A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 11, 2016

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a5e64c8d1bede6fb51689147b33c691af0ac7c1cThe eleventh day in the eleventh month in my half-century birthday celebration brought mostly joy, there was some heartbreak, but you cannot have light without dark. In order to recognize joy, you have to have known the other side.

The whole house was “off” for the Veteran’s Day holiday and like good Americans we slept in, having said our Veteran’s Day thanks the day before. However, at 11:11 at a table full of writers, I said a quiet prayer for all those that gave the ultimate sacrifice and those still serving and in harm’s way. I feel very protective that our current soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coasties are not unduly taxed with new conflict on the heels of our new president’s potential actions. I’m remaining calm for now, but his rhetoric is a natural cause for concern. I am at the ready.

I had coffee (No. 12) with my husband (No. 1), and then went off to my regular Friday morning writers cafe to commiserate on work not done and celebrate work already accomplished in my writing life (No. 6). I had a wonderful breakfast (No. 10), lovingly cooked and served by the awesome staff at The Black Dog Arts Cafe (No. 24).  One of my writer friends gave me these wicked new earrings that I ended up wearing all day (No. 5).15002257_10211223208118342_7424042353158915850_o

Then I came home and worked some more on Wilderness Rim. I cleaned out my car to ready for its taxing abilities for that evening. And cleaned out my purse and took a 20-minute nap. I moved laundry along, and hung out with my dogs (No. 3).

Then my friends (No. 5, again!) arrived, both bearing gifts: A serpentine crystal necklace (No. 9)  and whiskey (No 11).  and we headed for prefunc drinks and nosh at Mama Stortini’s — the crab cakes (No. 10) were to die for. Then we headed off to the Seattle Thunderbirds Hockey game (No. 13). I think we all had fun — I certainly did, even if the ‘birds couldn’t pull out a win against the Calgary Hitmen. There was a couple of really confusing calls that may have helped the ‘birds lose this one.

Then I headed back home to my nice warm and dry bed, where my puppies and husband were awaiting my return.


Despite my apprehension about the future, I fell asleep with gratitude in my heart and a smile on my face. I have a ridiculously blessed life. It does give me resolve to be at the ready to defend such opportunities for others — as I have in the past, as I always will.

I also learned this day that some people have good hearts and were taken for a ride on both sides of the political aisle in this country. None of us is without our failings, but what we do with these mistakes and how we make things okay for the rest of the world…that is worth celebrating, worthy of the joy in forgiveness. However, that forgiveness doesn’t happen without introspection on both sides. My introspection gave me one epiphany: until you’ve actually experienced something, you can only TRY to understand. You can sympathize. However, you don’t really KNOW. Case in point, many of my friends don’t have children. If they do have children, they may not be dealing with #LifewithAutism (Hell, even fellow Autism moms experience something completely different than I do, too, since once you’ve met one child on the spectrum, you’ve met one child on the spectrum). Both my friends who are parents and those who are not are sympathetic to what I deal with daily. They are even very supportive. They try to understand. But, they do not know. They recognize that and it makes their friendship, their support, their love that much more genuine. And I’m grateful that I understand this human condition for both when I’m the one on the outside or the one with the experience trying to be understood. 3d4f0503dccf9b6682f8b632b091b0d5

There were some other things I learned yesterday, but I’m still processing them and until such time as I can coherently put them in words for you to understand…well, we’ll just have to leave it at that.

Fifty years old and I still feel like I’m a student of life. That I’m still figuring it out. At least I have the opportunity to do so.

Until tomorrow…

What are you celebrating or grateful for today?

A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 9-10, 2016

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Somewhere outside of Zaku, Iraq. Can you find Casz?
Somewhere outside of Zaku, Iraq. Can you find Casz?

Well here we are. It’s after the U.S. election for our 45th president. I’m devastated and am mourning the loss of my country as I hoped it could be. I’m not naive enough to think it was as wonderful as some think it was; but, it is the one I served many years in the military to defend its constitution and its citizens. To that end, I will continue to defend people’s right to vote in a moron and the other party’s right to pick the wrong woman at the wrong time.

