Tuesday, December 5, 2017

early December

Monday evening...

Two loaves of bread are baking.  Homemade barbeque baked beans in the crockpot.  There is a dog in a too-small sweater vest at my feet.  The Christmas tree stands tall in the corner, bedazzled in 61 feet of multicolored lights.  Hopefully we'll get the ornaments on tonight.

Hans Zimmer, in the mood of Pirates of The Caribbean streams through my earbuds.  It's my study/work music as I sit here editing today's photography work.  I took my little sweater clad puppy along for the ride but he stayed in the car while I worked my session.  He got a nice walk out of the deal so no worries.

I'm heading to an evening yoga class here in bit, after my bread is done.  One son is at wrestling practice and the other son took off with his bass guitar to jam with a friend who has drums.  Aaron is working on hanging the lights on the outside of the house.

Did I ever mention that I only have three chickens left?  Five was whittled to four by a raccoon.  Four was whittled to three by a neighbor's dog.  My beautiful Golden Laced Wyandotte has a terrible case of molting.  She's lost all of her luster and scurries about the yard nervously.

Tuesday noonish...

The morning was frosty and cold.  The house was chilly and I sat for awhile with my puppy dog under a blanket.  He snuggled his body up close and rested his head on my leg.  Dogs are the best.

It is already noon and I'm just sitting down to breakfast.  Two fried eggs, some ham, and two pieces of homemade bread, toasted with butter and blackberry jam.  I joked with someone the other day that my body is instinctively putting on it's winter coat.  You know, that little bit of insulation to survive a cold winter?  Thus, the craving for fried eggs and toast with butter.  All the good things.

After cuddles with my pup, we braved the morning chill and ventured outside.  He smelled all the smells and I split some larger pieces of firewood, cut kindling, and cleaned the chicken coop.  Loaded the firewood inside and filled the space under the hearth.  Now there is a roaring fire and the house is warm.

I finished editing the images from yesterday's session and got those sent over to the client.  After a couple weeks of living distracted by hospital visits with my youngest son, it feels good to be back to business.

Other than me and the dog, the house is empty today.  I took advantage of the quiet and sat down at my piano.  I began playing 10 years ago and have been self-taught the whole way.  A few months ago I bought some practice books at thrift stores and have been honing in on proper hand positioning, technique, and really focusing on what my left hand is up to.  It's been fun and challenging at the same time.

My violin has seen more practice as well.  Playing Disney tunes.  Playing fiddle tunes.  It's been about working the skills I have.  Strengthening the quality of what I do, in all I do.

Find what sets your soul on fire and do more of that.  Am I right?  It's taken me a lot of years to get to the point where I could recognize and honor that.

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wolff-Parkinson-White

 


This is my boy.  My Blake.  He is 16 years old, an athlete, a student, an employee, a friend and 4 weeks ago he passed out at school.  This was not an isolated incident so I made an appointment with his doctor. 

We went into the appointment with the idea that maybe it was diet related or an iron deficiency, something we just wanted to pinpoint and rectify.  His pediatrician ruled out our ideas and basically chalked it up to a normal side effect of rapid growth.  He suggested an EKG to rule out any unforeseen things but highly doubted there would be anything.

Leaving the pediatrician we drove directly to the hospital to get the EKG done.  It was a Friday.

Monday afternoon I got a voicemail.  "This is Dr. X and I wanted to let you know we did see a delta wave on Blake's EKG and I've been in touch with Seattle Children's Hospital and they want to see him."

Crushing weight.  Confusion.  I listened to the voicemail probably 4 times.  Trying to let it sink in.  I googled the terms he used so I would know better what we were looking at.  Then I told Blake.  He was in disbelief but, as most teenage boys, he stuffed the information deep within and went about as normal.

It wasn't really normal.  He admitted that.  Later.  He was worried.  He felt different.  He felt every beat of his heart.

Four days later we were in Children's Hospital.  He underwent another EKG that showed the same delta wave.  He had an echocardiogram to take images of his heart.  We met with a cardiologist and were given the name Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.  This is a congenital heart condition that Blake has unknowingly lived with for all of his 16 years.

WPW is an extra electrical pathway within the heart that can cause irregularly fast heartbeat and could cause cardiac arrest.

