Sunday, December 30, 2012

Selfless or Selfish...

After recent horrific acts to our fellow mankind there has been a renewed push for random acts of kindness.  The idea is to leave a note and let the recipient know the good deed was in honor of the victims of these terrible events.  Sort of a new play on "Pay it Forward".

Maybe it's my Midwest upbringing but isn't this just being a good person?  Don't get me wrong.  I think it is an amazing opportunity to treat those, with whom we share this earth, with kindness.  But why do we need a tragedy to occur to be reminded to be nice.

I think back to the way we were raised by our parents.  My Dad always shoveled for Mr. McCoy next door.  In the summer we would mow his lawn as an extension of our own.  I would circle the yard at my grandparent's home and continue over into their elderly neighbor's property.  We would help the Hansens and Kleinschmidts across the street.  Even when we were a military family you helped your neighbor. If you had extra you shared.  Bountiful gardens. Successful hunts.  There were no notes left.  You didn't toot your own horn.  You just did it because it was the right thing to do.

This morning we enjoyed a taste of the Midwest with a little snow. Of course with snow comes a date with the shovel. After yesterday's inside activities, I found myself looking forward to some outdoor time (and the exercise). I allowed my shovel to lead me where I needed to be.  No messages left behind. Just the warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and my brain cleared of clutter. 

I'm thankful my husband's youth was filled with similar moments, even though he was in the Pacific Northwest... just one of the things that drew us together - the belief in helping our family and neighbors.
Of course, there is one difference - in the Midwest we are a bit less creative when it comes to snow removal...  

I know our children were raised with our beliefs.  Pay it forward was more than a movie in this family.  And now with their spouses, they have found someone with the same values. They help friends and family with projects even when it means putting their own day's plans on hold.  I hear of them stopping to help strangers on the side of the road, checking on stranded motorists and helping coworkers even when it means they miss a little sleep because things didn't go quite as planned.  I love how they do for others, how they are caring and practical, and how they don't expect anything in return.  I love the fact they don't flaunt their possessions. I love how they are comfortable in their own skin and don't have to share every "don't I look good" moment on social media.  Instead they share with one another. They don't forget their family.  I see these same values in so many of our extended family too.  These are the same ones I know if we called and said "we need you", they would respond. It's not about calling yourself a good Christian, or doing something to be noticed. It's about setting a good example.

I hope they all know how proud I am of each and every one of them. They are all independent, secure individuals who find success in their less-than-public achievements. I love how we stay close - using each other for sounding boards, venting, sharing and philosophizing. I love that our relationship doesn't stop when "out of sight, out of mind".  It doesn't have to be about what we have.  It's about family.  It's about caring and love.  It's about being a good person all the time - not just when someone is looking.

The fresh air and activity got me to thinking...  as wonderful as the random acts of kindness are, to do for others, how about an addition to the original challenge...  let's be nice without being noticed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas to all...

Our wish for you is a joyful Christmas holiday and a New Year filled with bright days and great memories yet to be made!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Red Means Stop

Mike went to a meeting in Middleton Thursday night.  He rode the motorcycle since I was working. This is not normal practice but we were busy at work with cases and Mike and I were unable to connect before he had to leave for his meeting.

He was coming home east bound. While braking for the red light on Chinden at Linder (Fred Meyer corner) the light turned green so he started accelerating. Typical of so many intersections here the car going south bound ran the red light. Mike was prepared as he approached and was watching for the car. Mike braked hard and dumped bike. It rolled a couple times.

Fortunately Mike was wearing his full helmet and leathers. The visor broke off and the side of the helmet is scraped. The wind screen frame is bent. There is a signal light broke. The highway bar did its job protecting the bike but it too is bent and scraped.

Thank goodness some folks stopped and helped to stand the bike - and check on Mike. The other driver did NOT even brake, let alone stop!

Mike initially tried calling for the Roadside Service but its an East Coast number and no one answered. (Guess we will have to check that out...). He accessed the damage to the bike, determined it was still rideable so headed for home. Didn't feel any pain - adrenaline rush?!

The roads were wet - a skiff of snow was starting. He doesn't normally ride this time of year at night. Daylight only - cold to a point but not freezing. We just didn't get our schedules organized this week.

Once home he didn't say anything to me when he came in. I'm not in the habit of checking him over after a ride so I had no clue something occurred. He said he was chilled and went up to shower. It was nearly bedtime so nothing was suspicious about finding him in bed reading.

In the morning he usually is up before me otherwise I would have gone off to work without a clue anything happened to him. However as I came out of the bathroom he had his back to me across the room. His upper hip was swollen out the side. I walked over to him saying "What the heck... " and saw a big bruise starting on his leg. When asked he said "I may have dumped the bike last night." Sheez - MAY HAVE?!

He laid back down because he felt nauseas. I asked if he hit his head. He confirmed the helmet damage and broken visor. Enough said... I called work to say I would be in late and told him we were going to the ER.

Injuries assessed revealed the swollen bruise on left hip, right bruised wrist and thumb and pain under left arm in his chest.

The staff drew blood and X-rays were taken of hip and chest. Orthostatic's taken. (Blood pressure and respiration laying down, sitting and standing). No blood found in his urine. Heart was running good.

No cracks or breaks. Contusion of the ribs causing the shortness of breath. Just the ugly bruise on his hip. Hallelujah there was nothing broken under skin. No internal injuries.

He was sent home with Norco for pain and told to hydrate, rest and ice his bruises.

When we got home we checked the Harley in the daylight. Most (maybe all) the damages currently visible may be repaired at home. Thank goodness for insurance. After we called we learned they will even replace the helmet and we hadn't even asked.

His leathers are in good shape. There is a scrape on the side on the jacket which correlates to the point of pain in his chest. He must have hit something - maybe the handlebar - going down.

Now for the 'talk'. Daylight riding in good weather only. We will have to be more proactive about scheduling things. We've never had a problem making it work with just the Tahoe for inclement transportation.

He spent the past couple of days following doctor's orders... Hard to believe. I think he is hurting a tad more than he lets on.

The bruising on his leg has increased dramatically over the past couple of days but the motion in his arm and pain in the chest is improving.

There is no doubt about it... Mike has an angel riding with him (Thank you Rex) AND God definitely is not ready for him yet.

Top - Friday 6am - Middle - Friday 9pm - Bottom - Saturday 9am

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Scents of Christmas

Much to my surprise, flowers were delivered to our doorstep this morning. 
The card read "To Deb from Michael". 
I looked at my husband and asked "Are these from you?" because quite honestly I figured he owed me an apology for his ommision Thursday night (a story to be shared soon).
Mike tried to assure me they weren't from him.  Admittedly there are a few Michaels in our life.
He said they were from my brother Michael.
In all my years, I've never received flowers from my brother. 
I silently grinned.  What a thoughtful gesture.
(Hand raised) and yes  - I did go on-line and check our credit card account
because I really didn't believe my husband.
I even texted my sister and asked if she had received anything from our little brother.
She did! And soon after I learned our Mom got flowers too. 
If he were 13 and not 43 I'd wonder if he were up to something. 
I've always known he has a soft side. 
I love how he stays in touch with his nieces and nephews. 
I love how he helped them with book money when they were in school.
I love how he wanted to stay with Matt and Brit when he visited this summer for the wedding.
I love that he sent us flowers!
Merry Christmas little brother.
I love you. 

Decorations Up...

 So how do two empty nesters (one who has no business being on a rooftop and the other who is afraid of heights) manage to make the outside of their humble abode look festive for the Christmas holiday?  Well since you asked I'll share - You hire a Rooftop Ninja

Our usual high.altitude.aerial.stunt.marshall was still working out of town but we were fortunate to have a contingency plan.  Actually I think the back-up has been the go-to for the past couple of years by default since he's now local.

I'm delighted to add, this Rooftop Ninja is reasonably priced and worked us into his newlywed schedule for the mere cost of Chicken and Dumplings. 

A very skilled Rooftop Ninja
Meanwhile inside preparations were being made for payment in full.  No PayPal account required for this transaction. American Express is not accepted.  Just a few ingredients...

Carrots, celery and onion

Idaho's finest potatoes
Chicken pieces simmering in the stock.

(Insert Jeopardy time clock music here...)

Voila - a ultra yummy smelling pot of chicken and vegetables
It's not a meal I grew up eating because my Dad over-indulged on it's inexpensive fixings as a youth and no longer cared for the meal.  Since our move  to the West, it's become a cold weather staple.  And it is traditionally our First Night Meal at Kalaloch. (Thank you Oregon Shaw's for the introduction!)

When I think of chicken and dumplings, OUR version includes a biscuit-type dumpling cooked on top of the soup mix.

Recently I saw a version on a cooking show which was made with a similar recipe except the dough was rolled out flat, cut into noodles and dropped into the boiling soup mixture.  One of these days I just might step up my routine and try the noodle dumplings.

Of course I could always use the same dough and roll them into one inch oblong beads - this is how Rosa use to make her dumplings in Venezuela. I found them comforting but Mike, not-so-much.
With the dough mix dropped into the top of the boiling soup, it cooks covered for a spell and then uncovered until the 'dumplings' are done. 