The downer mood has made it more of a challenge to focus on the joy and good things in my life, but I still have managed to do it.

Here's another <$10 of wine. 19 Crimes' 2015 Red Wine. Australia. This is a solid B-. Would be a C if they had not included a real cork and the story of the name. Good enough for post election sorrow drowning.
Here’s another <$10 of wine. 19 Crimes’ 2015 Red Wine. Australia. This is a solid B-. Would be a C if they had not included a real cork and the story of the name. Good enough for post election sorrow drowning.

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day writing (No. 6) . If I wasn’t writing, I was cleaning (No. 15). If I wasn’t cleaning I was walking the dogs (No. 3). Pretty much a normal day for me. It was #weighinwednesday and I was down another 1.25 pounds. Yay. That’s more than 40 pounds since I started this #nosugarlife. So that was good. I have more pounds to go, but it feels attainable with this eating plan. It helps that my best friend is doing it with me.

I made “kid food” for dinner last night, because normally Hubby spends his Wednesday evenings with his father helping him around his homestead. Hubby was home because of scheduling stuff, so yay (No. 1). So he got the fish and chips, too. The chips were sweet potato fries, so still allowed for the diet.

I paired the fish and chips with a bottle of wine for #winewednesday. So we got to add No. 31 to the list. It was a decent wine, and considering that many people don’t have access to cheap, decent wine, I am grateful.

My son and I following the Veteran’s Day assembly at his school. I wasn’t going to go, but then that ol’ warrior spirit kicked in. It was a nice program and I’m grateful for the sentiment. And people like me need to stand up and keep standing up. So, I will. Met some good vets, too, as well as some gold-star families. May need to look at getting involved at one of the local vet orgs. My love and appreciation to all my fellow vets and those still serving. We got work to do.

This morning #LifewithAutism was kicked up a notch, but I handled it. He handled it. It’s being handled. But, it make me realize that my youngest son’s request that I attend the Veteran’s Day assembly at his school was pretty important. I realized that as a progressive vet, as a female vet, as a vet who pushed boundaries during her service, I needed to shieldmaiden up and go to the assembly. For my son. For my community. For myself. So, I did. I’m happy I did. It included many of my favorite things to include my kids (No. 2), my community (No. 24), and, yeah, that F-Bomb Honesty (No. 23) I have. I think I made a small impact on people, as they did on me. During the assembly there’s this great program I learned about all over again, by a local artist here in our community, called Fallen Heroes. We got to hear from the artist who “brings home” those servicemembers who paid the ultimate price to their families. So, hello there, No. 9, Art, made an unexpected appearance in my day. To that end, this project is hauntingly memorable and I dropped a small donation in the bucket on my way out. Maybe you might like to do one, too. Tell them Casz sent ya.

Then I met a small contingent of writers for a write-in (No. 6). Most were working on NaNoWriMo, but I am still polishing WILDERNESS RIM. Oh, my goodness, I’m so close to finishing that. But, I plod on.

Then I had to go by the pet store and buy dog food, then to the grocery store and pick up milk and sundries.

Now I’m getting ready to cook dinner (Pork Chops & AppleSauce) (No. 10) and do some much deserved Couch Time (No. 27) with my beloved.

Over the course of these two days, I’ve left my fantasies about leaving the United States and resolved myself to keep fighting, like I always do. I gave up the best years of my life, my best healthy body, and a lot of heartache over the years that I served my country and its citizens. I’m not going to abandon them now. I have my family. I have my friends and fellow writers. I have my community. I’m sticking around. I’m fighting back. Because you deserve your favorite things, too.



A Lifetime of Birthdays:  Nov. 8, 2016

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I’m watching in horror the U.S. election results, and its not putting a nice cherry on my birthday sundae of a day.