We received this information on a Friday.  Wrestling was to start on the following Monday.  Blake is a returning State placer, heading into his Junior year as team captain.  This kid eats, sleeps, and lives to wrestle and he's been looking forward to the season since about one week after the last season ended.  Faced with the prognosis we had, the cardiologist recommended that he not wrestle until we had some more tests done.  This was not an option for Blake.  For reals.  He told the doctor that he was going to continue to wrestle.  And we sat in that little room and supported our son.  And that was one of the hardest decisions a parent can make.

This was not a haphazard decision.  We had been given all the facts.  We weighed all the information we had with the fact that Blake has been wrestling since he was 8, with WPW all along.  And we weren't even sure that his fainting episode at school had been caused by WPW.  We accepted the risks.

The following week on a Thursday (one week before Thanksgiving) we were back in Children's Hospital for more testing.  They wanted to see how the electrical pathway in Blake's heart would behave during exercise.  They attached monitors all over his chest, monitored his blood pressure, and had him jog on a treadmill under constant supervision.  The goal was to see the electrical pathway weaken and stop at a higher heart rate.  This would be a low risk pathway. 

The pathway didn't stop.  It continued to send electrical pulses.  At this point the cardiologist could not say whether Blake was high risk or low risk until further testing was done.

We stopped at Red Robin on the way home that night.  We ate burgers, bottomless fries, and shared a gigantic dessert.  We had good conversations, we had honesty.  We shared fears and optimism.  Basically, we put one foot in front of the other and carried on carrying on.

Monday morning, Thanksgiving week, we checked in at Children's Hospital.  Blake was admitted into the cath lab for preparations.  He changed into a hospital gown, grippy socks and waited.  Cath nurses came and talked to us.  Anesthesiologists came in and went over risks and worst case scenarios.  The cardiologist came in and went over what they were about to do.  Then my boy walked out of the prep room one way with the staff and we were sent out the other way with all of the risks and worst case scenarios heavy in the air.

I broke down.  Not even going to lie.  Heavy tears fell.  I was scared for my kid.  He didn't ask for any of this.  He should be focusing on being a teenager, being the best student he can, being the best athlete he can, being the best employee he can.  Not here, in this hospital facing the unknown.

We walked to the cafeteria and got some coffee to pass the time.  As we sat there a family came in.  Dad, Mom, son.  He was maybe 10 or 11.  His skin had an unhealthy pallor.  His head almost bald.  I watched as his parents tried to smile through weary eyes.  His dad held up a cup of water with a straw to his son who took a mouthful and swallowed with visible pain.  It broke me and I could only watch with tears in my eyes.  This same story plays out in this place day after day to family after family sometimes with happy endings and sometimes with sad.

Meanwhile my Blake was anesthetized and intubated.  He said later that this process was terrifying.  The bed he was on was too narrow  The room was too cold.  The nurses joked with him.  His body went numb.  The nurses began to talk to each other with medical terms he didn't understand.  His mind remained.  He held up a hand and snapped his fingers.  And that was the last he could remember.

They placed a catheter in his neck and down to his heart.  They sent his heart into an arrhythmia to determine if the electrical pathway would weaken and shut down or remain.  Basically they attempted to give a healthy 16 year old a heart attack.  Over and over and over again.  Later the cardiologist would tell us that this was a difficult task with him because his heart is so healthy and strong, it kept recovering itself.

There would be two options here

#1 the pathway weakens and stops sending electrical pulses, this would be low risk and no further action would be taken

#2 the pathway continues to send electrical pulses during the arrhythmia possibly causing cardiac arrest.  This would require two more catheters through the groin area into the heart.  They would determine where the pathway was located. They would remove the pathway permanently.

And we waited for what seemed a lifetime.

It was about 11:00 when the cardiologist came out to talk with us.  They were able to determine that the electrical pathway did shut down and they were not worried that it could cause a cardiac arrest.  The doctor was comfortable with leaving everything as is.  He was confident that Blake will not have any problems moving forward from here.

Relief.  Weight lifted.

The flip side of this is that Blake will always have a delta wave.  He will always have Wolff-Parkinson-White.  He faces a mental battle now of trusting his heart to carry him through.  As an athlete he pushes his body to physical limitations, he calls on it to perform.  He relies on it to be strong and predictable when required.  Up until now he's been invincible.  Now he understands that, just maybe, he isn't.

