A Little Hole in the Wall Place

Ahhh, Saturday morning. I love weekends, especially when they start off with me sleeping in (or, me getting up at 5am, feeding the cats, and immediately going back to bed – those spoiled animals do NOT wait for their meals).

This past Saturday, I woke up around nine feeling incredibly refreshed. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to sleep in like that and it was amazing. I got up and set about making a pitcher of iced tea for the weekend, thinking that it would be nice to have tea for the warm days. It’s been a minute since I’ve pulled out my iced tea maker, and I had to fish around in the pantry to find the tea bags. When I opened the cupboard, I found that there was water on the shelf. Not a lot, just enough for me to say, “Huh, there’s water in here” and look down at the floor to see if there was water anywhere else.

There was no water, but there were ants on the floor.

ANTS.

I have not had ants in my kitchen since moving to the Northwest and had (falsely, I now know) believed that ants don’t attempt to take up residence in kitchens around here. In California, they’d make their way in every summer, usually dining on cat food before drowning in the water bowl. I would wake up to a little trail of them going across my living room more often than I care to think about, and I got very good at being careful not to leave anything out that would attract the little bastards. Here in Edmonds, I never worried about it, and to be fair there wasn’t much around that ants would like besides the cats’ breakfast.

My zen totally shattered, I set about removing the ants from the kitchen by way of spraying everything down with Windex and then cleaning up the carnage. Sorry, creatures, we have enough freeloading animals in this house already – we have no room for more. I will not go out of my way to kill bugs and things when I’m outside, but they come in my kitchen and they’re toast.

Once I finished de-bugging my kitchen, I went about my day, forgetting about the water in the cabinet that started the whole debacle. Well, forgetting for a couple more hours anyway, until I heard something dripping in the kitchen. I went to investigate, and found water dripping out of the wall and down the pantry. Although it undeniably created an ambiance, water definitely should NOT have been cascading down my pantry door.

As much as I yearn to be a homeowner again, I cannot deny the luxury of calling property management as a renter when things in my home are broken. We are incredibly spoiled where we live, as our manager and maintenance are beyond kind and responsive whenever we need anything. As the developing situation in my kitchen was one of the more immediate problems we’ve had, maintenance was out within the hour to investigate.

The maintenance fellow was very nice and jumped right in to attempt to locate the source of the leak. He went upstairs to the apartment above ours and turned on the bathtub faucet, but couldn’t duplicate the problem (we did take a video of the dripping water when we noticed it, which came in very handy since by the time maintenance arrived, the leak had stopped for a time). Apologetically, he turned to me and said, “I’m going to have to cut open your wall.” Since I was not going to be paying for the creation or subsequent patching of said hole, I was not too concerned, and set to leaning on my counter and watching this unfold.

Adds a certain something to the decor, n’jes?

Once we had a good-sized hole in the wall, it was apparent that our pantry cabinet was totally waterlogged, and that there must have been a previous water leak in the pipe above the cabinet because there was putty that has now fallen away. The maintenance man was hopeful that the water we were experiencing in our kitchen had been trapped previously by the putty and that there was no current leak, but I was skeptical. After giving us instructions on what to do should water come gushing out of the newly-exposed pipes, our new friend left with the promise to follow up with our property manager.

Of course, on Sunday while we were sitting in the living room the pipe began leaking again, confirming our suspicions that the water from the day before was not from an old problem but from an existing one. We stuck a towel underneath to catch the water, knowing that nothing much more could be done until a plumber could be called on Monday. This morning I was assured that the problem would be fixed in a day or two, but I’m bracing myself to wait this one out for awhile until all repair efforts have been coordinated. In the meantime, I will be amusing myself by telling anyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with me that my kitchen is just a “little hole in the wall place” and laughing at my own joke.

Reclaiming My Optimism

I haven’t been doing much writing lately, mostly because over the last few weeks I have been in a funk of epic proportions. I suspect my mood was mostly due to the fact that the weather in the Northwest has pretty much sucked since November, and I am so sick of cold weather. I readily accept that winters are tough here: the days are very short, and very gray, and very gloomy. The weather is cold and damp. But usually, by mid-March we will have some hints of spring and a promise of warmer weather. As day after day passed without even breaking sixty degrees, I began to despair of ever enjoying being outside again.