Dumplings - nothing easier...  Bisquick and milk
And because I love both of our Rooftop Ninja's I diligently made bought a Razzleberry pie from Auntie Marie to serve up with our homemade (seriously are you kidding?) vanilla ice cream.

FAIL (did I mention I hate my oven!)
 On a lighter note - the outside of the house resembles a beacon for lost and weary travelers - and our Christmas trees inside stand straight and tall adorned with our memories of trips we've made as a family and special reminders of family and friends.
LED's are much brighter than the old type...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey Dinner on the Road...

 With Thanksgiving approaching we were up in the air about what we wanted to do this year.  We were so indecisive.  I was indecisive.  My husband was just waiting to see what I wanted to do.

Our soon-to-be parents were staying in Northern Idaho and sharing dinner with their orphaned friends.

Our newest newlyweds made plans to be here... 
Where they were celebrating their honeymoon like this...  and apparently hadn't considered inviting parents...  (sniff)

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Our older son was working through the holiday weekend.  Their late building start and getting organized in Bliss means now as winter weather is imminent the work load increases to 6 and 7 days a week.  His wife and son would be spending the day with her family.

With my work schedule I am scheduled the day after Thanksgiving.  I'm not a Black Friday shopper.  Had no major desire to be out with the crowds.  When enough of the surgeons turned in their block time and the schedule was emptying, I knew I could have the day off. 

My waffling continued...  "let's just stay home".  Mike didn't want me to be depressed if we ended up spending the day along.  I couldn't promise not to be sad.  I love spending time with my family.  Having them scattered in the winds, it would probably not be my favorite day.

Decision made.  We were going on the road.

We made a hotel reservation for our favorite overnight place in Cascade Locks, Oregon along the Columbia River and headed over when I got off work Wednesday.  Feeling good about the holiday we asked a surprised drive-thru clerk if we could pay for the dinner of the car behind us.  I'm sure they would have ordered more if they thought that was a possibility. 

The trip was uneventful...  we stopped to switch drivers.  I should have guessed as I started to drive and the chilly sky was spitting moisture, it would only get more intense.  Driving from La Grande to Pendleton was like special affects from a Star Wars movie.  I could barely see the road, trying to follow a car in front of me when the tire tracks were disappearing.  At times with the snow coming at the windshield it felt like we were standing still. Once through the Blue Mountains we were again blessed with clear sky and stars.  Our arrival to our hotel was rewarded with a bottle of wine.

Paper cups?  No worries.
Thursday morning we woke to cool temperatures to start our Thanksgiving day.  We enjoyed our breakfast and coffee and headed for our first stop of the day.
Happy Thanksgiving!
We scheduled a morning visit in Troutdale with our niece Jorgan and her daughter Savannah, as well as my "sister-friend" Kevin.  We just don't get to spend enough time together.  Definitely need to plan a Portland weekend soon. 
Crossing Columbia River from Oregon to Washington

Some of the Oregon Shaws - my sister-in-law Kevin, niece Jorgan and great-niece Savannah
Our daughter-in-law Debbie is co-owner of Centralia Deli, Steak and BBQ in Centralia, WA.  She started serving Thanksgiving dinner to folks last year.  When we first saw the reminder on the Internet we knew it was an option we had to seriously consider.  As the pieces of our Thanksgiving holiday fell into place we knew dinner at the Deli would be a reality.  We met our good friends Mike & Linda Palomino at the restaurant to share our Thanksgiving meal.  It was a perfect meal.  Favorite dishes.  Chatter with friends and familiy.  No dishes to clean up!  It is so neat that Debbie, Tim and their employees provide Thanksgiving dinner for the locals.

I think next year we will just go over and help serve meals to people who come to the restaurant.  Perhaps this would allow an employee to spend more time with their family too.  It seems so often when Thanksgiving approaches we wait to know what our families are doing and work around other's plans.  It's not possible to go to be with my folks.  I want to do something meaningful.
Centralia Deli - the calm between the crowds
With our DIL Debbie and good friend Linda
Our Thanksgiving Day "family" - Mike, Linda, Mike and Debbie

We drove north of Seattle to spend the rest of the day and night with our friends.  It was amazing to see people standing outside of stores already in the middle of the afternoon, waiting for the Black Friday sales. Ridiculous.

After a restful evening and the camaraderie of friends, we enjoyed breakfast Friday morning at an Irish Pub (where we will definitely have to return) and headed for home.  We stopped again at the Deli for a better visit with Debbie and then started our trek home.  It rained.  And rained.  And Rained.  We were through Portland and I wondered if we should consider hunkering down for the night and driving after the storm passes.  Mike double checked the weather.  It looked like we could get ahead of the rain by The Dalles.  Fortunately it did.  The rest of our drive home was "dry and dusty".