The other night the wrestling team had their inter-squad duals to kick off the season.  Blake and his friend Caleb are team captains and as such have quite a bit of leadership responsibility.  This was exactly one week after our last visit to Children's Hospital.  And I watched my Blake lead his team mates, encourage them, help them, direct them.  And he wrestled.  But, I didn't just see this talented wrestler out there on the mat, I saw everything he has struggled with over the last few weeks, the fear he has wrestled, the unknown that he has wrestled, and the awareness that he now carries.  This is his story now.  This is part of who he is, what builds him, what propels him.


To read more about Wolff Parkinson White syndrome click >>>> here.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

happy sighs




Today I am content.  Many days I am content but today has just been a little more content-esque, a little more conducive to contentedness.

It starts with the fact that there was no school today due to parent-teacher conferences.  This means that I got to lazily sleep in and it was luxurious.  I woke with just enough time to get a few household chores done, one cup of coffee enjoyed, and out the door to Maria's yoga class.

Home again and I made myself a late breakfast of chopped vegetables fried in butter and mixed with some leftover taco meat and served in crunchy taco shells.  Another cup of coffee and some journaling as I watched the rain fall.

My Blake and I went to the parent-teacher conferences.  We stopped by his French teacher's table (he's not in French this year but she adores him still).  We talked with his other teachers and all raved about my boy.  And all I can do is agree because I know how hard he works and how much he does to be as amazing as he is.

The afternoon has been spent sitting by a warm fire with a hot cup of lemon tea working on some things for my business, typing up contracts and releases.  I love every bit of it.  While the business side is intimidating (really, really intimidating) I love that this is MINE, that I am building something that I really can stand behind and be proud of.

Life lately has just been real and rewarding and exciting.

I will now explain in too many words with run-on sentences:

Real as in, everybody is working and sometimes we don't see much of each other and the dog poops in the garage and the garbage has to be taken out again and this one has a doctor's appointment and that one has a doctor's appointment too and we worry about things and there's always more to do than energy and time.  Rewarding as in, I have been having some amazing conversations with my boys and I feel like we've entered a new level of relationship that is deeper and stronger than ever before and my business has all the promise of growth that I could ask for and I've been learning and growing so much in all areas of life that I can't help but to be excited for what the future holds.  Exciting as in, at this point in growth there is no going back, I see the things that will be happening in the next little while and I am just so happy and excited and optimistic and sure that I'm doing just exactly what I need to be and there are things I can't yet share here but just be happy with me because my heart literally LEAPS with confidence and anticipation.

-happy sigh-

I need to go feed my fire and put together some dinner for my family.

Until next time!






 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

beautiful contradictions

Rain falling steadily out of low, thick clouds.  Leaves, edges curling, droop from trees before they fall in colorful confetti swirls.  Tea steams in a colorful mug, it's warm fragrance wafting through chilly air.  This is late October.

The past week has been full
and wonderful
and all the things.

Just some highlights:

*working at the restaurant over the weekend, I was witness to a large family paying tribute to their patriarch with a final meal at his favorite restaurant.  They shared laughter and tears and a meal.  They thanked the staff profusely for the evening and how we had treated their father and even hugged one of the cooks.  Life and loss are such beautiful contradictions.  It was a really heavy shift for my sensitive soul.

*celebrating my husband's birthday, it was one of those new decade kind of birthdays.  Our boys helped make the day extra special.  We went bowling together which we haven't done in too long and all came to conclusion that each one of us is very competitive.  Then we had a nice, big, splurging sort of dinner at Olive Garden.

 
 
 
*spending an entire day with my 18 year old son and my puppy dog.  We drove toward the mountains and took in the most unbelievable oranges and reds on the hillsides.  We both took our cameras and stopped here and there to take pictures.  He shared his music with me, we stopped for snacks, we conversed, we saw a bear (!!).  You know those kind of days? 
 
 
That's him ahead on the path. Charlie was in the grass to the left, nose buried in smells.
 



The Gorge powerhouse in Newhalem.
 

