31 December 2009

Christmas Reflections

Topol sings about "Traditions" while fighting a losing battle to keep them in "Fiddler on the Roof." My cousin Rebecca insists on keeping the menu the same every Thanksgiving, even the Stove Top Stuffing, because it's “tradition.” I found myself thinking a lot about traditions this past Christmas season,, and crying out for traditions to remain the same. I spent Christmas Eve baking, cleaning and pondering. In the morning I had read a Christmas message from some missionary friends, newly arrived on the field in Honduras. They are going through the initial phase of culture stress; feeling lost, inadequate, frustrated, and exhausted by the daily toll of it all. Moving from the Pacific Northwest to Central America is quite the change. Amongst all this change, is a remarkable gift and opportunity at this time of year. Christmas will not be the same, no fir trees to decorate (at least not real ones), no need for wool sweaters – t-shirt and shorts are fine, no push of consumerism in the same masterful way America does Christmas, a new house that isn't familiar enough just yet to be called home – Christmas was inevitably going to be different for this family. While it could be disappointing and emphasize all that this family has given up to serve in Honduras, it is also a gift. With all the traditions of Christmas for this family stripped away, or at least seriously mixed up, they have the chance to refocus on the real meaning and event of Christmas. The entrapments that divide our attention and dilute the holiness of this day have been minimized (not eliminated). Instead of a normal Christmas they have been given a time to reflect on what Christmas really means, and how they want to celebrate, what traditions to keep that have meaning, and an opportunity to create new traditions. That is a gift, a unique and wonderful opportunity. I am a little bit envious.

Like Topol, I felt like I was fighting a losing battle to keep traditions alive this year. I sounded like my cousin, lobbying to keep traditions. It was the first year that we purposely were not spending Christmas with the extended family. David and Kayle were spending the day with her family, Gary and Sue were going to Bend to spend the holiday with Rebecca, Rob and the kids. We chose to stay in town as Chris was flying in on Christmas Eve, and his girlfriend the afternoon of Christmas. Instead of the usual family gathering, we invited three other families to join us for Christmas dinner. For every other holiday that involves special meals, I've been an advocate for inviting lots of people. Christmas has not been one of them, it's time for family. But I was excited for this year. I didn't want it to be just the five of us and the Carlocks are like family and I wish I was part of the über-fun Childress family. With all the changes to Christmas this year, and despite my mother's best efforts to dissuade me, I insisted on keeping the tradition of aebelskiver for dinner on Christmas eve. In order to perpetuate the tradition one more year, I had to host dinner, which was fine by me. We went to the Christmas eve service afterwards at my parent's church, which was fine, but not satisfying. I stayed up late to keep my own tradition of watching midnight mass at St. Paul's Cathedral at the Vatican. Christmas morning I went over to my parents to join the rest of the family, exhausted and not feeling top notch. Chris sat in the red wingback chair watching me through the window struggling with a box filled with my gifts for the family. Apparently the lack of shoes, and the NBA, prevented him from helping me. We still do stockings, and this year we unpacked all the goodies, while watching a game. I don't even know what game, there were actually several that he would flip back and forth between. It was disappointing. This is CHRISTMAS! Can't we turn off the TV today, of all days? We moved to the living room to open presents, the only way to get Chris' attention off of NBA and with the present company. But the living room wasn't even cleaned up before he was parked in the red chair again, watching a game. I was mad. After doing all I could to help mom out before dinner started, I went for a walk. A time to walk out some frustration, enjoy the sun, see the blue sky, have the wind in my face, reflect, and hopefully wake up a little.

The friends started arriving around 3 pm. We had a pleasant dinner. I still am sitting at the “kids” table, even at age 36. The funny thing is, that I had one idea about how the day would go, and didn't consider that those who would be joining us for our un-traditional Christmas dinner, were also changing their traditions; and may have traditions that they didn't want to change. Such as going out after dinner. Shortly after dinner, Courtney, Joy and Luke left to go to the Blazer game. (Ack! What is up with basketball and Christmas??!!) Connor and Spencer decided to go down to the Childress' home to sleep or play video games. Which left me, with Jillian, a junior in high school, along with the older “parents.” Not what I had anticipated. Not how I had wanted to spend Christmas. It didn't feel like Christmas. It was pleasant enough, but subdued. It was just an odd year. Nothing much was the same, and without the familiar it didn't seem like Christmas. And I realized that even when you are still in the same physical place, Christmas can be all jumbled up and different, it doesn't take moving to a different country. And maybe the Wigg's are not the only ones given a gift to re-examine the meaning of Christmas. But if it is going to be different (I'm anticipating more changes next year), why not move? Maybe next year I'll celebrate Christmas in Honduras too!

The day after Christmas I logged on to Facebook and looked through all the pictures of Christmas, Honduran style. I wasn't envious any longer. I was out right jealous. 50+ people for dinner at the Micah Project house, now that's a celebration!

