28 December 2009

The Moon of December 2, 2009...

It was gorgeous. The pictures don't do it justice, but I tried




Here's a drunk moon (or what happens when you don't use the tripod):


The sunrise was equally as gorgeous the next day. This was the view from our deck.

24 December 2009

Bad Blogger...

Where has the time gone? It has been such a busy month, finishing my last month at work and my last grad class before student teaching. This class has been a crazy with a lot of big assignments. I was really hoping to have an easy class at the end, but alas...

We just finish a wonderful Christmas eve at my house. My whole family was here (all 8 of us) and we had cheese fondue with all the trimmings and chocolate fondue for dessert.

Speaking of eating, I competed in the Salemites trivia contest a couple of weeks ago and won! I usually never win, my sister is the one who inherited my dad's lucky gene, not me. Anyway, I won a gift certificate to Sushi Kyo and I took my mom last week, as my hubby doesn't really like fish. Mom and I had a fabulous time. The food was terrific and watching the conveyor belt and deciding which plate to grab offered a lot of entertainment - at least for us. If you are a Salemite, I would highly suggest checking out the Salemites blog and your local bloggers. Many of them are much better at posting regularly than I am. Also check out EatSalem, another local blog which offers restaurant reviews and information. Both are a great way to find out what is going on in our community!

03 December 2009

I was attacked...

in my own home. In my own bedroom. Cruelly, even viciously. As I walked by the window, which is covered with floor length curtains, a monster reached out and grapped my food... There were claws! And blood.

The suspect? Kash Ew Yuck Napolean (Yes, that is actually his name!) Even this baby picture shows the wild eyes...
Because of Sampson's allergies, Sammy now eats a special food, a really expensive food and there is no way they are all getting that food. A 4 pound bag cost almost as much as the 16 pound bag of regular food. If he weren't doing so well on this food, with his glorious floof growing back, even acting like a kitten again, even though he's going on 10, I wouldn't do this. But he is, so, they eat separately. Sampson in our room, the rest in the hall bathroom. Apparently, I took too long to feed them this morning. I have a bloodied foot to show for it! Hunger makes us do cruel things...

Proof, look how he killed this poor "wild" creature. Oh the humanity..

30 November 2009

Countdown...

I have exactly one month left of work before I take a leave of absence to student teach. I am SO excited. I got my placement a couple of weeks ago and I will be in a local elementary school, in the fifth grade for ten weeks and second grade for five weeks. I can not believe how quickly the 18 months of school have gone by. In some ways, it seems like I have been in this master's program FOREVER, and in other ways, I can't believe it was 21 months that I made this decision. I'm so very excited to start this new phase of life. Social work has been good, the clients have been great, but I am ready for something new.

20 November 2009

Ode to Firefox...

So, I am a true Mozilla Firefox convert. It's not because I am an Internet Explore hater, really I don't mind IE at all. Or at least I didn't until I discovered Mozilla's add-ons. Now, I simply can not function with out them. So, here's a list of my top add-ons, ones I use every time I open Firefox.

1. Morning Coffee - With a click of one button, this tool opens a set of websites in different tabs. You can program it to open the same tabs every day or by the day of the week. Seriously, if you try no other add-ons, try this one. Trust me. I am the Accidental IT Girl.

2. Insta-Click - This add-on lets you open links in new tabs by right clicking. I am a multi-tab type of girl. At this instant, I have 8 tabs open. Sometimes, I have 20. If you want to bring up the right click menu instead of opening a link, just hold the ctrl button while you right click.

3. Right-Click-Link - This lets you highlight text and when you right click, it allows you to open the text or search for the text in a new tab. Very handy for doing searches.

4. ColorfulTabs - This just makes the tabs a little prettier, gives them different colors. You can fine tune the colors and assign them, but I just have them on random.

I would love to know what others use. Or if they try these and like them. Or hate them.

05 November 2009

Checked Out...

