Saturday, August 29, 2015

Yes, You Can Imagine It...

 Not a funny post, because too many people here in the northwest are dealing with horrendous fires right now. Where we live, we are surrounded on almost all four sides by some of the largest fires ever recorded, though our valley is safe.

One small and very dear town where Shane and I lived for four years is possibly evacuating today due to the Okanogan complex fire and others bearing down on the town from all sides. Some of our friends are on standby to evacuate, some already have.  Our oldest was born there, and now both homes we lived in there...are possibly gone.  We won't know until the areas are opened back up.

The town where we both grew up has a giant fire still burning, which has caused evacuations throughout many places we remember from our past.  The neighborhood where my best friend lived, where we took long walks down the dyke and taught ourselves to type in her parents' camper.  The area where Shane's grandparents lived when his dad was a kid, and probably all the landmarks from that era, are possibly gone--again, we won't know until they let people back into the areas.

So many sad stories.  Every one is its own private tragedy, and every one means a family starting over.

The firestorm photos are hard for me to look at.  They take my breath away and bring instant tears, because I know what it's like.  My family's home burned to the ground on October 21, 1986, when I was 16. The house we had built from the dirt up, that my parents designed and our friends helped build.  The house that was our sanctuary and our whole world for 7 years, a lifetime to a child.

My mom was out of town on an extended trip to Washington, D.C. that month, so I had put out the cats, said good-bye to my dad, and my brother and I had gone off to school.

By 9:30 that morning, I was called into the gym, where the whole highschool was taking their SAT tests, to take a phone call from the sheriff's office telling me that our house was on fire and was a total loss.  They couldn't find my dad, so I got the news first. I looked outside and saw the billowing smoke from 20 miles away, and I knew that cloud was our home.

I will save the *whole* story for another time, but I wanted to share something.

For those who see the posts of devastation in the news, social media, etc., and say "So sorry, I can't imagine your loss," it struck me that yes, you can imagine what a house fire is like.  Here's how:

Look down at what you're wearing right now.  Jewelry. Clothes. Underwear. Socks/shoes. Anything you are carrying.


Now, close your eyes and imagine that those items are all that you now possess on this earth.

Now open your eyes.

Makes you appreciate everything a little more, doesn't it?

And yes, many people in the fire areas have been fortunate (and I use the term loosely) enough to have some warning and time to plan and evacuate, time to pack what is, and what is not, necessary.  Time to move livestock, or just open the gates and hope for the best. Time to take a picture and a long look and say goodbye to the house and the landscape, and leave.  And yes, it is "just a house", but until you've been through it, you can't really fathom the loss.

A peek at my story...

Our house in the beginning-- 1978

After much adding on, almost finished, early 80s.

View from driveway, 1982
Same view from driveway, total loss.  Sometime in 1988.  My whole life was in there.

Please keep the northwest in your thoughts and prayers.  So many people are hurting right now.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Panhandling in the Panhandle

The other day, I was driving with our youngest, and there was this guy standing on one of the corners by our mall, holding one of those cardboard signs that said something along the lines of  I don't have any money.  Can I have some of yours?

I won't bore you with a monologue on how I *feel* about panhandling versus busting your ass working for a living 6+ days a week, because then you might disagree and be like wow, you're really judgey, and I'd have to be all, well, don't read my blog, then, and then there'd be all this angst and we'd both think the other was being a jerk.

ANYWAY, there was this guy, for whatever reason, and it caused the following funny conversation in our car, after we went by.

Me:  Dude, seriously?  I thought panhandling was illegal in Idaho.

Teenager:  Isn't that why it's called The Panhandle State?

Me:  *laughing*  No.  We live in the Panhandle OF Idaho.

Teenager:  Oh.  Why is it called the Panhandle, then? I thought it was because of panhandlers.

Me:  Because Idaho is kind of shaped like a pan, and this is like the pan handle.

Teenager:  Idaho is the least pannish thing I've ever seen.  It totally does not look like a pan.

Come to think of it...she's right

Monday, August 3, 2015

Great. MORE THINGS to Cut Out of My Diet

I'm getting ready to go see a hormonal specialist doctor in the near future, because here's the situation.

Aside from the fact that I've been unsuccessfully fighting the same 30 pounds for about 10 years, I've been repeatedly told I "should get my thyroid checked", and I have like 9 of the 10 symptoms of hypothyroidism.

I have ranted about this before, but it's not helping, so here I go again.  I'm getting really tired of this.  I'm not used to losing the fights I fight.  When I set my mind to something, I ALWAYS accomplish it, so why the heck is this not working?  And, how does my weight continues to go UP?


My weight problems started after taking the diet craze pill called Metabolife (the original, really bad for you formula) way back in the mid-late 1990s, when I didn't actually HAVE a weight problem.  So, I'm not even sure why I tried it, because at that time, I had always maintained the same weight.  I bounced back easily after two pregnancies (where I gained 48 and 54 pounds respectively).  I liked my body then.  It was beautiful and curvy at a healthy 128-135 pounds.  It actually stopped traffic once in a terrific dress that I'll always keep as a reminder, though in those days, I always thought it could be better.  Just...why.

Back then, I could eat anything I wanted, within reason, and my weight would maintain.  Gain a few pounds, oops...cut back here and there over a few days and tah-dah--back where I need to be.  I never worked out.  I never dieted.  There's no history of obesity in our family, and don't give me that "'s just our AGE" crap.  This is not normal.

Fast forward to about 2004, when a year had gone by where we didn't have a scale.  I went in for a physical (that was last physical, but I digress), and found I'd gained 20 pounds.  I about FELL OFF the scale.

No.  That can't be possible, doc.  Move that slide-y thing back.  Back.  BaaaaaaccccckkkkKK.


Let me try it with my shoes off??

So, I bought a scale and decided to get a handle on whatever had happened to my body.

The End.


Ever since then, I have fought my weight.  I've cut various things out of my diet.  I have swum laps for hours and gone to the gym (ok, yes, sporadically, but as often as 6 days a week without weight loss...really???  That'll make you DEFINITELY QUIT GOING TO THE GYM ).  I bought an exercise bike and rode it to the moon and back, with no result.  Did Pilates.  Jumping jacks.  Run up the stairs and back down.  I have taken herbal supplements and multivitamins.  Tried to be like my Mom--read Back to Eden and stocked up on vegetarian cookbooks.  I have counted calories and done online help-me-lose-weight apps. I have been drinking hot water with lemon and honey in the morning forEVER.  I tried acai berry and apple cider vinegar.  I have cut processed foods, fast foods, GMO's, coffee, and all my beloved carbs.  I never eat any of the desserts I bake (if I bake at all anymore). I have gone on a more or less plant-based, whole-food diet, all organic.  Heck, I hardly ever even eat HOT food any more...Raw cucumbers or fruit again? YES because who doesn't love raw cucumbers every damn day?  We sort of tried to go a little bit vegan.  I work outside in the garden in the summer, EVERY DAY FOR 1-4 HOURS A DAY.  EVERY DAY.


Did I mention, every day?

I keep gaining weight.

What. The. Hell.

Oh sure, I'll lose a few pounds here and there, but as soon as I let up the relentless pressure of eating almost nothing and cutting out ALL THINGS THAT I LOVE, my weight floats up just as relentlessly.

Here's my life in a nutshell:  (yes...apparently I *can* have nuts, hahaHAHAAA  *weeps*)

Consume more than 1200-1500 calories in a day? = weight gain.

Any wheat products (even whole grain)? = weight gain (like 7 pounds in 3 days on vacation!! what the actual?)

Any processed carbs, even brown rice flour pasta or gluten-free vegan bagels? = weight gain.

Coffee with cream and sugar in the morning? = weight gain.

Other random things that aren't helping:

Alcohol.  Sugar.  Dairy (noooo, don't take my cheese and yogurt.  It's my last joy).

If I limit the above three things and cut OUT the former carbs/wheat/coffee weight will stay relatively the same, albeit 30 POUNDS HEAVIER THAN I SHOULD BE.  Oh sure, it will drift down a pound or two here and there, but if I let up for even a goes right back UP and we reset the clock and start ALL OVER.

So, to maintain, here's what I CAN have, based on my totally nonprofessional findings:


Yeah.  This is AWESOME.
I know, it LOOKS pretty.  But it's not that cool when it's ALL YOU CAN EAT.

So.  I'm getting started with some labwork as soon as possible, as well as the long-overdue physical, also partly because "you're not getting any younger" is one of the recurring themes when I can't sleep and my brain starts reminding me of cool stuff to not forget about at 2:45 a.m., or lists I should be making.

Part of me hopes it will turn out be something like my thyroid, and not that I have just epically failed at something that should NOT be impossible.  The other part of me will be really pissed if I've just wasted 10 years being 30 pounds overweight because of a hormone imbalance.

Sorry to go OFF, but I'm just so really totally sick of busting my butt (apparently *not enough*), eating nothing I enjoy, and getting on the scale to see the number has gone...UP.   again.


Somebody tell me I'm not a fat, epic failure today...I really need it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Small Town Kid Awkward Moments

Here's a story I always forget to tell.  About Shane, actually...

We both grew up in small town north Idaho.  The kind of small town where, if you're a good drummer in the high school band, the band teacher may or may not actually approach your parents and ask them if they'd be willing to allow you to drum with a local band. IN A BAR.

 At age 17.

This is what actually happened to Shane.  There was a band playing in town, who needed a drummer, and he was the best in town (at 17).  Or possibly the only drummer in town.  His parents went and talked to the owner of the bar, because they all went to school together back in the 50s, and they all agreed that it would be OK, even though he was underage, as long as he stayed on the bandstand and wasn't, of course, served any alcohol or molested by cougars (although in the early 1980s, I don't think those had a name yet; they were just older scary drunk women...)

ANYhoo, off he went, after his mom threatened the bar owner that she would go down and raise heck if anything happened to him, because he was an innocent.

Like this

So...being the innocent that he was, one night he came down off the bandstand after a set (I think that's what it's called) to sit at a table with some people (and no, I don't know *why* he was at a table, instead of outside waiting for the music to start again).

The people were lining up piles of white powder on the table in front of them and rolling up dollar bills.

As far as my farm kid sweetheart could tell, there was just a mess of white powder all over this table.

He had no idea what they were doing, so...he pulled up a chair, looked in distaste at the table covered in lines of white powder, grimaced, and said "Geez, these tables need cleaned", and proceeded to wipe all of these people's cocaine off the table onto the floor.  He thought someone had spilled the salt or something.

He wondered afterwards, why that whole table got really quiet when he was done.


He said there was just a stunned silence, so he figured, "Wow.  This table's kinda boring," and he left them sitting there with their mouths hanging open and went back up to finish drumming.

Looking back now, he says he's probably lucky they didn't actually take him outside and beat the crap out of him...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Yard Sale Time

Our house has gradually gone from "tidy and organized" to "pretty cluttered but comfortable" somewhere in the last decade.  It's been starting to feel really cluttered for about the past 5 years, but I like to live by the rule of let's not get carried away...we can organize that tomorrow, so it's been getting worse.  Lately it's been feeling like it's actually closing in.  I can't see any wall space that isn't hosting some piece of random furniture, stack of books, or orphaned ottoman.  Don't bother trying to put anything away BECAUSE THERE'S NOWHERE TO PUT IT.  We have a lot of space, but unfortunately, also a lot of stuff.

We all know what that means:  It's Time.

So, two weeks ago I finally gave in to my family's repeated suggestions of "Why don't we just have a yard sale?", usually said in the same tone as "Hey, why don't we just go for ice cream?" I've been resisting this suggestion for about a year, because I remember the last yard sale being a nightmare of sorting through our entire house, dragging it all outside, and then spending two days talking myself hoarse (I actually lost my voice) selling it and chatting with neighbors, then loading up whatever was left and donating it to Goodwill.

I think the clutter is possibly worse this time.

Our youngest doesn't really remember the last (only) time we had a yard sale, which was about 8 years ago, so she's like how hard can it be? We put some of our extra things outside, and people come to our house and give us MONEY for our old stuff.  Sweet.


When you've had 28 years of life together and raised two kids, and have only had one real yard sale, you don't simply "put some stuff outside".

You guys.  We have been tearing our house apart, drawer by drawer and shelf by shelf, for the last two weeks.  Picture basically moving out of your house, but without actually opening the door.  Every single thing we own, every book, every DVD, every collectible, every garment, every dish and plate and craft item and box of crayons and set of matching bathroom soap dispenser/cup/trash can/rug/shower curtain...has been taken out of its previous resting place, considered, and either put in the "out" pile(s) or cleaned and put away.  Every.  single.  thing.

I found things I didn't even know we owned.  Curtains that have never been used.  Duplicate copies of books and movies.  Lamps we forgot about in the backs of closets.  Unframed Monet prints. Rabbit feeders. Seven packs of playing cards, three of them unopened.  (UNopened.  Just--why).  It turns out I still have three (THREE) Kitchenaid stand mixers, from my bakery days.  Something like 8 springform cake pans and 10,000  bottles of unopened food coloring and airbrush colors.  There's a giant bowl full of what looks like enough pencils to put the whole third world through grade school.  I pulled out all Those Clothes that haven't fit in a decade, tried to avoid saying wow, was my butt actually that small? out loud, and pretended to be unsentimental about putting them out.

It looks like there was an explosion in a Pier 1/Toys R Us/Michaels/Macys strip mall, and it landed in our dining room, office, and spare bedroom.

Actually...there's a lot of really cool stuff here. We're definitely not getting rid of any's more like we're just downsizing our life.

We started week before last, and I think we're finally more or less done conquering the downstairs at this point, after spending literally all day again yesterday until 8 p.m., doing an even more ruthless sweep of "If you haven't used it in the last year (or decade), get rid of it!"

I still have to go upstairs (cue Jaws music) and see how it looks, but our youngest has got a good start on it and has torn apart the whole floor already, so if I'm right, I *should* just have to go through the bookshelves and decide do I really need EVERY one of Tom Clancy's novels?  Will I ever use this knitting machine that I bought in 1988?  

Then we just have to carry all of the upstairs...downstairs, and then outside.

Of course, we still have to sort through the garage storage racks, all my old cake decorating tools, a storage shed, the attic, and the garden shed, set it up and label everything, and we're home free.

What does feel great is that, in every room, we have literally cut the volume of stuff in each space by at least a third.  The bookshelves, cabinets, shelves, and closets are now all perfectly cleaned, organized and very sparsely and tastefully populated.  There are actually a lot of empty shelves in some of the closets and cabinets, because what's left is the stuff we actually use.

I feel like Martha Stewart is definitely my spirit animal this week...

I'm not looking forward to the rest of this week, but I am REALLY looking forward to seeing some uncluttered spaces in our house again.

And...I've promised myself a comfy new living room chair (or two) with the money we raise, because the ones we're still using are unfit for use unless you throw a sheet over them.  Not even kidding.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Peace Out, Man

I thought about writing a whole post about people who should be nicer than this guy from my last post, but then...I looked outside at the sunshine and the daisies and echinacea blooming together outside my office window this morning.  There are at least five different kinds of bees going about their business, birds are singing, and the garden is sparkling where the water droplets have clung to the flower petals and the dill heads, and I thought  you know what? no.

Today, I'm just going back outside.  We are fortunate enough to live on our own 5-acre oasis of calm that is a world away from the craziness everywhere, and though I complain more or less constantly about the overwhelming number of things that need done outside on any given day...I am grateful for every inch of the little piece of heaven we are blessed to live on.  Less weeds would be great, but still.

There are currants to pick in the shade of the weeping birch this afternoon, and the raspberries and blueberries are ripening faster every day.  There are bushels of gorgeous roses blooming.  We have mint/lemon balm sun tea soaking up the heat on the back deck, and there is a hammock ready for a sunset break with a good book.  What else could I need?