While I missed doing one of my own traditions, reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas and Advent sermons, I did keep another tradition of mine, to buy a new Christmas CD every season. This year I bought three. The last one was from a band called “Downhere” and there is one particular song that cut through all of the noise of the season and reminded me of what we are celebrating. The song is “How Many Kings,”

follow the star to a place unexpected/ Would you believe, after all we've projected,/ A child in a manager?/ Lowly and small, the weakest of all/ Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in His mother's shawl/ Just a child/ Is this who we've waited for? 'Cause...//How many kings step down from their thrones?/ How many lords have abandoned their homes?/ How many greats have become the least for me?/ And how many gods have poured out their heart/ To romance a world that is torn all apart/ How many fathers gave up their sons for me? // Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior/ All that we have, whether costly or meek/ Because we believe/ Gold for His honor, and frankincense for His pleasure/ And myrrh for the cross He will suffer/ Now, do you believe?/ Is this who we've waited for? // All for me, all for you/ All for me, all for you//

22 December 2009

CSAs rule the world

Jon and I are stuck sharing an office the size of a broom closet. We've cajoled, kindly requested, conscripted others into our fight and flat out begged to have our own offices or to share a larger office. No success. Carol came by and was sympathizing with our plight and tried to help with suggestions for how to rearrange the desks so that we would feel less like sardines. One idea was to put the desks facing each other in the center of the room, but she had second thoughts when she realized it may be awkward to stare at each other all day long. Jon's response, "It's a good thing we are both so extremely attractive."

I haven't laughed that hard in awhile.

20 December 2009

Lucky 13

With a very busy weekend, week 12 concludes and lucky number thirteen starts. It's Christmas week and, almost as exciting as the holiday, I can stop wearing my back brace! Woot! Woot! I haven't needed it for most of the day and only required while in the car to strap on the monstrosity. It is so awkward and uncomfortable, especially getting in and out of the car. Although it does hold me in well and flatten out my stomach, and my back muscles could relax while strapped in, it did have it's benefits. But I'm putting those aside for the comfort and freedom of being brace-less. Progress! A real big sign of progress. Despite such a monumental marker in my recovery, I was also reminded today that I am not completely healed. A friend of the family, a freshman in college, came over today and helped me with yard work, for pay of course. All the winter clean-up hadn't been done and with the cold snap a couple weeks ago, I lost several plants and my front porch was looking sad. Now it looks bare. I was busy baking in the kitchen while Jayme worked outside. As I took a break later in the day and sat down on the couch to chat with mom I looked out the window and noticed the nasty dead hanging basket - untouched. Opps! Guess I have a little work left for me.

This week I'll see my brother. The last time was the first weekend of October, the weekend I came home from the hospital after surgery, and he had to "babysit" me while mom went out for her birthday dinner. We watched "Wall-E" and I witnessed my brother being kind, considerate and thoughtful. Remarkable day. Eleven weeks later, perhaps there will be a Christmas miracle and he will give a repeat performance.

13 December 2009

Christmas obsession?

I fully am aware of my tendency towards obsessive-compulsive behaviour and work at curbing it. When my family notices it, they are kind and tell me I'm being "Monk-ish" - it's much easier to be compared to a lovable TV character then to be told you're being a freak. There is one area where I do not inhibit my nature and that is in collecting Christmas music. I have an obsession with Christmas music. To prove my point let me give you a few stats from my ITunes Holiday playlist.

716 songs representing
64 albums
3.23 GB of space
1.7 days of play time

Yes, that is just Christmas music. There is one caveat - I've downloaded several single free songs from Amazon, so be assured that I do not actually own 64 albums.

Also, it isn't 716 different songs. Here are the most popular:
Silent Night - 23 renditions
The Christmas Song - 16
Let it Snow - 14
Joy to the World - 13
White Christmas - 13
and most surprising to me, there are 4 different renditions of Blue Christmas - whodda thunk?

Do I have favorites? Each year, I get stuck on a new album. Last year it was Jars of Clay's "Christmas Songs" and this year, I discovered the group Straight No Chaser and am loving their "Christmas Cheers"

At least that is what it is at the moment. Today I did throw in one more CD with my order of some Christmas present for family. One day I will have to stop, but that wasn't going to be today. Should I have openly admitted all of this? Probably not. And I'm aware of that too. But I just couldn't help myself, kinda like my collecting. :)

And so starts week 12

Somewhere in the last two weeks I finally turned a corner. I started to feel "normal" while still not being quite normal, yet. The muscle spasms have mostly subsided. Every once in awhile when sneezing or while doing my exercises or stumbling into the laundry hamper in the middle of the night the back muscles decide to freak out a little, but nothing like a few weeks ago where I was reduced to tears. I'm able to wiggle and squirm, twist and bend - it's marvelous. I still can't consistently lean over the bathroom sink to wash my face (usually in the morning); and I still need to brace myself with one arm to deal with the oven or dishwasher, but I'm improving.

Last week one of my remote co-workers was in the office to train new peeps. He was giving me a hard time that I hadn't baked anything for him during his visit and generally giving me grief - there is a reason his nickname is Mr. C-P, short for Cranky Pants. But you can't hold it against him as he resembles the lovable Fozzie bear. Anyways, he starts acting silly, teasingly acting out putting something in the oven all wobbly and twisted, while commenting snidely, "What?! Can't you use the oven?" In between my laughter I mention that is pretty much exactly what I look like trying to get something in or out of the oven, and the dishwasher too. Mr. C-P then sheepishly said, "oh." But quickly chimed in with, "Get wall ovens then!" It was all very amusing, but it also proves a point - I'm looking "normal" again, but I'm not quite there yet. And that can be challenging when people expect me to be charging ahead at full steam.

After 11 weeks of recuperating, I'm taking one big leap into "normal" life - I go back to work full time. I've been working 6 hour days and last week all but one was in the office. But to go back to 8 hour days (9 including a lunch break) all at the office seems a bit daunting. My sleep schedule is still off. I go to bed to late and can't get up early. That is going to have to change. I expect I'll be wiped out when I get home in the evening. I would try to cheer myself on with "Rah! Rah! Make it to the weekend and you can rest!" But the coming weekend is busy. Friday night is the HOTEL Christmas party which I'm very much looking forward to, I haven't seen my guys since August. Saturday is my Bible study Christmas brunch - at my house. Sunday evening is my book club holiday party (yes, holiday - as several in the group are Jewish, it's a Chrismukah or Hannumas party). So much for resting after a full week. I'll be looking forward to Christmas break just so that I can sleep.

Week 12 starts with some big new goals: get to work on time, stay awake all day, get my work done. The challenge isn't only physical, but social. Even though I have been working shorter days, I've been more productive working at home. Less social interaction, less distraction, more diligence, more concentration - telecommuting works well for me. Well, tomorrow it's back to the grind...

06 November 2009

Updates! Updates!

Below you will find my newsletter from September in two jpeg files. Beyond that is a shorter update from the beginning of November. Yes, it is all about my surgery - pretty much.

Yes, I am extremely overdue in sending out an update. Six weeks and a few days later here it is. The four hours of surgery on 9/28 was successful. Whether the result will be the desired outcome is yet to be seen; that won’t be decided until I’m 3-6 months out from the surgery. It takes that long for the fusion to complete and the nerves to heal. Right now I’m able to walk 30-45 minutes at moderate pace without anything going numb, tingling, or causing agonizing pain. So I think it is looking very positive that I’ll be in that 15% category of making a full recovery. Please keep praying to that end!

To say I was naïve about what recovery would be like is a huge understatement. I was completely disillusioned. The first few weeks I could out-sleep any newborn. I didn’t expect to sleep so much. I wasn’t prepared for how fuzzy my brain would be with all the medication. I thought I would only need my mother to stay with me for maybe a week, she finally left me on my own after a month – and still comes over several days a week to help with chores and to drive me places. I was, however, anticipating the nausea from the medication. The first two weeks I was a puking machine; finally I was able to get a prescription anti-nausea which keeps it in control. But that is the only thing that went according to my expectations. All the books I piled together to read during the time have remained mostly untouched. Magazine articles were even too long. Instead, I watched a lot of TV. The HGTV channel mostly. It’s a bad thing to watch home shows that inspire you with projects while being cooped up at home and unable to do a single one. Even so, I have really enjoyed being at home and indulging in my natural inclination to be a bit of a recluse. It was nice to disconnect from our hyper-connected world, thus, part of the reason why this update is so long in coming.

Physical therapy started a couple weeks ago and this past Monday I finally started noticing progress and improvement. I was ecstatic that I was able to do everything Damon told me to do – and without breaking down into tears from pain! We were both pretty happy about no tears. I’m on the road to recovery and while it is longer and much slower paced then I was anticipating, I’m very pleased with the progress I’m making. One of the hardest things to do is to sit in a chair for any length of time or bend forward (as in to get things in and out of the oven or shave my legs).

Thank you so much for all your prayers, notes of encouragement, and visits. I feel very blessed. To all those who have emailed me in the past six weeks asking after my health – thank you so much, I really appreciated it, even though I didn’t answer.
I am sort of starting to get back into the world at large, hopefully I will see you soon!
Cheers! Jennifer Streger

Cool! I'm proud of these pics!

23 August 2009

Who Perpetrates Racism?

I've watched a couple movies this past week that have both been thought provoking on the issues of race, ethnicity, culture, and who perpetrates the clash between different ones. The first movie was "District 9" which juxtaposed humans and aliens to bring up the issues. The second movie was "Daddy's Little Girls" which, very interestingly, was able to bring up the issues while only dealing within one ethnicity.

"District 9" - what can I say? You've got to get past the gore, violence, and language, but if you can, the values and ideas of the movie are intriguing. The main character has certain ideas and notions of who the aliens are - and it isn't good. Yet, by his own clumsy dufus-ness, he is forced to understand their ways and culture. He literally walks in their "shoes" and in the process learns to treat the aliens with respect and compassion. Another interesting angle was the idea of having two very different cultures living together. While it wasn't subtle, setting the film in South Africa with it's history of Apartheid, to show a different kind of Apartheid, made me wonder - if we (human race) were faced with the issue of how to live with an alien culture would we react with imposing segregation? Even though it was such a disaster in the U.S., Australia, South Africa, for the Jews, Indonesia, etc. would segregation be our response? Why is it that when faced with something different, strange, unpleasant to our sensibilities we judge it as bad and try to create distance between ourselves and this new thing? We each perpetrate racism when that is our reaction.