Thankfully, the first week of May brought with it some warmer, sunnier days (and even a thunderstorm!), and it has started to feel like Seattle may have summer after all. My spirits rose with the temperatures, and I started feeling better. I also started feeling like I needed to rediscover things that keep me feeling optimistic and happy, so that I can hold onto feeling better even if the weather doesn’t hold.

One of the things I love the most about my office is that it’s located directly next to a trail that runs beside a little creek. I love walking that trail. There are frequently ducks and geese by the creek, and occasionally I’ll see a nutria or a little turtle who likes to sun himself on a tree branch that drops down into the water. I hate being cold and had all but abandoned my walking ritual, but last week I decided I needed to re-commit to it. Not only does fresh air make me feel cheery, but the breaks from my desk are a necessity.

Speaking of my desk, I got new photos printed to display at work. Looking at photos of my husband, our fur kids, and our families reminds me of why I work hard when I’m feeling stressed at the office. I hadn’t put out any new photos in quite awhile (a framed one of Bill and I was actually the first photo anyone took of us together!), so I swapped out some of the older ones with new ones from our wedding.

Aren’t we a good-looking group?

I also added some newer photos of the cats, including a really cute one of our newest baby, Ernie.

Ernie Monster!

I also decided I needed to resume writing in my Gratitude Journal. What better way to brush off a lousy mood than to sit and think of things that make life good? My journal has evolved a bit since I started writing it; currently, I write down three things I’m grateful for that day and three wins. The wins can be anything from merely getting out of bed to a major accomplishment like completing a stressful project. The point is to remind myself daily that I have a lot in my life to be thankful for and that I am accomplishing things, even if those things are small.

Got any other tips for shaking free of the blahs? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

 

 

 

(Less Than!) Three Months to Go!

Happy 2017! I am SO glad to be ringing in a new year. I spent my New Year’s Eve with friends, enjoying good company, food, drinks, and some unexpected snow!

The countdown is on for Bill and I – less than three months to go until our wedding! March is going to be here unbelievably fast, and we still have a lot to do to get ready! We’ve got the “big stuff” figured out: we have our venue, I’ve got my wedding dress and am taking it to my alteration appointment next weekend, and we’ve selected our cake and cupcakes (dessert is very important to me).

Bill described 2016 as a “bad year to be planning a wedding”, and I think that sums things up perfectly. A year ago, I felt like I had all the time in the world to figure out every detail, and was excited to jump in and make some wedding magic happen. I quickly learned that life will get in the way and it’s easy to go from having plenty of time to being dangerously behind in planning, and that when it comes to planning weddings everything will cost more than you wanted it to. It was starting to feel impossible to think of everything we would need for the big day, without completely blowing our budget (shout-out to our wonderful parents for helping us out with the costs!).

Not going to lie, I was feeling pretty stressed out and afraid that things weren’t going to come together. Enter The Invisible Hostess, aka the Best Thing to Happen to Wedding Planning. Bill and I met with our coordinator, Jocelyn, and I was immediately comfortable with her and excited to work with her. Her cozy Capitol Hill office is more like an inviting living room, and even my darkest concerns about planning the wedding seemed so simple and easily managed once I talked them over with her. With her help, I feel like every question has an answer and every problem a solution, and for the first time since we started planning I feel like this wedding can go off without a hitch. We love you, Jocelyn!

I’m so excited for our wedding day. I know that time is going to fly by, which is fine by me!

 

 

 

 

7 Good Things in 2016

I know I’m not alone when I say that 2016 sucked. I honestly can’t remember another year that was so very difficult and full of heartache. I lost people I loved, and I am still dealing with those losses. Several well-loved celebrities passed away. Donald Trump was elected president. My beloved Zumba instructor moved away. Yes, 2016 feels like a big middle finger to all that is good.

My friend Kate sent me her most recent blog post to look over, and while she concurred that 2016 was far from the best year ever, she did find some good things about it and inspired me to do the same. I decided to challenge myself to find things about this year that I really liked and was happily surprised that I was able to do it.

