Sep 24, 2014

Full Brain and Chevy Chase Beach Cottages.

So my brain hurts. Has your brain ever hurt? I can not remember the last time my poor little brain has had to work so hard.So much intense focusing is involved in everything I am doing right now in my life. I had really and truly imagined at least one good month of me in Oregon, sitting in a cozy chair, reading whatever I want, figuring my life out, eating chocolate, staring at views, hair perfectly straight, manicured lawn, lazy puffy clouds, and of course an empire waist dress. Yeah, imagination much? That imagination really never does me any favors. Instead of living in that relaxing world I have been actively,cheerfully, and consciously making choices that have led me as far away from that world as a girl could get. These choices have been things like....

Saying, without hesitation, "Yes", when people at church ask me to substitute for them in their callings. As a result of this choice I taught 4 seminary lessons last week and one Sunday School lesson. So this added up to a 45 minute lesson every day for four days plus the 45 minute Sunday lesson.The preparation on these lessons is arduous because of who I am :) And then I committed to teach not one but two church lessons on October 12th....what is wrong with me? Ahem....do not answer that :)

I have also made the choice to be a bus driver which has required me to be studying everything under the hood of a school bus and everywhere else on the bus too. I am deeply involved in memorizing a 30 minute school bus pre trip that I have to be able to do from memory, in order, with no prompting to pass my test. My brain is not sure how to handle all these unfamiliar bus part words.And for me to learn I bet you never would have guessed that I have to write everything over and over, say it out loud, and ask lots of questions. My poor trainer :)

Another choice is choosing to have relationships with everyone around me. There really is no way around this one if you are a normal healthy person. Whether it is my kids, or my parents, or old friends, or new friends, or people at my new job, or Superman, or boys, or girls. I love relationships. They have always been the most important part of my life. They have been my priority no matter what I am doing. But I am going to tell you the relationship thing is wearing me out lately. Decisions I have not had to make in years. Emotions I have to figure out where they are coming from. I just selfishly want someone to want to work hard at having a relationship with me while I admire the view of the mountains and lake and and eat chocolate :)

I have a distant memory of people at some point in my life declaring that they had studied so hard that their brain hurt. I had never experienced this sensation but now I have. My brain just feels tired from all the focusing it is having to do. It really wants someone to take care of it. Someone to fix it food and talk to it about nice unstressful things. It probably could use some validation and reassurance but I do not want to push my luck.

I know what my brain is wanting is not really going to happen and luckily somehow I knew a few months ago that it was not going to happen and I did something very smart. I planned a small vacation for me, myself and I for this coming up weekend.

You see about eight years ago on one of my yearly trips back to Washington State I discovered one of  the most amazing places in the world in Port Townsend, Washington. Yes, I said world :) I was aimlessly googling Bed and Breakfasts in the Seattle area one day and this place called Chevy Chase Beach Cottages came up. The price during the off season was very reasonable. This I knew because I had been searching bed and breakfasts in the Pacific Northwest for way too long. The descriptions of the views, the pictures of the cabins, the promises promised. It was all really just too much and I booked it. I wish there were words to describe this place. The cabins are impeccable. There is a private beach with teeny tiny whole sand dollars all over it. The grounds are perfectly manicured. It is close to all sorts of hiking and beaches. Last time I was there I spent way too much time just watching dvd's and reading. The downtown of Port Townsend is full of perfect small town shopping when a girl needs to get her shopping on. There is a charming independent movie theater that shows just the movies I like. I already have plans to see a showing of "The One I Love" on Monday night. And have I mentioned yet that you are required to take a ferry boat ride to get there? Well you could drive up the Olympic Peninsula but why would you do that if you could take a ferry?

The blue one is my destination.
So it was definitely providential that I got the first off season rates of the year in my favorite cabin...thoughtfully named #10. I cannot wait to post pictures to make you a little jealous. I can not wait to walk and walk on the beach. I can not wait to stop focusing and thinking for a whole 55 hours of my life. This place means the world to me and I am so glad I live close enough now to enjoy it more often than once every seven years. If I ever happen to invite you to come with me that is when you know you are important to me because this place is my alone place... my "have an Anne Morrow Lindbergh Gift From The Sea" moment place :)

Sep 16, 2014

Too Many Veggies and Fruit ?