It's going to be 100 degrees today, so it's also a perfect day for the beach, and there are tons of choices around here. Later I'm making potato salad and my mom's cucumber salad, and panna cotta to go with the berries after our BBQ dinner tomorrow to celebrate this great country's independence day.  We can watch all the big fireworks displays in the county from our hot tub under the full moon tomorrow night, with no crowds to fight, no traffic in sight, the cel phones off, and I will be with two of my favorite people in the world.

If you stop and take a breath sometimes, you realize how much you have to be grateful for.

Have a fun and safe 4th, you guys.

My little piece of heaven

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

More Customer Service Nightmares

As I may have mentioned before, we have a lot of awesome customers, except for the Chosen Few who feel that it is their job to occasionally call me and behave like a total (insert favorite adjective *here*).

Or, as Aussa at Aussa Lorens so succinctly put it..."throw some shade".

I had another of these lovelies call me the day before last, at 7:30 a.m.  I should have known.  Because my FIRST rule of phone etiquette is to never answer my business phone before 9 a.m.  Never.  NOT. EVER.

I have also learned that ANY call that comes through on my phone caller I.D. as "Restricted"...also do not answer those EVER.  Because anyone who PAYS to have their phone number hidden is hiding something.  Like the fact that they're an ass.

But I was caught off guard the other morning, namely because I thought it might be the Sheriff's office calling.  Not that that's a normal thing around here, but our daughter had her smartphone stolen the night before (insert lots of cursing about thieves *here*), and I had talked a couple of times with an officer by phone.  So I was thinking it was the nice sheriff guy calling at 7:30 a.m. the next morning to tell me Hey, we found your phone, because we're awesome, and here's a winning lottery ticket, too.

No.  UNfortunately, it wasn't the cops.  It was a customer, whose name may or may not be RICHARD.  I didn't answer the phone as a business, BECAUSE IT'S AN HOUR AND A HALF TOO EARLY FOR THAT.  I just said "Hello", because it's 7:30 a.m. and I'm thinking it's the cops, so I may as well just answer as myself.

This guy doesn't even pause.  He jumps right in, ignoring the fact that IT IS 7:30 A.M., which is a time of day that my brain only has certain sectors functioning--namely the Take Out The Dog sector and the Is There Coffee Made Yet sector.   So my ears heard this:  "I ordered from you last year, and my delivered product was too short.  I ordered 16" and I had stuff that was 12-13" long in there."

Me:  *blank stare at my phone because no coffee yet*

Him:  And I have some other questions too.  I just sent an order online just now and I haven't had a response yet.  Did you get my order?  Did it not go through?  Because I have some concerns about last year's order.

Me:  *blank stare at my phone because no coffee yet*

Him:  Hello?

Me:  Yes.  Hi.  I'm not at my desk for another hour and a half, so I haven't had time to check my e-mail yet, but I will call you back after I get in, OK?

Of course my office is about 20 feet from the couch, but if I don't set some boundaries, I will have people calling me at 10 p.m. to talk about their orders, so I'm very strict about my office hours.

We hung up.

I called him back at 9 a.m., STILL thinking at this point that this is a normal customer.  As in, someone who just needs to place an order, and who is also probably an early riser.

hahahaHAHAAAHAA.  Oh, no, my dears.  That would be too easy.

I'd try to make this shorter but...I can't.  You're here, so you know that already.

He morphed into a total condescending, snide, pompous, JERK.  The third (or fourth, I lost count) time that I spoke with him, Shane was actually sitting here, so he is my witness.  I never lost my cool, and I was never rude to this guy, but he was one of those people who just kept pushing and pushing.

I double-checked his original order, and he had in fact ordered 14" wood, so the 12 and 13" pieces would make sense. I told him this.  He disagreed, even though I have the 14" noted in three places on his account from last year.

moving on

He then also "needed to ask" me about the type of wood he got (a year ago).  He's pretty sure it wasn't all the right variety.  I cheerfully said I couldn't possibly know what was on that truckload, because it was a year ago, but I'll make a note to MAKE SURE that we get the species right this year.  Because Shane, who can tell what kind of tree it is, by the sawdust it leaves, couldn't possibly know wood species as well as a realtor.