As for the other movie, "Daddy's Little Girls," it was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would a fun, light-hearted, romantic-comedy, chick flick. Tyler Perry wrote it after all, he does comedy. While I did enjoy the movie and there was a romantic storyline and funny parts, it was much more of a drama. Living in white bread suburbia I have absolutely no notion of how accurate or realistic the films characters are, but I respect Tyler Perry and believe he would make 'serious' characters truer to life versus Madea who is just outrageous, although probably based on someone he knows. What captivated my attention in the movie was the portrayal of racism among African-Americans against each other. There is one small bit character who is acted by a Caucasian person, other then that the entire cast is African-American, and prejudice, racism, inequality is a main theme. The way the characters talk to each other and the slurs hurled at one another was astonishing. If two different races were to talk to each other in such a manner it would be a disaster. I hear in the media people speaking out about how segregation still exists despite civil rights laws and have wondered who is creating the segregation. Maybe it's my naiveté and growing up in one of the least diversified city in the States, but I don't understand the claim. Yet watching this movie, if it's to be believed, even partially, as an accurate depiction of African-American culture, it would seem that the culture itself is a main contributor to racism and segregation. Bill Cosby's criticisms of the African-American population make more sense too.

It makes me lament, "Why can't we all just get along!?" Get over your fears and insecurities, people!

17 August 2009

Eco-Friendly Hockey Puck

Popcorn is one of my favorite foods. It is all too often dinner when I forget about eating until late and don't want much before heading to bed but need to quell the rumblies. Sometimes, it's just dinner because it is. While I like microwave popcorn just fine, I thought I'd try something new that wouldn't have all the chemicals. I put a generous 1/3 cup of kernels in a microwave safe pan, added some oil and swirled it around to cover all of the kernels. Put a semi-loose lid on top and stuck the whole thing in the nuker. I wasn't sure how long to set the timer so I set it for four minutes. At around 3 minutes it was popping like crazy and my mouth started salivating with anticipation. The popping was tapering off and so I opened the door around the 3:30-45 mark. The stench of burnt popcorn sent me into a coughing fit. All of the popcorn was burned but in the center it had not only burned but melted together into a disk about the size of a hockey puck. The steamy smoke rising from this melded mess must have been toxic since my eyes and throat burned as a result, yet the smoke detector never went off (and that blasted thing goes off with it's ear piercing shrill if my toast is just dark brown). The putrid smell lingered throughout the house for a couple days, the pan and lid still faintly smell of burnt popcorn despite sitting in sudsy water for a couple days and being washed repeatedly.

I bought a new box of microwave popcorn this weekend.

13 August 2009


Have you ever considered the cultural appropriateness of how you smell? I hadn't thought much about this until a professor mentioned that Westerners find it acceptable for a man to smell like old saddles whereas in India it is the norm for men to wear a rose sent. It got me to thinking - what about women? While I haven't looked into what other cultures think is the norm for how women should smell, I'm guessing that floral has always been acceptable worldwide. Taking a look through my toiletries confirmed, for America, this is true, and added fruit to the mixture. I guess women are supposed to smell good enough to eat! Of the various lotions, potions, and tinctures that clutter my shower and bathroom cabinet everyone is scented with either a flower, sometimes several, and/or a fruit. Lavender, vanilla, water blossom lotus, mimosa, jasmine, gardenia, honeysuckle, coconut & lime, cherry blossom (does that count as a flower or fruit?), etc. You get the point. But of my favorites I wash my hair with pink coral and white nectarine shampoo and condition with the same scent. I use a white ginger and nectarine body wash. After which I slather on peaches and cream lotion. So as to not sully the flavors with my own natural body odor I apply an anti-perspirant/deodorant of orange blossom & verbena. I guess I have fallen for the cultural norm hook, line and ... stone fruit.

28 July 2009

Just how hot is it outside?

For whatever reason, the financially flailing newspaper, The Oregonian, has decided to give me a free subscription. I didn't ask for it, the paper just started showing up in my driveway one day. I have never received a bill. No one has called to ask, "Haven't you been enjoying it? Why don't you buy a year subscription!" There has been nothing of the sort, just the faithful daily delivery of the paper. At first I thought it belonged to my neighbor who does subscribe, but his driveway was empty, so I would toss it on to his driveway. After a couple weeks of this I happened to be outside as my neighbor was walking down from the mailboxes. I waited for him to be closer and told him that I had been getting his paper. He claimed that he had been getting the paper twice a day. One before he went to work, at 3:30am, and one before he got home from work. It took a couple different approaches to successfully explain that his "2nd" paper of the day was from me tossing the paper over.