 






*remembering my dad on what would have been his 90th birthday.  I carry so much of him with me, recognize parts of him in my behavior, or just things he used to say that pop into my head at random times.

*a dream day doing the things I love:
  • photo session at a real estate listing
  • yoga class at The Lotus
  • editing photos
  • photo session with a beautiful person at a beautiful setting on a beautiful day
  • baking an apple pie for my family (thank you Sara Lee!)
  • cooking a delicious meal (pan fried steak and onions, roasted fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts)
*a rainy day spent at home in sweats catching up on all the things (business taxes, church secretarial business, more photo editing, laundry, and online shopping)


Just these everyday things, the things that make up a life, the beautiful contradictions that collide in great splashes of color.  Autumn is example of that as we see the trees let go of their leaves in glorious colorful displays.  The letting go, the surrender as winter bears down on us from ahead.  Always shifting, always changing, but always beautiful to the heart that is willing to look.




Thursday, October 12, 2017

likes and dislikes

Like: honey in my coffee
Dislike: artificial sweeteners in anything

Like: walking barefoot
Dislike: dirty floors

Like: breakfast sausage
Dislike: Italian sausage

Like: transparency
Dislike: fake friendliness

Like: Johnny Cash
Dislike: Luke Bryan

Like: fresh sheets
Dislike: sleeping with pillows

Like: country roads
Dislike: freeways

Like: gummy bears
Dislike: black licorice

Like: peace and quiet
Dislike: bustling crowds

Like: minimalism
Dislike: stuff

Like: sweeping
Dislike: ironing

Like: cello
Dislike: harpsichord

Like: encouragement
Dislike: competition

Like: gray
Dislike: black and white

Like: whipped cream
Dislike: Cool Whip

Like: spring water
Dislike: water with flavor enhancing minerals

Like:  true humility
Dislike: condescension

Monday, August 28, 2017

motivationless and self portraiture

Monday roared in like a train engine and rolled right over my motivation that was laying across the tracks.  Whatever, I didn't really want to accomplish anything today.  Last week was kind of draining, emotionally.  The weekend was draining physically from my waitressing gig.  I'm drained.  And Monday doesn't care.
 
I didn't wake up to jump on my yoga mat.
I didn't eat breakfast.
I didn't even get in a cup of coffee before it sat cold in the mug.
 
You know it's bad when the coffee suffers.
 
It was well after noon before I trudged outside to cut back a little ivy that grows invasively on our back fence.  I didn't even do that well.  The cut vines are still laying out there, not even in a neat pile, just spread, haphazardly.
 
I thought maybe a trip to Walmart would shake things up.  Meandering around the store I chose a couple new nail polishes, some notebooks for my son's start of school, and rather impulsively six bags of mulch.  Ha ha!  I could still accomplish some beautifying of the front beds.
 
The trip home had me detouring to The Lotus.  I love this place.  It's a yoga studio AND a tea bar AND a great place for a yummy sandwich.  I got The Dancer which is turkey, greens, jam, provolone, cream cheese, and LOVE, along with a bowl of chicken tortilla soup with avocado and sour cream. Deliciousness and just what the doctor ordered.  Or, just what I ordered.  Anyway... 
 
 

 
On the way back to my car I spotted a random set of cement steps.  Curiosity led me up the steps and behind some bushes to an empty lot that was full of pink sweet pea and one giant Oak tree.
 
 
When I got home, in the heat of the afternoon, I spread those six bags of mulch and wondered why I hadn't put on something besides flip flops and why it was so hot and maybe I would die in the afternoon sun and why hadn't I waited till late evening and there was so much sweat and I got a sliver between my toes.  How's that for no motivation, Monday?  Who's the captain now?
 
So now I sit here.  Showered.  Freshly painted toenails.  And wonder, who is going to make dinner?
 
--------------------------------------------
 
 
 
 
Reflecting back on a photo shoot I did yesterday...
 
It was impromptu and no other humans were involved. just me, my camera, my tripod, and the golden hour.
 
If I didn't already know that I kind of like photography, whenever I am turned loose with creativity and abounding light and amazing subject matter, it's like the planets align and the angels sing and every atom in my body is lit up and I realize, this photography thing could be something.
 
