A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 30, 2016

download-7Wednesday came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. A nice little bow on the present I gave myself:  the month-long celebration of my half-century birthday.

I spent the day doing chores, running errands, and desperately trying to get myself organized for Yule. I have a big family (No. 4), and between my husband and I we have five kids, one of which is married, another is engaged, and another with a serious committed significant other. I picked up flat rate boxes at the post office and mailed a little prezzie to a friend (No. 5) of mine. Then I headed to the drug store to pick up a little something to help me with some organization. I had to pick up a RX. Then, I stopped by an ol’ pal’s gift shop looking for a specific thing, but she unfortunately didn’t have it. We caught up a bit, both trying hard not to bitch about the unbelievable crap we’ve had to deal with as of late. We hugged and I bid her adieu.

Then I had to come home and do more chores. I emailed an arts organization to help me with a contact I had lost. And I emailed the artist’s work I was looking for in my friend’s shop.

Then it was time for some lunch and laundry. Then I worked on laying out Wilderness Rim some more, in between keeping the laundry going, doing the dishes, and making sure both bathrooms were clean.

I made turkey hash for dinner for the men in my life. It poured buckets yesterday with 25 mph wind gusts. There was no walking yesterday except for inside the drug store. So, I did a late session of yoga and gave the puppies (No. 3)  a little extra love while I watched the last episode of Gilmore Girls reboot (No. 14).images-4

Hubby and I meditated (No. 8) and I wasn’t going to join my friends at the local pub for a special write-in session, because I felt tired, the weather sucked and I was feeling a bit seasonal-affective over being out in it. But Hubby (No. 1) convinced me that I needed it to recharge my batteries. As always, my life partner knows me way too well. I’m really happy that I did end up going. Wilderness Rim is ready to go except for the cover art. My artist is swamped right now, so until she and I can sit down and meet and discuss the next steps, we’re in a holding pattern of the publishing process, which is totally normal. I’m still trying to figure out launch antics, so, hopefully I’ll be ready when she is.

As part of the evening there was a giant salad and some very yummy local cider, plus many laughs and some conversations that may lead to some helpful events to make my life even more of a seeking joy platform. Time will tell, but the cards on Tuesday said solutions would present themselves very soon. And they did. Potentially. I must be cautiously optimistic, but, there you have it. We practically closed down the place, and I was pretty late getting home, but it was well worth a few hours of lost sleep.

sticker375x360So that was my half-century birthday month celebration. Thirty days of absolute crazy joy, happiness, and introspection and writing. Lots of writing.

In my 50th year, I will live the rest of the year, and hopefully the rest of my days, with the attitude of seeking joy and staying positive. The dark really is the only thing you see if that’s all you look for. I have a long list of things that make me happy, that give me purpose, that make me feel alive. That’s quite a present.


A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 29, 2016

Latest foraging knowledge haul from the library.

Latest foraging knowledge haul from the library.

Tuesday was filled with tacos and treats, although the dark side of #LifewithAutism started the day at 0217 hrs. Since the dawn of his existence MWB has not slept. He swore he took his sleep meds, but clearly his anxiety had other ideas. Night Terrors are a normal part of #LifewithAutism, no young child required. The young child is trapped in the mind of a near 21-year-old.

I did get to nap between 0400 and 0600 hrs.  Get the youngest (No. 2) and the husband (No. 1) off for the school/work day and get daily chores done. There were more wrestling matches with #LifewithAutism before I had to depart for a Buy Nothing pick up and retrieve a new-to-us Yule Tree skirt. It looks wonderful. Then I stopped by the drug store to get ornament hooks because for some reason our supply over the past decade has dwindled. Then it was back home to do more chores, sprinkle in some book formatting (No. 6), and walk with the dogs (No. 3).

At near lunch time, hubby checked in with me and I text’d him a photo of this cute ornament I saw at the drug store. It was a Yule decorated crab trap. Given our love of the ocean and fishing and crabbing (No. 18), he thought I should have procured it. He said, “There’s a lot on the tree that is me, or you, this would definitely be an ‘us’ ornament.” How could I refuse that?

A symbol of an activity we love to do together for our Yule tree.

A symbol of an activity we love to do together for our Yule tree.

So, I headed back out into the world. First stop however was the library (No. 7) and picking up some new books on foraging (No. 17), then I sneaked off to read them over a plate of fried rice (No. 10) at my favorite cheapie lunch spot in the Valley, Got Rice. Then I headed back to the drug store and got the ornament. Back home, I got the freshly washed skirt out of the dryer and put it under the tree and put the new ornament on.