Good things that did happen:

  • I made further progress on the publishing of WILDERNESS RIM. (#6)
  • I planted new plants for the homestead given to me by a neighbor  (#16, #24)
  • My son got his driver’s license today (#2)14939632_10211191550326917_4734683051755667270_o
  • The weather was beautiful and I got to be outside in nature (#25)
  • I got to drink really great whiskey while watching the early election results (#11)

Now I’m going to go pretend to sleep so my children will. Tomorrow is a new day and although the election results don’t look good from this point. There’s always a waiver. There’s always a will.



A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 7, 2016

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Dogs and Birthdays go together...
Dogs and Birthdays go together…

Today was fraught with little aggravations and some scary moments, but mostly, it still was about joy.

First off, I’m grateful that none of my neighbors called the cops on me when I was chasing #Lookitssprite this morning when she had a “Squirrel” moment and ran all the way past center field in the park and into the soccer field. I was in my pajamas and muck boots. Micro-Farmer, remember. I was doing my morning chores and the dogs normally keep me company, but Sprite found a squirrel and then a murder of corvins to chase. This leads me to list item No. 3, my dogs. Sprite for her naughtiness this morning got to go to the “nail salon” today. Her nails grow wicked fast and I basically have to take her once a week. Our groomer in town here is the sweetest lady and she loves Sprite and Sprite loves her. We’re so fortunate to have such a great dog groomer here in town; for that I am grateful. (No. 24)

My reading buddy. A book and sweater and the reading chair? Sprite is on it. #lookitssprite #mustlovedogs #writersbestfriend
Even though she was a brat today, she’s still my reading buddy. A book and sweater and the reading chair? Sprite is on it. #lookitssprite #mustlovedogs #writersbestfriend

Chores seemed to go swiftly for me today, because even in a month of celebrating 50 years, I need to keep up with dishes and laundry and the like (No. 15).  I remember when I was younger and having to do such things on my birthday seemed so wrong. Now, I just accept that it’s a part of life as much as sleep and eating.

Then I roared through two chapters of WILDERNESS RIM on the final, final polish (No. 6). I got a peak at the cover’s potential art work this weekend. Dude. It’s so perfect. Just the right amount of creepy and edge for the Echo Falls series. I can’t wait to show everyone. Stay tuned her for more on that soon. Meanwhile, I love stepping back in C.J.s world and his adventures with the young adult Sasquatch, Stinky. It’s sounds hokey, but there are moments when I envy my young protagonist. Hopefully other readers will, too.

Then it was time for my Monday lunch with the Winchester brothers. No, they aren’t some NorthBendNeck fellas I hang with — but, rather, the television series SUPERNATURAL, while I ate leftover beef stew. I’m putting this in self-care, No. 27, and No. 14 , film, for My Favorite Things to focus on for my half-century birthday month celebration.

With just those things it would have been a good day; but it was made even more epic by the fact that I got to meet my friend, Pam, for some much needed bourbon-drinking. Knob Creek was the whiskey of choice today, along with some bar food and laughing my ass off because Pam is fucking funny (So let’s just pull out #20 & #23!). Plain and simple, she’s hilarious. Her no-nonsense way of seeing the world is peppered with a whole lot of humor. american-whiskey-historyIt was fun catching up with her, having a drink, and just being able to be “Casz” for an hour or so. It was made even more special in that she shared some of her writing with me, and I need to get her to send that work out. It’s incredible. When everyone is reading her, you can tell everyone you heard about her first here. Seriously. Huzzah, for No. 5, my friends, and No. 7 Other People’s Writing and No. 11, Whiskey.

Insert aggravating and slightly scary moments of day. I’m not dwelling on them. They are not on my Favorite Things list for this month, so…both can take a hike out of my psyche. I dealt with them and I’m not dredging them up now. For those that know me, know that this is not always how I operate historically. But lately I see its benefit and employing it to the success of a larger amount of peace in my life.

Who had an awesome game? This dude right here. Thanks, Jimmy! Oh, and give our love to Cliff, too.
Who had an awesome game? This dude right here. Thanks, Jimmy! Oh, and give our love to Cliff, too.