Lower garden...Oregon is so dry this year.
Ever since I moved back home with my parents eating food and preparing food has been on my mind way too much. Here I am surrounded by foods from my growing up years that I never thought I would want to learn how to make and now I have a second chance to learn how. There are those moments the past twenty five years that I have shamelessly longed for another grown up to have the responsibility of cooking for just one meal and here I am in a house with two"very good at cooking"adults. I also have been doing some musing about how I have become a grown up that refuses to embrace the leftover idea when my parents are the leftover king and queen....hmmm?

upper garden 
So I need to start off by declaring to the entire world that I have parents who garden. I mean serious gardening folks. I am thinking that if you have an upper garden and a lower garden it is most likely serious :) I would also imagine that if you set a trap at night to catch the animals who fuss with your garden it is serious. My parents are always outside....did I mention always? This gardening obsession means that I grew up eating 4 to 5 veggies at most meals during most of the year, Ranch dressing with a plate of veggies from the garden was almost always available at my house anytime of the day. I did not know until I was a grown up that most people did not eat green beans raw with dip. I would serve them on my veggie tray at a gathering and always get exclamations of wonder. I also thought everyone knew what kohlrabi was.

I do not even know how to explain to you the abundance of fruit and veggies that are here where I currently reside. At the moment the refrigerator in the garage has one drawer full of cucumbers and my mom still gives away boxes of cucumbers a week. There is a twenty-six pound watermelon on one of the shelves. I think they grew at least ten amazing watermelons this year. The other crisper drawer is full of apple pears from my mom's tree. There is an enormous box of plums sitting on a counter in the garage. There is also a box of onions and a box of tomatoes. And I can not tell you how many of these items they have already given away. I can not leave out the strawberries, watermelon,beans, corn, kohlrabi, grapes, acorn squash, zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkins, and broccoli.....I know I left something out but I am not sure what it is....oh yeah the kitchen sink :)

Almost every morning when I wake up my mother is canning,freezing, blanching, grating and then freezing, or drying something from the garden. She even tried to make raisins with her grapes :) Both of my parents work so hard and nothing goes to waste. Notice I have not mentioned my working hard skills :) Yes, It appears moving home has made me into an enormous bum. (No, I do not have an enormous bum I am one :) It also has made me realize I could be called a wasteful gardener. You have to be on the ball to not be a wasteful gardener. Too bad no one has figured out how to can, freeze, dry, or blanch watermelon. I mean these watermelons are fabulous but I had no idea that there was a limit to how much watermelon you could eat :)

My parents love food and are pretty decent connoisseurs of it. They are always collecting spices, batters, and marinades. Since I have moved in I am constantly and shamelessly dropping hints that I really need their homemade onion rings, their home made ice cream, my mom's famous pies, my dads barbecuing chicken skills, my moms homemade fresh salsa. It is rather pathetic, yet lovely, how much life revolves around food here:)

My girls thought they knew about vegetables, fruit, and consuming them but it turns out they did not really know about them until they moved here.

I have learned the secrets of the Ord Family onion rings and next on my list is to have some serious pie classes with my mother. Her pies are beautiful and her crust is perfect in every way. I remember as a child staring with awe at the dining room table that she had filled with peach pies she was making. She always has a pie crust on hand, just a defrost away, in the freezer. My dad has given me a few barbecue lessons throughout the years but I need some more to boost my confidence. And then there are the aebleskivers. This obsession technically came from my sister Sarah but regardless I need to learn how to make them.

I have to mention one more time that I am fascinated with how careful my parents are to make sure nothing goes to waste. I am thrilled to know that there is a possibility that it is in my genetic make up. Because I thought there was no hope for me and my "just throw it away" answer to everything.

The routine of the home made food is very comforting here. We had settled into some bad habits in our past east coast life. Last night when we were at Wal Mart Tatiana impulsively grabbed a box of macaroni and cheese, something we have not purchased in at least 6 weeks and she asked if we could buy it....for old times sake. I said yes but I inwardly cringed at how the other home grown food in my parents house might treat this poor innocent box of processed-ness :)

Tonight we are having deviled eggs and potato salad for dinner and I know for a fact there is homemade strawberry pie from last night still in the fridge. And then I am going on a bike ride :)

Sep 10, 2014

You Shall Not Pass!