#LifewithAutism was having a banner day and there was more fussing and fighting. I feared there would be a trip to the hospital or someone would call the police — as much as I try to contain his meltdowns indoors, MWB inevitably goes outside to expose the whole world to what I snarkily call the “fun side” of this disorder. Sarcasm is called for because the brand of Autism my child suffers from doesn’t seem to have a fun side, no super power, no sweetness, nothing positive to hold onto. That may seem harsh, but it is a reality for us and we’re one of the cases of Autism that does not become a poster child for Autism organizations, but it exists. Oh, yes, it exists in full-raging, negative spectrum of meltdown colors. So when I need to spend a whole month making a list and checking it off about the joy in my life, it’s easy to imagine why I would so such a thing.

Our new tree skirt procured from the Buy Nothing movement.

Our new tree skirt procured from the Buy Nothing movement.

I de-escalated him to the point of calmness so I could do laundry, hang the other ornaments missing their hooks, and dust and vacuum the house. Then it was back to book formatting until it was time to make dinner. In between then youngest son came home from school. Within 1o minutes of his arrival, #LifewithAutism picked a fight. Clearly it was a pick-a-fight kind of day. So, I carb loaded MWB with some pasta&cheese bake, which calmed him down. Getting him to eat yesterday was another battle.

Then youngest and I headed out to try to catch the hockey game (No. 13) at our local sports pub. It was happy hour so we got tacos and wings super cheap. My son also got a salad and sandwich. Got to have a conversation with my youngest about how NOT to act in public as there was this really loud-mouth blowhard discussing things he knew nothing about and being completely obnoxious about it. He was on the other side of the restaurant from us and we could hear him. I love natural teaching moments (No. 22), and that mansplainer gave me a perfect opportunity to talk to my son about public decorum and the truth about the subjects the man was talking about (current political climate, gender identity, and the economy), along with the fact that public education has created people who think everything they get from shock jocks and radio pundits is truth.

The Red Wings were playing well and we left in the third period (I can’t extend stays too long anywhere when #LifewithAutism is having a bad day). Alas, I had to stop by the drug store a third time this day, because I needed padded envelopes to mail some things on Wednesday and my son needed some supplies, too. Then it was off home where things were calm.

A quick hockey respite from #LifewithAutism with my youngest.

A quick hockey respite from #LifewithAutism with my youngest.

I cleaned up the kitchen and fed the dogs (No. 2) and took them outside. Then started a fire in the wood stove, as the wind had picked up and things were getting cold fast. Then there was an internet-induced eruption from the #LifewithAutism corner of the house. When hubby got home from spending his weekly work night at his father’s homestead (he hung a chandelier I got from Buy Nothing at his dad’s house last night), I made him block facebook again on the computer MWB’s using (my coding skills aren’t there yet, if you’re an #intheweeds fan). I hate to keep social things from him, but he is stuck in middle school. Imagine a middle schooler picking fights online with adult males… yeah (even though the adult males should know better). Fun times.

Then I holed up in my room to work on my book formatting and watch some Gilmore Girls, No. 14 (I’m so a bit disappointed in it thus far, but I’m reserving judgement until I finish the season). Hubby came home and we did our evening chores and headed off to dreamland.

Like life my second-to-last day of my half century birthday month celebration was filled with good and bad. But, when you seek out the light, you can often find it. If you look for the dark, it is all you will ever see. Yin. Yang. Joy. Sorrow. Good. Bad. It’s cyclic and necessary. This is life as a human. Hopefully, I’m blessed with another half-century to experience.



A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 28, 2016

The third to last day of my half-century birthday month celebration fell on a Monday. Mondays in Western Culture can be fraught with disappointment and angst. Mine was fraught with #LifewithAutism weirdness (which as I pen this has not subsided), a very long list of chores, and an even longer football banquet.

However, I think I handled it with grace and tried to hold onto the moments that brought me joy, like my Hubby (No. 1) holding my hand as we fell asleep, my youngest son (No. 2) being recognized as a scholar athlete, and being able to provide perfect eggs to members of my community (No. 24). Even though I didn’t get very many photos along the way this Monday.

I also practiced Honesty (No. 23). I wrote a letter to a friend (No. 5). An overdue communique that was raw and real. I felt 5e42ffddd3c58878a68c6a243c71f60bbad afterwards. As has been my habit in recent years, I sat with that regret and examined it. Then I recognized that that was the false facade that society puts on friendships — like it should always be butterflies and unicorn farts. Life is messy. If someone is a true friend, they will understand when sometimes you’re in a mess.