Then it was time to make a Monday Night Football nosh dinner  (N0. 10) and watch the Seahawks defeat the Buffalo Bills — it was an ugly win, but a “W” all the same. We ate good food that was healthy, including some incredible fruit salad my father-in-law brought over. Raise that cider glass to #10 on the Favorite Things list:  food.

Father-in-law (No. 4) also brought me presents. One, which was just this huge box of sticks — or that’s what it looks like to those not in the know. We mostly heat our home in the winter with a wood stove. I have a gas furnace for back up, but it’s on year 26 of a 20-year warranty for the furnace. So, I baby it. But our house was built when they took pride in the craftsmanship and durability of a home. So, one single source of heat is doable, especially here in the Cascade Foothills. It’s also handy when the power goes out, which kind of happens a lot here — wind, rain, snow, ice, and flooding have all played a part in lengthy power outages since we moved to Twin Peaks. Yet, this year, it has only gotten below 50 degrees a couple of times. Hence, we’ve had two fires so far. But big fire season is forthcoming. Now I have a fire starter. The box of sticks is actually pitch-laden tinders of wood from an old tree, endearingly named “Old George” by the family, which fell onto my FIL’s property years ago. When you need to start a fire to heat your home quickly, pieces of old George do the trick and fast.

Lookie! I got a box of sticks for my birthday! For many of you this might be a lame present. But when you heat your home with a wood stove, these pitch-laden fire starters (known in our family as 'Old George's for the name of the fallen tree that supplies these beauties) are something that makes homesteading life soooooo much easier. Thanks to my FIL, Grandpa Legend, for knowing how to make me happy.
Lookie! I got a box of sticks for my birthday! For many of you this might be a lame present. But when you heat your home with a wood stove, these pitch-laden fire starters (known in our family as ‘Old George’ for the name of the fallen tree that supplies these beauties) are something that makes homesteading life soooooo much easier. Thanks to my FIL, Grandpa Legend, for knowing how to make me happy.

So there you have it. Now I need to do some relaxation yoga and do some reading (I’m so far behind). Raise a glass and say, huzzah. We’ve reveled in friends and dogs and writing and whiskey and ….

It’s been a good day.

A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 3 – 6, 2016

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images-6So much for blogging every day. But, I have a really good excuse. I got sick. Then, I had to do a job that only a mother can do.

As I blogged about Wednesday night, I had taken my youngest son and his girlfriend to dinner at a sports pub so they could hang out and watch the Cubs make history. The evening covered No. 2, No. 10, & No. 24 on My Favorite Things list.

Within an hour of getting home, I realized I had food poisoning. Within an hour of suffering with all the wonderfulness that is upper and lower GI distress — I got word that my middle son’s journey to California and his goal of working for a BMX team was thwarted by the follies of youth. Due to some legal issues of other parties involved — not my son — we’ll have to leave the reasons at that.

53dd96a04333787253365569d1cfa79c Regardless, middle son, MWB, was stranded just south of Redding, California. However, his amount of baggage was too much for a train, plane, or bus to get him to San Francisco as originally planned. Also, without a travel companion, his #LifewithAutism kicked in and he wanted to come home. Between worry and my body working hard to expel whatever nastiness caused the food poisoning, I didn’t sleep much Wednesday night, maybe about two hours.

By Thursday morning, my actual birthday, getting my son here was clear becoming a one-way street:  Mom drives 10.5 hours one way and picks him up and drives 10.5 hours back home in time for youngest son’s last football game of the season. All the while fighting bad calamari food poisoning. Just call me Wonder Woman. Oi.

I called my friend, Alexa Lioncourt, (No. 5) who, along with my pal and fellow author, Tonya Fraser, that tattoos would have to wait. Alexa went straight into her own superhero mode and called our artist (No. 9) and smoothed things over (He was expecting six hours of work with a cancellation just two hours prior. Boo!). He was very understanding and I’m grateful that a bridge wasn’t burned, because as some of you have heard me say in recent months, 2017 is the Year of the Tattoo (more on that later).