Had my gallbladder removed on Friday and still dealing with being really sore and really worn down. I'm getting there, but that's my excuse for a lack of posts. Cez hooked my laptop up to the TV in our room and I have watched all of the episodes of Greek on Hulu, which I have enjoyed for the silly, harmless, college flashback that it is. And it makes me glad I didn't attend a school with a greek system. Not my thing.

22 October 2009

Up, Up, and Away...

My gram wanted to go hot air ballooning a couple of years ago and my husband offered to go with her. The view on the way up...
They were in separate baskets, so Cesar got to take a picture of Gram in her balloon (she's in the middle, in the baseball cap).
Swimming, anyone?

And my all time favorite shot:

19 October 2009

I heart....

Fall!!! It's my most favorite time of year. Gorgeous leaves, cool crisp air and fresh pressed apple cider from Bauman's!


This tree is across the street from my office in Monmouth. Stupid telephone wire!

15 October 2009

A Family Affair...


My step-dad built the bird house, my mom painted it and it lives at my sister's house. I think she might have taken the picture even.

14 October 2009

A Crazy Month...

It really has been. I started not feeling good in August, thought it was some stomach bug or food poisoning. But it lasted for about 5 weeks. Then the sharp pains set in (it seriously felt like I was having a heart attack) and I rushed to the ER. They sent me home (after waiting for 4.5 hours and being seen for 3 minutes) with a laxative! Pains kept on and I went to see my doctor. She thought I was having gallstones so off to an ultrasound, which found no gallstones, and labs, which found my liver function extremely elevated. In the meantime, I had a scare and needed mammogram and ultrasound, which thankfully came back clear (seriously, ladies - the mammograms are no big deal and SOOOOO worth the peace of mind - get them done!!). Back to the gallbladder, I was scheduled for a HIDA scan, where they injected some nuclear medicine into my veins while I laid in a machine kind of like a MRI machine and they watched how my gallbladder functioned.

So, I was referred to a surgeon who said:
a) I probably had a gallstone that passed before the ultrasound, which caused all the pain AND
b) My gallbladder was not functioning well AND
c) I have a polyp on my gallbladder which could potentially cause cancer.

Which all leads to being scheduled to have my gallbladder removed at the end of the month.

Which, is probably no big deal, but
a) I had never even had an IV before the HIDA scan and
b) My dad died in surgery, which adds a whole layer of emotional stress.

Sunny side:
a) I guess it is better that this all happens now then when I am student teaching in January.
b) I am bound to lose some weight - at least the weight of the gallbladder, right?
c) The surgeon was super nice, even when I started crying at the end. He spent almost 45 minutes with me, explaining all of my options and the surgery. I feel very fortunate to have him as the doctor who will remove an organ from my body.

07 October 2009

Hot Water....

Monday morning, it was 40 degrees out and I was looking forward to a nice, hot shower. What I got was a lukewarm, cool shower. I didn't have time to check the water heater before I left for work, but met my brother-in-law at my house Monday afternoon. The pilot light was out. Tim got it lit and I thought, "Whew, that was easy." Not so much. We heard dripping on the burner plate. Yup, the tank had a leak and of course the warranty experienced in December. So I call around and get the prices on water heaters. We've got 50 minutes to get to George Morlan's on Lancaster in 5:00 traffice. We go to start the Jeep and it's dead. Hook it to the VW to try to charge the battery, nothing. It needs a new battery desperately (along with tires, shocks and brakes) but we never drive it and feel guilty about putting money into a car we never drive. Thankfully, the neighbor loaned us his rig and Cesar made it across town in time to spend $500 on a new water heater. Thank god for handy family members. Tim diagnosed the problem and Cesar and my mom's husband, Marc did the install. And I got a hot shower on Tuesday!

28 September 2009

The Tweeners...

These two adore each other. I mean, they are twins and all, but they are attached at the hips. It's sickening really, in a completely adorable way.

Oddly enough, Ripley is on the left and Lexi is on the right in all of these pictures.




Okay, here she is gnawing on the inside of his ear. It totally grosses me out.
You can't tell in these pictures, but Ripley is about twice as big as Lexi. She it a tiny girl, weighing about 5 or 6 pounds.