Since it was now my paper, it was completely at my disposal. I don't want to take the time to read the paper, and if I did, I wouldn't choose The Oregonian. But my co-workers feel differently. Often Bryan would buy a paper and leave it in the lunchroom for the rest of us to peruse. Instead of dumping the paper straight into the recycle bin, I take it to work and alternately give it to Bryan or Matt. They're appreciative of it and it keeps the recycle bin in my garage a little lighter. I often read the headlines as I carry the paper the few steps down the hall to their offices. Today I was amused by the weather box. The high for today is supposed to be 102° and they claim that is "very hot." Just in case you were wondering and couldn't make up your mind whether it was just very warm, hot, kinda hot, stinkin' hot, or very hot - The Oregonian is kind enough to make that call for you. Now you know, today is very hot.

26 July 2009

You're asking what?

"What are you doing?" she asked. I was in a swim suit with cap and goggles on, in a pool going back and forth; I would have thought the answer was obvious. But considering the woman who asked was also in the pool wearing a swim suit and was generally going back and forth, I didn't think she was being literal. I wasn't clear what she meant so I stopped, pulled out my ear plug, pushed up my goggles, and muttered, "What was that?" She must have seen the blank confused look in my eyes and asked more specifically, "What stroke are you doing?"
"Oh! It's the breast stroke."
"How do you do it?"
"Oh, um, well, ahhh..." I couldn't answer. It was as if she asked me how to breathe or walk. I had to slowly swim a few strokes and think about what I was doing before I could answer her.

Swimming has become an activity that is second nature for me. It's my stress relief. My place to get away and put aside the cares and worries, and relax. All you can think of is stroke, stroke, stoke, BREATH. The light rippling and dancing across the bottom mesmerizes; the bubbles breaking to the top creates a deafening sound blocking out the world. My zen.

This zen was broken last night with an impromptu swim lesson, but that was okay, I was glad to help. I made a realization yesterday too. I was flipping out and my mind was racing with thoughts yesterday afternoon, as I was cleaning the kitchen my mind would pause for a moment and the thought popped in - "I've got to get to the gym and swim or I'm going to explode." After a few times of telling myself this I realized with horror, "I'm just like Dad!" When he gets wound up his only way to deal with stress is to get on his bike and go, for hours. How did I end up like my dad? Both of us needing to do solitary physical activity to deal with stress. Genetics or modeling? You be the judge.

15 July 2009

18 years overdue

Facebook is a wonder. Through the wonders of Facebook I have been able to reconnect with high school friends, college friends and roommates, church buddies from 20something, teaching comrades, keep in touch with Israel travel mates, and voyeuristicly see what's going on in their lives. This past weekend it was no longer by proxy. I had a fabulous time visiting with high school buddies that I hadn't really seen in 18 years. It started with breakfast with Kate, Ani joined us for a little while. When Ani showed up she told me I looked exactly the same, that I didn't have any wrinkles, but then she asked one of the most hilarious questions - "Are you airbrushed?" Cracks me up!
The three of us reconvened for dinner along with a fourth, Lara, who I hadn't seen since1991. It was such an enjoyable evening. We reminisced over our silly teenage antics and embarrassing crushes and attempts to get their attention. I hadn't laughed so hard in a long time. They did ask me the hard question I was dreading, "Why did you leave for our senior year?" I transferred schools 2 or 3 days after our senior year started. After I left I didn't stay well connected, which has been a big regret. I had some great friends, I just didn't realize it at the time. It wasn't easy to explain my motivation, it required explaining my immaturity and being vulnerable, recognizing that I hadn't done right by my friends. Hard, very hard. It was an explanation 18 years over due. But they were gracious and understanding. Hopefully I can recognize the value of their friendship this time so that I don't waste the opportunity to have them in my life for the next 18 years.

09 July 2009

Oh, wait! I remember you!

I had lunch today with a friend I hadn't seen for several years - three to be precise. We used to work together, sorta, and even though I didn't necessarily enjoy the work I'd look forward to it because he would make me laugh so hard I didn't care what we were doing, as long as I was being entertained. Today we started out serious, getting caught up on the last three years, but it wasn't long before the snide remarks, the witty retorts, and the silly puns started. The mischievous sparkle in his eyes hasn't changed. We had a good time, it was great to reconnect. As I was reflecting on it later, I realized there was a distinct difference than the guys I work with, than most of my other guy friends, but what... It came down to this: it felt really nice to be taken care of. Which sounds weird and has connotations of a type of relationship we do not have, but I couldn't think of another way to phrase it.

I had written a short "thank you"email to him for his time and for treating me to lunch. I mentioned I was still amused by the water incident.

Allow me to deviate for a moment and tell you about the water incident.
We were having lunch at a Thai place I had suggested because it was close to work and has this one dish that I really like. The place was unusually slow in business, maybe because it was almost 1pm. But as a result we were pretty much ignored. He finally did get the attention of one of the waiters (or was he a busboy?) to ask for water, the guy came over and filled up his water glass and his alone and left. Apparently I was being rationed water and since my glass was not empty yet I didn't deserve anymore. My friend is never at a loss for words or quipy retorts but as the waiter walked away I looked over at him and his mouth was literally agape, speechless and dumbfounded. So that's the water incident.

