Wastin’ away in Wilmington….searchin’ for my lost keys and a truck full of salt

I’m having one of those weeks where I lost my keys.

I have never in my life lost my keys for more than a few moments.  Thus far, they’ve been missing for 3 days.  My keyring is anything but ordinary – kinda like me – I use a carabiner made for rock climbing.  It’s huge and it will hold the weight of my car.  I’m hoping they turn up soon.

And then today, I lost my spare set of keys.  Ah, yes.  So I dug out my super secret spare keys, and I don’t believe this one has ever been inside of the ignition.   If this keeps up, I will not be able to start my car by the weekend.

Not that I could go far for that matter.  Icepocalypse 2, The Return of Solid Water has taken Wilmington by storm (oh the puns!).  Schools are cancelled across the region and my employer has placed us on a 3 hour delay.  I’m a bit excited about staying up late tonight.  I’ve already started with a good cuppa.

The ice snuck up on us this time, with freezing rain this afternoon.

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I am not made for winter and neither is the long leaf pine.

This may not seem like much, but it has wreaked havoc here in the southland.  Being the resident Yankee at work, I had an ice scraper in my car, so I scrapped the last 3 cars left in the parking lot.  It took my boss an hour to get from Wilmington to Leland.  Luckily, it’s not as bad as it was a few weeks ago.  I must admit I love the excitement that comes with inclement weather; I say this as both a hurricane virgin and a homeowner.

So now all I need is for summer to arrive and to find those keys….and perhaps another cuppa.

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2014 with a view

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That cat! If only he could hang curtain rods while he was up there….

2014 came quicker than I thought – time has appeared to speed up in the past several weeks.  Much like smarter-than-the-average-tabby-cat who climbs ladders, I have this sinking feeling that 2014 will be a year of change, challenge, and perhaps (Lord willing) an extraction of the thorn in my side.

Much has changed around the barracks here….I have decided to redo my sitting room by adding large red curtains, plants, and better lighting.  One night when The General and I were sitting on the couch, I told him I felt our living room needed to be changed, so we started moving furniture randomly at 9:30pm…..and we found a much cozier medium and added a few upgrades: a candelabra surrounded by other candles in our fireplace in lieu of the gas logs we have yet to purchase gas for, cutting our entertainment center stand in half to create a lower profile, and adding better bulbs to our seldom-used overhead light (it used to make the room look….jaundiced).  We’re also tackling the non-dinning room aka The General’s art studio; it’s the only room downstairs with original almond paint.  The General has decided to paint a wall mural on one side too.  I am very excited about that!

I’m not sure what’s causing this nesting frenzy, but it has been fun and only slightly expensive.  Our whole downstairs has a warmer feel to it.  I like it a lot.

Upcoming adventures include a hen party in honor of my sister’s upcoming nuptials in Wisconsin (because that’s the place to go in the middle of winter, apparently), a Caribbean vacation for aforementioned wedding, and a trip to some random place with my friend Alice (locale yet to be determined).

We have continued attending the church I had mentioned some time back.  It’s been really good.  You can totally feel the Holy Spirit in the air.  I need to get involved.  They have a ministry that has spiked my interest in a realm I have very little training.  It’s a matter of me picking up the phone and making it happen.  I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet – fear of the unknown, I suppose, and how my last volunteer gig just reiterated my outcastness.

2014 is off to a great start.  Now I am just waiting for the warm seas and weather.  I need a day in the sun on a board in the waves.

This Christmas Morning

This Christmas morning is going to be an anomaly for me….one I told myself I would never repeat.

I will be alone.

The beautiful thing about working in the healthcare industry is that there are no holidays.  Sure, you get days off, but weekends, holidays, points of time most people hold sacred – they have no meaning to us.  We have lives to save and people to treat.  My current employer is not open on Christmas this year.  My husband, however, has a gig.  In fact, this is a normal week for him.  I kept toying with the idea to pick up hours at my former employer – they would be open Christmas Day – but I never picked up the phone to inquire.  So much has changed there, I’d have to relearn my job.  Despite the stress of that place, I feel terrible that I’m not taking someone’s spot, who could spend that time with family and friends – I remember working double shifts to help coworkers.  My family is thousands of miles away, as is The General’s.