Since seven is my favorite number, here are the top seven moments of my 2016:

 

The Cubs won the World Series. My fiancee Bill is a huge Cubs fan, and cheering with him as his team finally broke the curse and won the World Series was definitely a highlight of 2016 for me.

world-series-win

We went to Hawaii. My birthday present to Bill for his 40th birthday was a trip to Maui. That trip was one of the best parts of the whole year for us. We relaxed, enjoyed the island, and ate too much good food.

hawaii-2016

I changed jobs. After a collective five years working high-level complaints, I transitioned into an analyst position with my company in October. It has been such a welcome change in so many ways. My work-related stress levels are way down, I have a fantastic new boss and a team of coworkers that I love, and I’m learning new things every day.

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Less stress = more smiles!

We climbed a mountain. Ever since Bill and I started dating, he’s been talking about hiking Mt. Pilchuck. While it sounded fun, it also sounded incredibly intimidating, but last summer I took the plunge and agreed to go. It was hard, probably even harder than I thought it would be, but it was SO beautiful and I felt so accomplished when we finally reached the car at the end of the hike.

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I bought a bike and rode the heck out of it. I did not get my first bike until I was ten, and even once I had one, there was really nowhere to ride it. When I bought my Trek bike last May and started riding trails every weekend, I knew how to pedal and not fall over…but that was about it. I passed the summer blissfully logging miles and improving my speed and endurance. Admittedly, my bike hasn’t seen the light of day since the temperatures turned cold (I am officially a fair-weather rider), but as soon as spring is here I’ll be back to it!

bike-riding

I became a Subaru person. Yep, I traded in my sports car for a Subaru Impreza and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. Now I have a car that I can put bikes on, drive to trailheads, go camping with, and take on road trips. Oh, and it’s nice to have a car with four doors so I can actually pick up other people when I’m going places! Now that I’ve owned my first one, I’m definitely on Team Subaru.

subie

We got the gang back together.….Meaning that I got to spend time with both my family and Bill’s in 2016. Since everyone but my brother lives out of state, coordinating visits is hard! Bill and I flew to Indiana for an extended weekend in August, and my whole family got together for a long weekend in December. Now that my brother and I both live in Edmonds and my sister’s in San Diego, it’s hard to get everyone together at my parents’ house at the same time. We managed to pull it off though, and we had a blast!

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Such a good-looking bunch

When I look back on this year, I’m going to do my best to remember the good things that happened instead of the bad…choose to be happy, right? Dwelling on the bad won’t make it better, so I’m going to try and move on in my own way and put my energy into making 2017 my best year yet.

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye

He was smart and adventurous, funny and kind. We worked together for over three years, during which time we grew as close as brother and sister. We had many thoughtful conversations about everything that popped into our heads. We leaned on each other when things were difficult, we laughed together during many good times.

He left the company we worked for, gave away most of his belongings and hopped on a plane to travel the world. How I envied his impulsiveness as he moved from country to country, and how I missed being able to see him nearly every day. When he came back the following summer, he took me out for Mexican food and talked animatedly about everything he had seen and done. For hours we sat outside on the deck in the evening sunshine, as he told me about his travels and adventures. Our friendship was as strong as ever, even though we didn’t see each other nearly so often. We still made a point of getting together, usually to watch a football game. No matter how long it had been since we’d seen each other, it would instantly feel as if we’d never been apart. He would wrap me in a warm hug and exclaim, “Sunshine! I’ve missed you!”, using his special nickname for me. And then we would laugh and catch up on whatever had been going on in our lives.

In November, we met up to watch a Seahawks game. He was in a cheerful mood. He ordered a huge cheeseburger as he told me stories about his new job in between football plays. When I hugged him goodbye I had no idea it would be the last time I would ever be able to do so. A couple of weeks later, on his birthday, I texted with him, wishing him a happy day. He seemed to be in good spirits.

The next thing I heard was about him, not from him. It was the first weekend in December and he was gone forever.

Losing a loved one to suicide is so much different than any other kind of loss. On top of the grief, there’s the ever-present struggle with not being able to understand why. Although knowing why he felt he could not go on would not change the outcome, I feel like it would give me some closure on things. I have to accept that there will be no understanding, that his reasons were his own and I will never know them. What I do know is that I thnk of him every day, and I miss him.