So I am in this phase of my life where I am learning all sorts of interesting things about life and relationships things that I really should have learned many, many moons ago. I get so excited at each of these "ah ha" moments that I am constantly having. I am sure I would never be expected to fight the urge I have to share them with you. The perfect way to share would be for you to insist on us spending a day together. We could go to the beach, ride a ferry boat, eat good food, and talk all day. But since that does not appear to be happening anytime in my future I will have to settle for blogging about it....the second best way :)

The first thing I have learned about involves the words emotional and boundaries.  I had no idea that the words emotional and boundary could go together. Yeah, I am admitting that on the internet.

What do you think about when you hear that word boundary? Do you think about how the minute you were born until this very, right now, minute you have been taught about boundaries? Yeah, me either. I am not sure that boundaries are something that are taught. Well at least not emotional ones. I guess we do try to teach about physical ones. Like don't talk to strangers.But I had no idea how important emotional boundaries were. From all my reading, googling, and chatting with people I have concluded that you can not have a healthy relationship without them.

So do you think about fences and walls when you hear the word boundary? My parents have a gate at the top of their driveway when it is open it is the only way into their six acres of land. We have to keep it closed all the time because the deer do not understand boundaries and think whatever is green is theirs and saunter on in uninvited and cause numerous problems...all the time.

Maybe you think about the boundaries that you made when you shared a room when you were a kid and you got so tired of "someone" messy being in your clean space that you made a line with masking tape and declared to the offending party "you shall not pass" this line.

Speaking of "you shall not pass" how about that boundary Gandalf threw out there in the Mines of Moria to that Balrog? Did it work? Yes, it did the Balrog definitely did not pass.

We all have to know ourselves well enough to know where our "do not pass" spot is. Every time I read about emotional boundaries the word crucial is there. If you happen to want a healthy relationship you have to have emotional boundaries. These boundaries can not come until you have a clear understanding of yourself, who you are, what makes you unique. Once you have this then you can communicate your needs and desires. And here is my favorite part listen to this "when you have a strong conception of your own identity then you do not feel threatened by the intimacy of a relationship and then you can appreciate and love the qualities in your partner that make him or her a unique person". Cool huh? So if you love yourself and understand yourself then you can have healthy relationships. You can respect someone elses differences and contribute to the growth of the relationship. Geesh, where was this tidbit oh so many years ago? If you are bored which I know you must be because you are reading my blog :) You should google "emotional boundaries"and read all the articles you can. It can't hurt you :) And then you can decide if your boundaries are going to be wood, brick, or rock. I love the little rock fences in New England so my boundaries are going to definitely be rocks stacked up to make quaint little fences. Hmm is it wrong to use the words quaint and boundary together? :)

Sep 5, 2014

Taking Lots of Tests at The DMV and Peeing In A Cup.

So the last few weeks my life has been consumed with the task of getting my commercial drivers licence. I have not taken a multiple choice test since probably 1987 and all of a sudden I have been faced with the need to take and pass 5 multiple choice tests at the oh so friendly department of motor vehicles. And did I mention that each time you take a test it costs $10.00? This DMV was the friendliest and most helpful DMV I have ever seen. Yes, I used the words friendly, helpful and DMV all together and it is true. One day I forgot my checkbook and they let me take the test anyway and pay them later. One time I forgot my birth certificate they let me take the test anyway and come back and show it to them later. These two ladies were there every single day running this very busy but small branch of the DMV. They rooted for me to pass my tests and felt sad with me when I did not pass. Dare I say I will miss seeing them everyday? :)

The first test I had to take was the test to get my Massachusetts drivers licence changed to an Oregon drivers licence. It was 25 questions and I passed easily. That give me a small boost of confidence to face my next test.

The next one was called General Knowledge. Sounds harmless, right? Yeah, but the rumor on the street was that it was very hard. Fifty questions covering 32 pages of everything from Vehicle Inspection to Mountain Driving to Hazardous Materials Rules. I did not pass this one the first time. I missed passing it by two questions. I forced myself to not feel sad about the not passing thing. I studied a little more and thought a little more about how they were wording these gosh darn multiple choice questions. I am convinced that they hire the trickiest people on the planet to write those multiple choice questions. If you have some serious, "being tricky" skills you may want to consider this career path :) The second time I  took the test I passed the General Knowledge test with ease.

