Saturday, August 29, 2009

Julie & Julia (& Carol)

I woke up at 10:00 this morning (because I stayed up till 3 AM watching The Pianist and then of course I couldn’t sleep), threw on some clothes, and took myself on a uni-date to go see the 10:30 showing of a far more uplifting move, Julie and Julia – which was wonderful and delightful and which, truth be told, made me pathetically jealous.

It’s not that I expect to be a Julie… or a Pioneer Woman (who started her blog the same month I started mine) or a Dooce, or a Smitten Kitchen – though I love all of them. It’s that I want to be good enough, interesting enough, engaging enough to have (oh god, I’m just about to mutter the word)…

…a Following.

The truth is that as soon as I began this all-consuming job as a Project Manager with Microsoft, I’ve had a horrible case of writer’s block and I’ve been suffering (and I do mean suffering) from an 18-month bout of writer’s block.

That’s actually not true.

If I were truly honest with myself I’d realize that an 18-month bout of writer’s block is not a block at all; it’s really more of a simple inability to write good stuff. The thing is that even if I’ve never been really good at writing, I was at one time good at stringing a whole bunch of words together to express my thoughts or tell a story-- probably because I assumed I had no readers and therefore the only person I had an obligation to please was myself.

So I just wrote. I strung words together daily because I love stringing words together. I hardly gave readership a thought and the whole notion of a Following didn’t even occur to me. I just plain wrote.

How ironic is that? As a blogger, I want a Following (with a capital F, please), but the reason I can’t write lately is because I’m paralyzed at the thought that I might have a Following. I sometimes stop typing mid-sentence (delete-delete-delete), wondering what my boss or my clients or my crush from 6th grade might think if I say that

And then I end up not saying much of anything.

Instead, I post photos – lots and lots of photos. You know why? Because I don’t need to dig deep for a photo. I don’t feel the pressure to create craft a photo like I feel the pressure to create and craft a paragraph. A photo just is. I see something, I capture it, and I express it – kind of how I used to write.

Maybe the problem is that my blog has no theme. I’m not cooking something new every night. I’m not a city girl turned rancher. I’m not a ballsy ex-Mormon. I’m simply – oh wait, let me copy this from my blog banner – a mom to four feisty and fascinating young adults, an avowed and loyal Seattleite, and (sniff… sob) an EX-producer and program manager of media for youth, who currently works for The Man doing stuff that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really matter.

(There – I wrote something that I normally wouldn’t write!)

I really don’t care about analytics and statistics. Honestly, they bore me. And much as I’d love an extra income, I can’t even imagine making money from my blog, and make no effort whatsoever to do so. But I do care about the same thing Julie cared about: I do care that my blog makes the difference to some group of people, somewhere (a Following?!), who care that I write and who would miss Northwest Ladybug if I crawled off into oblivion somewhere. THAT matters hugely to me.

I think the only way I’ll get out of my literary slump is to stop posting photos as an excuse not to write, and to just start to write again, without giving a damn what my co-workers or my boss or my 6th grade crush might think of my post.

(Although I really have to post this photo from a party we went to last night. I just have to… maybe as a last hurrah or a test of my new resolution not to worry so much about what people think. Jonathan, who went to elementary school with Elisabeth and has been a friend of our family since he was a kid, is moving to Chicago next week to start a hoity-toity new job. At last night’s farewell party in his honor, he modeled an… um, interesting apron-with-a-flap-and-a-surprise that his friend made for him. I asked Jon and Tom to pose for a photo and this is the result:


I’m sorry, but this picture just cracks me up!

Don’t like it? Oh well!

Wow… how liberating!)

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

This is the house that Tom built

Remember when Tom and Peter demolished our old garden shed last summer…


…and then Tom began building a writer’s retreat for me?image

(Carol? Wake up!)

Er, I mean when Tom started building his workshop man cave?


Well, somewhere during that period of time Tom got laid off – which meant that his literal man cave became a figurative one as well, and he threw himself into his new “job.”

This is the result:

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Even the inside is amazing! Every surface is covered with peg board (which must be to men what shoes are to women).


Now “all” that’s left is building a workbench, assembling some cabinets, and the fun part (for me), moving all his man stuff out of the garage and into his man cave.

I know what you’re thinking. Tom’s unemployed… he does beautiful work around the house… he should do this stuff for a living. Right?


Tom is a total perfectionist when it comes to building and remodeling! The fireplace downstairs took him two years to build.

From this:


To this:


The upstairs fireplace took a year.

