Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Frostbite? Or, One of Those Moments You Hope Won't Ever Be Lost


It's 20 degrees outside and snowing.

This is a picture of the view from my house towards my corner of the world on my street in Denver. Yeah. It's snowing!

This morning it was clear and cool, but not cold. By the time I went to lunch I realized I didn't have a hat or scarf with me, and knew by 5:30 when I left for my bus ride home that I'd be wishing I had both. Today I watched the Rocky Mountains disappear, reappear, then disappear again.

My new office affords me a view of Mount Evans, and with it, a bellweather of what's to come. The mountains disappeared behind clouds for a while, then reappeared for a short time as the clouds ripped over the Rockies and turned around for another strike at the city.

So I went to Ross and bought a new hat and scarf, and sure enough by the time I went home the snow was flying.

I came home, and after an hour and watching the snow from my front window, decided to take a walk.

There are few moments in life that make memories. I remember consciously making a few memories -- one of my Mom smiling down at me as a young girl, waking up to my Dad's goofy grin when I came out of surgery after my appendix came out...

Tonight I took Lucy, my black Lab, for a walk in the snow. We headed over to Rocky Mountain Lake, just 10 blocks from my house, against the storm (in my new hat, which rocks, by the way). With my iPod plugged in, I listened to some of my favorite music, and soon realized as we approached the lake that we were completely and totally alone.

As we rounded the far end of the lake, I realized I wasn't ready to head home, so we went over to the ballpark and Lucy ran back and forth as I called her to run towards me.

There was a time when Lucy was a puppy that she ran free in a big open park like that in Yakima. Her tongue dangled and she gleefully ran up and down and back again. I remember thinking at the time that when she died an old dog, that that would be my vision of her running in Doggy Heaven. And tonight was another of the same kind of vision. My black dog running in the white snow, back and forth, gleeful that she was free.

I stood in the middle of this vast field alone in the quiet snow, not cold, but alone, and happy. I had one of those moments that I realized I didn't want it to end. I wanted to feel like that forever.

So after stalling a little longer, the snow falling faster, I started towards home. Lucy walked ahead, to the edge of the park where we head home, and I didn't go. I said "HEY!" and she came. We decided to loop around the lake one more time. Braving the cold, and hey, I was already caked in snow from head to toe, my feet were still warm along with most of the rest of me -- we headed around for another lap.

By the time we hit the far end of the lake, I was tired, but so glad we went again. This time, when we hit the end of the lake to go home, I was ready.

I may be sore tomorrow, but tonight I got to walk in the snow. It's one of the reasons I love living in Denver, and worth whatever frostbite I may suffer to make that memory.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ya sure, you betcha! It's Lefse Making Day!

I don't know why, but maybe it was all the mashed potatoes I had during Thanksgiving that made me think of it -- but I decided to make some lefse today.

Lefse is a Norwegian potato tortilla or pancake of sorts -- but it's not a meal, it's more of a dessert.

My Norwegian Grandmother taught me how to make it, and being raised in largely Scandinavian Lutheran churches, our youth group used to make it in large quantities to sell at a bake sale.

My ever-patient husband Brian has been politely informed that today there will be no disc golf, and very little football except for what he can hear from the kitchen -- because lefse is at minimum a 2-man (or 1-man, 1-woman in this case) operation.

Yesterday I went to the store and bought 20 lbs. of potatoes, and I boiled them, mashed them, and added the needed ingredients. Then I had to cool them overnight. The magnificently large bowl of potatoes wait for their last ingredient -- loads of flour -- to be mixed in til it's a big messy dough. This morning I prepped the kitchen by taking out a bunch of counter-top stuff, and creating stations -- one for mixing dough -- one for rolling it out -- a frying area -- and a cooling area.

The kitchen will be an unholy mess when it's over. But we'll have scads of lefse, to share with friends, freeze for Christmas when my Mom & brother come, and of course, to enjoy slathered with butter & sugar.

There's something about making lefse that makes me feel like I'm in touch with at least one branch of my crazy Heinz-57 family tree. My ancestors come from Norway (Grandma Dahlen), Sweden & England (Grandpa Peterson), France & Ireland (Grandpa Gunnette) and Denmark (Grandma Hansen).

With such a complicated ancestry, there are few things I know how to do that come from any of those countries and lefse is one of those things that just makes you feel Norwegian. I'm just a white girl from the States getting in touch with my roots, you might say.

Ya sure, you betcha!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gretchen Made Me Think of This...

The Denver City & County Building Lit Up for the Holidays Posted by Picasa

Gretchen's post today on her blog -- http://3outta5.blogspot.com/ made me think of this...

