Monday, October 31, 2011

Secret's in the Sauce...

Here's just a little glimpse into what I did for Halloween. And you???

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fighting Another Lackluster Lifestyle

Okay, so the pictures on this post aren't going to be exactly where inwanted them I'm posting from my phone with photos for the first time and must apologize for the outcome. Ah well, if you readto the end it will eventually make sense. :)

It is easy to be dull. It is simple to fall into a repetitive pattern of life. Even when life seems enjoyable, there is the threat of compalsency which leads to a lack of joy. I am not the best example of always finding the good in my situation. I've always wanted to be the type of person who can really take each day and live it out well. But sometimes I'm just not very good at that. Failing miserably might be a more apt description.

I had the day off today. Naturally that meant I slept in. This is something which I enjoy even if it doesn't mean taking advantage of every moment the day has to offer. In my defence, I went to sleep some time after 1 AM. That's beside the point, but whatever. Mark and I went for a little drive because the weather was gorgeous, but it was also very cold, and he wasn't feeling great, so we came back early. Then I started watching TV. I had a fairly good excuse, Mark was borrowing (in fact still is) my computer, so I can't work on my book, but there was a strong temptation, despite the obvious glory of this crisp fall day, to just spend the whole day on the couch. It's not the sort of thing I'm typically good at, generally I can scarce sit still, but today I thought it possible. Instead, after lunch and two episodes of the 'entalist, I went for a walk.

Capturing the beauty of autumn has long been a passtime for me. There were no castles or other ancient ruins to catch my eye this time, but I found a few good shots none the less. This is the first time I'm going to try nposting ohotos from my phone because my camera battery is dead and Mark has my computer still, so we'll see how it goes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oh How We Love to Wander

There isn't a whole lot to do in Moscow, ID. I suppose if you're a student you have student-y things to do, but we're not students. And we're not exactly into farming either. The nearest big-ish city is about 90 miles away. With gas prices as they are, that's not exactly a welcome thought. Besides, when you don't know a city very well and don't have any friends there, it's still hard to find that many great things to do once you get there. We got to the Apple store, wander around a bit, the end.

So we've had to find ways to improvise and entertain ourselves this year. One of the main things we've done is to wander. Generally this wandering is rather aimless. We get in the car with no real idea, point in some direction, and just go. This often means bumping along on dirt roads, much to the horror of our car, but it still gets us to the mysterious where.

For those not familiar with North Western Idaho and Eastern Washington, this area is called the Palouse. It comes from some Native word, and is used to describe the rolling hills that are predominately farmland. I can't exactly say that it's my favorite backdrop for life, but there is something interesting about the layers of hills and plant life which is currently all stubbly and in shades of brown.

On Thursday I had the day off once again. We decided to take a road we had yet to discover. There are still a few of those out there. So this time we headed for Wawawai. We had no idea where this would take us, and were soon winding our way down a twisty road into a deep canyon. At the bottom we discovered a beautiful river gorge with fascinatingly layered rocky hillsides.

We stopped at a place where fisherman were taking advantage of the still waters. We felt a little funny walking around all these serious guys, but we did our best to just stay amused and ignore their obvious curiosity. Then we drove on farther and came to a place where we could walk up into the hills a bit.

It's really quite amazing to me what you can discover when you just wander a bit. Here are these places full of beauty and intrigue, and they're literally just a short drive away, but without just going for it, we would never have discovered them. I can think of so many times in my life when I have lived near really incredible nature, but haven't ever gotten around to visiting it. So while we may often complain that we aren't living in the greatest place on the planet, as least we're going out there and seeing what there is to see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fire Chasers

Even before there's a scent on the wind
It begins to billow
Floating heavily upward
A shadow on the horizon.

We fix our eyes upon the growing tower
All questions, concerns and curiosity,
With breath held wondrously
Following the smoke.

Over hill, round perilous bends,
A mythological undertaking
To discover the source
And decipher the meaning.

A spark of flame was in the trees,
Glowing yellow and orange
Bathed in green
But this was not the fire.

We race and ramble on rocky paths,
Searching frantic
Until at last
We drive away unanswered.

Yesterday we set out on what ended up as a wild goose chase. As we drove around enjoying a sunny fall afternoon, we spotted the smoke rising and thought we'd give it a chase. It was a rather adventurous ride, but we never actually made it anywhere close to the blaze. All the same, it was worth it.

The birds sensed the danger and flew wildly.

We could tell we were on the right path as we flitted through the fields.

We drove through the forest and found great beasts.

And other wild creatures.

Then we took a break to look for gold which we also didn't find, but there were some interesting photo ops...

What mysterious stones.

And haunted flowers.

As well as some other lovely green leafy things.

And a little bit of posing as well.

