Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making progress, thank you!

We are just about a month away from the final move! Tim has worked tirelessly, and I've been packing and moving things whenever I can. (The family room is completely full of mattresses, boxes, lamps, etc. --- all awaiting placement.)

Here's the before picture of the living room:

And below is the progress. As you can see, the old carpeting (which covered the entire floor) is gone, with hardwood taking its place.  The walls have been painted a fresh, creamy yellow, too.

Here's a shot of the living room from the other side:

Before, the bedrooms were pink, with pink carpeting:

While we can't afford to replace the carpeting just yet, we could certainly put a coat of paint on everything!

My kitchen is also freshly painted:

And see the false wall in the front of the house?

Well, 'tis gone!

Tim is pretty sure we'll be in by Thanksgiving (probably the weekend before). I'll be away for the next 2 1/2 weeks and can't wait to see what it all looks like when I get back!

- Catherine

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random Dozen -- seasons changing

Our host, Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee, is ending the Random Dozen (questions) that she has been creating each week for quite a while now. I've enjoyed being part of this and have met some new blogger friends through the experience.

But seasons change. 

Lid is sending us off with just two, rather serious, questions:

1. What scares you the most

A) Physically
B) Emotionally

Why does it scare you, and how do you cope?

A. I'm afraid of sheer drops and I'm afraid of drowning. I don't cope well with the thought of either possibility, so I try not to get myself into a situation where either could happen. Oh, and I have a true phobia of snakes -- don't even go there with me!  Panic mode sets in and it is an unlovely sight.

B. Typical mom and wife that I am, I'm afraid of either my husband or one of my kids dying.  I don't know how I would cope. I have had a rough year since my mother died -- and while I HAVE coped, it's not the kind of thing where you learn by experience.  Each grieving situation is unique. Losing Tim or one of the kids would be far worse than losing my mother.

2. What comes to mind when you read the phrase, "Nothing gold can stay?"
That question is based on Robert Frost's poem:
Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

Some people have said they find this poem depressing, but to me it is just a recognition of how life rolls on. Some aspects of life are fragile, however treasured they may be. I would only add that even if something golden passes away from our lives, there are new golden things to come along, and sometimes the old gold even returns.

For a season.

Thank you, Lid, for making us think and giving us the opportunity to meet new friends!  It was a great season!  Hugs to you!

- Catherine

Monday, October 25, 2010

Season change

Fall arrived today with an in-your-face presence. Cold. Windy.

Really windy.

Especially when I was walking the dog in the dark this morning at 7:00 a.m.  (Because it is still dark here at 7 in the a.m.)

The wind coming off the west bench above town was, well, cruel, actually. I turned the corner into it and immediately turned my back for a moment in order to zip my (winter) jacket all the way to the top and pull my hood around my face. Happily I was already wearing gloves.

Hank Williams Jr. found it all very exhilarating, hurrying along our customary morning route with his tail held high and playing "gladiators" with the dog next door.  I'm sure if I'd been out with my horses, I would have found them frisking around the pasture.

The animals frisk in the wind.

I wasn't frisking.

I was "turtling" into my jacket and trying to figure out how soon I could be done with the dog's morning walk.

The leaves are all over the ground now. The sun came out this afternoon and had almost no warmth to it. 

I spent the day in my office, basking in the warmth of the nearby family room fire.  At lunchtime, I enjoyed a truly wonderful, sweet-tart, Idaho Red apple from the local Farmers Market -- the kind of apple that screams "Autumn!"  I also enjoyed the aroma of roasting chicken and simmering stock all through my house.

Fall.  I'm glad.

- Catherine

Friday, October 22, 2010

This and that on a cloudy Friday

It's Friday! I'm so glad the weekend is about to begin. It's been A Week in a number of ways.

So, to be completely random:

The burden of grief that I'd been coping with is gone; singing at the Pink Tea last weekend seems to have sent it into hibernation again (at least for now -- I'm not under any illusions about this process).

Something that's making me very nervous these days is the sight of my middle-aged, one-armed hubby up high on an extension ladder, scraping paint off the side of the house and caulking windows. Eeek!

Something exciting coming up is a Pacific Storm that is due to bring rain, high winds, and even some snow this weekend. There's a cold front behind it so temperatures next week will plummet. I've really enjoyed the beautiful fall weather that we've had for the last few weeks, but I'm a sucker for a little weather drama here and there (East Coast girl that I am).