It was at that point in my introspection that I recalled a small epiphany about who I am. Nearly a decade ago, I had a friend tell me that some of my honesty would often make her flinch, and not because I drop the F-bomb in my speech from time to time, but because it was a type of honesty she’d never heard before, “It’s absolutely wrapped in love.” She explained further that I’ll call bullshit when bullshit needs to be called, that she noted also tended to be more about my own behavior than others; but, that I also am the staunchest cheerleader for my friends. When I’m happy for them, when I want something for them, when I encourage them, it’s genuine.

“For me,” she continued, “that’s the most balanced of friendships I could ask for and the truest type.” I held that memory to my heart on this Monday, and had cause later to counsel my youngest with the story, too. He unfortunately gets his boldness and honesty from his Mum. I’m trying to teach him that language can be his best friend when he’s expressing that honesty, and to do it from a perspective that everyone has a hard journey they are making. So, dear friend, if you’re reading this, my apologies for the rawness of my letter; but, because I love you and trust you, I could be that honest with you. I didn’t intend to make you cry, and for that I am sorry. But my words were true.

Monday also allowed me some small moments of entertainment. I got to watch the first episode of the Gilmore Girls reboot (please no spoilers in comments, because it may take me some time to get through the rest of the episodes), and finish decorating the inside of the house for Yule. I purged some holiday decorations from our inventory, as well, which a bit of decluttering always brings me joy.

I also finished the final polish of a manuscript I’ve been working on for too many years (No. 6). Wilderness Rim is as done as done could get and I began laying it out for publication. That’s a huge thing. However, it brought with it the creative downward spiral of “What if no one reads it?”

Today I’m trying hard to figure out a way to get No. 17 on my list in before Thursday. That’s foraging. The mountains now have snow, so many of my foraging spots will be difficult to get to; however, if the weather breaks like they are claiming today, I may just bolt and see what I can find. Winter, however, comes earlier in the Cascade Foothills, and there may be little to forage. So, I may just have to do some forage studying, as there’s still so much to learn.

I haven’t noted No. 25, but I get outside every day and work my microfarm or hang with the ducks, chickens, or dogs. I’m on the trails constantly with the dogs, and I’m uncertain why through the course of the month I haven’t noted it. I reckon it has to do with not being able to do a longer hike. I blame the current weather and #LifewithAutism. As it was, the end-of-year football banquet kept me out of the house for more than four hours last night and that set off a chain reaction in My Wandering Boy (MWB) that the whole household is still reeling from on Tuesday morning (more on that later). But, I do try to get in a 30-minute walk every day. Sometimes I’m alone. Sometimes just one, or two of the dogs, or all three accompany me. I guess it’s so a part of my life like doing laundry or dishes, that I just don’t take better notice of it. But, as a creative individual, that 30 minutes a day is like a muse reset. It’s essential, and I guard it very much as I do my writing time and yoga time. In that sense you could say that No. 25 (Nature and being in it) is very much self-care.

The other thing that seems only partially noted was No. 8 (My Spirituality) for which I actually signed up for a new class to explore some new things. The first lesson just came out yesterday, so I’ll be diving into that in the next week or so. So, it’s there, just not on the surface as much as say No. 10 (Food). It would be difficult to instagram Spirituality. But, it’s there, and it brings me joy, peace, and recharges my batteries.


A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 27, 2016

images-7Sunday. Funday. Although I wasn’t filled with much fun. I think everyone was a bit “touched out” and cranky on Sunday, although I did my best to be celebratory and grateful. There were moments when #LifewithAutism pushed me over the edge and I lost my joy and thankfulness.

Hubby (No. 1) and I  fasted in the morning to make up for all the extra calories and sugary items we’d enjoyed over Thursday and Saturday. #gettingoldaintforsissies and if you want to play you have to pay. I cleaned house, he went to the storage unit and got Yule items so we could at least set up our tree, which we did. The house (N0. 15) is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Then we grabbed a quick bite to eat of leftovers. Then we set things up for the arrival of my father-in-law for our weekly Seahawks game with him (No. 4).

I wasn’t much into the game and started pintrest-posting our menu for Yule Eve/Yule Day. Youngest son was a total grump, and MWB was pestering for cash to go BMX’ing. I headed into the bedroom and read (No. 7). When I came to the end of the book, I went back into the living room and began putting the decorations on, as hubby had set the tree up and put the lights and topper on. We have a new topper this year, a Yule Stag, and I just love it. It was a birthday gift from my husband. By the time we finished decorating, the game was over — an absolute terrible outing for our ‘hawks, as there were too many injuries. FIL headed out, having spent many days here already over the course of the week, and I think he was ready to be by himself.

