Sunday, December 31, 2017

So Long rat bastard

Ahhh, the new year. It smells fresh. It's, well, new. It's full of hope. It's full of resolutions and goals. It's a blank least that's what it used to be for me.

The new year usually sees me reflecting on what I did or didn't do in the previous year. The new year brings out all sorts of thoughts, feelings and emotions - most that I don't want to deal with.

Now the reality of starting a new year without mom has a whole different meaning.  This year I'm looking back over the year with sadness, sorrow, pain and loss. And I'm ready to look forward to 2018 with less than all those emotions. They will always be my bedfellows, but they don't have to hog the covers.

Grief is a funny thing. Fickle really. When it hits you, it hits hard. You lose your breath. You lose your focus. You lose everything...and all you can do it think about what you've lost. It has a way of leading us down a path to really reflect on the past and not on the future. The future looks bleaker than it did... without Mom. While it's already difficult to enjoy, or tolerate, the present, the future is full of memories of a person we lost too soon. The "What would she be doing..." comments are never ending. Or "Mom would have loved this..." are constant. The new year is a realization that this is a year that Mom will no longer be a part of this new year, or any new year.

And just when I think I can't handle it anymore...I feel this little tap on my shoulder telling me that while she's not physically here, she's still by my side throughout everything I do this year.  In fact, I open my mouth and I swear my mother comes out.

While I have to focus on the grief and really deal with it and not stuff it into the closet to deal with later, I'm going to dedicate this year to me and to Mom. I'm going to do things that would make her proud. I'm going to live my life in a way that she didn't get to and that she'd want me to. I'm going to live the year for her.

So as I sit here on New Year's Eve contemplating 2017 and the expectations of 2018, I'm doing so with Mom.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Ho BigBro would say

Christmas is no longer a celebration with family for's turned into more about thinking about the one's who aren't with us.

It goes way beyond mom today. I'm missing Dad too and BigBro. All gone too soon.

It snowed last night in Seattle. I woke to a winter wonderland ... white and cold. I wanted to dial mom up immediately and listen to her tell me how warm it was in Tucson and laugh at how cold it is here. No can do. So I complained to the Internet and the cats. They're both always willing to listen to me.

Little Sister called this morning. That made me feel loved and so happy that she's still in my life. We've been through a lot together and in the aftermath of losing Mom we are more kindred spirits than before.

Little Sister? I'm sure I've mentioned her. She showed up on our doorstep in 4th grade and never left. Her parents weren't really great parents. She adopted us and we her. She called Mom and Dad, "mom" and "dad". Dad walked her down the aisle (turned out to be the only daughter he would do that with). She traveled with us. She's a Wraspir through and through. We have completely different opinions of politics and religion and yet we still love each other deeply.

This morning after I showered I was sitting on my bed just waiting for my brain to kick in to what was next. A weird, sudden feeling washed over me. This thought hit my head hard...

"If I died right now, I'm happy."

That's huge.

As I sat I had the following thoughts cross my mind:
I'm loved. I have family and friends who would stand by me through anything.
I've seen the world. More to see, but have sure seen my fair share.
I've been successful in my career.
Overall, things have been great. Even the tough times I survived.

So bizarre. Now, I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon...but that thought was quite comforting and a place I've never been. There's always been ONE...MORE...THING that would make me happy.

So on this day of Christmas, I'm wishing you all the same. Happiness and love in every day of your life.

What's next? The Birthday...49. How on earth did I get here?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Holidays Will Never Be the Same

People have said this to me as we begin this holiday season. I really wasn't sure what they meant by it, but now, knee deep into the holiday season, I get it. Oh boy do I get it.

I didn't want the holiday season to become something I'd avoid. I love the holiday season and I really didn't want to admit anything would be different. I'm finding that the holiday season is bringing to or so clear attention that my mom, my favorite person, is no longer here.

As the season has progressed, I still find reasons I want to call her. Or see something she'd love and I want to buy for her. Or decorations that remind me of something she had. Or some decoration, item, that she would have found the perfect place for in her house. Everywhere, it seems I am constantly reminded that she is not with us any longer.

It has taken a lot of effort for me to keep, and hold on to, that holiday sparkle. Getting into the "spirit" is actual effort. It didn't used to be. But Mom loved Christmas. I can't not still celebrate the season. She'd not be happy if we stopped.

I miss her. Not just a little. I miss her every single, solitary day. Daily my thoughts drift to her or to something we used to do, or something I wish I could do with her. I think about all the things she's not going to be here for and I realize, all too painfully, that things are no longer the same without her.

I even find myself thinking about what if she was still here. What would she think about how horribly the Seahawks played last weekend? What would she think about a niece getting married? How would she plan to get here for the wedding? How proud she'd be at the great niece graduating from college? How angry she'd be at me for working so many hours? 
Right now, she'd be calling me every day to tell me who we'd be going to dinner to when I was down in Tucson. She'd have every night planned ... a dinner here, a dinner there. 
I miss all of that. 
When I start to think about her not being here for any of that...I start to grieve all over again. It becomes almost a daily struggle to keep it together and consider all the stuff I have to conquer without her. She was supposed to be here for all those things. She wasn't supposed to leave so soon. 
So I'll get through this holiday season. I'll force the Christmas spirit into my life, because Mom would want that. It won't be the same. It never will be. The holidays are forever changed. They will never be the same.

I miss you mom. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Year ago

A year ago tomorrow I was in the hospital for blood clots. I had to cancel my Christmas trip to Tucson because of them. Boy do I regret that now.

I've been thinking of Mom all day and wondering what Christmas last year would have been like had I been able to make it. What would Mom and I have done? Where would we have eaten? How many times would we have laughed?

I know it's all for not, but it's fun and sad to think about.

Today I found a journal from mom. It's a daily journal in which it asked her questions about her life. I had seen it before, but was unable to even consider reading it, let alone actually read it. Today I cracked it open. I read the whole thing. I learned things about mom I didn't know!

Now I want to do the same thing. Write about some of the things that have happened in my life. I don't have any children to pass it on to, but someone will read it. And I like to write, so it'll give me something meaningful to write about.

In other news, I cannot believe Christmas is just a week away. Where the H-E- double hockey sticks did this year go?

I'll be doing dinner this year. Nothing fancy, just a couple of family members. The question is what to cook.

Speaking of cooking, Jenny is going ok. I'm just about to be at 10 lbs lost. It's taken a bit longer than I had planned, but I'm ok with it. I've been hitting the gym 3 - 4 times a week and just in that I'm feeling way better than I have in months. Going to keep the good going...

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Turkey Day...and all that stuff

Well, one of the many holidays I've been dreading came and went without much hoopla. I only lost it once yesterday, which is pretty amazing considering I figured it would be all day.

There's no doubt that I missed Mom yesterday. So may traditions that she and I had around Thanksgiving. None would anyone find remotely interesting or amusing, but she and I did. And that's all that matters.

As I was making one of the traditional casseroles for our dinner, I got to thinking about the "original recipe".
Broccoli Casserole. Oh boy do I love this dish. As I was making it yesterday I  noticed that we had one more ingredient that isn't on this recipe...we add sausage. Huh. So I got to thinking and this is what I suspect happened. Mom was cooking on Thanksgiving and had a role of sausage in the fridge and thought, "Hmmm, that might be good in there." and Voila...a new tradition is born.

Oh, and mom put in saute'd onions and celery. That's what I appreciated about Mom, and Dad really, is that the recipe was just a guideline. Which is, not too surprisingly, how I cook. Ahhh, the unexpected gifts parents give you.

So what did happen yesterday? Food. Lots and lots of food as only a Wraspir family can produce. I had The Nieces, Sister-in-Law, her mom, the Pantry Goat and her mom all over. It was a perfect gathering of people. I realized yesterday that not only was I thankful that Mom and I had so many cherished memories around Thanksgiving, but that I had friends I consider family and family I consider friends. What a blessing.

The rest of this weekend looks to be a little bit of everything. Today I'm scrapbooking, finished my Christmas cards and doing dishes. Tomorrow we put up the Christmas tree and watch the Cougs beat the Huskies in the Apple Cup (we hope). Sunday I'm going to play it low and maybe do some work to get myself prepared for what is likely to be the busiest week ever...

So from my house to yours, I hope your Thanksgiving was full of Thanks. That is, after all, what it's all about.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November? Already?

In one way I'm thrilled this year has gone so quickly. It's been a helluva year.

In another way, I'm stunned at what I didn't get done this year. More importantly I have lost myself somewhere along the way.

A friend had a birthday party last night and I felt myself not wanting to go. I wanted to help him celebrate his BIG birthday and then the other side of my was so exhausted that I didn't want to leave the house.

This not wanting to leave the house has been around all year, if not slightly more. I am 100% positive it has to be with being burned out.

Thankfully a decision was made on Thursday that will help with this issue. They won't be promoting me to a manager at work and are not sure what direction that group will be moving into. There may be an option down the road, but for now, it's not going to happen.

Oddly that decision made me feel ok. I at least have an answer and now I can move forward.

Part of that moving forward will be to slowly remove any "management" type tasks off my plate. I've started by making a list and will discuss with the boss. I'm tired of doing the work for something that isn't going to promote me. I was ok putting in the hours to "prove myself". Now? Not so interested. I cannot continue to let them take advantage of me and my lack of being able to set any boundaries.

It won't happen overnight that's for sure. I'm planning to have sloughed off the extra management work by Jan 1st.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

And On and On and On...

Titling posts is hard for me. Especially when it's a post about nothing in particular.

Yesterday was another weigh in at JC. I'm down 5.5 lbs. Last week was not my best week. I learned a lot about why you need to stay on plan. Why you need to eat everything listed for the day. Turns out it helps your metabolism. Which I knew, logically, but apparently forgot.

My JC consultant is quite the woman. She's been what I call a JC survivor for 12 years and she's kept all the weight off. I feel like I've become her little project. She was the same consultant I saw 3 years ago and 2  years beyond that. She knows me.

Yesterday she said something to me while I was lamenting about some of the food that I don't like. She said, "Eat to live." She went on to say that I'm so used to eating for the joy and that's why I'm in the position I'm in. If, however, I consider eating to live and being OK if it's something you may not like that much, is it worth it? Will it be worth it?


I hadn't thought of it that way. It's a very interesting concept and one I'm going to need to think about.

She was also impressed that I'm journaling this adventure.  I have found it I write down my thoughts throughout the week, I can remember to think about them. I'm going to be digging deep to get some of this mental crap out of me. I know I eat and rationalize food because of how I was trained growing up and how I've trained myself. That's years worth of habit and non thoughtful eating.

In other news, I went wine tasting yesterday. Wine is not on JC, but I gave myself yesterday to have some treats. Wine is a treat. The Yank and PhotoGirl and I hit a couple of wineries then stopped for a bit. It was, as always, a blast hanging out with them. They have such knowledge of wine that I just listen to them and try to remember what they've said.

Week three is in front of me. I've got my plan. I've got my groceries. I'm ready to go. I think I can make it to the gym 5 times this week. I'm gonna try anyhow.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Week One is in the bag

Week one of my new journey is in the bag. And I feel great. I'm very aware that the first weeks comes with a motivation that can be challenging to carry with you.  My consultant told me I had an EXCEPTIONAL week and she was right.

I am down 4.8 lbs for the week. But beyond the lbs lost is how good I felt last week.

It was Tuesday when I realized as I was closing my eyes that I felt good. Inside. I felt like my brain was more clear and that I just felt better.

It was Thursday when I realized I hadn't had a tums all week. There must be something to this eating healthy thing. :-)

By Friday I realized two things:
1. I was going to be bored of fruit pretty quickly and needed something else to do about he 5 servings of fruit a day.
2. I had done the whole week! And without very much effort.

As is the case for me, and I know this from years of experience, that planning is the key for me. So planning I will do.

My goal for this next week is to stay the course. I'm less concerned by the # of lbs lost and more interested in how good I felt. My brain was functioning again.

What also made me smile this last week was the amount of support I am getting from all directions. Friends and family have watched me flounder, be successful, flounder some more. And through it all they had my back. I am loved.

My other big thing I did last week is I set a boundary at work. Setting boundaries is easy for me. Simple really. Keeping them is the hard part. I had been clocking over 55 hours of work a week for weeks, months really. I'm done with that. Part of "fixing" the burnt out-ness is setting boundaries. So last week my boundary was the computer is shut at 7pm. It worked well because that's when I scheduled to go to the gym. But by and large, that was all I was going to give.  IF I wasn't in meetings all day I could think about leaving my computer AT work. But since I am in meetings all day and still have to service my clients, there is a need to work in the evenings.

I also started giving due dates to my clients farther out than I normally do. Instead of, "Sure I can have that to you by tomorrow". It's been, "Sure I can do that. I'll have it to you in 5 days." Most people didn't complain at all. And it set me up to not be so frantic every night. Win!

This next week, I'm sure, will have some issue crop up that will try to sideline me. And if it does, I'll find a way to deal with it. But, with the plan I may not need to "deal" with anything.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Off I go...

If you're reading this, then you've likely been reading my blog for some time and/or you know me pretty well and therefore you know my struggle with weight. A lot has happened over the last several years that just made me not care anymore. Turns out … I have all the symptoms of someone who’s burned out. One of the symptoms is no real care for one’s self. And I am testament for that one symptom.

Recently a friend shared with me an article about being burned out. I read it with a half eye thinking, "I'm not burned out. Surely I would know..." Yah,'s great. 

Emotional exhaustion is one of the symptoms and it's friends fatigue, insomnia, forgetfulness, impaired concentration and attention ride along as shot gun.  This entire gang has been hanging with me and I didn't even notice. 

Fatigue explains my lack of energy to do anything. Being physically and emotionally exhausted, drained and depleted are all cousins to this. And all things I've been feeling. 

Insomnia hasn't been huge, but I do have trouble staying asleep several times a week. 

Forgetfulness / impaired concentration and attention. Hi! The story of my life. I've been joking with people at work about my memory and never considered that it was from being burned out. 

The other items on the list that I have felt and "enjoyed" over the last year. Loss of enjoyment, pessimism, isolation and detachment.

Huh. Check. Check. Check and Check. 

Loss of enjoyment is a big one for me, along with isolation. Things I used to love doing, I no longer wanted to do. And I would prefer to spend time by myself because I'm so tired of people and thinking. Consequently, I've managed to push people out. And people who know me are probably thinking this didn't sound like me. What they didn't know is even though I was going out with them, the entire time all I wanted to do was be at home...alone.

Now that I know what's going on with me...I've made some decisions to fix myself. It’s taken me since Ireland to really wrap my head around what I want to do with myself. And fully understanding what I NEED to do with myself.

Today I took that step. It likely isn’t the step any of you would take, but it’s one that has worked for me in the past and one that I need to do to get a kick start in eating healthy.

My goal…to not be the weakest link/slowest person in Scotland. I want to not miss anything. I want to take that extra walk around the block to see another cathedral.

What that means to me in # of lbs lost, I have no idea. I’m not interested in putting in a number…yet. I’m interested in health. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am planning on 20 -30 lbs by December. Most likely closer to 20, but why not stretch myself? I’d like to be 40 down by Scotland. 1-2 lbs a week is 32 by Dec 31st.

I’m tell you all because you are the ones who know me the best and who are my most vocal cheerleaders. So here we go. 36 weeks to Scotland…

Sunday, September 17, 2017

2017 Seattle 3Day...sorta

For almost 10 years we've been participating in the 3Day in some way. From 2007 when BigBro walked it solo, to 2008 when Blueberry and I laced up our shoes to walk. To all the years after that I spent a small fortune on decorations for the car. It's been fun. And each year we plan and look forward to this event.

Last year, because of crazy medical things, our team ended up not walking. Blueberry and I stalked the Seattle walkers. I determined it was just not the same when a family member wasn't walking. There's something about searching our YOUR walker that made it fun.

This year non of the Wraspir's were walking Seattle. Ugh.

That coupled with the fact that the 3Day, on a whole, has gone down hill. It's become a business instead of the "family" feeling it was when we started. The leadership of the 3Day hasn't done it any favors either. They've "tried" so many things to get walkers out there, but none seem to be working. In 2008 there was over 3700 walkers. There were 450 this weekend.

Still, I went out yesterday and spent the morning with our favorite stalkers, the Lil' Smokies.

I brought out the flamingo costume this year. It was just cool enough

The Princesses and one Pilot joined us.

Seattle Police were out on the route again this year.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What a Weekend

Snap! The weekend is over just like that. Yesterday I spent the majority of the day working. I got caught up ... mostly. There are still a few things I need to take care of and am spending the morning today doing that.

Later in the evening, we all met at the Keg for Janet's birthday dinner. We've been doing this birthday thing at the keg for YEARS. The birthday person gets a free dinner, and the rest of us get to spend the evening chatting.

Tonight is Sunday dinner. I'm doing a Low Country Boil. I saw this on The Kitchen several weeks ago and thought it'd be a blast. Tonight I have 15 people coming to dinner. FIFTEEN! I love these big dinners. It reminds me of family times growing up. There was never a quite weekend evening at our house. We were either hosting a dinner or going to someone's for dinner.

I've still been doing these Lists for 30 days. I'm a day or two behind, but here's the most recent ones.

Sept 3 - Favorite Treats to Have on Hand
1. Popcorn
2. Reese's Pieces
3. Chips. Love my chips
4. Coffee, ice tea
5. A Good Book
Funny how there's nothing healthy on that list...

Sept 4 - I Feel My Best When...
1. I'm around family
2. I'm scrapbooking / being creative
3. I'm cooking
4. I'm alone with my thoughts

Sept 5 - My Excuses for Being Late...
1. I'm never late...

Sept 6 - Please Don't Ask Me To...
1. Eat Bell Peppers
2. Clean up vomit
3. Stay put when a bee's around

Sept 7 - My Go To Outfits...
1. I don't have any

Sept 8 - Books To Read Over and Over Again...
1. Don Quixote
2. GlobeTrotter
3. Wuthering Heights

Sept 9 - Newest Additions to my Home...
1. Mom and Dad's Camel Stool
2. Mom and Dad's Iranian rugs

Sept 10 - Ways to Disconnect...
1. this is a list that is foreign to me...

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Day 1 and Day 2 of Lists

This list thing is a bit different than I originally though. I was excited to see the list of lists I'm going to make this month, but didn't realize the ladies in this group were going to take it to the whole next level and SCRAP each list each day. They make their lists all fancy and what not.

I did not for my first list. I literally just wrote it down in my Bullet Journal. The Bullet Journal I started this year with making it so pretty. Drawing things. Making lists to check things off over the year (like the books I was going to read, or the new things I was going to try). Then Mom happened and I lost all desire to do anything creative.

For a long time....

Suddenly in June, around her 6 month mark, I was ready to start being more crafty than ever. A switch was flipped in me. I missed being crafty and I was sure that by not doing it I was making myself not happy. So I started scrapping again.

I have this crazy goal to use up my entire scrapbook stash. If you've ever seen my room, then you know that's the funniest thing you've ever heard.

In August, I made a goal to do one scrappy thing every day in my room.  It could be as simple as rearranging my Thickers. Or it could be scrapping an entire page. I didn't get to it every day, but I'm proud to say I got the majority.

Now back to the list thing. I doubt I'll get as creative as these ladies, but I like the idea of making a list.

Day 1 Theme: But First...
1. Kitty snuggles
2. Coffee
3. Get to work
4. Emails, meetings and such
5. Lather - Rinse - Repeat

When I first jotted down this list I put coffee first, then realized that no kitty snuggles always come first. Firs thing in the morning, they aren't really awake yet, so I can grab them and snuggle them. To say they hate that is putting it mildly. EVERY MORNING, I grab one. Hug it close to my chest and say, "I'm going to love and squeeze you and call you George". It's a line from a Bugs Bunny cartoon that I'm sure I have all wrong.

Day 2 Theme:  I'm Excited For...
1. Scrapping all day with Janet
2. Morning coffee with a good book
3. Fall's coming
4. Change that's coming
5. The Carnitas in the crock pot

This one I decorated slightly...but still not at all like the rest of the group is doing. Except this one lady...she is quite literally putting her list on sticky notes every day. And I love the simplicity of that.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lists Lists and More Lists

There are a couple of things most people who know me well know about me.

1. I have a very strange need to collect pens.
2. I have that same very strange need to collect journaling notebooks. (They're so many pretty ones).
3. I am the queen of lists.

The two of those strange needs together go well. Like peanut butter and jelly. Or Abbot and Costello. Or Rif and Raf. you get the picture. So it should be of no surprise that I'm stepping into the ring of a new challenge for September.

The 30 Days of Lists challenge.
Now, it's not exactly what you think it is. Its not actually making a list every day for 30 days. Instead its a list of topics to write about for 30 days.

I like lists.

I like to write.

It seems like a good fit. So, starting Sept 1st I'm going to "try" to keep with it for 30 days. Should be interesting.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy Friday...

I'm taking today off to go see the Terracotta Warriors with the Braspir's. Seattle SIL, Janet, asked me months ago and I poo poo'd it and said something along the lines of, "Blech. Boring." Then as I witnessed some amazing photos and read the history on them I was bummed I passed it over.

Fast forward a month or two when Mrs. Braspir asked if I wanted to go...needless to say I jumped at the chance. I'm looking forward to some down time with people I love.

This has been an extraordinarily hard week for me. I wish I could explain how and why Mom has been on the top of my mind and making me very sad. Didn't seem like anything that should have triggered the grief, but then we all know that anything can trigger it.

Then Wednesday happened. I got a raise. Yay. Except it was WAY smaller than I was 1) expecting and 2) think I deserve. It disappointed me and, frankly, broke my heart a little and made me feel like the value I have with the company is less than I thought, or they said. Now, I am VERY thankful for the raise. Don't get me wrong, but it didn't even equal my previous raise (2 years ago) when I was doing half as much as I am now.

And all I wanted to do is call Mom. She'd listen. She'd complain with me. She'd be as upset as I was.

But I couldn't. And I had a heck of a time keeping the tears from coming...

A friend posted this and it hit home ...with a vengeance

"Alright, here goes. I'm old. What that means is that I've survived (so far) and a lot of people I've known and loved did not. I've lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can't imagine the pain it must be to lose a chiled. But here's my two cents. 

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to ‘not matter.’ I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it.

Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph.

Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out.

But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself.

And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

So yah...that pretty much says it all.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Heart

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has this song stuck in their noggin with the solar eclipse in just a couple of days.

This is a total solar eclipse and they say most people may only see one in their lifetime. I'm 100% convinced this will be my second.

I have a vague memory of creating a box to view the eclipse in elementary school - I think 4th grade.  Folks have been posting the DIY for these boxes and it tossed me back to this memory. I had to ask some elementary friends because I can't determine if it is a memory or do I think it's a memory. This happens a lot.

Work update. Still busy. Still overworked. Still love my job. We're trying, desperately, to find PMs to replace the one's that have moved on.

The world is in another state of crazy. There was a white supremeist broohaha in Charlottesville that turned violent and resulted in some deaths. Then that sparked a whole new broohaha around the nation. The hatred out there is getting depressing.

I did read on FB recently a post about if the average American talked to their neighbor they'd realize the crazy in the world isn't nearly as much as you hear on the news. I suppose that's true. Maybe I'll talk to my neighbors.

Mom's been on my mind a lot lately. She's always "on my mind", but recently she's been in the forefront. I miss her so much that sometimes I can barely breathe. She was such an integral part of my life and to have that removed there are days I just don't know what to do. I don't cry, or sob, or wail, too often. Sometimes just a single tear will fall, but most of the time I just force myself to not cry. Which I'm sure will come back to haunt me some day.

The Seahawks started playing last night and I could almost hear her screaming from heaven. I wanted, so badly, to call her and talk to her about the crazy stuff in the game - truthfully I wanted to call and talk to her about Bennett sitting during the National Anthem. She used to get so irritated when that happened.

So to sum is about the same as always.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

July went by in like 5 minutes

Hard to believe July 4th was the last time I wrote. When I say time is flying, I really mean time is warp-speeding by. We're in  August people!

Let's see what has happened since July 4th.

I worked.

I worked some more...

Oh and I worked...

Its gotten crazy again. I lost two PMs at a time we are slammed. Q3 and Q4 are our busies times and it's proving to be the same this year. Thank God I still love my job.

I'm learning to have tough conversations though. I've had some conflicts on the team I've had to resolve and it's no fun. It's gotten easier though. I learned to just talk about facts and not emotions.

The next problem I have to face is getting management to listen to me. Baby steps.

Since I last wrote, I bought a new Mustang. Meet Wroamin'.

I love this car. I went in to test drive and was looking for a new Mustang with some of the new navigation features. What I ended up with is this beast of a 310 HP car.  It's FAST...and smooth all built in one.

I'm naming it Wroamin' cuz mom used to call us the Wroamin' Wraspirs. So this is my nod to her. She would LOVE this car...I could almost hear her saying "Hot damn."

Today, Blueberry and I took Wroamin' on the first official Wroad trip (see what  I did there?) We headed up north to have lunch with a friend and his wife. We stopped at this fantastic little Mexican hole in the wall called Mariposa Taqueria in Edison, Wa. Oh was so damn good. So authentic. I'd drive all that way for a taco any day. After we followed friend P and his wife S through some of the back roads of that area. He sure knew the back roads and it was beautiful!

And this car...loves the wroad. I can't wait to go out again...

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy 4th Of July Everyone

Hard to believe it's the 4th of July. Yet here we are ... sitting and waiting for the fireworks display at O'dark 30 tonight. That's what I love about Seattle, and what I hate...fireworks start so late.

It's been a couple of weeks now since vacation and I'm still wishing I had more time off. I really don't feel like I got much of a relaxing vacation, but then again, I guess I knew that going in. Jet lag hit me hard on the way back. Harder than it has before. I survived. And SIL and I are discussing our next great adventure. May be more people involved this time, so it might me even LESS relaxing...bring it on.

I did learn one very important thing about myself this trip and that is I MUST get back to the gym. I was sad at how quickly I tired out. And, truthfully, a bit embarrassed at myself. I hate being tired and not being able to see what I want to see, or worry that I've missed something because I'm too tired to walk two more blocks.

So what am I doing about it? Getting to the gym for starters. Taking the lead from The Niece who's gone to the gym for like 30 days in a row and who's got her health on track. If a young'in can do it, I surely can. I HAVE to make my health a priority. It'll take a little to get into that habit, but baby steps are still steps.

Missed mom this week, a lot. I unpacked a box that had some of her journals. I made the BIG mistake of reading her journal for the year after dad passed. She was so sad and alone. I knew she was, but didn't really fully understand her sadness until I read her words. Broke my heart a little. I knew there was nothing I could do for her to make it feel better, but it's still hard to read the pain from someone you love. Of course the year following BigBro passed and that really set her down a depressed path.

I also found her report cards. Can I just say? My mother was not the straight A student she said she was. I did find it amusing she got just "satisfactory" scores in penmanship. She had the best handwriting to me.  She got C's in I know where I get that from.

Finally finished all my Ireland photos and am going to post them ALL on Flickr. Over 1200 photos that I "fixed" this year. Took over 3000 and dumped over half.

Oh, and I bought a new camera. While on vacation one of the camera people on the trip had a smallish camera that he shared photos with me from. The screen was so clear and the photos so fantastic that I wrote down the model.

When I got home I did more research on it. I read review after review after review. Amazon had the review that tilted me to hit the purchase button. A guy who had the same Canon DSLR I have bought this little camera because he was tired of carrying the big camera (sound familiar?). He then posted photos of the same photos taken with the Canon and the Lumix. The Lumix in some cases were almost better.

Meet my Lumix DMZ ZS100.  It's not a cheap camera. It has leica glass which makes a HUGE difference in cameras. It's high end and worth the extra $$. The camera is "heavy" but not HEAVY like the DSLR. And so far it's taken some fantastic photos of the demons.

SOOTC (Straight out of the camera)

These were taken immediately after I charged the battery and hadn't read any of the manual yet. The camera is easy to use and allows for adjusting exposure. It has several scenes on it that are easy to access. Overall, with the very little I've played with it, I love it. Next Saturday Megaroonie and I are going to go on a little photo stroll to take some shots with it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017 was hard

Ireland was truly a blast. It was a whirlwind, too many things to remember, food eating, beer drinking, kind of vacation. Trying to remember everything we did is futile. Thank god I blog.

I've spent the week getting back into the swing of things at work. I got the best compliment from leadership last week. One of the directors said to me that I should feel proud of my team. It's a good leadership quality to have a team that works so efficiently WITHOUT the leader.

I can say, it is the first vacation I've gone on in a couple of years where I didn't feel guilty and I knew my team would have everything under control.

The week went by quickly and I think I'm finally got my act together at work.

Then on Friday I found out TWO of my PMs are moving on. One, internally, to another PM role in another line of business. And I'm so thrilled for him. He'll do a great job for that group.

The second announcement was a bit more shocking. One of my relatively new PMs has taken a role at another company. She wasn't looking and was head-hunted by a former boss.

So my work life balance is going to go back into crazy town. Oh goody.

The Demons were thrilled for me to be home. For at least 4 days they didn't leave my side. The two of them did everything they could to be on my lap or on me somehow. I think I was missed. I'm not sure why since they were being cared for by someone who spoils them more than me. Still I missed the little beasties too.

I've spent the week trying to get my photos organized, processed and posted. I took over 2700 photos. Once I went through all of them I kept about 1200...and of those, I'll probably only post about 300 give or take.

I did do pretty goo with my scavenger hunt too. I'll be posting those sometime this week.

So we're back to reality, whatever that reality is. Now I need to save $$ and vacation for our next big adventure...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

To Ireland and Back Again

Well, that's a wrap. We did Ireland and can check that off our list. Lots of talk yesterday on our way home about our next trip.

The trip home was LONG. Not only was our flight out of Shannon 2 hours delayed (which we discovered when we got to the airport), but on the flight from JFK we sat on the plane for 1 and a half hours. They said there was "traffic" ... we were number 27 in line for take off. Ugh.

