Jul 28, 2016

One year and a week ago I drove down to California to spend some time with my Grandmother.
And after the most traumatic, emotionally draining weeks of my life, I sat beside her in my parents' living room and witnessed her very last breath.

The fact that I was in California last year around this same time under very different circumstances has been in the back of my head as I prepare to leave for my parents house in the morning.

I've been back twice since my grandma died.

Both times I looked into the living room and, although the entire room has been gutted and redecorated, I saw that hospital bed, and the chair I was sitting in, and the look on her face when she took her last breath.

This time I'll be there in the same room exactly one year from the day she died.

I'm still sad.
Sometimes the trauma of the hospice weeks still haunts me.
Tonight, I sat down and read all my posts on here from those days surrounding her death.
And I cried.
I don't usually go back and read things I have written, I'm not sure why I did it was like ripping off a scab.
The Grey was particularly moving to me.

I suppose in someway reading my own stories from that difficult time was kind of like leaving a patch of the wall unpainted, so I can reflect on where I was then and where I am now.

I recently read this quote that I find so appropriate.

"Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see". Helen Keller

Matt's first meal in the UK.
Steak and Ale pie.  
Crispy outside and perfectly cooked tender steak inside.
Brits have the most delicious comfort food.

I'm trying not to regret not accompanying Matt on this trip.
I just keep telling myself how awesome it is that he is scouting out all the great places to see and dine so when we go back together we won't waste anytime on the sub-par places.

I said I was going on the first trip he took.
But then the dates came up and they conflicted with my annual girls weekend getaway.

London will always be there.
But the chance for all five of us ladies to get together is not an easy accomplishment.

So, I live vicariously through Matt's journey, and countdown until our ladies' getaway.

Jul 27, 2016

I'm not a huge fan of getting up early, but I do understand the benefits of starting a time consuming or difficult job early.
A few months ago when we painted this abode we had a baseball game in the morning down in Olympia and then drove up to Issaquah.  By the time we started painting it was nearly 4pm and it made for a very long, challenging evening of work.
The next day we got up early, went to breakfast and were painting by 10am.  What a huge difference the start time made!

So my landlord got a nastygram from the HOA because the outside of our house looks like acid peed on the trim, the fence and the deck.  So he has until the end of summer I think to get the house painted and up to The Highlands standard.  I want to feel a little sorry for him because he just bought a fridge, is allegedly replacing the carpet, and now to add house painting on top of that ...$$$$$
But I don't actually feel sorry for him.  Well, I don't feel bad that he has to do these things.  I mean seriously, you can't just buy a neglected house and not expect to drop a few dimes on making it livable.  I feel bad the he was ignorant enough to think that he wasn't going to need to do all these repairs asap.

Anyway.  He is clearly trying to cut some corners in pretty much every aspect with this house.  The carpet is a whopping .50 a square foot.  That should tell you something about how much he cares about quality.  He hired some "contractors" to pressure wash and paint the house.

If you want some free entertainment come on down and check out the operation.

The landlord said that the house would be pressure washed and painted this week.  Start to finish complete in 5 days.  I totally believed him.  That sounds reasonable.  5 full days of work with a team of contractors.
Oh don't be silly our special contractors show sometime between 11:00-12:00 and leave by 4pm.  Who works those hours? First of all, I think even a super professional painter wouldn't expect to get this whole job done in a week only working such few hours each day.  And second, who wants to work at the absolute hottest part of the day?

I won't get into details about the effort being put forth but I will say this, if I was a betting woman I'd place a few hundred dollars on the house needing to be repainted next summer at the latest.  They really don't seem to know what they are doing, they pressure wash here and there in no particular pattern and they haven't even touched anything that is taller than a 10ft ladder.  We live in a 2 story house with 10 ceilings on the first floor.

Just another day here at the house of pee and moss.

Jul 25, 2016

Today I Was Awesome!

Ok so "awesome" might be a stretch.  Maybe "accomplished" would be a better descriptor.

Have I mentioned that my carpet looks like this?

And it smells just as nasty as it looks.
It didn't look like that from the beginning.  It was freshly cleaned and all those stanky stains were hiding.  The color of the carpet has always been indiscernible but the overall nastiness worked its way up over the past month or so.  Probably a wee bit due to my insistence on cleaning the carpet with every possible urine smell remover known to man.  Apparently, the cleaning actually draws the stain up.  Oh well.