This happened once before, when I was still in Illinois.  I kinda sorta freaked out about it.  Granted, I can do anything by myself – fly half way across the world, go out to dinner, attend a show/party/gathering.  But for some reason, Christmas is always hard.  To offset the lonely Christmas I had (single and working), I went all out and bought a tree with ornaments and transformed my apartment into a Christmas wonderland.  I found it quite therapeutic.  Christmas Eve, my college roommate showed up with her husband, gifts, and a hot ‘n ready pizza.  It was one of the best Christmas memories I have.  They drove a half hour out of their way to make sure I had a merry Christmas.  That will always stay with me.

This year, however, all is not lost.  The General and I are getting together with Pat and Chris (old family friends) for dinner, gifts, and games on Christmas Evening.  It’s just that the morning is going to be rough for me.  Different, perhaps is a better word.  I really have no desire to sit alone in this big empty house with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.  I have decided to go to the beach, and if I get up early enough, I can watch the sunrise over the ocean.  I’ve found there’s very few things in this world that a walk on the beach doesn’t make better/put in perspective.

It’s time to make some new Christmas traditions.

Some like it hot. I’m one of them.

In an effort to finally reach my goal of toning and strengthening every skeletal muscle in my body, I have embraced yoga.  Now, it’s not the new-age chanting lifestyle; it’s mastering poses.  I use this book which is amazing – it’s in English, not Sanskirt, and it focuses on yoga as an exercise, not a religion.  It’s perfect. I even downloaded an interval app on my phone to set reps…..so I hold the pose for 20 seconds and do the postures for 10-15 minutes.  I have some serious arm muscle going on and the ever-so-slight ab definition.  I have also made strides on poses I couldn’t do at first — some of them I have mastered, others I am well on my way to conquering!

The motto for my life is the same as Monty Python’s: “And now for something completely different.”  I decided to take a class in Bikram Yoga.  This is also known as “hot yoga.”  It’s done in a room that’s kept at 105°F (41°C).  It felt like heaven to me, especially after this cold snap.  It was very challenging as well as calming.  I sat our for a few poses — some where too advanced for me.  Oh, and you sweat buckets.  Seriously. I was drenched!  This is not the exercise for the unhydrated; I drank extra water every moment I could at work to prep for it.  I lost a lot more water than I thought I would…..I actually stopped sweating toward the end of class, which is not good.  One has to be careful of hyperthermia and hyponatremia.

I wasn’t in any pain after class, it was more of muscle fatigue.  I hurt 2 days later as the lactic acid settled and that was it.  While I do not have the energy or the drive to make this a several times a week habit as one lady I met there – but I will go back for a class here and there.  What I loved about this class were the people.  Some of them were very experienced, as seen by their rock-hard bodies and expert moves, but there were a lot of newbies and people in the middle like me.  The woman who befriended me was, medically speaking, severely obese — she was on a weight loss challenge for herself and she fell in love with hot yoga.  She did some of the poses better than I did!  Major kudos to her for getting out there and owning it! Old, young, out of shape, more in shape than I will ever be in this lifetime – it was a cross section of society in there.  Amazing.

Here’s to new experiences!

 

Tripping into Fall via The Blue Ridge Parkway

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This is how western North Carolina does fall!

Not long ago, Miranda and I headed “out west” to see the fall foliage in the mountains.  We had an amazing time which included  Miranda’s 1st visit to an apple orchard, my first time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and eating our way through Kings Mountain, Hendersonville, Brevard, and Asheville.  I could write out all our adventures, but the pictures sum everything up better than I could do with words.

The Awakening

A couple months ago I randomly showed up to an expo with various businesses.  I stumbled upon a church’s booth, a denomination that I associated with in high school and college (I currently attended and consider myself “non-denom”).  They were giving away free coffee mugs and cookies, so I grabbed one.   I also saw they had a newsletter so I picked that up too.    I was just curious.  This denomination has a tendency to be….weird.  I wondered what they were about.