She posted about provincialism -- how people think that their part of the world is the best, particularly New Yorkers, and that perhaps the perception of living in New York gives one a less global view than those who live outside it.

As a result of her post, I started thinking about what she said, but it also made me think about makes Denver so great, so let's talk turkey on the eve of Thanksgiving about what makes this a great city, just so if you don't live here, you'll swear you'll visit, and if you do, you'll smile a little wider.

Daniel Liebeskind, an architect who developed the new Hamilton Wing (pictured) for modern art, is in the running, if not chosen to develop the new World Trade Center buildings and memorials. Liebeskind was in town recently to open the new wing of the Denver Art Museum (with its catch-phrase of "Hot DAM!", because we have so much class).

Liebeskind said something, that as a resident of Paris and New York (him, not me), struck me with all sorts of civic pride in my adopted city.

"Denver is America at its best," he said.


Because it's beautiful. Not just the Rockies for a backdrop. The city itself is beautiful. It's open, it's friendly. People here are well-educated, love the arts, and support them with a vengeance. They're the friendly Midwesterners who want to live in a city.

I asked someone recently why everyone was so surprised that I would move here from Seattle, a town so smug that it thinks that the 20 days a year it doesn't rain in August is worth the other 345 days that it does.

I found out that Denver has a little hang-up, and that is that they were long considered a "cow town" even though there are no cows for miles around anymore, and not for a long time.

They responded by having every cultural attraction known to man brought in, including a great art museum, a world-class zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (which I still go to at least annually), and you name the major and minor sports -- we have 'em. Ballet? Theatre? We have it in spades.

But the people are what do it for me. I've made more friends in 5 years in Denver than I did in 15 in Seattle, but the strangers are good too. When I bought a map at the map store downtown, I came out of the store looking at it, and a man stopped on his bicycle to ask if he could help me find something. When I said no, I was just new in town, he said "Welcome to Colorado!" And he meant it.

Seattleites, on the other hand, will say "Great, you're from out of town? When are you leaving?".

The annual spring & summer events like the Taste of Colorado and Cinco de Mayo celebration send hundreds of thousands of people into Civic Center Park, a vast expanse of green that spans the space between the City & County Building and the State Capitol. Denverites like to have a good party.

I live in a city that has a few big city problems, but politicians have a no-nonsense approach to life. When someone complained about the "Merry Christmas" sign on the City County building, the Mayor said "Tough." When the Italians who hold the annual Columbus Day parade were protested by the local Native Americans, the mayor said, "Go ahead and protest, but keep your cool. This is a free country, let's keep it that way."


And despite all the fashionista girls in this city who left me behind a long time ago -- Today, when I wore my cowboy boots to work -- I got lots of compliments.

Yeah, Denver is my kind of town.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Quote of The Week

"Do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."
Ted Mink, Sheriff for Jefferson County, Colorado.

Sheriff Ted Mink probably doesn't realize what great words he spoke today, but it really resounded with me.

You see, Colorado, specifically the mountain town of Bailey, recently suffered a terrible tragedy, when a man stormed the high school and took a number of kids hostage.

In the end, the hostage taker was killed, and he took one girl, Emily Keyes, with him as he shot her in the back as she tried to run away from him towards SWAT team members, who killed him returning fire.

This happened quite recently -- Sept. 27 -- and her parents joined the Sheriff in honoring those people, including SWAT and local police who responded to the emergency.

But the real class act I think has to be Emily's parents, who have thanked the first responders repeatedly in the media, and attended the event to give community commendations for their bravery.

So many people these days would try and blame law enforcement for not doing enough, particularly if they lost a child, and on one hand, it would be hard to blame them for trying to make sense of such a tragedy by pointing at the "what-if's" after the outcome of a hostage situation turned out so badly for them.

Instead, the Keyes family has thanked law enforcement several times, and while they grieve their daughter, they have taken the time to thank those who tried to help, even when it ultimately failed to help their daughter.

It gives me hope to see that others can reach out, be thankful for as much as they can, and not point fingers.

"Do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you
can, as long as you ever can."

Amen to that.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This One's For a Boy Named Zachary

A friend of mine has a 5-year-old son Zachary who is fighting Leukemia. Monday is a big day, as she expects to hear news of the progress of the cancer -- to find out if it's progressed to his brain or not.

This is terrible news, as one might imagine...but despite my own loss, it's hard to really put myself in her shoes, except to be scared and hope and pray for healing for her son.