My current cell phone is doing something very alarming -- literally -- because it sets off those lovely security alarms located at the doorways of most stores. Even when I enter the store, the phone sets off the alarm. Even if the phone is off it sets off the alarm. It is very annoying and, occasionally, embarrassing! Especially where the alarm includes an automated female voice booming store-wide, "Please return to the customer service desk!!!"  I'm trying to remember to leave my phone in the car.

Last night I think we solved the mystery of our aquarium's MIA algae eater -- we think the Parrot Fish ate him. I'll never look at the Parrot Fish in the same way again. How did he get the algae eater through that tiny mouth opening of his???  No wonder the catfish is agoraphobic!

Happy weekend to all!

- Catherine

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Dozen -- the THURSDAY meme

We're a day late, but we're not a dollar short. We've got a full dozen questions to be going on with this week. 

I know, I know . . . you've been waiting all week for this moment:

1. Do you prefer to read the book or see the movie?  Definitely prefer to read the book. Only in one instance was that not true – the movie “Chocolat” is much better than the book on which its based.  But that’s the only instance I can recall.

2. What is your favorite holiday and why? Christmas!!  But not just the day – the whole season that runs from Thanksgiving Day to New Years Day.  We have a lot of family get-togethers in that time period and I love to put out the Christmas decorations. It’s not the gifts – I could go without all of them. It’s the family (oh, and the decorating fun).

3. Which do you like better - the mountains or the beach?  I was born near the beach and I still love it, but truth to tell, I’ve come to prefer the mountains now that I live in the Intermountain West.  There are so many magnificent sights out here, and our annual camping trip just can’t be beat for relaxation and fun. Not a lot of crowds in the mountains.

4. If money were no consideration, what vehicle would you drive? I’d probably still purchase the best deal I could get for the amount of money I would want to spend and the kind of vehicle I'm looking for.  There are a few car makers I’d stay away from, but it’s more about the money and the type of vehicle.

5. What is your favorite cold-weather beverage?  Nothing beats a cup of hot tea on a cold morning.

6. How do you communicate most often with your friends: phone, email, text, face-to-face, or Facebook?  Text and Facebook, followed by face-to-face. How sad is that? But everyone is so busy these days. And my arm goes to sleep if I'm on the phone too long.

7. How do you receive your mail? Mailbox on the porch, at the end of the driveway, down the street, or post office box? Mailbox out in front of the house, at the sidewalk (about 15 steps from the front door). In the new house we’ll be moving into next month, the mailbox is at the end of the driveway, at the road.

8. Of the four basic personality types - sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic, and choleric - which is your strongest? Which is your least evident? (See definitions below.)  This was tough! I read them over and over again, but I truly feel as though I have an equal number of characteristics from each of the four categories.  Plus, who wants to be classified by any of those names -- they all sound like diseases.

9. What do you miss the most about being 20? Nothing. Really! I was an idiot at that age, and I was also in lousy physical shape, too. So there is nothing for me to miss about being 20.

10. How long from the time you get up, does it take you to get ready to walk out the door in the morning?  The fastest time would be a bit more than an hour, including just a few minutes to scarf something down for breakfast. If I am allowed to proceed at my usual morning (read: snail) pace, though, it would be two hours. 

11. Who handles the car maintenance and pays the bills in your family? We both do. I handle mine and he handles his. Joint expenses have been divided up between us. E.g. he pays the house payment, and I buy the groceries and pay the utilities. It works out pretty evenly in the end.

12. For those in the US, how many states have you visited? For those outside the US, how many provinces/other countries have you visited? Including layovers in airports? About 45 of the states, by my reckoning. A little bit less if I actually have to have gone outside an airport and seen something.

If you want to play along, answer the questions on your own blog, then click on the doughnut picture at the top and link up over at 2nd cup of coffee.

- Catherine

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adventures in the aquarium

Number 7 has an aquarium that contains, in theory, three fish.

I say "in theory" because, to the best of anyone's knowledge, the algae eater has been MIA for several weeks, possibly months. The aquarium doesn't have any algae growing in it, but neither have we seen the two inch algae eater anywhere. We've looked high and low, inside the tunnel, underneath the dead man's chest, inside the plants.  Nada. And no body has surfaced, either. Where did he go?

This is a mystery to me.

In addition to the MIA AE, the aquarium is home to an elderly parrot fish and an agoraphobic catfish.