10 September 2009

My Best of Salem...

This post involves a confession. I have Sirius Satellite radio and listen to the Martha Stewart channel every time I am in the car. It's true. I do. But there are a lot of interesting programs on her channel about food and pets, very few done by her. But, even if they were done by her I would listen.

I was listening to Morning Living, which is on during my drive to work. They do this great segment frequently where they interview a local food critic and ask them to name the best places for breakfast, lunch and dinner in their city or town. This got me to thinking about my best restaurants in Salem. Here's what I've got:

Breakfast: Word of Mouth - the Chicken Fried Steak or the Creme Brulee French Toast

Lunch: La Margarita Express - Arroz con Pollo in the creme sauce or Enchiladas Suizas or Huarache (sp?) or pretty much anything.

Dinner - La Capitale - Bistro Burger, add mushrooms. The beef is grass fed and it is the best burger I have ever had. I also had a delicious grapefruit mojito and it was very refreshing. Might I also recommend the Orange Creme Brulee?

09 September 2009

Something is not quite right...

This is Ripley. He's Lexi's twin. Because they are bookends, I named them after Alexandra Ripley, who wrote one of my favorite books, Scarlett. They aren't deaf, which is common with white cats with two different colored eyes. But, they are weird.

05 September 2009

Fascinated by...

the Pringle Park Plaza.

I wonder how many people have fallen in.

These people should have been pushed in.

02 September 2009

Seven Years Ago...

(Warning: this story might make you cry....)

It was Labor Day and I woke up and made my dad's famous banana pancakes. That was weird in itself, as I had grown up on these pancakes and never made them myself! But on September 2, 2002, I woke up and had a hankering to make my dad's pancakes. Halfway through, I got a call from my sister, in tears and in a panic. She was camping in Florence with my dad. "Dad's been rushed to the hospital with chest pains. They are taking him to Eugene by ambulance." "Okay, we'll meet you down there. Don't worry, Autumn. It's Dad. He'll be fine." We got to Eugene and finally found the hospital and my Dad. They were preparing him for surgery, so we only got to see him for a minute. They had given him nitro for the heart attack and he was in agonizing pain from the headache it gave him. My dad, the guy who sewed his own stitches and had received countless eye burns from not wearing his face shield while welding, was hurting so bad, but still cracking jokes like usual. That was the last time I saw my dad alive. I could give you every tiny detail of that day. The surgeon came out during the surgery and told us it was not going well, that Dad's heart had a lot of damage. But, still, it's Dad. He'll be fine. He's never sick. But the second time the surgeon came out, I knew it was not fine, that he hadn't made it. It was like a scene from a movie. A movie that still plays in my head. Slow motion. The grief, the pain, the hysteria.

I was 26, my sister was 22 and we were members of the Dead Dads Club. It's a crappy club. The dues will cost you a huge emotional toll and you will struggle with your forced membership for life. We were now planning a funeral. My mom had offered to take care of everything for us. But they had been divorced for a couple of years and we knew that we needed to be the ones to do it. I knew the funeral home and memorial park to go to, they had handled the funeral of a friend in high school with such grace and compassion. Thank god Dad had told me he had wanted to be cremated (he traveled a ton and had done a will, but hadn't had it notarized). We found a beautiful spot next to a pond and picked out a beautiful marker. We buried Dad on Friday and had a graveside service. It was a rainy day, but Dad saw to it that the sun came out during the service. The service was full of his friends and co-workers, his family who had made long trips, even though my dad was estranged from them, our friends, co-workers and family. The little graveside was packed. People told hilarious stories about my dad, things like him chasing his best friend around a farm store with a cattle prod. My dad was famous for his jokes and his teasing. My sister and I later knelt on the cold, wet ground to place my father's urn in the deep hole that would be the final resting place of his remains. Somewhere, I still have his old cell phone that he had voice programmed. For years, I would listen to his voice on that phone, until I finally forced myself to put it away.