While I was not the focus of my photo shoot I did get in a few self-portraits.  I chuckled as I went along at the out-takes, at how I would have looked had I had an audience, and just how silly I felt in general.  But it was fun overall.
 
 
 
 
 
So, I'm building a website for my photography business.  I'm planning on putting most of my photo shoots on that website, and on my professional Instagram, and on my business Facebook page
 
It is my plan to keep my little blog here as casual as I am myself, separate from my business.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you want to see my prettiest pictures they will eventually be on those three platforms I just linked.
 
No pressure.  I'll probably link again.
 


 
 
 
The following is my favorite selfie of all time.  No joke.  I would print this, frame it, and hang it on my wall.  I love the layers, the framing, the textures, the camera.  When people think of me, this is what I want them to see, because in this moment I am truly happy.
 





Same photo, different perspective.
 

 
 
I invite you to follow along on this journey with me whether it be this blog, my website, on Facebook, or either of my two Instagrams.  If I could ask one little favor it would be that you leave a little footprint, let me know you were here or there.  Feedback is always appreciated as I navigate this new territory.
 
Until next time!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

currently

Reading...  Recently finished I Was Here by Gayle Forman. It was a gritty, painful book dealing with suicide and depression.  I am on the launch team for a new book that will be released in October.  When I receive it and read it I'll share more.

Watching...  We are working through the seasons of Frasier on Netflix.  I like watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy when I can.  Occasionally we catch America's Got Talent (Merrick Hanna is my fave so far).

Cooking...  Right now I have bread dough rising courtesy of James Beard's Beard on Bread.  I'm making Lingcod chowder for dinner.

Eating...  Pickled beets from Oregon Brine Works.  I also love their fermented Beet Kraut (better than the pickled beets even).  Here's to probiotics!

Doing...  I've been deep cleaning around here this week.  The change of seasons sparks that in me.  So the refrigerator and freezer are sparkling inside and out.  The microwave and the oven.  The pantry.  Sparkling.  I'll move through the rooms like this till I'm satisfied.

Loving...  My new business cards!!  It feels so much more real now that I have a card with my name on it.

Hating...  The raccoon that killed my best chicken last night.  RIP Mintie.

Discovering...  my new camera.  I've been purposing to get out and just take pictures to familiarize myself with the camera and to practice my craft.  I feel like capturing photos is art just as making music is and it requires practice to get better, to make deeper, more emotional art.  So I practice.

Enjoying...  Experiencing my younger son's joy along with him as he bought his first car yesterday.  He is all at once feeling the freedom and responsibility that comes with owning a vehicle.  I'm so happy for him though, he earned this car.

Listening to... Calvin Arsenia.  He is a harpist, songwriter, singer that I just recently came across.  His album Catastrophe is in constant rotation on my Spotify. 

Experiencing...  The seasonal shift.  While fully enjoying summer and shorts and sandals and sunshine and salads and sleeping in I have also bought a couple pumpkin candles.  I have worn my denim shirt and corduroy pants (cuffs rolled and with sandals).  The weather is not quite cresting 70 so it makes it easier to accept the leaves that have begun to fall and the fact that school starts in just 2 weeks.  And I already made pumpkin bread once.

Until next time my friends!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

the anniversary trip parts 2, 3, and 4

Day two of our anniversary trip:

 
We ate a big traditional breakfast at Pig N Pancake.  It's sort of a landmark and pretty much required when visiting.  Plus they have diner coffee in small ceramic mugs and I get a kick out of that.

 
Then we drove down to Seaside.  I came to this town a lot as a kid.  The day I got my ears pierced we came here and I watched The Lion King with my nephew in the theatre.  When we were first married I worked a couple jobs here.
 
 
 
 
 
It was so hazy, even right on the beach, from all the wildfire smoke.
 
 
 
 
 P-a-n-o-r-a-m-a
 

 
 
I've never seen so many people on the beach here before.  It has certainly grown as a tourist destination.  The tall buildings on the left are resort hotels.
 



 
 

 
 
We stopped into a coffee shop.  I love the wall and bar and light fixtures.
 
 
 
 
Leaving Seaside behind we drove through the Lewis and Clark Valley to Youngs River Falls.  My brother-in-law took my senior photos here.  It was a lot different than I remember.  A couple decades can really change a place, or a memory.