I started making this quilt this weekend. I guess you could say I was a "woman on a mission" as I designed this yesterday, went to the fabric store when it opened, found some Dora & Diego (Nickolodeon cartoon characters Zack likes) and started working on this. By late today, I have the border on it as well, and it's all pinned, ready for top-stitching.

The gals from on online support group for Pregnancy Loss that I belong to helped pay for the materials as part of the gift, and I hope to get it done this week and ship this Get Well Quilt to Zack as soon as possible.

I hope he gets better more than anything. I want him to enjoy the quilt, and live to outgrow it.

If you're the praying kind, please send one up for Zack. He's a very special boy, with a very special Mom, and we want him to get better.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

GET TO KNOW ME! (Some More)

I shamelessly stole this from Sheri. I thought the questions were good (too).

1. Explain what ended your last relationship? I briefly dated a law student named Bill from the University of Washington. We ended our relationship because he wasn't over his last girlfriend, and I knew I needed to find out where Brian and I stood before I moved on. Brian and I got married. I hope Bill had just as good of luck, because he was a very nice man.

2. When was the last time you shaved? Depends on which part we're talking about, but my legs got shaved on Saturday.

3. What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.? Riding the bus to work, watching the pilot of Studio 60 that I recently downloaded to my iPod.

4. What were you doing 15 minutes ago? Reading Sheri's blog and stealing this questionnaire for my own use.

5. Are you any good at math? Yes. And I can thank Dan, my friend and ex-boyfriend for getting me through Pre-Calculus, but I was always good at Geometry, which is why I'm a wicked quilter.

6. Your prom night? Didn't have one. I was in Brazil my Junior year as an exchange student, and my senior year I dated a college man (now my husband Brian) who wasn't about to blast back to the past and go to prom.

7. Do you have any famous ancestors? A Senator from Virginia back before my family denegrated into horse thieves.

8. Have you had to take a loan out for school? To attend school? Yes, but I paid them off.

9. Do you know the words to the song on your myspace profile? I don't have one, so no.

10. Last thing received in the mail? Netflix movies.

11. How many different beverages have you had today? OH, my. Coffee. Water. Coffee. Soda. Wine. In that order.

12. Do you ever leave messages on peoples answering machines? Yes. That's why they're there.

13. Who did you lose your CONCERT virginity to? RUSH, The Big Money Tour. It was made up for shortly thereafter by a Rolling Stones & The Who concerts that same autumn.

14. Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach? Yes.

15. What was the most painful dental procedure you have had? Removal of my wisdom teeth, in three phases. They all sucked, but back then they still handed out Codeine, so at least I was medicated properly.

16. What is out your back door? My garage and gasp my back yard.

17. Any plans for Friday night? This weekend will be spent working on my son Jacob's story of his birth and loss. He died July 7, and was due November 11, so this weekend will be taken up with that.

18. Do you like what the ocean does to your hair? What does it do to my hair that any high wind won't do? Either way it's messed up, so no.

19. Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns? Stupid queation. But the answer is no, thank God.

20. Have you ever been to a planetarium? Yes, just a few weeks ago we went to the Gates Planetarium at The Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Which rocks, by the way.

21. Do you re-use towels after you shower? Yes, we change them out weekly, and not before.

22. Some things you are excited about? The Democratic sweep in this year's elections. I'm mostly just happy that my feelings on the war in Iraq are not solo -- and that the world can see that we're not just a bunch of sheep following the herd.

23. What is your favorite flavor of JELLO? Raspberry.

24. Describe your keychain(s)? I have one with a light on it, and my favorite, a Yellowstone keyring I got while I was with my parents in 1992, just weeks before my Dad died.

25. This question is MIA. So, let's take a quote from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues... "Life is hard if you think it is."

26. Where do you keep your change? In the tackiest coffee mug on my husband's dresser, that I refused to drink out of, so it became a change receptacle.

27. What kind of winter coat do you own? I have a stupid red parka I hate, and a gray pea coat. I need to get a new one, because I live in Colorado, where it was 80 degrees today and will snow again, by Friday.

28. What was the weather like on your graduation day? Hot and gorgeous. I graduated 10 years later than I should have -- in 1999, and I was proud to walk on the floor of Husky Stadium in Seattle...and get my #*%&*@ degree that no one can take away from me.

29. Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed? Open, because the cats come in and sleep with us, and Jack has figured out that the doorknob opens the door, so he works it all night (even though he can't really open it). So the door is locked, he just makes noise all night trying.

30. Did U read this far? I hope you did! Now you are tagged! Steal this from me.

How are we doing?

How are we doing?