As I read through the newsletter, it was full of stuff going on at the church.  They have several very active ministries in the community and there was constantly activity with a vibrant fellowship (I saw that at the booth).  I read the Pastor’s letter and I was drawn in: in a few weeks they were going to have several services dedicated to sanctifying the church, to grow stronger in the Lord and thus be a shining beacon to the surrounding community.  Rock on, I thought.

Through my quiet time, I felt a pull from the Lord to go to these services.  It was pretty strong.  I kept checking their website, trying to see when the services were listed – mainly for the time – and it never was.  I had every intention of calling the church office, but I ended up dreaming it instead.  I dreamt I went to this church and it was really odd, the pastor in my dream was very elusive and strange and I asked him point blank what time the services started and he said 7pm.  It wasn’t that much of a stretch — most evening church services start at 7pm.  I never did call the office.  I was just going to show up at 7pm.  And that was that.

I explained to The General the best I could on why I wanted to attend these 3 nights at a random church where I knew no one and wasn’t sure what their worship style was.  I went alone, as The General is much more sensitive to religious experiences — he grew up Catholic like me — and I wanted to scope it out before I brought him into the fold.  He doesn’t mesh well with church services out of his comfort zone.

I arrived and sat towards the back.  I was greeted by several people and the pastor came up and introduced himself to me.  I miss that.  I go to a rather large church here and one-on-one time with the pastor is nearly impossible.  The church was a carbon copy physically of the church I attended in college as well as high school, down to the color of the pews.  It was comforting.  As the service started, it was pretty much what I expected it to be.  There was a lot of hand raising and expressive worship — and everyone hugs each other.  I’m a midwesterner at heart with my personal bubble, so this was a bit awkward for me.  The sermon was a guest speaker, so I didn’t hear the pastor speak, but he closed the services in prayer and his prayers were so elegant, deep, and powerful; truly a man of God.  I could feel the Holy Spirit in that church — it was really a strong presence.

After the last service, the Pastor asked me my name and my family status.  I told him I would be back.  I got home that night and The General and I talked about it.  I wanted to go the following Sunday to the morning service and think about joining this church.  I again was going to go alone, because The General had to work Sunday morning.  After talking to him about it, I decided not to.  Despite my being drawn to this church, I cannot go and make decisions like this without him present.  While this church may be perfect for me, I am not in this alone, I have The General to consider.  He did agree to attend with me one Sunday after a bit of coaxing.  Sometimes my independent streak gets the best of me.  That’s one thing I love about our marriage: I can still maintain my independence.  But on other hand, as we discussed, I can’t let my independence trump what is best for us.

So I’m not sure where this journey is headed, or what’s next, but I’m really excited on what the Lord is going to do.

Greetings from under the bed!

I am reporting to you live from under the guest bedroom bed.

The doorbell keeps ringing (incessantly at some points) and kids, with the average age being 12, keep yelling TRICK OR TREAT!  So the cats and I are camping out until all this craziness settles down once and for all!

My Halloween costume this year?  I’m a techie.  Dark skinny jeans with a tailored black t-shirt from my favorite store of all time, H&M.  I’m just a ClearCom and a flashlight short.

Not much has been going on, hence the blog silence.

Some things that have gone on….

  • I got some serious peace from the Lord concerning the “thorn in my side.”  By earthly standards, I have a snowball’s chance in hell of the tides turning in my favor, but I have relaxed in the Lord that He will somehow bring it all into fruition in His time and under His will.  How?  No idea.  My faith is being tested for sure.
  • I have recently rediscovered my all-time favorite bra type: the balconette.  Random?  Yes.  But that’s me.
  • My new boss started at work.  My co-workers and I had a lot of apprehension about her; she’s not only sweet, but fair-minded, fun, and smart.  And someone who can pull her own weight when it gets crazy.  It will be a positive change for us.
  • I’ve got to spend some awesome quality time with Miranda and Samantha.  We’ve gone to costume balls, fancy restaurants, Emergency Vets followed by dinner (puppy was okay!), and crazy conversations.  I love my girls!
  • Spent a weekend in Detroit visiting family for my sister’s wedding shower.  It was amazing and I felt I really clicked with that side of the family, so different from the years past.  I even explored some graveyards and found my great-grandmother.
  • Oh, I turned 32, somewhere in there.  I still feel like I’m 25 with 7 years experience.