Because of the above photo, I have been less than excited to do anything to this house.  
Perhaps part of me was hoping we would move out, so hanging stuff would be a waste of time.
But more likely is that as soon as I catch a whiff of Fido and Sir Pee's Alot I retreat to a happy place, outside or in a less stinky room of the house.

But now with the pending carpet installation, I have to either pack up all the pictures and stuff that have been leaning against walls for a month, or hang them.

Today I did this.

Special thanks to my sister for being available for texting consultation.
Disregard the empty space.  
I had a hanging error, I mean I am saving that spot for something special.

And I unlocked this little beauty!

This is a trunk that I bought in France.
Oh those were the days when I went to French flea markets and found gorgeous little treasures.
So the trunk has a latch on it that is super tricky.  So tricky that I never open the trunk because it takes way too long.  But today I unlocked that sucker, and then....wait for it... fixed the messed up latch!
See, awesome.
Then, because I was doing so well projecting today, I went to my local hardware store and bought casters to raise the trunk up a little and make it more convenient to move around.
It was ok before but awesome now, not to mention functional!

And then there is this.
$3.99 at Ikea.
Box with dividers.
Magical organization of charging cords.

Mic drop.
And I'm spent.

Jul 23, 2016

I've moved in to 11 homes in my adult life.
I typically look at a wall, hang a picture on it,  step back and realize it is not centered, too high or too low and just live with it.
Rarely do I ever plan out how I want something to look.
This is obvious in the mish-mash of odd decor ideas you find in my home.

But yesterday I did something ridiculous.
I cut out paper to match all these frames I wanted hung and put the papers on the wall.
This is so unlike me.
I was so proud I took a photo.

I did fail at one minor/major aspect of this whole template thing. 
I guess you should mark where the hanger is on the back of the frame so that you can make the nail hole in the right place.  oops.  It took me a few frames before I rectified that.

And then after I got all the black frames up I realized I wanted a splash of something else so I mixed in silver. I had to make adjustments on that after the template thing, but it worked out ok.
Until Matt came home and didn't like the silver so then I went out and bought white frames and that kind of jacked up the entire template idea.

Here is the almost finished project.  I need some photos for some empty frames.
And I need two more frames for a part of the wall not pictured here.

Slowly, I'm starting to pull this house together.  
Ha!  Who am I kidding?
I'm the master of unfinished projects.
There is a good chance these frames remain empty for another month or two.

Jul 18, 2016

Moving in to this house has been enlightening.
Not in a good way.
I have learned how absolutely disgusting people are.

I could show you pictures, but you would vomit.

There are things that are not convenient to clean and not visible so these places often get forgotten. They probably don't need monthly attention, however, that doesn't mean they NEVER need attention.

Behind the washer, dryer, fridge and stove, window troughs, gutters....

There is an actual tree growing out of the front gutter in this house.
It is so embarrassing.
I need a taller ladder to retrieve the mini-tree or else it would have been eradicated on day one of living here.

I'm pretty sure an entire meal of food was dried up under the stove and on the sides of the stove an cabinet.  It was nasty.  I puked in my mouth a few times and then when I was done cleaning I threw away my slippers.  I couldn't see a scenario where they were salvageable because I had walked on the floor around the nasty stove while I was cleaning it.

The fridge, washer and dryer hid less food but enough dog hair to make a whole pack of stuffed animals.

So. Nasty.

The dryer wasn't working very well so my dad and I started investigating the dryer vent and hose.  Not going to lie.  I quit investigating when a fur ball the size of a cat plopped out the end of it.  I insisted that we needed to buy a new hose but dad hung in there risking his life against who knows what forms of diseases to clean the thing out.

I mentioned before that the former residents here allowed their animals to pee all over the carpet so it really shouldn't be a surprise when I find the horrors hiding in cracks and crevices, and yet I'm appalled every single time.

The house was allegedly professionally cleaned.
Sometimes I think "no possible way" anyone cleaned this crap hole.
And then other times I think "Heaven's to Betsy, someone did clean this house and it was so completely trashed that this is what it looks like "cleaned".

We have lived in a few newly constructed houses, in which case we were the first resident, and we've lived in a few houses on post, that are meticulously cleaned because if you don't you get fined, but this is the very first house we have ever lived in that is just plain nasty.

It appeared clean upon walking through it, it was when we started to really look around that we realized what kind of trashy disgusting people lived here before us.

I keep getting mail for former residents of this house.  I seriously want to contact them and let them know that they are disgusting human beings and I hate them.

The boys and I have lived in this house exactly a month.
It looks more like we moved in yesterday.