Hubby and I did a meditation (No. 8) because we both were feeling out of sorts. Then it was time to have a real meal again. He heated up leftovers, while I searched online for a new Yule Tree Skirt. Since ours has long been worn out. We ate leftover salmon and crab cakes and butternut squash pasta (No. 10), then we listened to jazz (No. 9) and hung out in the kitchen prepping for more Yule festivities. Hubby was reading the newest Motorcycle Consumer News (No. 19) and sharing information on it with me.  We dreamed about motorcycling again and what it would take and we’re kind of at a cross roads with it. Again, lots of what we have to do in life (Namely No. 2, Kids) interferes with our ability to have extra time to ride again. But, it’s not discounted yet. Then we retired to the bedroom to cuddle up and watch some of our programs. Not exactly Couch Time, but we needed the sanctuary.15195940_10211370102190602_6127113200768413290_o

In between we took breaks to stoke the fire and cleaned the kitchen and talked. Mostly we talked about strategy to help our middle son. We’re struggling with #LifewithAutism right now. We cope for a time and then it just crushes us down. We finally have an attorney that called us back, so we’ve got some hope on the horizon. I’m trying hard to not be a downer and think that there will be no help with getting an attorney and trying to get my son housing, services, and sheltered employment. On Jan. 9, he’ll be 21 years old. He has no high school diploma, the school having given up and saying they “couldn’t get him to progress,” which is their legal term to allow him to fall by the wayside. He has no job skills. He seems only interested in playing World of Warcraft competitively, and doing BMX competitively. Both of these things are foreign to us and require hand-holding we don’t have the resources to do. Also, every time we get a new person involved in this fight with us — doctor, counselor, social worker, whatever — I have to tell the whole tale all over again and again and again. It’s painful and I hate it. Think about the worst thing you have to deal with in your life — a problem that has never gone away, will never go away, but you have to face it every day and then you have to talk to people constantly all day long about it. You begin to loathe it so much and just want the problem to go away. Alas, there is no cure for Autism. So we just try to do small things like cuddle and support one another and do the best we can with and for our child. This child who looks like a man, but has a psycho-social age of about 12 years old right now.

Then I got to read (No. 7) before lights out.  I finished one book earlier in the day and am well on my way to finishing another. Given the stack of books I physically have in my “to-read” pile, this is good. 10c1jz

I’m feeling rather my 50 years as I bid adieu to Sunday, and a bit in a funk for the problems that my next personal new year will have me wrestle, which many I’ve already been wrestling for years. At 50 I have even fewer answers that I had at 49, or 39, or ever. There are days like today where I’m dissatisfied with the solutions, and other days where I realize this is as good as it gets and I’m okay with it. Today I was very much not okay with it.


A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 26, 2016


My FIL, Beavers Alum, and SIL, Ducks Alum, poised before #thecivilwar began. In the end, the Beavers would claim victory.

Saturday was #second-giving as I’m terming it. We had family (No. 4) over to watch football and eat a more traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie (No. 10 & No. 2).

We started the day with brunch leftovers from Thanksgiving and straightening up the house in preparation of company. I baked the pumpkin pie and turned the turkey over in the brine.

My family arrived a little after noon hands full of goodies for snacking during #thecivilwar (University of Oregon vs. Oregon State University), for which are the alma maters for my sister- & brother-in-law and father-in-law, respectively. So, it was a bit of family competition fun.

By half time I needed to start roasting the turkey and getting the mashed potatoes and stuffing ready.15195864_10211359061314587_8263182238349041190_o

My FIL’s team won, and then we settled in to eat the traditional American Thanksgiving meal. Everything was yummy and my company left for their hotel/home with full bellies and smiles.

After everyone left we cleaned the kitchen and sat down to watch a movie (No. 14).  I did a quick inventory of the favorite things I’ve missed this month to try and get into my schedule on Monday.

We were pretty whooped and headed for bed right at 2100 hrs.

I learned that my #intheweeds project (No. 6), which has been on hold while I did my birthday month project is of greater importance than I originally thought possible (more on that later).  I learned that if Hubby and I were a couple unencumbered by extended family and children, we’d already be in the process of being ex-pats. But, I love my family dearly. I was reminded that there’s nothing I can’t cook up. And books (No. 7) and bed are always there when the outside world seems too much to deal with.