I haven’t been to the beach in quite some time and I am missing the ocean.  Perhaps if there are good waves one of these days, I’ll don the wetsuit and head out to the breaks….

Eurotripping across the pond

A few weeks ago I went home to Illinois to hang out with the parents — I hadn’t seen my Dad in nearly a year, so I felt it was time to head back and enjoy the long weekend with me Dad.  It was amazing, we had a really good time, which included a 22 mile bike ride through my college town – it was the furthest I had ever biked – my dad calls this a mere warm up.  It was a perfect last minute planned trip home.

One of my connecting flights back to Wilmington brought me into Charlotte with a 2 hour layover.  What to do, what to do?  I started wandering the different terminals to find dinner, and finally settled on an overpriced sushi spot (it was really good!).  For dessert, I decided to head over to the Rum Bar in Terminal D for a pina colada.  I wasn’t flying the plane!  I sat up at the bar and a few moments later, the gentleman to my left asked where I landed from.  I answered and asked him where he was headed.  “Dublin, Ireland, with my friend here, ” he said pointing to the guy sitting next to him; both had been drinking heavily.  “Then we’re spending a few days in London.”  I smiled.  These were 2 of my favorite cities in Europe and I told him he would have a fantastic time – it was their 1st time out of the country.  They planned to drink their way through both cities and enjoy the sights.  They couldn’t have been older than their late 20’s.

“So, do you have any tips?” he asked.

“Well….,” I began.  I’m not really good at small talk and I had no idea what their itinerary was.  I mentioned the touristy spots in Dublin and then started inquiring about their trip.  These poor gentlemen had no idea about international travel.

I told them that most credit card companies charge a surcharge when using the card on foreign currency.  They also neglected to alert their credit card companies that they were leaving the country.  “Call them, right now, or you’ll use it about 2 or 3 times before they put a fraud lock on them.”  Their eyes got big as one of the guys got on the phone straightaway.  They were also misinformed about the Eurozone: England is on the British Pound, not the Euro.  They tried to tell me different, but even the Israeli guy sitting kitty corner from us, listening to our conversation was getting a chuckle out of that one.

“Where are you staying in Dublin?”  I asked.  “Not sure, we got a few leads on hotels,” came the reply.  I gave him the address to the hostel I stayed at and told him it was central to everything and my great experience there.  They had never experienced a hostel before, and as most Americans, they were leery about the whole experience.

“How are you getting to London?”  “Well, there’s a train thing -”  “No, use Ryan Air!”  They wrote all this down.  I explained what a “watering hole” (a bar) and “the tube” (the subway in London) was.  I also suggested this hostel in London.

We talked a bit more about travel and what to do and then it was time for my flight.  “Thank you so much for all the information,” the guy said as he shook my hand.

I then sprinted to my gate and I got there just as they were announcing to board.

I was glad I was able to help someone’s European adventure and save them from the pitfalls of international travel.  I keep wondering how their trip went, what kind of adventures and discoveries they had.  I never got their names.  I’ll never know how it all turned out.

Ah, but such is the life of a traveller and those you meet along the way.

Dissonant

I just discovered a new genre of music….dubstep.  It’s straight outta London’s electronica scene, and if it’s one guilty pleasure I have it’s European techno music.

Dubstep isn’t all “I’m in a rave!” high energy beats…..I find myself being drawn to the chilled out rhythms.  My need for serenity is bleeding into my music selections.  Some have lyrics, but most are instrumentals.

I am obsessed with Songza, a free music playlist stite and this soothing playlist is one of my favorite.  I love anything in a minor key, so this one is also played quite a bit.  It also works well as background music.