I immediately heard back from him wanting to be sure that I understood why he was upset; that he was not amused. He mentioned that a gentleman would always be upset by how I was treated. That was it! He was behaving in a gentlemanly manner. He was (is) a gentleman. I had forgotten what they look like, which is why I couldn't name it before. I'm starting to remember - 'Gentleman,' nice to see you again, it's been too long; there are far to few of you in the world. The feminist movement may have killed you off like big game hunters, but for me, I never feel more feminine then when I'm treated well by a gentleman.

17 May 2009

I'm done!... oh, wait - NOW I'm done!

What a wild ride.
I had shown my strength and adept ability to procrastinate once again. The big integrative project that I had been postponing for weeks was finally unavoidable. The instruction packet was nearly 20 pages long. It was overwhelming. The homework was more than I could handle on a weekly basis, how was I supposed to do the project and the weekly homework? My only solution was to procrastinate until the last possible moment, take two days off work plus the weekend, and plow through it. I sequestered myself to the house and researched and typed away for four days. My plan was to print the final paper Monday afternoon at 4pm, and have it in the mail by 4:30pm, get home and indulge in Mike's lemonade. The deadline passed and I was only half way through the paper. I reset my deadline for 8pm. That time came and went and I was still typing away. I was so stressed and frantic I couldn't help the tears that started slipping out. After a quick freak out, I buckled down and finished the paper... at 11pm. I did a quick spell check, printed it off, and packaged it up.

I jumped into the car and raced off to the post-office. It is a good thing that I know the route, I was wearing my glasses as I hadn't bothered to take the 2 minutes away from writing to put in my contacts. Driving with my glasses is a scary proposition, doing anything in my glasses except walk from the bathroom to my bed is a scary idea. I walked into the Tualatin post office and walked up to the auto shipping kiosk only to see that it was out of order. Jumping back into the car I rushed towards the Lake Grove postal office. Thankfully their machine was up and running and the date on the stamp had Monday, May 11th - it still qualified as on-time. Driving back home it started to sprinkle, making the fact that I was behind the wheel even more of a liability. Thankfully I made it home, safe and sound, with a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

Sitting at my desk while at work the next day I checked my email and found an email from the class coordinator announcing the deadline was pushed back to Friday. I didn't have to kill myself yesterday! I could have gone to bed at a decent hour and finished it up later. Oh, well. I quickly sent an email to the grading coordinator and told him to toss the paper when he got it in the mail and that I would send another by the end of the week. Thankful for the extra time I polished the paper (an integrative study project of the lessons from the class and how they could apply to the Druze of Lebanon), did a better job of proof-reading, and sent it again. I am now, finally, done. Yippee!

08 May 2009

Not Unfounded

I've always been a bit leery over the gap between the elevator and the floor once the doors are open.  It's just big enough that my keys or phone if I were to drop them would slip right through.  I've dismissed this as a sort of irrational concern, not unlike my fear of being eaten by a gigantic mutant alligator. But today I realized my fear of losing something down the elevator shaft is not unfounded.  My coworker stuck her hand out to block the elevator doors to hold it for someone and her key badge did a little flip with the action and promptly slid right between the elevator and the floor and clunked it's way down to the bottom of the shaft.  Apparently I really do need to mind the gap.

26 April 2009

Sunday Funny

I spotted this as I left the market and got such a good laugh out of it. The car looked like it had two green horns!
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20 April 2009


The corners of the horizon were starting to glow a bit and the silhouette of the trees could be seen sharper in the east as I drove to the gym this morning. There wasn't a morning chill as it was already a balmy 50° making it easy to believe it would actually get up to 85° this late April day. As I made the short drive to the gym I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of Israel. I can't pinpoint what it was, maybe the sky ripe with anticipation of the coming day, the colors reminiscent of the many mornings we set out at the break of day in similarly 'warm' mornings. Isn't it funny how random things will remind us of a place or person or time. By the time I left the gym the sun was almost over Mt. Hood and lighting up the sky, that feeling of Israel was gone leaving me 'homesick' for Israel.

13 April 2009

Isn't it grand to be 1 year old!?

Saturday the clan got together to celebrate Easter, David's birthday and Zachary's 1st birthday. Here are a couple pics of the birthday boys!  Saturday was Zach's first taste of chocolate - do you think he liked it?  Notice the funky hairdo? That is the mad styling of frosting! You just gotta love it! "King" David celebrated 32 years but he wasn't about to be upstaged by his nephew at 1 years old and stole his special bib. 

