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: