Category Archives: life

Say Wha…???

It’s time to pack my bags and close up shop.

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m going to shut things down here. There’s an entire household that needs packing and moving. My husband is retiring and we’re headed back across the country to our home state of Washington.

Say WA

That was the tourism slogan back in 2006. No, they didn’t ask me.   I prefer to say The Evergreen State.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me why we are moving. Cost of living is one reason. Every time friends here in Northern Virginia ask us to stay, I ask if they are offering to pay half our mortgage. That pretty much ends the conversation!
Another reason for going is family. Nearly all of our extended family lives in Washington, and my mother’s illness and death solidified the desire to be closer.  My two oldest boys have chosen to attend college there and seeing your kids once in 9 months is too long to be apart at this stage of the game — at least according to this mama!  Of course, the weather is a factor. I can’t get away from this hot, humid summer fast enough! And finally, throughout my husband’s career, Washington State has remained home to us. We grew up there, we attended college there, we met and married there. Two of our children were born there. We have kept our residency status with our driver licenses and our absentee voting ballots. We even managed to be posted there twice during the past 21 years.

But if you need more reasons, I’ll try to help you with a few images:


This lovely photograph of the famous 14,410 foot peak was taken by a family friend.

And it’s not just  Mt. Rainier that is so wonderful. Washington is full of mountains, with two mountain ranges (Cascade and Olympic). Here are the Olympic Mountains over Puget Sound at dusk.
[click to embiggen]

Puget Sound is nice, but there’s more than just salt water. Washington has over 8,000 lakes and ponds. The Columbia River powers the region with several hydroelectric dams, the most famous one being the Grand Coulee Dam. If you don’t already know about it, go ahead and click the link and be amazed!

But maybe you don’t like water or glacier-covered peaks. Would you like a volcano? Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980 (she was a pain in the ash, as they say) and has been politely burping and letting off steam ever since.
And of course there is plenty of hiking and camping to be enjoyed.

I will return to blogging, although perhaps not in this particular spot in the internet. I’ve got some changes in mind but they aren’t quite ready for publication. Please keep me in your reader/feed or somehow on your radar. I’ll post the new link when I get my act together again.
I will be back in some form or other, hopefully by September, and I’ll be blogging from this place:

♥KC

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Where I’ve been lately

Manassas, first Battle of Bull Run with the 10th Virginians

Manassas, the Battle of Bull Run 

Battle of Bull Run, Manassas

Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Arlington National Cemetery

Carter at Arlington

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

Friday 5: Only 2 at a time allowed

I’ve discovered something about myself: I can only handle 2 crises at once (and of course I’d prefer only one crisis — or none at all — but life doesn’t seem to work that way).

Here, in current order, are the 5 crises I am juggling for those top 2 spots:

1. My mother’s cancer and continual decline despite her denial (definitely the top stressor this week)

2. Selling our house (trying to be top stressor but being trumped by Mom’s cancer)

3.   The logistics of moving (When? Where? How?)

4. The arrival of 4 more adults next weekend– bringing our household up to a count of NINE — for 2 weeks of graduation festivities and moving mayhem.

5.  The graduating senior who must be prepared for college (he will probably be fine, but his mother isn’t prepared to send him off)

On saying goodbye…

Grief is a difficult and unpredictable beast.

There is no “right way” to grieve, but there is much to learn from the traditions of  others. I think  Christians  have missed out on some wonderful and useful traditions when it comes to dealing with grief. We tend to quickly pull together a funeral or memorial service, but after that? Nothing. Grief is a longer process than just a memorial service or a funeral.

Carmi has written so poignantly about life and death and saying goodbye to his father. He has shared about the Jewish customs after death (e.g., Sitting Shivah, Unveiling).  The more I learn about the Jewish customs that relate to death and the grieving process, the more I wish they were universal, because they provide a form — a frame — a ritual — within which to understand and acknowledge the emotional journey we undergo when a loved one dies.

One of the most moving homilies I’ve ever heard was at my step-father’s memorial service when the minister spoke about how we need to say goodbye. With my step-father, there was no chance to say goodbye in person. He took a sudden turn for the worse and died within hours; I was living far away.  I had to find a different way to say goodbye after his death.

Now, my mother is undergoing a long process of saying goodbye.   She continues to weaken as she loses weight, and she has lost a lot of weight.  There is noticeable difference between her now-fragile frame and her distended abdomen;  there is a growing mass in her abdomen — growing despite chemotherapy — a mass that wasn’t there 2 months ago during surgery. Hospice can’t be that far off (although she does not acknowledge this, I know it to be true). She doesn’t want to talk about “the end” being in her immediate future; she is still trying to believe that this new chemo will stem the tide and hold off the inevitable. I, however, am facing reality. I’m sifting through the layers of my heart, mind, and soul, searching for the things that need to be said and discarding those things that don’t really matter anymore.  It’s a cleansing sort of internal decluttering.

I suppose the ultimate goal is one that Cricket writes about in his moving post The Long Goodbye.  (Thanks to Hilary  for bringing this beauty to my attention as a Post of the Week.) Go ahead and read it.  I’ll still be here when you are done.

A long, drawn-out ending is painful but it does give us multiple opportunities to say goodbye; a sudden and unexpectedly early death can leave us with words unsaid.

These are the things on my mind lately.  Your thoughts?

Not a Muffed Target now

Wanted: Dead or Alive

I awoke to the news yesterday morning that the world’s most wanted man had been found and killed. It seemed odd that he was finally found after so many years, and I had to watch the coverage on the television before I could truly believe it.

I’ve since had 24 hours to contemplate what this all means. It was a Tuesday morning in September nearly 10 years ago that I woke up to a different — but related — news report.  That day, September 11, 2001, I had to watch the coverage on the television before I could truly believe it.

A few years (or perhaps it was just a few months?) before September 11, 2001, I watched a special news documentary on TV about a man I had never heard of:  Osama bin Laden. I was shocked at the things he was planning and organizing, and appalled that while a reporter could be willing to accept possible death to get his story (he agreed to be taken into a terrorist training camp), the United States couldn’t seem to find and “take out” this clear enemy.  How could it be that our government intelligence agencies had not captured him yet?

On September 11, 2oo1, I heard the name of Osama bin Laden once again, and I sadly recognized it. Had President Clinton managed to take him out a dozen or more years ago, perhaps we wouldn’t be so deeply involved in a terroristic world… perhaps it would have nipped many terror cells in the bud… but perhaps we would still be where we are, locked in a forever battle against evil.

For now, despite the relief of the removal of Public Enemy #1, there are plenty of others ready to take his place, and we cannot be sure who is truly a friend.  As Mike Allen of POLITICO said in an interview yesterday morning, Pakistan “has some ‘splainin’ to do.”

Yes, I am relieved at the verified death of Osama bin Laden, but I cannot be jubilant. This battle is not over, and our citizens and military alike are still in danger of plans being carried out by madmen.

Popping up for air

I should probably let you know what’s going on in my world, especially since certain events have taken priority over blogging.

1. I recently spent 9 days in the Seattle area, being a caregiver for my mother while she recovered from surgery.

2. Cancer really ought to be spelled with 4 letters.  Thin, sick, weak… it does that to people. In this case, “cure” is not part of the vocabulary and time is limited.

3. Prior to flying to Seattle — and ever since I returned home again — I’ve been dedicating most of my time to decluttering and cleaning my house. My husband has been packing boxes, painting blue walls beige (“beach sand” is what we told the 11yo boy) and generally being understanding of my stress level (code orange).

4. The house goes “on the market” today (with much prayer).

5. I hope to get back to blogging near the end of the month, after I take care of a few more responsibilities and get into the groove of keeping the house “show-ready” at all times.

What is going on in your world?

I miss my faithful blogging friends!
~KC

No longer an ostrich

Edited to add: I’m sure you’ve heard or read the news today about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  It makes my own worries pale in comparison.
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Google Images is my friend :D|
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This weekend begins the long process of selling our house. We’ve set up a couple of interviews with Realtors and will hopefully be able to quickly choose which one to work with over the next few months. In preparation, I’ve been doing a lot of decluttering (I’ve written before about being overwhelmed by stuff) and sadly packing away some of my craft supplies in advance.

We haven’t done it yet, but since it is nearly mid-March, I think we can safely pack away and store all of the winter supplies in a rental unit somewhere  to  make the  house look bigger show off the amazing storage space we have in our house. (Really, we do have amazing amounts of storage space. We just have too much STUFF!)

I’m steeling myself for the changes the Realtors will suggest to make the house “show” better.  Criticism, even constructive criticism, isn’t easy to take, but I think I’m ready.

Yeah, it feels like that

I have joined the sandwich generation and will likely be absent from blogging much of this month.  Please don’t feel badly if I don’t get around to visit you!

“Pssst! Phil, it’s not worth it!”

They closed school this morning for freezing drizzle, so I put myself in a 3 hour time-out until I could safely be around children. They had school last Monday, then no school the rest of the week. They had school yesterday (Monday) and right not it isn’t looking promising for tomorrow. We live in the path of the ice storm.  (I just got back from this week’s emergency milk run.)

If the groundhog sees his shadow tomorrow, it will be due to camera lights and flash bulbs.

More than a dusting

It’s a good thing I love snow, because this is what we received in less than 8 hours yesterday. While many folks were trying to drive home from work. And the highways were closed because of accidents.

My cat hadn’t been outside for DAYS and she got all excited when I opened the back door for a photograph. It didn’t take long for her to change her mind. It turns out that sitting on the heat vent is the best way to spend her winter.

What's that? Cleo outside... brieflyCleo says, I'm coming in!On Monday it was so cold that the rhododendron leaves were curled up as tightly as possible (apparently they don’t like 15F). Wednesday morning they were dripping with freezing drizzle. When that stopped, I rushed out to Costco for another 5 gallons of milk (we were down to our last half-gallon) and eggs (down to the last 3) and bread (we went through an entire loaf at lunch yesterday).

For some idiotic reason, businesses that employ thousands of people did not allow them to go home at lunchtime yesterday. At 3pm or so, when the THUNDERSNOW hit (real word, people), everyone thought, Oh, I’d better head home before it gets bad. Unfortunately, it was already bad. And then it got worse. Many people were stuck in traffic for 7 or 8 hours. Roads closed. Cars died. Traffic did not move.  I was so very grateful that my husband had previously scheduled to take the day off. That way he was here to fill the bird feeder…

… and shovel snow.  😛
Waiting now for the snowplow to dig out our neighborhood. It might be a while.

School has been out for a couple of days now (one of those days was the semester break). With everyone at home –and it being newsletter week as well– I am terribly behind on writing and reading blogs. I hope return to normal by next week.