NEXT, he needed to to point out that our delivery fees also "aren't fair".  Because he checked, and we charge $40 to come to him (he's across a state line) and yet we "deliver for free to towns in our state that are, in fact, further away" than him.  I said, yes, that's right.  We charge $40.00 any time we cross the state line even if you live one inch over the state line.  We had to draw a line somewhere, dude.

He wouldn't let it go.  He was like " charge more, even though I'm closer.  I understand, then, from what you're saying, that you treat your Idaho customers better than you treat your Washington customers.  I see."

Me:  No.  We just charge a delivery fee to your state.  For anyone  in   that   state.

Him:  I'd like to know why you have that policy.

He actually argued this point AT SOME LENGTH, stating repeatedly that it's unfair, because he's closer than some of the places we go for free and he doesn't "understand our policy".

He just wouldn't let it go.

Me:  *wth?*  We've had our delivery fees in place for twelve years, so I couldn't probably tell you why they were put in place, but I could probably have Shane call you.

Him:  Yes.  I'd like someone to call me and explain to me why you unfairly charge a delivery fee, when I'm not actually that far away.

Me:  *gritting teeth*  I will make a note of that, but the fees will still apply. *brilliant idea* You may be able to find someone closer to your location there, who could deliver for free, if you check around.

Him:  Oh, I see.  So, just to be clear, so I understand you, you're saying I should find someone else to buy from?  Let me tell you something--

Me:  No, I'm trying to help you.  You could definitely save money if you look around and find someone who can deliver for free.  OR you can come pick it up in Idaho and save the $40 that way (YOU TIGHTWAD).

Him:  I see.  Let me tell you something.  When I call a business for a service, I expect to get that service.  I do not expect to be told by that business to go shop somewhere else.  Because that is what you're saying.  Just so we're clear and I heard you right, I'm calling you to order a service, and you're telling me to find another company to do business with?    


Him:  And when I call for a service, I also don't expect to be told that "Shawn" will call me back.

Me:  Shane.

Him:  So yes, I would like "Shawn" to call me back, because--

Me:  Shane.

Him:  I'm hearing sarcasm now.  I do not expect to hear sarcasm from a business.  I want him to call me back and explain your delivery fee policies to me.

Me:  His name is Shane. (you idiot, if you're going be insulting, at least get the name right). I will pass all of this info along to Shane, and he can help you from there.  Good bye.


WHO does this?  Seriously??? Does he think we're going to call and explain to him our decision-making process from twelve damn years ago and possibly field arguments as to why it's unfair?  I could scream.

Neither of us ever raised our voice, but he was calmly nasty and condescending and, I don't know...(word, word, what's the word?)...when someone keeps trying to cause a fight? Confrontational? Antagonistic.  That's what it felt like.  Like he was trying to upset me.

I hung up, screamed and waved my arms around at Shane for a bit, wiped my tears (because I always cry when I'm really mad, which kinds of sucks), and poured a really strong drink.  Two, actually...

I haven't heard back from him.  Possibly because I blocked his email, because I also know from experience with jerks like this, that they LOVE to have the last word.  After a nasty phone call, they ALways sit down and compose an even nastier email, saying how unhappy they are with our service, or our company, and how they can't believe how rude I was, and how much they hate me and that I am possibly also responsible for world hunger and the Fall of Man.

If he does call back, I'm ready to explain to him, so there's no mistake, that, we aren't suggesting you shop around--we're telling you:  We won't sell to you, ever.

unfortunately, I work BOTH desks...

Yesterday I spent almost all day outside in the garden with my animals, listening to the breeze and the chickens, weeding and picking berries for currant-raspberry jam.  Today I have been out there again all morning, shaping the roses and enjoying the sun.  And I'm going back out there now.

At least with plants and animals, you know where you stand.

hold my calls, I'm hanging with Bindi today

PS-  thanks for listening.  again