10 April 2009

Sloshy Soggy Good Friday

Pulling into the driveway of the office building I was faced with two large fire trucks. At first I wasn't sure that I would be able to get by them to access the upper level parking lot where I prefer to park. Once I squeezed by I started to wonder why they were there. The Easter Seals organization was going to sell tulips in the lobby today, could it be for that? The elevators have been on the fritz for awhile maybe one of them had decided to quit between floors with people in the car? That was a more probable scenario than the tulip sales. Being the ambulance chaser type I was hoping that I would be able to see whatever disaster had brought the fire brigade to the office. As I waited for an elevator everything seemed somewhat normal. One elevator was locked but appeared to be in use for moving but no one was screaming to let them out. The elevators were not the problem. Julianne got on the elevator with me and asked which floor, I said, "3rd please." She responded, "Oh, you're going to have a fun day!" Quizzically I asked, "How's that?" She explained a pipe had burst on the 4th floor and had flooded all the floors below. As she finished telling me the elevator doors opened and we were affronted with the damp thick smell of wet plaster. The presence of the fireman was now explained. I walked down to my office and stopped dead in my tracks at the hallway intersection just before my office door. The hallway down to the other side of the building was lined with garbage bins, the ceiling tiles were mostly gone, and water was streaming out of the ceiling. Bryan's office at the end of the hallway looked like monkeys had gone crazy with fire hoses; the water was running down the windows like a car wash. As you walked down the hallway the impression of your foot step filled in with water leaving mini glistening pools in shoe shapes. I felt badly for the media team as they were the worst hit on our floor, but nothing seemed to be damaged or lost thankfully. I must admit, I found the whole scenario quite amusing. The smell was more than most people could handle on my team and by 10 am there were only three of us left, by 2 pm I was the sole representative for my team at the office, everyone else chose to work from home. As a perk for staying and having to endure the smell and noise our manager brought in treats from Grand Central Bakery and the Operations team treated us to pizza for lunch. It is going to take awhile to get back to normal. The affected staff have been relocated to temporary offices with their belongings scattered around. All in all, it was anything but a dull Friday at the office.

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06 April 2009

My trip in pictures

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Cultural Lessons

Friday Janelle and I decided to take our studying to the beach. It was a beautiful day and I had been craving the beach and thought in central California I might have a chance of being warm at the beach. We found a spot around Bodega Bay and staked out a spot not too near anyone with a big log that ran parallel to the beach so we could use it as a back rest. It was great for about a half hour. That is when the Hispanic family decided to have lunch just a few feet in front of us obstructing our lovely view of the ocean. There was wide open sandy beaches for quite some distance beside us either way, so why did they choose to plop down right in front of us? Janelle and I were a bit mystified. I made the comment that "We are in the midst of a cross-cultural lesson, but I'm not getting it." And I still don't get it. What made it more amusing is that after they had finished eating lunch they started wandering off, but left their stuff. All the guys had congregated for a game of soccer down the beach away from people, and several of the women were down there watching. Two kids were left to keep watch over their belongings which we helped out with when the seagulls attacked and the kids were playing down by the water. Can anyone explain this behavior to me? I'm really quite curious.
Janelle received some other cultural lessons during my visit. Apparently the concept of using honey to sweeten coffee was new to her. What was really new was malt vinegar and dousing french fries with it. I don't think she believes me that it's really tasty. Honest J - it's really good! :)

25 March 2009

Girl seeks sun!

It always happens about this time of year. I develop a need, an overwhelming need, a compulsion, a driving desire, to see the sun. Unlike my brother who actually likes the drab overcast drizzly days I crave the sunshine. I crave it with a ravenous hunger. And not just the sun but sun and warmth. Don't get me wrong, I am a proud Oregonian, it is just the time between end of February to the beginning of July that I have a hard time with. I chalk it up to being born in Southern California. While I only lived there for my first two years, those early years are a very impressionable age and I believe all that sunshine imprinted my genetics with a need for sun. Further proof is my brother, he was born here in Oregon in March so it stands to reason that he loves the drippy days, that was his first experience in life.

This year I am going to soak up the vitamin D in Santa Rosa, California while I visit with two of my roommates from the Israel trip. I'll be staying with Janelle who lives just a short distance from the last house where my paternal grandparents lived. I haven't been back in over a decade so I am expecting some weirdness/sadness on that front. One day we are going to visit St. Helena and one of my food Meccas - the CIA - the Culinary Institute of America. I was hoping to take a morning cooking class but I dilly-dallied too long debating whether I should spend the time with Janelle and Debbie or take advantage of being in the area and take the class. Procrastination is the thief of opportunity. The class was full by the time I went to sign-up. Another place on the must visit is Bouchon Bakery owned by Thomas Kellar of The French Laundry fame. For the next few days I'm going to imbibe in the foods I enjoy and forget about my allergies, well, almost all of them. There is no food so tempting that I will knowingly eat bananas or mushrooms, it isn't worth the hospital trip. Yes, I'm a foodie and while the area is known for it's wine, I plan on enjoying the food. Most of all I'm looking forward to seeing Janelle and Debbie, just hanging out laughing and having a good time, being away from work and a computer, snagging some of Janelle's pics from Israel and ohh-ing and ahh-ing over Debbie's scrapbook.

The next five days are going to be great!
Better yet, I got bumped and stayed an extra day! I don't know how Janelle put up with me for so long. :) Love you J!

20 March 2009

Don't Should on Yourself

The obnoxious ringing won't stop and my brain wakes up just enough to command my hand to reach out from underneath the warm fluffy covers and grope around for my cell phone - the source of the noise. Successfully finding it's target my fingers start pushing in hopes of hitting a button that will stop the intrusive sound. This is alarm #1, it's 5:50 am. I have ten minutes to deny the fact that I have to get up before the next alarm. Suddenly and all too soon a strobbing yellowish light is lighting up my bedroom. I squint my eyes to block it out and bury my face deep into the pillow. Once again the hand is sent on a blind journey hunting for the button to make it stop. This is alarm #2, it's 6:00 am. The trouble is this alarm clock's snooze button only grants a mere 5 minute reprieve. The hand will be sent on a journey to find the snooze button no fewer than 5 times, often more, before I acknowledge the reality that I must get out of bed. It isn't until alarm #3 at 6:30 am, emitting from my cell phone once again, that I start taking measures to force myself out of bed. Throwing off the covers so that the chill of the room wakes me up, turning on my bedside lamp, and maybe sitting up which makes it a little bit harder to fall back asleep... but not impossible. No one would ever call me a morning lark, not by a long shot, I am a night owl to the core. But there is something wonderful this morning - it is a Friday morning which means tomorrow is Saturday which means I get to turn off all of my alarms and sleep in.

I am particularly excited for this weekend because it will be the first in well over a month (maybe two?) that I do not have anything planned, no obligations, nothing dictating how to spend the time. My entire weekend is at my discretion. I can do whatever I want. As I start to think of how to spend these precious two days an impossible list quickly grows in my head. It is a list full of "must do..." "want to..." and "should do..." items. But Paula gave me some great advice many years ago:
"Don't should on yourself!"
So this weekend I'm going to take care of the "must do's" - laundry, paying bills, mending my suitcase (since it is going to be pressed into service this coming week it really is a must), send Bethie her birthday package, homework, and sleeping in - and if I have time and feel so inclined a few "should's" might get accomplished as well but it will not be out of a sense of guilt or obligation. I will not should on myself this weekend.

16 March 2009

Cake Pops

This weekend was chock-a-block full of things that needed to be done: mid-term exam, homework, personal reflection paper, bills to be paid, birthday package that needs to be put together and mailed off (two months late already), bathrooms to clean, laundry, and the list could go on. But the most important thing this weekend was a baby shower for a co-worker. So forget all that other trivial stuff - I spent the weekend making cake pops for the shower on Sunday afternoon. Aren't they cute!! Thanks Bakerella for the inspiration!

Now for that mid-term...
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12 March 2009

Refrential Rainbow

I thought this was pretty amazing. Can you guess what it is? I know it looks like some sort of science experiment. Actually, it is a graph of the Bible's cross-references. The whitish-gray lines are the length of chapters in the Bible, each color represents the distance between references. Pretty cool, huh?!

05 March 2009


Did you know that taste buds have memory? They do, I'm convinced of it! While remembering the trip to Victoria, BC on which I took the picture below my taste buds started salivating. They were remembering something. It wasn't the high tea at Butchart Gardens, nor was it the beer battered fries at the Sticky Wicket Pub (which the Pelican Pub at Pacific City has much better ones). What those little buds were remembering, screaming for, was the strangest concoction I've ever imbibed at The Next Chapter bookstore & coffeeshop in La Conner, WA. I can't remember the name of the drink, but I remember asking what was in it and thinking that it sounded so strange that it had to be tasted. It was a combination of Coke, espresso, fresh squeezed orange juice, a slice of orange, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Weird? Yes! Absolutely! I wasn't sure what to except and after the first noxious sip I questioned the choice of trying something so peculiar. I was tempted to dump it but the after taste was strangely good. I took another sip and my face involuntarily winced at the bitterness, but again after the initial shock the flavor was good and my taste buds were asking for more. It was a compulsion to keep drinking despite the initial taste, but it grew on me too. And as the ice cream melted it became very tasty. I have not attempted to recreate it - not yet that is - I think it may need to be attempted very soon. Have you ever heard of such a drink? Any guesses on proportions? It needs a good name... hold on, I'm going to try and make this thing and see what it inspires.

Update: I have since attempted to recreate the drink. It wasn't good. The coffee was leftover from the morning, the orange juice was from a container, and the ice cream was to little. It wasn't good, but it wasn't bad. I'm on the right track.

12 February 2009

A life of its own

Elana walked into my office to ask a question about IQR and halfway through her sentence she pauses, looks quizzically at my bulletin board, and then asks with a confused and excited voice, "Is that your picture? I mean obviously it's yours, it is on your board, but that's not a postcard it's an actual photo isn't it?" Stumped at what she was getting at I offered a tentative, "Yes, it's a photograph. I took it up in Victoria, B.C." After my answer Elana squealed "I have that picture! It sits on my mantle with this light that hits it just right so that the flower looks like it glows. I always point it out to everyone who comes over. I even used it in a photography class I taught. You are the artist!!" Honestly I was a little confused but as we continued talking she reminded me that I had submitted it to the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts several years ago where she had purchased it. What a wild turn of events that I met the person who had purchased one of my photographs. To add to the coincidentalness she lives in the neighborhood that I grew up in. Elana made me feel like a celebrity and a real artist which was very fun. But was nice to know that my photo was being enjoyed and appreciated.
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