It was a whirlwind trip over and back - filled with very special time with family and friends.  You just have to take advantage of every opportunity.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

San Antonio

For awhile I've had thoughts of visiting San Antonio, TX.  Years ago one of my favorite uncles shared pictures of his trip - including pictures from a Naval Museum.  It was one of his favorite ways to razz me.  I was in the Navy but stationed in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley at a Naval Air Station.  He loved to send me pictures of ships with comments like "This is a Navy vessel Deb".

After the family wedding in August (and into October) I struggled to find purpose again.  Two years of weddings and projects will do that to a person.  We found airfare that was ideal, a reasonable rental car and perfect timing with our second grandson's football schedule.

Salt Lake City
Time slipped by and our first ever trip happened.  We flew into Dallas and rented a car.  We are such frequent travelers (joke) that we had no clue what benefits were out there for us.  We fly, we rent, we just don't keep track.  We were informed we could PICK our rental car.  My husband quickly looked past the rows of practical, economical, comfortable cars and zoomed in on A TRUCK.  I nixed that idea and caved in to the 4-door Jeep.  Here's a news flash.  They drive just like a 2-door Jeep and are equally uncomfortable for someone with a 36" inseam to drive.  But hey - we looked dang good!  The 4 hour drive south was an experience.  We had heard of a new tollway on our route that allowed people to drive 85mph.  Really not a necessity since everyone around us (on the non-tollway) was already driving 80+mph, until they were going 60 and then back to 80.  Mike labeled it the Texas Freeway Caterpillar.   

The temperatures were in the 80's  all week long and the skies clear and blue.  We found our hotel and settled in for the evening, waiting with everyone else, for news about the Superstorm Sandy.

Monday we headed north to the San Antonio Zoo.  Though it was a little late in the season and a lot of the exhibits were under construction for the zoo's 100th birthday celebration in 2013, it was still very nice to stroll through and take pictures.  Our favorites were definitely the butterflies and the birds.

Our next stop was the Japanese Tea Gardens.  We found ourselves a bit more tired than we anticipated and still wanting to visit several of the Missions so we did a look around and continued on our way.

Four of the five colonial missions form a National Historical Park.  We drove to visit on the south edge of town.  The history was remarkable.  We started with the Visitors Center and watched a movie which was very interesting.  From there we toured the Mission.  I loved imagining the first people who inhabited the small community moving about their day.   

We were able to find our way to Mission San Jose and Mission San Juan Capistrano as well. Though the maps had us thinking we might take one road to go from one to the other, we actually had to weave around a bit.  There is a lot of road construction all over Texas - and San Antonio was no exception.

The Riverwalk
The Alamo

How fortunate for us, Mike's second youngest daughter Tonya was in San Antonio for business. We headed back north of the city towards the airport to take her to dinner at Lupi's Tortilla.  We were able to catch up with her family's routine in Tennessee.

We didn't allow enough time to see all we wanted to see in the San Antonio area.  We will someday return to Hill Country and visit that historic area. 

We were able to stop and visit the former homestead of one of Mike's ancestors.  The ranch is now owned by University of Texas and used as a writer's retreat.  The current writer was willing to allow us an opportunity to visit.  It was fun to see so much history. 

The original cabin was built in the Swedish style.  The home where the writers stay has been updated with a few modern features - running water and electricity! 

But our time had come to an end and we needed to return to the Dallas area so we could visit with Erin's Godparents, Lew and Donna Flitcraft as well as Krieg's Godparents, Lori and Andy Otano.  Plus we had the big football game to watch.  

We arrived at Otano's home in Colleyville on Halloween afternoon.  While the guys caught up sharing their war stories, Lori and I handed out candy to trick or treaters.  We were able to meet hang out and visit their little town of Grapevine.  

The next day we were heading for Mike's oldest daughter Renee's home in Wylie.  How fortunate that Erin's Godparents lived only 30 minutes east of Wylie.  We met up for lunch and had a crash course in 'catching up'.  It was too brief but the memories and love was abundant. 

Friday night we were able to see our grandson Kalen play in a Varsity football game.  There is nothing like Friday Night Football in Texas.  Crazy.  This particular game was away.  The opponent was intense.  Very 'good ole boy'.  When the coach from the other team didn't like the calls made, he would involve the referee in a rampage.  He definitely needed to work on his sportsmanship.  We are proud of Kalen and his teammates.  They can hold their heads high. 

As usual, it was time to return home.  We enjoyed completing an item on our bucket list by visiting San Antonio finally.  It was made extra pleasant by the added opportunities to see family and friends as well.