Every evening I sit in front of the aquarium for a few minutes because I find it calming. A few nights ago I flipped on the light in the room and went to sit in my usual spot. Couldn't find the parrot fish at first -- and usually he is right up front because he has something of a human being fixation and he likes it when we are nearby.

I looked more closely and saw that he was standing on his head in the back behind a tube. Not so much as the tip of a fin was moving.  "Oh my gosh!" I'm thinking. "He's dead!"

This is not good. The parrot fish is nearly a decade old and was handed down to Number 7 by one of his older brothers. He's also entertaining, in a fishy way. If you put your face up to the glass, he will quickly swim over to you and "kiss" the glass. If you move to another spot, he will follow you.

I didn't want the parrot fish to be dead. But there he was, standing on his head at the back of the aquarium, with nothing moving.

So, I jiggled the tube a little bit, and he backed up.  Under his own steam. Fins and all.  I learned later that he was probably sleeping.

I didn't know that fish sleep.

The agoraphobic catfish swims to the end of the tunnel, takes one look at me sitting there outside the glass, and swims back into the tunnel. He does this repeatedly, over and over and over and over -- the entire time I am watching.  I don't know when he eats or how, because he doesn't leave the tunnel.

He's neurotic, that one. 

If I found him standing on his head in the back, I don't think I'd be so concerned.

- Catherine

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You raise me up

Grief, I've discovered, takes interesting turns along the way. It is two weeks until the first anniversary of my mother's passing from pancreatic cancer.  (If you click on the "grief" label and/or the "cancer" label, you can read that whole saga.)

I've had a hard time this last week, with a significant burden of sadness weighing me down as the anniversary approaches.  I miss her so very much still.

Backing up: about a month ago, I received a call from Patti, a friend here in Pocatello. Patti is a breast cancer survivor -- not once but twice over!  She is truly amazing. She had called me because the annual Pink Tea breast cancer fundraiser was on the horizon -- an event that she heads up -- and she wanted me to sing a couple of songs during the event.

We'd been trying to arrange this for a few years, but scheduling conflicts always got in the way. This year, the schedule was clear and I accepted the invitation with gratitude.

As I mentioned above, a weight of sadness had descended on me in the last week. I knew it was grief over my mother's passing. And I wondered how I'd get through the Pink Tea, given that the room is filled with cancer survivors and their supporters.

I'd already chosen the two songs for the Pink Tea before this grieving season had come upon me again. I knew those were the right songs for the occasion, so I didn't change anything, despite my very real fear that I'd lack the strength to get through them.

How Could I Ask for More, written by Cindy Morgan

You Raise Me Up (which everyone knows, thanks to Josh Groban and Celtic Woman). The best version of that one is here: Celtic Woman singing You Raise Me Up (embedding of that video was disabled, so you have to follow the link).

Strangely enough, as I spoke before two hundred people at the Pink Tea about how the support of so many had been crucial to me through the journey with my mother, I found myself gaining ever more strength. And a peace. That I'm still carrying with me.

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all my blog readers, friends, and online friends for all the support you have shown me on the journey.  Suffice it to say that God is good and He does provide all that we need. I certainly needed you!

- Catherine

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Friday funny

This video made me laugh this morning.  Happy weekend everyone!

- Catherine

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Random Dozen - the Wednesday meme

Every Wednesday, Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee hosts a meme -- where we answer questions about ourselves, then link up at her blog and visit around.  An online coffee klatch, if you will.  If you wish to participate, answer the questions on your own blog and then go to Lid's to link up with the rest of us (and visit around).  You can click on the button directly below to get to Lid's blog.

Thanks, Lid!

1. Is there a word which you initially mispronounced? Were the circumstances in which you made the faux pas embarrassing? By the way, that's not "foax pass." (I know you know that. Just jokin' with ya.)  In my head, while reading to myself, I always mispronounced the word "misled." I’d always read it as “mizel-ed” with a long “i” in the (emphasized) first syllable. I knew and used the word pronounced "miss-led" correctly in speaking.  I simply did not equate the spelling of “misled” with the pronounced “miss-led.”  Eventually I came to it on my own, without embarrassing myself!

2. How do you feel about the use of texting shortcuts and trends? (ex: "I've got ur notes. Get them 2 u 2morow.")   It’s okay in texting but not in anything else that’s written. I have a very hard time reading Facebook status updates or emails where texting shortcuts are used.  In fact, I tend not to read them because they drive me nuts.