 
My date...
 
 
 
 
I love this place.  My childhood was spent in creeks and rivers just like this, barefoot and happy.



If I can't live the rest of my life on a beach in Hawaii I would live here, in a cabin next to a creek.
 
 
Day three of our anniversary trip:
 
 
 
We walked a block from where we were staying to get breakfast at Street 14 Café.  The vibe of this place is so chill.  And their flower arrangements were on point.  What even are those?
 
 
 
His and hers.  His was a blueberry bread pudding.  Mine was the BEST scone I've ever had.  So light and sweet and flaky and PERFECT.




His mocha....
 

 
My fresh brewed coffee and scone...
 
 
 
 
We came across this door in the foyer of the Commodore Hotel adjacent to the Street 14 Café.  It couldn't have been more fitting for two lovebirds celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary.


 
 
Fully awake and caffeinated we drove to the location of our first "date".  We had gone to Burger King for a bite (I remember I had eaten a Jr. Whopper and he ate fries) then out to Fort Stevens State Park.  Back then I just wanted to share with him all the places I knew, the places I loved so he could enjoy them too.
 
The Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River.
 


 
 
We did not share a kiss way back then on our first date.  But now, twenty years later, same location....
 




The wreckage of the Peter Iredale...
 

 
 
Industrious little beach birdies...
 

 
 
I really, really, REALLY wanted to find a whole sand dollar.  I didn't know it would be so miniature!!!
 


 
 
We walked to dinner that night.  I captured a shot of this sweet smelling rose as we walked back.  If life has taught me anything it is to stop and smell the roses.  So, I do.
 
 
 
Day four of our anniversary trip:
 
We were anxious to beat traffic and get home at a decent time so we stopped in to Street 14 Café one last time for a coffee and a scone.  We filled up the gas tank and hit the highway.  Traffic was never terrible but the smoky haze from wildfires was inescapable.  Thankfully it has since cleared up but here is a picture I took of Seattle that day as we drove through.
 
 
 
It was a great trip full of tons of walking, tons of reminiscing, lots of good food and coffee.  We had great conversation and lots of laughs which is pretty important after 20 years.  Here's to 20 and 30 and 40 more years together.
 
Love, E

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

where it all began, day one

We took our anniversary trip at the beginning of the month.  Back to where it all began.  From that first night we met and the weeks and months following that we were inseparable.  We visited the location we met, our first "date", our first place together, our second place together, the church we were married in, the first job we shared. 

We walked miles, recollecting.  We were so young.  We have changed so much.  The places that were familiar to us 20 years ago have new faces or are not there at all.  The streets seemed a little smaller.  Just as time had changed the town, it had changed us to something maybe not recognizable from where we started, familiar but matured, experienced, a little wiser.

We stayed in a local hostel.  I had stayed there once before a couple years back.  It is the second story of a 100 year old building.  It has always served as a hotel but was renovated and refurbished by new owners. 

I love the creaky original wood floors.
I love the old windows with glass that is wavy and distorted.
I love the tiles in the shower. 
I love the glass door handles. 
I love the worn doorframes. 
I love the history in the air. 
I love the simplicity. 
I love the minimalism. 
I love the blue neon sign lit up at night. 
I love leaning out on the fire escape at night to catch a cool breeze.




 





 
 
The sign reflected in the window across the street:






For our first day in Astoria we mostly just went sightseeing.  We drove to all the places we knew.  We walked all over downtown.  We reminisced.

Our first place.  Really it was his first place and I was just always there.  I helped him furnish the kitchen with the things that were in my hope chest.  We bought cheap pans and Hamburger Helper. 

Now, 21 years later this is what is left....



The Liberty Theatre, downtown Astoria
 


The Pier 11 Restaurant.  I was a busser there back in the day.  My mom was a waitress.  The building still smells the EXACT same as 20 years ago but the restaurant is GONE.  In it's place is an internet café.


 
 

 
 
 
My family lived in this house for four years (from when I was 11 till I was 15).  It is a huge, old, odd house.  I'm quite certain it is haunted.  Beyond that, I have lots of memories here.  My dad used to feed crows out on the deck railing.  He'd leave them bread and they would come wake me up EVERY morning.
 


Please stay tuned for day two...