My Dad was my champion. He was so proud of me for putting myself through school, for finding a good job and sticking with it and always encouraged me to be the best I could be. He loved Cesar, told him so many stories I had never heard. We moved into Dad's house after we got married, since he spent about 7 months a year away on work. But, the times he was home were such a blessing. We had moved out just a couple of months before he died and he was actually suppose to come over for dinner the day he died. But, I will always be so thankful for all the time we had together those last couple of years.

That is the story of the days surrounding Dad's death. My sister, my husband, her husband, we all experienced this day and I am sure have our own memories of what happened. But, we have never talked about it. I have uttered these words out loud to one person - a fabulous counselor I saw last year. She helped me see that by not getting this story out there, I am not moving on through the grief stages, I stay stuck. It helped to tell her my story. And it helps to tell it here.

My dad was a wickedly funny man, always teasing and joking and had a snicker he would do when he had gotten someone good. He was a hard worker and very talented at his craft. He was a terrific wheeler and dealer and every time I buy a car, I wish he was there. He loved both of us so much and I think he still keeps an eye on us. He has visited me in my dreams several times, just hanging out with me. Dreams that are so vivid, I forget that he's gone when I wake up. He would have adored his grandson, and it cuts to the core that Dylan will never meet Dad. But, he will know Grandpa Stan, because we will tell him all of the stories. But, some of those stories might have to wait until Dylan's an adult.


Vintage Dad

Goofing with the welder's mask - You can see the smile in his eyes - Early 80s:

Dad and Mr. Nibbles, circa 1976-78 or so:

Dad, in his late teens, early 20s:

At Belcrest Memorial Park - All of these were taken on Sept 2, 2008

Dad's Marker:

The pond right next to Dad's grave:

The ducks that hang out around the pond:

27 August 2009

The one job...

I hate most as a homeowner is the job that is WAY overdue at my house... staining the deck. Ugh, I despise it. We've had the stain for a year and we just keep putting it off. The deck has almost no stain left on it now because we have put it off so long. And I know it's bad for the deck and the wood. But I hate it! This weekend, we will pressure wash and strip the stain that is left and hopefully stain next weekend. Then we should be good for another 4 years. Only 4 years? What the heck?! Someone needs to invent a stain that lasts for 20 years. I will be your best friend...

13 August 2009

I'm watching you...

Well, I'm not, but she is...

11 August 2009

Time...

When did time start moving so very quickly? Wasn't it just the end of Spring yesterday? It can't be that we are in the middle of August. It's impossible. That means I am only 4 short months from student teaching, from not earning a paycheck for four months. That day seemed so far away when I started the program 14 months ago. Now, it seems impossibly near.

05 August 2009

Gorgeous...

My best girlfriends sent me my favorite kind of flowers last May when I was having a tough time... They were GORGEOUS, almost as wonderful as my girls!

04 August 2009

Cleaning out the...

Garage. It is now clean. Clean enough to park a car in there. It's a miracle. Cesar and I spent a good part of Saturday emptying out the garage and putting random stuff away. It had simply become unbearable and since the cat boxes are in the garage (they use a dog door that we installed in the door from the house to the garage), we were hoping a clean garage would encourage better litter box behavior. We'll see. But we swept and hosed it out and it looks good. Now if only the office would take care of itself...

30 July 2009

Trying hard not to...

Complain, but good god, it's hot. We Oregonians don't do heat. We just don't. We actually LIKE the rain. So, 106 yesterday. Seriously? AC's can not keep up. People are feeling sick. You can't possibly consume enough water to keep you hydrated. This isn't Vegas. It's Salem. It's hot. It's humid and we don't have the lights, the buffets or the shows. <> I miss the rain.

27 July 2009

Love this shot...

if I do say so myself.


I took it outside of the Bush Barn, the weekend of the Awesome 3000, or in my 4-year old nephew's case, the Awesome 300 (since the preschoolers only run 300 yards).

Just chillin...

On the neighbor's car antenna.