That question gets asked a lot lately.

Jacob's due date is Saturday. Tuesday was the 4-month mark since his birth and loss, and it's hard to say just how we're doing.

We're hanging in there. I took tomorrow and Friday off from work, and I feel another storm of grief brewing, as I don't cry every day over Jacob's loss, but some days just feel like a rough patch is ahead....Brian said yesterday he started going through Jacob's box looking for some medical paperwork and ended up crying for a solid hour. That just breaks my heart, of course...I know the same awaits me.

With these few days off, I'm going to work on printing some pictures and putting together a scrap book for Jacob's life. I will finish my nephew's quilt in between, but the focus is on Jacob this weekend. I dread it on some level, just knowing I'll be crying a lot, but also look forward to getting a proper book together with all the sympathy cards, pictures, and printing my son's birth story so there is a record of him to look through and remember.

This past week, it's been tough to see people's due dates who were close to mine approaching. It puts a lump in my throat to think of it, and that I don't get to share that same joy. At the same time, I feel a parting of the clouds -- like I'm literally seeing some daylight after all this grief. I know I'll get through this...it's just sometimes a matter of deciding to trudge on, and times like that I just miss my son so much, it hurts.

Other days I feel light enough that it's not trudging anymore, but that things will truly be ok someday. Joy will return.

Thanks to everyone for your support. I don't know what I'd do without you.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Random Pet Pictures

This is one of my favorite pictures of my kitties. They're all cuddled up and looking somewhere near the camera. They are so cute, don'tcha think?

The Kitten Hopper has this thing about tight spaces. He likes them. This is a shot I took (without the flash, under the blanket of him as he lounges in the dark. He's just happy with that. Jack, on the other hand, would be outta there as soon as the lights went out.
When the Christmas tree is up, he hangs out there. I'm so glad I bought a fake tree, because with two cats playing under it, we'd just have too many toppled tree incidents. Someday maybe they'll think it's boring, but for now, they think it's fun to hide out and attack each other in. Who can stop them?

This is Edgar. He's not OUR pet, but he was this weekend while his family was out of town. He actually got to lay on his own pillow for a while this weekend...He's a VERY good dog. Lucy acted like she didn't care about him for a couple of days, but then she realized she was having fun and wasn't such a fuddy-duddy.

But, eventually, the Kitten Hopper took over. Poor Edgar. But he did find some nice soft spot up on my furniture. My dog is trained to stay off of the new couch, but Edgar -- not so much. But what do you do...you can't exactly discipline someone else's kid, so I just told him to get down. Of course he did, but can you blame the guy? Me neither.

I have some really good ones of Jack & Lucy too, but apparently that's all the pictures that the bloggerbot will let me upload for one post. More later.

Sunday Six

1. What is a family?

A family is a group of people joined together for life, through commitment like marriage, through bloodlines or adoption.

2. How big is your family?

I have am a family with my husband, and we have two cats Jack and Kitten Hopper, and our dog, Lucy. In my "immediate" family, I have a Mom, three brothers and one sister. My Dad died in 1992.

3. Who is the leader of the family?

There is no leader of my family with my husband. We're really companions, co-conspirators, and best friends. I would suspect if the cats could talk to me, they'd say they owned the place.

In my immediate family, my Mom or my oldest brother might be considered the leaders because of their being the oldest, but again, there isn't really a leader. We're all adults now and are friends as well as family. There have been times when people have had to take leadership roles in a crisis, but it changes and it's not permanent.

4. Who is the youngest in the family?

Jack is the youngest in my family with my husband. He's almost 3 years old. In my immediate family, it's my youngest brother Jeremy.

5. What do you do as a family?

Brian and I like to travel. In my immediate family, we like to get together, spend holidays together.

6. What do you love most about your family?

With my husband, I love our bond. I had been married before I married Brian, and it was such a different feeling -- one of not being completely connected to somebody. Brian and I know we will be together, and we love each other very much. I love that he's my best friend, and the only person I really want to be with for the rest of my life.

In my immediate family, I love that I'm friends with each of my siblings and my Mom. I love it that we make the effort to talk to each other and be together, and that no matter what happens, we'll be there for each other. Misunderstandings happen, but we talk them out most of the time. Not everyone has that.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Voting Day

Lots has changed for us voters who still like to go down to the voting booth and do our thing.

My parents were hideous examples of voters. They would go, sure, and leave all of us kids in the car, without seatbelts, with the motor running.

But whenever I asked them how they voted, or just wanting to know what it was like, they just said that they cancelled each other out. One parent would vote all Democrat, the other Republican.