The plus side of the plane ride home from JFK was that the Sounder players were on our plane. A bunch of them...My favorite goalie Stefan sat one row in front of me.

As I was sitting in my chair on the plane yesterday I was thinking about how incredible this trip was. It was a whirlwind, no doubt, and I'm sure I can't remember 90% of what we saw, but man Ireland is beautiful...inside and out.

The people of Ireland were so friendly, welcoming and a joy to speak with. There's a long standing relationship between Ireland and America. So many people immigrated during the great famine that Ireland has some strong bonds with the US. The land of opportunity.  We heard so many stories about the immigration, the hardship of it and the glory of it. Families split apart by an ocean, but still keeping in touch as much as they could. Young people sent away from their homeland on "coffin ships" so that they could possibly have a better life. Imagine how hard that  must have been for the family left behind?

The Irish love their food and their culture. We ate so many potatoes on this last trip. It became kinda a joke with us. "Yes, I'll have potatoes, with a side of potatoes." Lots of mashed potatoes.  I had a Beef and Guinness stew over mashed potatoes. The stew had potatoes in it too. I loved it.

Their beef...oh my word was their beef good. Very beefy tasting. They love their livestock. The hills were scattered with sheep and cows. Our tour guide gave us all the names of the cows as we passed them and I only remember a few.

The Kerry cattle were everywhere. All black cows. Along side of them were the Friesian cattle...basically what we call Holsteins. And then my favorite,...the Belted Galloway. They look like Oreo cookies.

Sheep Sheep everywhere. That was what I thought throughout the trip. And somehow I wanted to photograph them constantly. It's like I've never seen a sheep before. These were my favorite types of sheep though...the Highway Is Bumpy Sheep.

What we didn't see were goats. For some reason I thought we'd see goats. We saw one goat along side of the road where a traveler was selling his items and had a goat as a pet.

Cats were another thing we didn't see too many of. Dogs everywhere, but no cats. Janet saw one and I saw one from a distance. We asked our tour guide and she said people have them, but they generally keep them in doors. So that explains it. I guess.

Horses were all over the place too. We saw so many out in the fields, but they were often farther from the highway and we were unable to photograph them.

So somehow this blog turned out to be about their animals when I started talking about the Irish people. Weird how my jet lagged brain works.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Galway - That's a Wrap!

That's a wrap. Today our adventure in Ireland ended in Galway.

We woke, way too early, to get a head start on seeing the last few things in Galway. Started by visiting a church - shocking I know - that was finished in 1965. They consider it a "new" church having been completed in this century. All the other churches we've seen have been finished in the 17th and 18th centuries.

After checking out the church, we took a trip out to Connemara Marble company. Their marble is beautiful and green. Its only found in this part of the word and people often confuse it with jade. The rich colors were so fantastic. I wanted to take a slab home.

We finished our day with a walk about Galway, another medieval town. After our tour we stopped and had our final beer and lunch in Ireland.  We stopped at The King's Head and had a brisket meal that was outstanding. Both Janet and I are about done with fish...for now.

So that's a wrap. Tomorrow we head to Shannon to take the plane back home. It's been a whirlwind vacation and my brain is officially full of Irish facts and history. None of which I can remember, but I know it's in there. I'll likely spend the next week or two or four putting my brain back together after this trip.

So fare thee well Ireland. You've been a fantastic host.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Connemara - Kylemoore - The Bog

Another full day of sight seeing in Ireland. Today we headed to the region of Connemara. They get 80 inches of rain a year and I think 70 of those inches fell today.

Today's trip we ran into some cows along the way that I found amusing. Fist was the set of course who were loose in the street. The coach driver had to slam on his breaks to avoid hitting them as they trotted across the street. Well, ok, not really SLAM on his breaks, but he had to slow down to let them pass.

The second cow we came across was during a stop to take photos of famine huts (back in 1847 the potato famine hit Ireland. Millions of people were displaced and moved to the west side of the island by the Queen of England.  They were given a small amount of $$ to build their homes. All of them were stone homes that had basically one room. Now days they are just shells of themselves.)

Anyhow, while I was walking down the street to see one of these I looked right and here stood this gal. She had two calves with her, but they were too shy to show themselves any more than a flash.  The look on this cows face made me laugh. It's as if she's thinking, "WTH?"

We learned all about peat today.  We've been talking about it for several days and learning about how it's harvested, dried and stored for the winter. Peat is a fossil fuel and the Connemara region is COVERED by it. In fact, it's the only county in Ireland that they still harvest it.

They cut it using some fancy tool with an Irish name that I can't remember (a schol maybe). Then they put it in these little teepee looking set ups for them to dry. 6 to 8 weeks later they stack it. Then they transport it to their homes to burn.

These photos were taken out of a moving bus, so they're a bit blurry. But you get the general point.

Our first stop today was Kylemoore Abbey. It started as a home for some wealthy folk. The work to build it began in 1647. The woman who was designing the inside of it only got to live in it for a couple of years, dying very young. Then it was handed over to the Benedictine Nuns who then turned it into a boarding school. Now it's a tourist attraction. It was magnificent though. The architecture is beautiful.

We did get to go inside, and while the inside was beautiful, it wasn't much to photograph and then write home about.

