Friday, April 29, 2011

Dizzy Spells

Yesterday I woke up with a scratchy throat and through the day proceeded to acquire body aches, a fever, and some mucus. Today I woke up achy and after watching the fiance head off to work, took a hit of Alka-Seltzer and fell asleep on the coach. Four hours later I woke up still achy, still scratchy, and with weird dream residue all over my brain.

Part of my dream took place at my parents' house. My sister had a date with some teacher from her school (weird) and I was getting ready to go out with my best friend and some other high school friends (weird) for dancing and drinks. For some reason I had my bridesmaid dress on while getting ready for the evening, but I was intending to wear jeans. My sister tried to curl my hair for me (weird) and I just blew dry it out into an overgrown mess of short hair. Then her date showed up in some old Ford truck, the kind were the paint is different colored stripes and there are big side-mirrors.

The dude was gray! He had an old-dude paunch, a button-up short sleeved retirement home shirt, and gray hair. And he was head-over-heels for my sister. Wanted to get married-said even though they'd only had one date, he knew that they should be together. My sister kindly reminded him that they hadn't been out before, it was a teacher's luncheon and they weren't even sitting together-but he wasn't shaken. I tried to tell him that my sister wants to leave our home town, that she'll be away going to college, and doesn't want to settle down now (for some reason I didn't blab that he was a crazy old man and should get the &%$* away from my sister-but dream logic was different). They end up going out and I go downstairs.

My mom was vacuuming the living room and dining room and I was looking at some old photo albums of a trip my sister took to the east coast. For some reason she was around five-years old and on a class trip to the east coast (weird). They had gone to a Broadway version of Cinderella and I was looking at all the posters and advertisements they had pictures off. It was all very wistful and Mom vacuumed around my feet.

Another part of my dream session involved zombies. The fiance and I were fleeing from a zombie invasion a small town/rural area. The zombies weren't in huge masses, but they started showing up in packs and once you saw them, you knew there would be more.

We first escaped on foot from our apartment, the next complex we came to through some woods was beginning its evacuation and we found a couple who needed some help and had extra room. There were other families leaving in convoys of large trucks and I remember being jealous, or at least worried that we didn't have large trucks with more capacity and height. We packed up supplies and piled into the couple's smaller truck and took off just as the zombies were arriving.

Somehow, my dream brought me to a grocery store deli section and I met the fiance's best friend (haven't really met in real-life). The three of us take off and somehow find ourselves in a larger group of my friends and family and my dream takes on a type of "Waterwold" and "Up" flavor-with zombies.

Soon we're soaring above a bridge riddled with cars and zombies and there is some sort of battle to stay on our flying rescue boat (a mixture of "Waterworld" and African shanty town architecture). We end up crash landing near a large power line and the fiance and I are separated from the pack.

Still with the threat of zombies, the fiance and I end up at a crime scene overflowing with cops and spectators.We have to reach the person that the cops are trying to remove from the top apartment. We impersonate delivery people and try to skirt past the cops on the stairs (shots fired and chasing), we try to nab guns and fight our way to the top (shots fired and chasing), and somehow we end up climbing the outside of the building on the balcony rails while running from the cops and avoid being shot and make it into the apartment.

The apartment is covered in Easter decor. There are two bunny shaped cakes covered in brown icing with adorable bunny faces and crepe paper and pastel colored plastic cups and two little girls in their Easter dresses. We tell the father that we have to go now and the mother and the girls flee to pack. The cops start breaking in the door and we run to the back balcony.

We see cop cars below us, but all the cops are at the front of the building in a courtyard (very nice courtyard with multiple water features and a large reflecting pool-even those these apartments are not executive in any way). The father and I jump off the balcony while holding onto separate ends of a tarp to float down to the ground. The fiance escapes down the side of the building and we all run off into the night.

At the end of the dream the fiance and I are reunited with the group of family and friends on the run-down rescue boat turned into road warrior rescue machine and we all drive off into a dry landscape of rolling brown hills and rugged rock formations.

As for the cats: The fiance and I recently acquired a spray bottle to try and train Millie not to attack Iroh til he bleeds. We've had a couple test runs... One involved the fiance squirting Iroh up the butt while the cat was sleeping on the floor (it was pretty funny and we gave Iroh some turkey as a reward and consolation). The second involved the fiance squirting Millie as she was trying to enter our bedroom to beg/annoy us for kibble. So far-an effective tool, we just have to work on using it properly ;o)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Happens When I Watch Trees

I've realized that heating up my first cup of coffee a quarter to one in the afternoon could be a sign that my day has lost all potential to be productive. Lately I've been trying to be more mindful of my feelings and thoughts than simply reactive, so I'm ditching the thoughts that I may be a hopeless lazy bum and replacing them with simple acknowledgement of a slower day.