And though we never found the fire we ended it off with a beautiful rainbow.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Slice Saga Continues

Yesterday I let it sit. I avoided water. I kept it safe. I'll confess, I was a wee bit afraid of what I might find if I opened it up. Today, that was no longer an option.
I did my best to cover it for my shower, but in the midst of it all, the water began to leak in. I looked down and suddenly discovered that the little bit of plastic bag I'd taped on was full of blood. Hmmm... definitely not so good.
I tend to pride myself on being pretty tough. I mean, I broke my back when I was thirteen and didn't even cry. That has to count for something. Generally blood isn't a huge issue for me, but every now and then...well, it just is. For instance there was the time in Hong Kong when I was taking a baby to the hospital and things didn't turn out very well. I was doing my best to keep little Tsz Ching quiet and calm while they squeezed individual drops of blood out of her hand, and thought it was going okay. then I started to feel a little woozy. Next thing I knew there were strangers waking me up. To make a long, and rather amusing story short, I passed out and hit the floor so hard that I broke the frame of my glasses into my head and had such a serious concussion that a week later I was still hardly able to do anything but sleep.
Back to this morning, I thought I was doing okay with the sight of the blood, but then I had to deal with actually taking off the bandages. It was not just painful, it was downright disgusting. When you bleed enough to soak through five bandages there's a lot of blood just hanging out. The farther I went the more light headed I got. In the end I can count at least 5 maybe 6 times when I nearly passed out and had to literally curl up in a ball on the floor until the nausea and spinning stars passed.
In the end I did get down to the skin. It was far from pretty, but I think it should heal up all right. Even if I had gone to the doctor I probably would have just gotten a butterfly bandage.
I survived another evening of work, and now we're watching some Cesko Slovenska Ma Talent (Czech and Slovakia have Talent). Good fun. It'll really help to prepare me for being culturally in tune when we head back at the end of next month.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Well, I seem to have survived my first week in my new managerial position. Kind of got thrown to the wolves a bit, but all the people I work with know a lot more about the closing shift than I do, and they're pretty much fantastic, so it wasn't all that difficult. Still not overly thrilled with the new timing of it all. I've found myself staying up later, but also enjoying the ability to roll over and fall back to sleep maybe a little too much. Rather defeats the purpose of the 7:30 alarm when I don't manage to pull myself out of bed until 8, or 8:30, or, um 9:30 as it was by the end of the week. Slowly those few precious writing hours become a thing of the past and I'm back to the procrastinating fool I've so sadly become.
But with all things, once I get the hang of it this new schedule will also become routine. Especially seeing as how I'm working closing pretty much the whole month. Oh the joy.
Things were rolling pretty well by last night. I'd made it through a week, and had managed to get basically everything completed that I was supposed to do. I was in the midst of throwing out the trash when, suddenly, SLICE! And we're not just talking a little scrape. We're talking a chunk of flesh literally hanging off my finger followed by a lovely gushing of blood. It didn't hurt all that much, but that might mean it's because it was really deep/clean. Hmmm...
Anyhow, I quickly relocked and started the trash compactor. Did you know it's a crime to run a trash compactor if you're under the age of 18. Federal. Seriously. I can understand safety first and all, but a crime? Wee bit silly, don't you think. Reminds me of how a customer said she was old enough to still remember when she was free in America...Do we maybe underestimate the ability of people to generally make wise decisions most of the time and not need laws to tell them how to live life? Just an idea.
That really rumbled into an aside awfully quickly. I've been thinking of writing a piece on Stream of Consciousness recently. Might be fun. Anyhow, back to the story at hand, or more appropriately, the story of my hand. I rushed to get a bandage as the blood really started to spurt out. I continued on to the bathroom, and a colleague kindly opened the door for me. The blood was really flowing freely by then and I rinsed it off as much as I could stand. If I let it be it didn't hurt to much, but even the most minimal water pressure was excruciating.
I tried to staunch the bleeding and dry myself up a bit with some toilet paper - no paper towels in our restroom. It helped a bit, but the blood just kept coming so I wrapped the bandage on. By the time I got out of the restroom to the fitting room (the hall is about fifteen/twenty feet long) blood was already oozing out of the bandage. Not so good.
I added a second, then a third. Pretty picture, eh? Of course then I was called up to a register. I helped a couple people, and by then those bandages were getting filled up. In all I ended up with five plasters wrapped tightly around my right index finger. Even now, under the puffy wrappings, the blood is visible, but it the last one was pretty tight so it helped to slow it down. I can honestly say I've never soaked through even one bandage before. It was quite disturbing.
And get this. We had our safety lunch today. Celebrating almost 600 days accident free. I couldn't very well end the winning streak. Basically, as long as I don't have to go to the doctor we're still good to go. It's been more than 24 hours now, but I'm still not quite brave enough to cut off all the layers and see what's going on inside. I'll give it a little more time and maybe then...
On that note, I'm thinking of making the bloody finger cookies I read about in Rachel Ray for our staff Halloween dessert potluck on the 31st. I imagine I can have a pretty decent picture to go by.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Scheduling Challenges