They wouldn't tell us which one was which, although I think they were lying about all of it anyway. Back in the 1970s, I'd be shocked if my parents voted for anything Democrat.

Today I went to the Wellington Webb Office Building in Downtown Denver for early voting, and waited 30 minutes for my chance to vote. We can't vote in our old polling places, now there are several places throughout the city where we can bring our registrations with us, and along with IDs, are cleared to vote. We can do it over the course of 10 days before Election Day.

While standing in line, I got the 2 foot by 3 foot voter's guide that ran through each of the initiatives and other items on the ballot so we could study in advance. This is almost not an exaggeration, it was bigger than an 11x17 piece of paper. All in small print.

I knew how I'd vote on the major things, but the one that killed me was the one looking to change the way initiatives are voted upon in the state. I couldn't tell if it was good or bad, frivolous or brilliant, because the initiative to change the initiative process was so badly written, my college-educated brain couldn't wrap itself around it.

So I asked the lady next to me, just asking "Does this make sense to you?" She and I laughed at the irony that the initiative to change the initiative process was a joke in and of itself.

There was a League of Women Voters pamphlet that had the pro's and con's of all the initiatives. I read it. Still unsatisfied, but leaning one way.

I'm a fan of the initiative system. I like it that laws can be passed if you get enough people to sign it to get it on the ballot, and enough people vote for it. I think it's a fine way to not wait around for the State Legislature to do something. In fact, I wish we'd have national initiatives, so we could all vote once on something and just make it law and everybody could shut up about it for a while. You can imagine some of the divisive issues I'm thinking of. Capital Punishment for one.

But this year, we had some very interesting votes. Two initiatives that sort of go together, but sort of don't were on the ballot.

One was to define marriage as being ONLY between a man and a woman.

The other was to pass a law that ok's domestic partnership between same-sex couples.

If one passes, I want the other one to also.

But to me, I found it odd to try and make a definition of marriage like that. It's kind of like saying "football" is only American Football, not Canadian Football, or European Football, known as soccer in this country. Doesn't it matter who you are, who you marry and where you live that defines marriage for you? Marriage doesn't mean the same thing to each person both in the personal as well as the financial sense that the State does. Who am I to say that it's only a man and a woman? Why does anyone really care who marries who? I haven't been able to get my mind around that yet, and probably never will.

But, the fun of the day was voting. I love doing it. We've had some scandals regarding the machines and whether they were tallying votes correctly.

But there was a cool feature on my voting machine today. It printed all three pages out, into a secure box, where I could read it before submitting my vote, and then it disappeared so the next person can't read it. But it's in there so if the machine hiccups, they have another way to count my vote.

So, I think I voted today.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Kerry's Apology

I'm glad John Kerry apologized today to the people who deserve it -- to the troops in Iraq.

When you say something, even if it's a slip of the tongue and misunderstood, the people affected deserve an apology.

In this digital world, it's amazing to me how quickly some politician's misspoken words can go zipping around the world in a matter of seconds.

In this highly divided country, Republicans in a desperate attempt to save this election for themselves (because, after all, that's what it's all about, a simple power grab) are quick to seize on Kerry's words and label him a traitor to our troops.

Frankly, I watched what he said, and took exactly what the Republicans were trying to get us to take it as. But knowing what I know about Kerry, I could understand what he was trying to say, what he actually said, and why it was a mistake.

It'd be about on par with me making a comment that sounded racist. Anyone who knows me would know that's not the person I am, and that I wouldn't possibly say something like that on purpose, much less mean it.

Likewise, if Kerry weren't a Vietnam War veteran, maybe the words would stick a little better with me. But a veteran who's spent his later years trying to help veterans at every turn doesn't make fun of other veterans -- not intentionally.

Maybe if President Bush had spent more than a short tour of duty in the Texas National Guard, and actually gotten shot at a few times, he might have a different perspective on the true cost of war.

As of today, The Washington Post reports 2,801 military deaths in Iraq, and another 340 in Afghanistan. http://projects.washingtonpost.com/fallen/ At this rate (we lost 101 soldiers in Iraq in October alone) we should be up to the same number of 2,996 that we lost on 9/11 by Christmas.

And let's not forget who else is getting killed over there. Depending on who you ask, civilian deaths in Iraq range from the mid 40,000s to up to 100,000. And we're not even counting the wounded.

Bush's resolve to continue this war at all costs and to challenge the patriotism of those who question his policies is sickening to me.

Maybe Kerry is right, if you're stupid enough, you end up in Iraq.

And I'm not talking about the troops. Either.


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