The weird shit you see on I-5 heading south...
The weird shit you see on I-5 heading south…

It was a full-throttle get gas, check the oil, walk the dogs, double feed the poultry, pack water and saltines (remember, food poisoning?), call father in law (No. 4) to catch youngest son after football and deal with being an adult presence at the homestead, and throw some sweats in a bag, and go, go go! Fortunately, there was no other barriers to my doing this.

Alexa called me just as I was heading out of town and asked if I wanted some company. This was my face: Safe To Click . So, I pulled a u-turn on I-90 West and headed back to get my friend, who I felt maybe wasn’t sure what she was signing up for, but I was grateful for the help.

And help she was. She was the perfect co-pilot handling the unending messages from my panicking son on the spectrum in California, the scholar athlete left behind, the husband traveling (No. 30) in Boston, and a million birthday messages that we mostly missed because of horrible, horrible cell reception through Oregon and California. When she saw me getting aggravated, tired, bored, she made conversation, pointed out cool things, and generally was the best person I could have had on an emergency road trip. Thank you, friend. <3 And look at that, No. 5 on my Favorites list. (We had planned on getting a road-trip selfie, but driving and taking photos just didn’t happen…oops.)

1326069810706084There was some serious skunk funk all through Oregon. I mean what is all that about? Oregon, you stink. Also, Grant’s Pass with Fog is like something out of a Stephen King novel, requiring a 45-minute nap at some random rest stop at 0400 hrs. California has some exit ramps that look like marsupial tails, and some weird fruit police. But thanks to Kevin (the name of our truck), my great co-pilot, and some Army Driver training and experience, we kicked the road’s ass, saved the kid, and got home safe, almost exactly 24 hours later. Look at that, we hit #30 on the list. Not ideal travel conditions, but travel all the same.

And I made the football game and ended up calling it on Twitter for parents and fans who couldn’t be there. When we got home it was all I could do to undress and get in bed. Having been up basically 48 hours, I slept like a log Friday night. 14939438_10211166424738793_7628908574546634805_o

Saturday was spent catching up with my best friend and husband (No. 1 on the Favorites List), doing a bit of treasure hunting (No. 28 on the list), and eating Tacos (No. 10), and watching THE CONJURING (No. 14) — Oh Man that Movie! Yikes! While watching that very scary film (it might actually get into my top ten best horror films list), we enjoyed some of the tea my husband brought me home from Boston from the Tea Party museum. Hey there No. 12!

But then MWB had a #LifewithAutism meltdown when the processing of everything that had happened two days before came to realization. So no blogging was done that night because it was all about #2, My Kids, or more specifically the child that gives me the greatest challenges; however, that encompasses No. 23 &  No. 29 on my list. Therefore, gratitude that the universe gives me an opportunity to exercise things that are important to me during this month.


Today, once again was time spent with my Hubby (No. 1), but not until things around the homestead were attended to, to include mucking the duck houses, cleaning the coop, and getting laundry back into the daily cycle of life around here. These, of course, if you’re paying attention, fall under No. 15 & No. 16. Then we took a mini road trip to investigate the possibility of moving MWB to a community about 90 minutes north of us. It’s a great community, but we realize that the drive is just too long for his support network (us) to be much help to him. Since help is necessary in #LifewithAutism, we realized this idea would not pan out. Trading one stress for another wasn’t the solution we’re looking for currently. But, we got to spend some alone time together just us (even if it was in the truck), and talk through some things (Thanksgiving plans, house plans, life plans, you know best friend stuff). I had the forethought to put a beef stew in the crock before we left and we ate that yumminess (No. 10 again) while hitting some couch time (No. 27) and a National Geographic show. Then hubby had to take youngest son to baseball practice and well, I’m blogging.

Hopefully the rest of the month won’t be as challenging. I’m still trying to focus on being grateful, for enjoying the favorites in my life and focusing on those, which should, in turn, manifest a whole lot of happiness.

What will tomorrow bring? Given these last few days, I won’t hazard a guess. But, you’ll be sure to come back here and read about it, yes?