The day of his funeral was bright and sunny, bitterly cold. It’s brisk, my dad would always joke on a freezing cold morning like that one. The six of us that had worked with him sat neatly in a pew, joined by Bill, and surrounded by some people we knew and others we had never met. His mother and his best friend each spoke to all of us in the room, telling stories of his life and reading things he had written (he was a wonderful writer). After that a lengthy slideshow was played, all photos of him, of his life, with his usual big smile (and, in more recent photos, the various stages of his beard) on his face.

Since then, life has been a bit of a blur. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. I’ve broken down a few times and really cried, but for the most part I try to keep myself quiet and calm. I’m torn between desperately wanting to spend time with people I love, in case I never again have the chance, and at the same time desperately needing to be alone.

The happiest memories of him can bring tears to my eyes now that he’s gone. I was forever changed by knowing him and changed further by losing him.

My promise to myself is to try to live my life the way he lived his, seeking adventure and laughing hard and hugging people in such a warm and comfortable way that those hugs will be part of a legacy.

 

Waiting for Stormageddon

It’s Saturday, and like a lot of people in the Northwest I’m spending the day prepping for Stormageddon, A huge weather front is supposed to be hitting the Seattle area any time now, bringing with it a good amount of rain and high winds. Rain is kind of our jam here, but heavy wind is a big problem as it has a tendency to knock down trees, making them fall down on power lines and take out the electricity. According to the forecast, tonight’s storm has the makings of the biggest in over a decade in our area, with the biggest saving grace being that it is supposed to move through fairly quickly.

I’ve spent the day doing all the power-dependent stuff that makes our household function: doing laundry, charging phones, cooking up food so it won’t go bad if our electricity goes out and stays out. Bill ran the vacuum and cleaned up the apartment so we won’t inadvertently trip over something and kill ourselves if we’re reduced to using flashlights and candles to see in the dark. I bought a bunch of non-perishable food so that we won’t starve if we can’t use our stove or microwave (I’m hoping we don’t need it and I can just donate it all to the food bank next week).  Since I work for the power company, I’m on call, and am really hoping we don’t lose our power here because as long as my lights (and my Internet) stay on I can remain in my cozy home and not venture out into the storm to help out at work. Depending on the severity of the power outages, the next few days could be long ones as we all band together and try to keep our customers in the know about our restoration efforts.

It makes me so happy to see all the nice comments on social media from people who thank the linemen for the work they do, and all the well-wishes as they encourage all employees to stay safe. I definitely know that going without power can be a huge inconvenience, and it’s reassuring to see so many people who are more concerned with the safety of their fellow humans than put out that they may not be able to watch Netflix for a day or so.

The good news is that so far, it’s relatively quiet outside and I’m feeling good about our level of preparedness in this situation. I’ll be happy to get through tonight so that one way or another, I know what the next few days are going to look like.

 

A Mushy Kind of Post

In my post yesterday I mentioned that October holds a couple of very special anniversaries for me. Today is one of those – it’s the one-year anniversary of Bill and I’s engagement!

A year ago it was a beautiful October today, sunny and unseasonably warm, perfect for a long drive around the Olympic Peninsula. I was expecting to spend the afternoon enjoying a relaxing drive and taking in beautiful scenery, and I was not disappointed. What I was definitely NOT expecting was a proposal!

My very favorite place on the Peninsula (and in all of Washington) is Ruby Beach. I hadn’t been there in years, so of course I wanted to stop there and walk around. Bill and I had a wonderful time taking in the scenery and building cairns on top of pieces of driftwood.

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Ruby Beach on the day we got engaged

I always loved this beautiful place, and now that it’s also the spot Bill picked to ask me to marry him, it is even more special. I will never again visit that beach without remembering the perfect afternoon we spent there, and the moment when he asked me to share the rest of our lives together.

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Sharing a just-engaged kiss

Our wedding is planned for March, just five months away. Although it seems like a long time, the last year has flown by so fast that I know the next five months will pass in the blink of an eye. I am so excited to marry this man who is everything I ever dreamed of and more.