3. Tell me about your high school senior picture. Please feel free to post.
  It’s a generic senior picture taken in the spring of junior year (spring of 1975). We had pictures taken with our cap and gown and then the girls could choose to have the "street clothes" shots taken wearing a black drape or a turtleneck of our choice.  I don’t know why I didn’t choose the black drape, so I’m wearing a brown turtleneck. And my hair is horrible. Thankfully I don’t have a scanned version of it. Anywhere. Nor will I ever have one. Anywhere.

5. Share a high school or college homecoming memory.
  I don’t have any! How sad is that? I went to a college that didn’t have a football team. And the only thing I remember about high school homecoming is that I had to perform on the field with the other flag twirlers, and that our football team in those days always lost the game.

6. Linda at Mocha with Linda wants to know: "Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?"
  Sunrises over the mountains, sunsets over the water.

7. Lea at Cici's Corner asks, "What is something you have not done that you desire to do?"  Sing professionally as a backup singer with a major act and/or sing professionally as a studio musician.

8. Carol at Wanderings of an Elusive Mind ponders, "If you could come back [in another life] as an animal, which would it be?"  I wouldn’t want to come back, truly. Once I’m done here on this earth, I’m done for good. I don’t want to come back as anything.

9. Joyce from The Other Side of the Pond is curious: "Where were you 10 years ago?" Please feel free to elaborate more than just your physical location.  I was in New Jersey, raising my daughter, working my job, and preparing to marry this great guy from Idaho in about 2 months’ time (and we are coming up on our 10th wedding anniversary in December!).

10. When you are proven to be correct in any contentious discussion, do you gloat?  Depends on the relationship with the person who opposes me.  If it’s someone I’m very close to and they know I’m only doing it in fun (and the argument ended with us as friends), I might pretend to gloat.  But in all seriousness, and especially with someone where the relationship is distant or fragile, I never gloat.  It’s just rude, really.

11. What is your favorite food which includes the ingredient "caramel?"  Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtles. (A chocolate covered confection of pecans and caramel). 

12. From my 17 year-old daughter to you: "If you could be part of any fictional family, which family would you choose and why?" (She's so cute. And clever.)  From my viewpoint of being 52 years old, I would choose to be part of the Anderson family in the TV show Father Knows Best.  Life was much simpler in the 1950s and 1960s, Daddy had the answers, Mom was cooking in the well appointed kitchen, and the house was immaculate.  Maybe 10 or 20 years ago I’d have chosen a more “hip” family, but this is how I feel today. I’m looking for a simpler life, I think.

That's the meme for this week!
- Catherine

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In which I am lame but excited.

I never remember to take my camera over to the new house to take pictures.

So I don't have any for you today.

I am lame.

I am also mucho-excited, though, because we should be moving in soon!  Tim has to finish plumbing the gas line and then lay the wood floor in the living room, and then we're all set!

The entire main floor has been painted a fresh, creamy yellow. The house feels open and sunny all the time and I love that so much!

I'll finish the last of the carpet cleaning (one more to go, after Tim is finished with the flooring project).  I'll also steam clean the family room's paneled walls.

And then I want to live in this lovely, serene setting.

And I never want to leave.

I'll try to remember the camera this weekend!

- Catherine

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Grip

I had an ah-ha moment while I was practicing racquetball. I hesitated at first to write about this because there are many sports analogies utilized in Christian ministry.  But this I felt I had to write.

So, my ah-ha moment as I pounded the ball today was this: the grip is key.

When the grip is correct, it feels completely natural, it produces a huge amount of power from the most efficient effort level, and it keeps the racket stable in your hand, no matter how hard you whack the ball.

The grip is amazing in its significance to your game.

I want to be in God's grip at all times. I want Him holding me so that I have that power, that efficiency, that stability.

In racquetball, the grip needs support from well-placed feet and open eyes -- to produce accuracy as well as power and stability.

That's true in God's kingdom, too. Psalm 18:33 says "He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights."  Ephesians 1:18-19 says "... having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, ..."

I could, of my own will, place my feet badly. I could stick my head in the sand and keep my eyes closed too.  But if I let God do the placement of my feet, I am secure and accurate. And if I open the eyes of my heart, I will see where He wants me to work, and my aim will be true.  If I rest in His grip, I cannot be moved.

I want to be in God's grip.

- Catherine