I've never been a morning person. Well, unless you count Saturday mornings during childhood where my body always managed to wake up before 7 AM. I'd curl up on the floor under a blanket, inches from the TV with the sound turned down so low it couldn't possibly disturb anyone and watch the colorful lines or just plain fuzz until cartoons would officially start. But that was being alert and awake for something enjoyable. I usually ended up being the first person awake at retreats in the Czech Republic as well, but that was because those rotten beds were all so hard that I couldn't sleep. Besides, being up early meant I had a nice chance to wander through the countryside alone and collect my thoughts before having to deal with a bunch of noisy and excitable Americans :)
The point to this trip down early morning memory lane, is that my new job has taken a turn with my scheduling. Over the past few months I've mostly been working early morning shifts. This is also nothing new for me. I worked as early as 5:15 AM doing janitorial work in college, and when I worked at the mill my shift also started at 7 AM just like stock did here. I can do mornings, I just don't really like them. Now everything has changed. All this week I'm working closing. We're talking 1:30 to 9:30. That's a big change.
Part of me likes this. I can sleep in. I don't have to force myself out of bed when it's still dark, and try to make friendly with people before the friendly light comes on inside my head. But the truth is, it's not a great schedule. Even if I do manage to get up early enough to get something done in the morning, the whole time I feel like I'm just sitting around waiting to go to work. And there's never that feeling of, "Work is over, and now I can just relax." When you get home at 9:30 or 10 all you want to do is kick back. How do you get things done at that time of day? It just doesn't happen for me. We watch a little TV, maybe play some Foosball, but that's about it.
My goal right now, considering my writing challenge and all, is to get some writing done in the mornings before I go to work. But life is full of distractions. It's hard to settle in and feel like I can really get much done. There is this never ending need to create excuses, rather than actually come up with something. I've got about 17 pages written or so, but every time I think I'm about to really get somewhere with it something comes up and I don't get to finish, or it's suddenly time to shovel down some food, change my clothes and go to work. I really want to complete this on time, but I can already see that I'm going to be just scraping by. Unfortunately, being the lowest person on the totem pole at the moment, it looks like this is the schedule I'm going to have to learn to deal with for the next couple months. Guess I just have to see how it all plays out, and fight with myself to find some way to get it all done.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Challenge

Technically, I suppose you could say I'm putting things off. My blog is not some sort of money producing tool. Sure, every now and then I look at the "monetize" tab at the top of my display and wonder... At the moment I have a massive "10 followers," whatever that means. Not quite sure I'll amass a great and grand following even amongst family and friends. Do they know I have a blog? Yes. Do some of them check it at least fairly regularly? Sure. But that's about as far as it go. All the same I keep coming back, feeling some urge to write about this life of mine in a public format. Silly me. Perhaps it's because I know no one will ever be able to read my journals. I want some sort of proof that I existed in legible form. It's a thought.

But back to the challenge topic.

It's wonderful to have someone who believes in your dreams. This is especially true when you have trouble believing in them yourself. Naturally with the death of someone as memorably visible in most American if not international households as Steve Jobs, everyone is thinking about creative genius, and watching the you tube video of his speech to look for inspiration. If you haven't taken the time to sit down and listen, it really is worth it. His thoughts on living life to the fullest and being who you really are have a spine tingling effect.

I'm not expecting to wake up some morning and find myself suddenly in possession of a great financial fortune. I don't buy lottery tickets, and the likelihood of all those Publishers Clearinghouse ad things I file ever paying off...well, let's just say it's unlikely. But I do have dreams. I have dreams of writing something that people will read. I have dreams of using the gift I've been given to share with people in some way. However, except for the people who know me well, or those who randomly happen across my internet ramblings, I'll never achieve any of those goals if I don't just sit down and write something. And beyond that, if I remain afraid and never send my writing out, no one is going to just come to me and say, "Hey Sarah, I was thinking that maybe you'd like me to take all those stories from inside your head and make them into books that people can hold in their hands or read on their handheld devices." It. Just. Won't. Happen.

I suppose the easiest thing to do is to just have a dream. You can take it out and pet it every once in a while. You can blow on the dying embers in a moment of passionate thought, and be warmed by the very idea of your dreams. But they won't get you anywhere if you don't act on them.