Rock on.

Jamaican me crazy….

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My random, split second decision to leave the country to get some perspective on the “thorn in my side” and spend some quality time with my mom and sister lead me to the island country of Jamaica.

Now, I wish I could report that I did something noble like a mission trip or working to better the lives of the poor….but that was not the case.

You see, my little sister is getting married next year and has decided to do a destination wedding in Jamaica at a 5 star all-inclusive resort. They were on a reconnaissance mission and I was invited along.

While my sister and I were raised in the same house, we are as different as night and day. I travel light, I stay in cheap hostels around Europe, I like to get into the culture of the country I’m visiting. I swear there is some gypsy blood in me somewhere, as I’m always on the move. My sister is my complete opposite: she does not travel much, but when she does, she stays in resort areas with a suitcase that would last me months. All-inclusive translates into the cost of the resort includes all your meals, drinks (from water to liquor), and the use of their butler service. Basically, it’s like being on a cruise on land. This was my 1st foray into this mode of travel.

This was also the 1st time my mom left the country. I don’t count Canada. This is the only country my sister has visited. Again, Canada doesn’t count.

I ate meals fit for royalty. I drank like a sailor. Well, I wasn’t walking around intoxicated, but having a drink before lunch became the norm. There was a bar you could swim up to, which was awesome. And when you’re sitting in a meeting about floral arrangements for a wedding that’s not yours, a drink should be customary.

Best parts: spending a summer afternoon with my mom and sister. We sat out drinking and sunbathing by the pool, ordering fruity drinks, talking about everything. We laughed a whole bunch and enjoyed each other’s company. It was one of the most perfect moments we’ve had, bonding as mother and daughters. I wish I could have bottled it up and relive it when I’m old. I shared a room with my sister and wow that girl can talk! We had a lot of good conversation and I feel I got to know her better; she’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders. We tried our best to avoid each other when we lived under the same roof.

Worst parts: Driving to the resort. Jamaica is a very impoverished country. I felt guilty dining on lobster and steak and helping myself to a buffet all day when it’s obvious that the typical Jamaican does not have access to things I take for granted here in the States. It was very sobering. I wanted to venture out beyond the resort to explore the country as I do in Europe, but that was heavily frowned upon. With the poverty comes the crime: with my light skin, I might as well tattoo “American Tourist with Cash” on my forehead. $92 Jamaican = $1 USD. I’d be an easy roll.

While the resort was on the ocean, I did not like their beach. There were no waves, thus no surfing. The beach was roped off so you could only go out shoulder deep. I do not like being ‘caged’ in. All the sand there is imported….the natural landscape goes ocean-rocks-land. There is no ‘beach’ like there is here in the Carolinas. Kure is still my favorite.

I return next year with my General for the nuptials. And I must say I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with my husband.

100,000 miles ago

100,000 miles ago

100,000 miles down…..100,000 more to go….

My absence can be explained in 1 word: adventures.  Here’s proof: a couple of days ago, my car odometer rolled to 100,000 miles. I put on every single one of those.

I started thinking about where I was 100,000 miles ago, compared to where I am now.  Back then, it was January 2004….I named her “Scarlett Zaza” — which means “red movement” — it’s a red car with a manual transmission.

There was a different boy riding shotgun.  I was shopping for my 1st gig out of school in my field of study, as I had just finished my internship and started capstone classes.  I was driving around central Illinois farm roads.  I used to cruise in an itty-bitty-dot-on-the-map town north of my college to break in my engine (the 1st 1,000 miles are critical to engine health, according to my dad).  I wasn’t making the best decisions then, but at 22, I was still trying to figure out me and where I fit in to the world.  Fast-foreward 9 years: I’m on the verge of my 32nd birthday and my car is now an orphan.  My 1st roadtrip took me to Columbus, Ohio to visit a friend.  My last roadtrip took me to a burb of Washington DC with family.  It’s driven through 10 states.  It’s the same car where I cried from all they way down Illinois 121 after a break-up, went to my 1st job, had my 1st blind *bad* date,  and I picked up my wedding dress in it.  It was the car that brought me into Wilmington with all the possessions I could fit in it.  I get bad gas milage on it now because of all the sand that’s accumulated from surfing (My husband likes to say “Kure Beach called and wants its sand back”).  It’s survived 7 moves, 4 relationships – 2 of which where actual relationships…..one was “just friends” and the other we never put a label on…., and 4 jobs.  It’s driven down the Magnificent Mile (aka Michigan Avenue downtown Chicago) and the backroads of southern Pennsylvania wine country. I live at the beach with the most amazing man I’ve ever met, who impressed me on our 1st date because he knew how to drive stick.  Most of all, I am in a better place physically, mentally, and spiritually than I was when I drove it off the showroom floor in Ottawa, Illinois.