Then I aced the Passenger Test which had easy questions like, "What are some hazardous materials you can transport by bus?" Did you know that while I am driving a school bus, if I ever wanted to, I could transport some small arms ammunition, emergency hospital supplies, and drugs but never more then 500 lbs of the aforementioned items... so good to know :) This test was only 20 questions but I felt on top of the world when I passed it with 100 %. It is the little things :)

After the Passenger test I had to face the School Bus test this one was 25 questions and I passed it easily too. This test is where I learned all about all the different kinds of mirrors a school bus has and what they are for. It is amazing all that I took for granted that school bus drivers did not knowing all they had to do to become one. There are so many steps to loading and unloading that bus...who knew? :)

Last but not least was the dreaded Air Brakes test. This one was hard. I knew it. The minute you are minding your own business, reading a manual, and pictures of air tanks, drum brakes, and dual air brake systems with ABS come up you just know there are not going to be any questions about unicorns and rainbows and how they make you feel, on this test. I decided to be totally irresponsible and take the test without really studying and see what would happen. I just had to know if it was as hard as "they" said. I missed passing it when I missed the last question out of 25. I was bummed but also knew then that I could easily pass it the next day with some study.  So I went home and memorized air brake system parts and how to inspect air brakes. And I passed.

On each of these tests you have three tries to pass. You can retake the next day until it is the fourth time and then you have to wait 28 days....yeah, a very real bummer. I was so relieved this did not happen to me.

Once all the test are done there is still more to becoming a school bus driver. Today I had the joy of getting a physical and taking a strength test. I had to drive to Eugene for these tests. They left out a small detail of the peeing in a cup for a drug test. Oh and I need to warn you. If knowing that I do indeed pee or if reading the word pee makes you uncomfortable do not read this next part because I have to tell you this story that does happen to involve pee.

So I have never had a drug test in my life. I knew it was part of being a school bus driver but I did not have any warning that it was going to be part of this particular day. When the nurse finally called my name for my physical the very first thing was the drug pee test. I have peed in cups many times so I had no idea this part could be hard. I was a little bit taken aback at how strict they were....checking my pockets....demanding that I NOT flush?? WHAT?  But my mom said I should flush? Okay, fine... I took the cup and did as I was told. When she saw my cup the nurse immediately said, "this is not enough". I was confused. All my life. All my pregnancies. All my peeing in a cup has always been enough. What did not enough mean? Well she showed me the impossible line I must reach and then she gave me a handout with three very detailed rules and instructions. I had three hours to produce the required amount of pee. I could not leave the waiting room during this time or it would be considered a refusal to the take the drug test and reported. I was then unceremoniously handed a huge rubbermaid container with a huge black number three written on it and 40 oz of tepid water in it and told to go back to the waiting room and drink it all and let them know when I was ready to give them enough pee.

Can I tell you how mortifying it is to walk into a very crowded waiting room with a huge container of water? Everyone knows without a doubt that you did not pee enough. You failed the drug testing pee test. No hiding that. So I avoided eye contact with anyone in the room, sat down, poured my paper cup full of my first 8 oz and meekly started drinking and I drank 40 ounces of water in 20 minutes. I had appointments lined up back to back all day and I needed to get this done... they would not do my strength test or my physical until I peed enough for them. I asked the nurse how long it would take for the water to work its magic and she told me about an hour. So I figured out how quickly I had to drink the water and did it. The tragic part is they had The Queen Latifah show on TV and not one gossip magazine in sight. If you are going to require me to drink 40 ounces of water in your waiting room and then wait for it to go through my system please have interesting magazines for me to read.....please :)

By 11:00 am I had finally filled the cup and had had my physical. The nurse warned me that this time the pee looked too diluted but I just smiled and told her I would be happy to come back if that was the case. Geesh, what to do with these picky pee people? :) All I had left to finish was the strength test. Which required me to drag 120 lbs 30 feet in 25 seconds. And to do all sorts of things in lots of repetitions. Like pushing a dummy loaded down with weights in a wheel chair in a figure eight ten times.

It was very fascinating and I enjoyed this part. Other than the fact that I had to leave in the middle to do to the bathroom again :)

So at the end of the day I have my commercial drivers licence permit and I am ready now to have my thirty hours of practice driving before I pass that test.

I am still wrapping my mind around this change in my life plan. I know this is the right thing for me right now. There is no where I could make $16.00 and hour and never have to be at work when my kids are home. As much as my hear aches for the library this is where I should be right now.....taking multiple choice tests and peeing in cups :)