Oh dear Lord, thank you for using this quite frustrating situation to teach me things.  I'm not sure what I'm learning yet because I'm still pulling myself out from under the grease covered, food splattered, dog hair infested, urine covered disaster.  One day, I hope it is more clear.

Jul 8, 2016

I Painted Today.

I think by now the entire world knows that I should come with a warning label regarding painting. Like the one that says "drinking coffee is known to cause cancer in California" (so glad I don't live in California anymore).
My warning label is "this person is known to cause high levels of property damage and excessive use and waste while painting".
I'm a disaster.  Proof of that is in the amount of paint on my body and clothing in addition to the paint brush and everything else in sight when I'm done.
I'm a waster. Remember the 5 gallon fence painting job that turned into 10 or 20?

So I had to paint this week.  We painted the whole downstairs area of our house in May but stopped short of the stairs because that project looked tricky and we were almost out of paint.
OK fine I was hoping to convince my perfectionist people like Mike or my mom to do this part of the job for me.
The landlord seems to have agreed to put in new carpet in the house because we found out our current carpet and padding was actually the "turf" for some sort of doggie outhouse.  The result was a stench that made me actually prefer inhaling gasoline or moldy cheese or honestly anything over the nastiness of the doggy wee-wee pad carpet.
Just in case you were wondering, no I didn't go to the walmarts in the middle of the night to get another urine light to shine on my carpet.  Lesson learned.  Not repeating that disaster.
So because I'm a tornado with a paint brush I thought it wise to finish painting before the new carpet is installed next week.  We got paint all over this nasty carpet that we currently have but we totally didn't care because there was already paint on the carpet from somebody else's disaster.  Now with new carpet in the future we are willing to admit our limitations and take care of the dirty business before pristine carpet enters the picture.

Oh dear, this is the longest introduction ever.

So I had to paint.  I taped off the baseboards and got out the plastic sheeting to protect the carpet, just in case something happens and it isn't replaced.

Below is a photo of what can transpire when I get involved with paint.
Note the carpet edge is taped.  Check.
The plastic is down. Check.... um why isn't the plastic covering the whole carpet instead of being wadded up in the middle of the stairs as if that is the only area that might potentially get dripped on?

Oh see because I laid the plastic out all over the stairs but as I moved along them it kept getting stuck to my feet and twisting up and then I slipped on carpet and fell down the stairs causing the rest of the plastic to spin around and end up like this.

Should I not mention that I attempted to stop myself from falling by grabbing the wall I just painted?

I painted the stairs and the ceiling and most of the upstairs hall.  I ran out of paint about pint shy of completing the job.  Shocker.

As I was looking over my work my eye was drawn to this one patch that has been untouched by the new paint.  All the work, the slipping and falling, tedious task of taping off all the molding, cleaning up my mess as I went along, all that work felt totally worth it when I saw the difference between the ugly yellowish cream original color and the new, clean and warm "desert fortress".

A little part of me wants to keep that patch of ugly to remind myself how nice the new color is.  Sometimes when all you can see is the shiny new stuff you forget what it used to look like.
It is easier to appreciate the new, the better, the healing, the recovery, the blessing, when you still have sight of the old, the weak, the pain, the struggle, the loss.

And that is my deep thought for the day.
Don't forget what the old paint looked like so you can truly appreciate the new.

Jul 7, 2016

Get Lost!

For the past few weeks I have relied heavily on my GPS to guide me to all my errands: I registered Gabe for school, had a job interview, dumped a thousand pounds of excess off at the Value Village, found two different local recycling centers, made my way to Target, the lake, oh and I finally snatched up a Wa driver's license.
Using a GPS is fabulous because it helps you find your final destination without delay (usually).  But the problem with the handy device is that I am so focused on following the directions that I don't take in my surroundings.  I miss landmarks, have no real idea about distances from point to point, I don't have an understanding of the overall area and my tunnel vision limits me from discovering new places.

Yesterday I took the gang to the lake for some SUP and kayaking.  Of course I planned to follow the GPS to the lake, but I missed a turn and ended up locating my neighborhood Costco.  Yay.  After the lake adventure we needed to return to Costco for my sister to pick up some only-in-Washington items and then to a grocery store.  I know how to get to that grocery store from my house, but really was clueless about how to get there from the Costco.

I needed an intervention.

So, today was the day to get lost.