I have come a long way in 100,000 miles.

The Blue Jay Way

Each morning, weather permitting, I sit outside on our screened in deck and drink coffee while I read my devotional for the day.

I’ve noticed that nearly every time I’m out there, I see a blue jay.  I’m not keen enough to know if it the same blue jay or not, but that darn bird is always in my yard.  They are beautiful creatures, but quite noisy and a bit of a bully.

I looked up what it means online – bluebirds signal happiness – what about blue jays?

It’s mixed.  All of it was a bit new-agey for me, but the Sioux said it’s a sign of “double clarity” (blue on blue sky).  Some say it’s about communication you need to do, to stand your ground and not throw all your energies into too many various things.  Other cultures, say it is a bad omen – a sign of the devil – a harbinger of bad news.

I think my favorite interruption came from Wiki Answers:
Q: What does seeing a blue jay mean?
A: It means you got eyes!  Be grateful!

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The best of times, the worst of times?

I’m sure it also has something to do with the various birdfeeders we have in the trees….but that is a theory too.

Perfect post-beach dinner

I just made this crockpot recipe tonight – and it WAS AMAZING!!!  Most of my crockpot excursions turn into “learning experiences” via “let’s order pizza.”

I got this off the internet.  It’s so good!  I can’t boil water without it catching fire, so this is a no fail recipe!

Sweet Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I put in slightly less)
1/3 cup soy sauce (I put in 1/4 cup)
2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins

Add all ingredients to the crockpot and cook on low 6-8 hours (mine was done in 3.5 hours).  It falls apart when you take it out.  Nom!

Jeremiah 7:29

Nearly 10 years ago I was few months into my career when I hit a wall.  Due to some circumstances in my life at the time, I fell into a deep depression.  And unlike the other low points in life I had experienced, this was not something I could will into being; my hard work and effort were not going to change the situation or make it better. That was a hard pill to swallow.

As a person of action, I needed to do something.  Anything.  So I cut off my long hair to just below my ears. I had never had my wavy hair that short before. It was liberating.

It was also a bad decision.  My hair has a mind of it’s own; the right side does something completely different from the left side and without spending an hour on my hair every morning, it was a mess until it grew out.  Lesson learned.  Also, a boy I was with at the time said I looked best with long hair.  I’ve been growing out my hair ever since.

Right now, my hair is the longest it’s ever been: a few inches below my bra strap.  It’s beautiful, long, wavy, thick – which can also be fun when you live in a very humid place such as eastern North Carolina.  With all the trouble I’ve been facing as of late, I have decided to cut if off, so it falls just below my shoulders.

My original plan was to grow it out to my “terminal length” – where I am genetically programmed to stop.  I’m not going to make it.  My hair is constantly up in a very messy bun at work (I also lack the girl skills of doing my hair and making it look good).  I tried it 1/2 up, 1/2 down, but ended up putting it all up because it interfered with a common task I do that would involve getting biohazardous waste in my hair.  Not cool.  It’s getting harder to brush because it’s actually longer than the reach of my arms.  I’m ready for something different.

It’s a combination of lifestyle factors, the want of something new, and a physical way to lighten the yoke.

I have this feeling it’s right before dawn again my life: I just don’t know what’s next….morning or mourning.  Either way, I’m prepared.