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October Love

I unintentionally went MIA there for a couple of weeks…things have been rather unremarkable lately, and so anytime I would pull up a new page to start a post, I’d stare at that blinking little cursor and sort of draw a blank. But I’m back now, because the cure for writer’s block is to write, yes?

capture

It’s October now and I couldn’t be happier for it. Autumn in the Pacific Northwest is simply glorious. I love the crisp, cold air in the mornings, the changing colors of the leaves, the way I’m now craving hot tea instead of iced. Although I do love summer, I think fall is my very favorite season.

Last weekend I pulled my sweaters out of storage and rehung them in my closet. Time to pack away the summer clothes, I won’t be needing THOSE for awhile! I’m happy to be able to wear leggings and oversize sweaters, scarves and cozy vests. I packed away some of my lighter sundresses, but kept out a few because I can wear them with boots and cardigans in the fall.

Although October seems to have morphed into the season for All Things Pumpkin Spice, I’m really not a pumpkin spice fan (I do like pumpkin pie, and the pumpkin-scented Yankee candle, but not pumpkin SPICE), so my go-to “fall” drink at Starbucks is a chai tea latte made with almond milk. It’s SO good! I definitely recommend it over the high-calorie Pumpkin Spice Latte.

October is also the month in which I celebrate two very special anniversaries – more on those later!

And of course, Halloween is in October, and I absolutely adore Halloween. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow my love of dressing up in a great costume. I also really like scary movies, and during the month of October I can re-watch my favorites!

I think it’s going to be a great month!

Biking to Work

Right now my coworkers and I are experiencing some driving pains, as the streets all around our office are being torn up and repaved before winter. There is a LOT of construction going on, and there are pieces of equipment and cones everywhere. Yesterday when I left work, I was very confused about where I was supposed to go, even with a flagger standing in the middle of the street to assist! Luckily, I work earlier in the day on Mondays, so I got to work before the road work started and left before most people in the office buildings lining the street were ready to head home.

I knew that today would be worse, since I would be arriving for and leaving work around the same time as most of the other people. If there’s one thing that makes me crazy, it’s being stuck in traffic, especially traffic that is just not moving. I had an important meeting scheduled for today, so there was no way I could just work from home, I had to come to the office. But I decided that I didn’t have to drive, I could ride my bike instead.

I love my bike. I’ve had it for just about four months now, and in those four months I have gained a lot of confidence. This morning was a new milestone for me, my first solo ride. I decided to drive as far as Log Boom Park, then ride the Burke-Gilman trail a little over six miles to my office.

I had taken the route before and was comfortable with it, and it was a beautiful morning for a bike ride. Bill went to the park with me to help me unload my bike from my car and make sure I got started out all right (have I mentioned that he is the best fiancee ever?). I kept my ride leisurely, averaging a pace of 10mph, both because I wanted to enjoy the experience and also because I didn’t want to get super sweaty! My office does have a shower that employees can use, but I didn’t want to have to re-wash my hair.

It took me just over half an hour to arrive at the office, which was considerably less time than it would’ve taken me to get through all the road work to park!

Even though the road construction is still going to be a pain (I can’t bike to work every day, there are days I will need my car during the day), I’m glad that it pushed me to try biking to work because I really enjoyed the new experience. Sometimes great things can come out of minor inconveniences if we use them the right way!

 

Hiking Mt. Pilchuck

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost halfway through August! Summer is winding down, although it’s been so warm out lately that it’s hard to believe that fall will be here soon.

Although I absolutely love the city of Seattle and all it has to offer, sometimes I crave fresh air and mountains and wilderness. Luckily for me, one of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that both the city and the mountains are an easy drive from my home in Edmonds.

Last weekend, Bill and I got our mountain fix by hiking up Mt. Pilchuck. The trail up to the summit is fairly short, 2.7 miles, but it is STEEP. I admit that I found it extremely challenging, although well worth it – the views are breathtaking!

I thought that we were incredibly prepared for the hike. We brought along our day packs, filled with bottles of ice cold water and Cliff bars to snack on along the way. I remembered the sunscreen, but quickly wished I had brought bug spray – the bugs ate me alive along the way!

We had a blast and are already scouting out locations for our next hike!

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Bill and I at the summit

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Fire lookout at the summit

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