I had a few things I needed to take care of but I had enough room in my day to turn off the GPS and go explore my neighborhood.  I'm pretty proud of myself.  I managed to get to all of the different areas of town - obviously by "areas" I mean "shopping areas" without using the freeway.  Not that the freeway is bad, but it isn't necessarily the shortest route all of the time.

While I was out getting lost, I paid close attention to the buildings and notable landmarks so they can now serve as my navigational beacons.  For instance: turn right onto Park, then right onto that street just past the movie theater.  Pass the park and ride, keep going until you get to the light where you have to make a super sharp left to go up a hill.  Then cross the street by the church, go down the hill, turn right at the Bartells, when you see the Taco Time turn left.  Boom.  You are at the street that leads you to Costco, the lake, ... if you stay on this street and turn left at the Burger King you get to that tasty breakfast place or you can turn right at the funny shaped bank and you are at Top Pot donuts.

While being lost I found a few new places that I want to return to for some future adventures.

Super successful getting lost journey.

I feel like getting lost is important in life.  Not a good choice if you are in a forest without a flare, or water, and it is getting dark.  But an excellent idea in a city with good cell reception.

Maybe a good lesson for how I live my life too.  Maybe I need to worry less about where the next turn is and just enjoy the exploration, drive on until my instincts tell me to turn.

Jul 2, 2016

Most mornings Matt drives a mile down the street and parks the car at our local Park and Ride.
He boards the express bus, sits back and listens to the radio and 30 minutes later arrives in downtown Seattle.
A couple of steps, a transfer to the light rail and another block or so and he is at work.
At a secret Amazon lab.
In Seattle, Wa.

He has been working at this location for about 6 weeks, and still every night when he comes home he has that same look on his face, tired and amazed.  Tired from the full schedule that fills his days and amazed that he is working at this job, in this location, at this very exciting time.  

He celebrates his accomplishments, the team's accomplishments and dreams big for his future.  For the first time in a long time he believes he is making a difference, he is doing something for a company he gets excited about.

On Matt's last day in the Army, I met him in Seattle for dinner.  

We talked a lot about our Army life, and we were thankful.  We may joke about the annoying things that we had to put up with as a military family, but in the end - we LOVED our time in the Army.  We grew up, we saw our greatest joys and our deepest hurts, we bonded with a community of people who regardless of personal believe or convictions will stand before every ceremony and respectful listen to the prayers of a chaplain.  We met people who instantly became friends just simply because we sat together at a ball, a Hail and Farewell or bumped in to each other at a Company BBQ.  The Army family is perhaps the Army's greatest asset.  The bond is remarkable.

We talked a lot about our future.  And we feel so blessed.  We are blessed to have been provided this amazing job opportunity for Matt.  And blessed that he is part of a team of people he actually enjoys working with.  Already Matt is starting to see doors and windows open to provide him opportunities to grow professionally.
And, after all this time I finally accompanied him the the South Lake Union offices that house this company.  He doesn't work in these buildings, but he often has meetings in them.  This is where the VP's and CEO do their thing day in and out.
We took the elevator to the 28th floor and roamed around the different offices, dining areas, looked out windows and smiled.  A lot.  

This is not your typical stuffy office building.
This my friends is Amazon.

Jul 1, 2016

Yesterday, June 30, 2016 
was Matt's last official day as an active duty soldier in the United States Army.

At his retirement celebration back in March I told him 
and all of our guests how proud I am of him.
Not just because he chose to serve or that he served for over 20 years, 
but because he served well.

Matt navigated his way through the Army seizing every opportunity.
He started his career as an infantryman, trained to become a Black Hawk crew chief, 
and eventually a pilot.
He "tracked" safety because he felt this specialty within Army Aviation would provide him with the most flexibility and family time as well as provide him with he most marketable skill outside of flying when the time came for him to retire.
He successfully made strategic decisions and was proactive to ensure our family had the opportunity to live in the best duty stations the Army has to offer.  
Hawaii, Washington DC, Germany, Fort Lewis.

He would admit he didn't stay the latest each day, fly the most, or become the most proficient pilot the Army has in its inventory, but he was memorable.
The thing Matt brought to each unit is his character.
He raised morale, rallied the troops, supported his leadership and his team.
He trained others, he learned to lead and he learned how to follow.
He changed the air in a room.

A friend prepared his retirement award, and on it is engraved this quote

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, 
but what is woven into the lives of others"  

So fitting for Matt and his Army career.

So, this is one of the Army's newest retirees:
An elite club of men and women who gave at least 20 years of their lives for this Country.

Incredibly proud.