book, pencil collection, and other assorted things that for some reason I felt I needed to keep.  Towards the middle of the sorting, my hands landed on the video tape.  I stopped doing anything else and started to run downstairs, calling after Joe to follow me.

As I waited quite impatiently for the VHS player to fast forward to the Music Box Dancer performance, I explained to Joe what he was about to see.  I called to my mom and dad to join us and settled myself into a front and center position that was surely too close for adequate eye safety.  I finally found the right spot and as soon as I heard the music begin to play, the exact feeling I had that day came rushing back and I held my breath.

What happened next gave cause for great consternation.

At the beginning of the routine there was a short moment where we were all standing in position, while the music began to play.  Then two at a time, we leapt across the stage, arms stretched, landing gracefully before beginning the next jump.  At least that is what I remembered.

What I saw instead was an awkward, skinny little girl clunking her way across the stage.  Instead of graceful jumps, big knobby knees poked unevenly out to the side and wobbled after the impact of landing.  A face, sort of twisted with concentration and determination, was framed with stringy dishwater blond hair.  Arms seemed mostly forgotten, looking more like someone trying not to drown.  I was in front, not because I was good, but because I was the shortest one in the group, by quite a bit, and not one of the other girls watched me for a second to remind them what to do.

I turned to look at Joe who tried a little bit to keep from laughing, but didn’t last long.  I can’t blame him at all.  I looked funny…really funny.  The girl on the t.v. wasn’t at all the girl that I remembered.  I don’t remember what I said, but my mom just kind of smiled and my dad threw up in hands like he does and walked away.

That night when I was trying to fall asleep, I tried to understand how in the world my version of the moment could be so different that the reality.  How did I not see my knobby knees?  How could I think that others would want to be like me?  How did I think that was beautiful?  What was I thinking?

Today, the video tape sits on a shelf with the other few home VHS tapes we have.  We don’t even have a VCR anymore, but we still have the tape.  I don’t think I will ever be able to get rid of it.  I wonder now, almost 10 years since really seeing it for the first time, whether or not I am glad I watched it?  It definitely shattered my thinking of the whole event and I have been teased more than I think is fair….I was only 10 for goodness sake.

But then a part of me feels grateful for watching it.  While I definitely was the furthest thing from a beautiful ballerina. there wasn’t a person in my life at the time that let me believe anything but that; not my parents, my ballet teacher, or the other girls in my class. They had to have seen the stringy hair and knobby knees…but they also saw how much I loved it and how much I believed in myself.  What an incredible gift they provided me at a time when life just starts to get really weird.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. -Found on a headstone in Ireland

Tuesday marks one year since Joe’s dad has died.  It seems unreal to think that we have lived a year of our lives without John.  I can honestly say that there hasn’t been a day in this past year that I haven’t thought of him.  Most of the thoughts make me smile first, which if you knew him fits perfectly.  Often after the smile disappears though, there is a deep sadness because he is gone.  It doesn’t stay for long, but it is there.  Right now, that sadness is staying a little longer.

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Salem Harvest! A great organization doing great things!

We are lucky to live in a such a beautiful state with so many wonderful opportunities for finding fresh, local produce.  Taelin and I have picked strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries this summer and after eating our fill, have frozen the rest to use throughout the year.  Fall will soon be here soon enough and apple trees will be drooping with their juicy fruit which means apple cider doughnuts and pie…and homemade applesauce.  But I will admit that every year since living here, I have noticed when driving past orchards on the way to pick up pumpkins that there were hundreds of apples just rotting away and thought about what a waste it was.
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Yoga translated is actually “sore muscles”…just so you know

It is no secret to anyone that knows me even a little that exercise is not my thing.  When I was a kid my legs and feet were all jacked up which made me the kid that couldn’t run or skip.  I often found myself standing alone when teams were being picked for whatever barbaric game we had to play in gym…Red Rover and dodge ball were my least favorites.  I wasn’t good at it so why on earth would I do more of it?  As some kids played sports, like baseball and basketball, I read and played the piano.

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When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying. Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been thinking a lot about John a lot lately.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, it would be pretty hard to do that with Joe and Taelin around, but he has been on my mind and in my heart more lately.  Today marks the one year anniversary since my last hug from John.  I didn’t know at the time that it would be my last hug.  He was out to visit us, before he was going to have to go back to work.  His surgeries were done and his radiation and chemo were over.  He had been declared cancer-free and was just working on gaining his strength back before going back to work.

The trip itself was last minute, rushed and chaotic.  Taelin was sick, Tucker went into kidney failure, Joe was working….on and on…  In the last couple of days of the trip, everything finally calmed down and we heading down to the riverfront to ride the carousel, or flying horses as John called them.  It was Taelin’s first time and I think we have the entire trip on video.  He had so much love for Taelin there hardly seemed room for it sometimes.

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I took Taelin down to the carousel this morning.  We rode three different times on three different horses.  At one point she looked at me and said, “Papa’s horse?”  I stared at her, breathless for a moment and then just said “yeah” and then had to look away as my eyes filled with tears. There is no way she remembered.  There couldn’t be, I don’t even remember what horse he was riding that day. But for that moment, I wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe she did.

I found the Emerson quote above shortly after John died and it struck a chord with me.  I wish that we had had more time with John; none of us were ready, none of us were smiling.  There have been many tears since losing John and I know that there are many more to come.  At the same time though, there are many reasons to smile.  He left me with a lot of love and a reminder that the time I have left needs to be spent wisely.

I miss him dearly.  I miss his off-key singing and his laugh. I miss his friend chicken and the funny way he danced.  I miss listening to Joe and he banter back and forth, waiting to see which one of them them would crack up first.  I miss telling him stories about Taelin and I miss watching him watch her with more love than I thought every possible between two people.  I miss his hugs and his scratchy mustache on my cheek when he would say goodbye.  I just miss him.

The List

I have been a list girl for quite some time.  I love making lists and crossing things off.  If I am feeling stressed or overloaded with too many things to get done, there is nothing that helps me more than making a list.

I have also been a wanting-to-start-a-blog girl for awhile too.  However, I couldn’t on earth imagine what in the world I would blog about.  Enter…Charlie Capp, my soon-to-be brother-in-law.  Last week, when looking at his blog for an image from a card he had made, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. He had a list of 101 things that he wanted to accomplish in 1001 days.  Do I need to say it again?  There was a list.  I went to www.dayzeroproject.com.  There were a lot of people that had made lists.

So…I made a list.

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