I had a pair of blue ones in my yard, but they were too busy to sit still for a photo. This fella let me get really close and he was happy just hanging out.

New Lawn...

We knew we needed to reseed our lawn and we wanted to go with something more ecologically sound than your average sod. So, after much research, I found Protime Eco-Friendly Lawn Seed. I let C choose which seed to go with and to my surprise, he chose the Fragrant Herbal Ecology Lawn (which is not what I would have gone with, but I did give him the choice, so that's what we bought). So, after a long May weekend of removing sod, filling with dirt, leveling, compacting and eventually sowing, we had ourselves a new lawn.

The neighbors were hesitant when we told them our plan because it was so different, but now they all love it as much as we do. I can home yesterday to find a lawn full of neighbors, because it is so soft and smells so good. We LOVE it.

So here it is, after about 4-5 weeks of growth, only watering about 2 times per week:


And here it is mowed on the left, unmowed on the right:

If you like well manicured, golf course grass, this is not the lawn for you. If you love mowing and watering a LOT less while still having a green yard all summer and doing better by the environment all while smelling a beautiful smell every time you walk through your yard, this is the seed for you!

23 July 2009

Poor Flurry...

Our big fat Maine Coon, Sampson, is having issues. He has had an allergic reaction the last 2 summers and had to get a steroid injection. He feels better, but because he was so itchy, he licked obsessively and now he's lost all of his long, flowing rump fur. He's still got the short furs, but he looks so strange with what we are now calling a bald butt. It's growing back, but not quickly enough!

Here he is in his more flurry days:


And here he is when he learned I was posting about this embarrassing situation:

23 June 2009

Accidental IT Girl

That's me... I am the "IT Girl" for my company. But I hesitate to use the title IT because that means I might have some training instead of just learning by doing. "IT Girl" raises people's hopes and expectations. They think I might actually be able to fix their computer problems. And there's about an 80% chance that I can. But that leaves 20% broken. Someone told me to just go with being called "IT Girl" because everyone already thinks I am so I might as well claim the title. I like that. Think I can put that on my resume?

22 June 2009

Ew... mobile blogging. How exciting.

Busy Times...

Well, I have survived the spring. It was touch and go there for a while. I am working full time and going to graduate school full time and we had to double our class load this spring to squeeze in all of the required credits. I also have been volunteering at the local elementary school on Fridays and I had to take another grad test (I passed ... yahoo!). But, I made it through and came out the other side mostly unscathed. Now it's back to just working and graduate school full time. Good times and noodle salad (as my friend John says, where there is fun, there is always noodle salad to be had).

Add to that mix that Father's Day and my Dad's birthday are in there and it made for an emotional time. This time of year has always been tough since Dad died. They say it gets easier and I guess it has a little, but not much. I think this time of year will always be a little hard.

This weekend was the weekend of unexpected expenditures. First, we had to replace the front tires on the Bunny (as my 4 year old nephew calls my VW Rabbit) this weekend out of the blue. Well, it wouldn't have been out of the blue if I had been paying attention, but I hadn't noticed how low my tread had gotten so, that made it out of the blue. I called around, looking for the best price and ended up at America's Tire again. They are SUPER friendly and very reasonably priced. We got both front tires replaced with very high quality tires for under $200!

Second, we had to take our Maine Coon cat to the vet. He has a swollen lip and has been super itchy. He had the same thing happen last summer and he got a steroid injection to treat it. He seems to be doing better, poor fella.

Along the cat note, we asked the vet the best way to deal with a bully. We have a little cat, Kash, who weighs about 8 pound and he constantly picks on the Coon, who weighs 18 pounds. She suggested putting a collar with a bell on Kash, so his victims will hear him sneaking up on them. I did and I wish I had had a video camera ready. Poor guy hated the sound of the bell and spent the whole afternoon yesterday bucking like a wild bull trying to get it off. I think the vet's suggestion may just work, but not for the reason she suggested. Kash is going to be too distracted by the ringing around his neck to pick on his cat siblings. Sweet!