I can be very like Alice. "I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it." Lewis Carroll, for all his undoubtedly drug tripping ways, really knew how to pack a punch, or speak directly to my problem. I'm loaded with thoughts and ideas. I have advice to hand out in bunches to anyone who asks. When it comes to my personal life goals and dreams, however, I get all tripped up and fumbly.

As I mentioned before, it's really good to have someone who believes in your dreams. My wonderful husband is just that person. He has done everything in his power to try to inspire me to write. He comes at it from different angles than I would, and there are times when i just don't know how to take his advice, but I know he gives it because he loves me and he wants to see me really live. He wants to see me achieve the dreams that he knows are in my heart.

So this past weekend when we were away for a couple of days he gave me a challenge. It was a serious challenge, and not one to be taken lightly. I even went so far as to shake on it, turning it into a promise. Breaking promises? Really NOT my thing. On October first he gave me 90 days to write a novel. NINETY DAYS. That's not a whole lot. Now, there will still be room for editing and revising and all that jazz, but on January first he wants me to have a completed manuscript. And if I follow through, he has promised to do everything he can to help me with the marketing aspects, which is an area I where I really struggle.

Challenge accepted, now to get down to it. For the past few days I've been mulling things over. I've always got a little back stash of story ideas floating around. He told me it couldn't be something I've already been working on. I have at least two novels that I've made a considerable amount of headway with, and could easily tie up over the next three months. But no, this has to be something all new.

I believe I've finally settled on the winner, and now I just have to get it done. I know it won't be easy. I know, especially with my new job challenges, that most days I'll feel like I have no time, and no drive to get it done. But there are to be no excuses on January first. The new year is going to start with something big.

Failure is something that scares me to the very core. I've always done everything in my power not to fail. Every new rejection eats away at me and makes me curl up in the fetal position. I don't know if I'll be able to whip out Pulitzer Prize material, or even something worthy of a Newberry Honor Medal, in 90 days. That's not the point. Writing is one of those things that is stitched into the very fabric of my being. Now I just have to prove to him and to myself that I really can put my actions where my mouth is.

Here's to the challenge!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lincoln City

Friday marked the end of something. I've had a lot of jobs. I've worked with a lot of people. There is always a melancholy feeling that bubbles up in me when things change. I'm still going to be working at the same place. I'll still be seeing the same people on most days, but Friday was the last day working behind the scenes in our lovely little stock room. I'll miss the boxes of fresh new clothes (okay, so sometimes they smell funny and are made of really strange fabrics, but you get the picture) all my responsibility to prepare for the public.

This week I'm spending time in another town learning how to fulfill my new lower management role. There is a lot to learn. I have to smile and greet people more, have that real public face. It's not that I haven't had that sort of meet and greet position before, but it's a change from being able to just hide out in the back. A growing experience, and lots of valuable training for the future, but exhausting as well. Especially since I have to drive 35 miles each way to get this training. I'll be glad when the week is over.

Obviously none of this is about the title of the post, but it's all connected. With the job change it's likely that weekends won't really be an option anymore. Sure, I'll still get a couple days off during the week, but it won't be as it was. I now have the joy of working evenings and weekends. It's the sort of thing that really messes with my head. When I work in the evening I don't feel like I have any time off at all. I'm just sitting around waiting for work to start. Not my favorite situation, but nothing really new either. All my overseas jobs have required this sort of schedule as well. It's just that there I was living some place cool...

Anyhow, we wanted to take advantage of the last weekend free, so we headed off to McMinnville. Our February trips to the Oregon Coast still hadn't left our minds, and we wanted to reclaim those memories. We'd been hoping to get over to the beach during the summer, but it just didn't happen, so we made do with an early October trip. In truth, the Oregon Coast in the summer isn't really much warmer than it was this past weekend, so it wasn't such a bad deal. It's not like it's ever really warm enough to just jump into the ocean without totally freezing.

Thankfully, this time around, the weather wasn't all that bad. It wasn't exactly hot, but it wasn't raining, or windy, or cold. Lincoln City is a town that has always been a part of my life. When I was a kid my grandparents had a beach house there and my siblings and I used to spend a week or so there with them every summer. We always went to the same beach where we would be warned never to turn our backs on the ocean, and were seldom allowed to step into the water beyond our ankles.

This time we found a beach I'd never been on before. We walked along the sandy shore and enjoyed some of the spectacular views that keep people coming back to the Oregon Coast despite the less than desirable weather patterns.

We made our way all the way down to a little pier where people were catching crabs. We walked around the pier for a while, watching as the crabs that were too small were tossed back into the waves.

We also discovered some interesting sea life. It's always fascinating to me to see the things that live in the deep, washed up on the beach. They tell tales of worlds below that we can't even fathom. We really enjoyed our little finds and they glimpse they gave us.