From this:


To this:


Our bathroom… Well, I don’t even have before photos, but here are a few “afters”:

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And the downstairs bathroom went from this godawful mess…


To this (also over a period of more than a year!):



If he weren’t such a dang perfectionist and if he could just so schlocky work like I do (around the house, anyway), maybe he could make a decent living at this, but would YOU wait a year for a fireplace or a bathroom?

We haven’t begun remodeling our kitchen yet. Guess why?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Announcements! Announcements! AnooooounceMENTS!

(What movie is that from?)













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Takin’ the long way home (via Oregon beaches)

When I begged we decided on Friday morning to go away to the coast for the weekend, there were two  places I really wanted to see – the Olympic Rainforest and the North Oregon Coastline.  We drove northward to the Quinault Rainforest yesterday and today we headed southward, to the north Oregon beach communities of Seaside and Cannon Beach.

Seaside was the first Oregon beach community we visited, and we loved it! 

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As we strolled the promenade by the beach in Seaside, we pondered the idea of a family vacation here next August.  The weather was perfect, the town was charming, and it seemed like a great place to get away from it all.

Then we headed a few miles further south to Cannon Beach, and within two seconds the idea of a family vacation at Cannon Beach took center stage!  In fact, within two minutes, the idea of retiring here was being discussed!  We both fell for the place – hard and fast!  It has phenomenal natural beauty all around AND it has a quaint town with an obvious sense of community.  Seems like the absolute perfect place to retire to meeeee… but then, today was an gloriously perfect summer day, which makes everything seem rosier, I’m sure.

But really – see for yourself! What do you think?

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After falling in love with Cannon Beach (it’s a quaint community with adorable beach houses… not sure I didn’t take more photos of the town!), we headed to Portland on beautiful, forested Highway 26 – a straight shot of only about an hour!  (Man, Portlanders have it good!)  By that time we were in the mood for seafood, so we stopped at the closest seafood restaurant (according to our GPS), Newport Bay Seafood Broiler in Hillsboro -- hello Julie Anne and Jonathan! – and had a delicious meal of halibut, parmesan garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus.  It was incredibly yummy!


It’s another late night (because remember, my work week begins on Sunday night, so no sooner did we walk in the door than I got to work!), but I’m now fully rejuvenated and ready now to tackle another insane week!  We definitely need to do this more often!


Thanks for putting up with my endless photos, my lack of decent writing, and my babbling enthusiasm.  Tomorrow it’ll be back to same ‘ol, same ol’ around Northwest Ladybug Land, but wasn’t it good to take a little break with me?  :-)

Addendum: We were greeted by a bit of excitement when we came home! 


Boo had caught a bunny, but thanks to Aleks’ fast thinking and feline Heimlich Maneuver expertise (?!) and Kat’s subsequent nurturing of the poor creature, he’s been released back into our back forest and he quickly scampered off to find his mommy!IMG_0435

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

A busy day of total relaxation

Relaxation is such hard work!

After our walk on the beach this morning, we went to the jetty at the far and of Ocean Shores (passing Sharky’s Souvenir Shop on the way). 


I was still struggling with Kat’s camera, trying to get the fabulous crisp shots that she gets, but no such luck. 




Tom took the camera while I did my best to scamper on the rocks – totally aware of my ankle, but not about to let an injury from January hamper my fun in August, fergoodnessake!


Then we drove through Ocean Shores, entertained by a few of the interesting signs:

IMG_0152   I’m not sure when the last tsunami was here, but they're prepared for the next one!


It seemed like half the houses were for sale.  The economy has obviously hit this place hard!  This was more sad than entertaining.


We then headed north toward Lake Quinault, where we spent some time at the gorgeous Lake Quinault Lodge.



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(The cottage above brought back sweet memories of visiting my parents here in about 2000, just before Mom got sick.  They stayed in this cottage, which is part of the Quinault Lodge.)

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I sensed a strange familiarity when I saw these blue boxes – one small and one large – but I can’t quite place the memory.


After oooohing and ahhhhing (not!) at the world’s tallest spruce tree…

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…we headed to the beautiful Quinault Rain Forest and I went a little crazy with the camera.  (I was using my trusty little Canon SD 11oo IS at this point and Tom was using Kat’s camera; these are pretty much a combination of both.  Can you tell the difference?)

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On the way back to Ocean Shores, we passed through a town with an interesting name…


…and through a town with beautiful architecture (and a distinctly Stepford Wife feel)…


…before getting back to the condo just in time to relax with a good book and a bottle of wine…


…and watch in awe as this happened right in front of our eyes!


IMG_0228Now it’s 1:30 in the morning and time to sleeeeep!  (And in case you’re wondering – no, I won’t get up at 6 AM to catch the first light on the ocean!)   

Amanda Park Things To Do

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