Following this, we hopped on a catamaran and had lunch and saw Ireland's only fjord. The weather held off for us and we got a beautiful view of the country side from this fjord and the clear waters.

The Lady Galway

View off the back of the boat looking down the fjord.

As part of our lunch we got Baileys and coffee.  Janet there got a Irish coffee (whiskey and coffee) AND a baileys and coffee. She's such a lush. 

Tomorrow is our last day in Ireland and Galway. We're doing a walking tour in the morning of this medieval town and then we have the afternoon free. I'm both sad and happy this vacation is winding down. It's been a whirlwind. Most days I can't tell if I'm coming and going. And as nice as it is to go, it's nice to come home. Your bed. Your shower. Your outlets that work right. Your light switches that make sense.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Cliffs of Moher - The Burren - Galway

Today was the day to which I was looking most forward. The Cliffs of Moher. The number of books I've read that has Ireland as the back drop...and all of them mention the Cliffs. I was excited to see for myself what all the hubbub was about. And let me tell you, the pictures will not, and cannot, do it justice.

Oh my were they something. The wind was whipping around us at like 40 mph - maybe not but it felt like it. And the crazy ass people who would stand way too close to the edge (they'd climb over the fence to keep you from doing that. Dumb asses).

But first, the crab hats made an appearance today. Finally. Many folks in our tour group kept asking us when they'd come out...and here they are. Wind blown, but happy.

I should back up a bit, but I had to get those photos out immediately. Anyhow, we took off out of Killarney this morning WAY too early. The tour director said the Cliffs would be packed so we wanted to get a good start to get there before the crowds. Though it didn't matter much. The crowds were still there. Soooo many people! Oy vei!

To get there we had to cross the River Shannon. The River Shannon cuts through Ireland and is the longest and widest river in all of Ireland. So to get across it we had to hop on a ferry. Now, we're in a massive motor coach and the ferry looked tiny to me. You decide.

After the Cliffs we drove through a part of Ireland called the Burren. There's a reason, I just can't remember. Other than the landscape really changes to that of mars-esk. The area is covered in limestone. According to wikipedia, "The exact extent of the area referred to as The Burren is not clearly defined. The name is generally applied to the limestone uplands of north western Clare, but the borders vary.". It was crazy to see this landscape.

Ignore all the people. We didn't stop the bus so I couldn't get out to shoot a decent photo. 

Tomorrow we're headed to Connemara to see an abbey, to see the Bog and see what peat is and all that stuff. We're exhausted, but still having fun. Just two more days then we start our long journey home. Hard to believe it's gone by that quickly. Other than I'm in information overload.  It'll take me a couple of days, weeks, months, etc to process everything I've learned. Of course I may not even remember so that will make it quicker.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ring of Kerry...

Our adventure continues. Today we got in the coach and drove around the Ring of Kerry. It's only called a "ring" because its a circular drive. Many on the bus tried so hard to find another reason for it. But alas, the guide said, no it's just because you drive in one big circle. And drive we did.

Our first stop was in a very small town called Waterview. The only purpose of stopping here was a potty break and to see a statue of Charlie Chaplin. Apparently he married an Irish woman and she was from around these parts.

From there we drove up the west coast. Such beautiful scenery...all of it on the OTHER side of the bus. I swear, my superpower is whatever side of the bus I'm sitting on, the best scenery will be on the other side. Thankfully we stopped every now and then for a photo op.

As we drove I found myself shooting photos of the amazing landscape. I've said it once and I'll say it again...Ireland is soooo GREEN.

We lunched in a little town called Sneem. I would have liked to have wandered through it, but we literally had 45 minutes for a lunch that was already prepared for us.

As you drive through Ireland you see sheep everywhere. On the east side of the island the pastures were way more pasture-y. This side had more rocks in it. All day I would glance out the window and think I see sheep, when in fact they were just rocks. And visa versa. One time we were stopped for traffic and I glanced out the window and saw this beautiful rock...that then moved.

Leaving Sneem at lunch we finished the Ring of Kerry driving through and over the mountains here in Ireland. Now, to us in Seattle these aren't mountains, but they sure were beautiful. We stopped at a lake area that is called Lady's View. Queen Victoria had some summer home around here and this was her and her ladies in waiting's view.

Back in Killarney we had some free time so Janet and I started walking around the city. We stumbled into ( and later stumbled out of) a whiskey bar. Being the good little tourists we were we stopped for a flight of whiskey.

I didn't love all of these in fact only really loved one. Bushmills Single Malt 16 year. Naturally the most expensive bottle.

We then walked a block and realized we should get food in our tummies to soak up that alcohol and so we dove into a little Italian place for beer and bruschetta as an appetizer. Not too much longer after that, and only a couple blocks away, we stopped to have dinner.

This is what I love about Ireland. That bottom plate is Cottage Pie with mashed potatoes. It came with a side of vegetables (broccoli and rutabagas) and a side of chips.

"Why yes, I'll have some potatoes with a side of potatoes please."

But that cottage pie was fan-freakin-tastic.

Tomorrow we leave Killarney headed to Galway. Along the way we'll see the famed Cliffs of Moher (the crab hats may have to come out for that shot).