Today I've been completely distracted by the evergreen outside my window. It is a windy day and the boughs and needles are dancing so madly that it rearranges my concept of tall, stout trees. I'm sensitive to all their movements, how flexible and active they really are. I'll never know how many needles are on each tree, how many insects live on it's body, how deep it's roots truly dive, or be able to see it's creeping growth in every fraction of movement-but I don't feel a loss. I feel awe and appreciation for trees in a new way. Not just a "thanks for the oxygen and good looks" kind of way, but a gladness and joy at their feats.

Regardless of so much around them, they stand stories high, facing the wind and rain and still green and growing. You have to respect that fortitude. So many have forgot how to appreciate these wonders-like forgetting how amazing a child's rampant imagination can be, a few glimpses and we are over the novelty. But these organic wonders fascinate me so much more than any technology. Technology breaks, ages faster than a fruit fly-so much around us is ageless innovation.

The fiance and I visited the redwoods last month and I couldn't help imaging what those trees have experienced. I know that plants don't really have memory-heck, many animals don't utilize memory like we do, but I relate to objects in human terms and I'm amazed at what their memories could reveal. Over 2,000 years of storms, growth, evolution and eradication, meteors, eclipses, phenomena we may never be aware exists.

Recently I watched a BBC documentary series called "Wonders of the Universe." The hosting professor describes humankind as the universe coherent/cognizant. He also emphasizes how all of the chemicals found in the universe are produced in the lifespan of stars, how these elements were wrapped up in earth and how everything developed from the microscopic ashes of stars. When I think of things this way, the trees are our fellow beings-our star siblings.

Buddha's teachings say that humankind has a infinite capacity for wisdom, capability, and compassion. Compassion is usually considered in terms of human-human interaction, occasionally human-animal interaction, but when I consider the theory of our star-parents, I believe compassion can be applied to all star spawn.

Definitions of compassion usually infer suffering and sympathy for that suffering and I believe "compassion" is a limited translation of Buddha's intent. Many Buddhist works use loving-kindness as a more effective translation. When I think in terms of loving-kindness and compassion, compassion for fellow beings becomes expanded and not just limited to times of trial. Compassion and loving-kindness can be utilized during all times-joyful, mediocre, or otherwise.

If our capacity for compassion and loving-kindness is endless, why not spread a little love? I'll tell you what, it's feels dang nice. The trees don't tell me "thanks" when I smile and appreciate them, but the act makes me happy and that's all the thanks I need. Being a proactive loving-kindness delivery unit does take some work and a little focus, it can make you more aware of your surroundings and I'm definitely more sensitive to the tragedies around me, but it's never exhausting and it's always rewarding. So try a little love in your life-your capacity is endless, what do you have to lose?

In other news, we visited the Skagit Valley tulips on Friday. It was delightful and there were so many varieties at the Roozengaarde garden site. I was already a huge tulip fan, but now my affection has expanded. There is something so invigorating to me about tulips-their structure, their colors, I love them!

The cats were begging for food this morning and the fiance ended up chasing them around the apartment, throwing shoes, and shooing them out of the room (only to have them scratch and claw at the closed door). I was not enthused either (mostly by his hullabaloo) and my morning got off to a bit of a cranky start (thus the one-o'clock coffee).

Here's some recommended reads this post reminded me of: "Walden" by Thoreau and "Joyful Wisdom" by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meet the Cats: Iroh

I found Iroh at the Seattle Human Society in 2009. The Seattle Humane Society is a snazzy set-up for many cats of King County. There are several cat rooms and then an additional trailer with cats in smaller cages. They even have a special room just for the fat cats!

At the time I was living in Bellingham and I met my mom in Bellevue to look for a new used-cat (my previous cat of 14 years died my first day at Western in 2007). We'd seen pictures of Iroh (formerly known as Bingo) on the Seattle Humane Society website, but I was skeptical. He had ears too small for his head, one with a chip out of it, huge fangs that hung down his chin, and scruffy hair. I summed him up as the straight-jacketed, vampire-wannabe of the kennel.

We met Iroh in the back-most room which we almost ignored completely. Iroh came and hopped into my lap, even liked being held in my arms and he led me over to his food bowl so he could have pets while he ate his kibble. He wasn't much to look at. His gut sagged nearly to the floor and he was a hefty cat, although not obese. His black fur was covered in dandruff and mussed from nose to tail. But he had class. Definitely the brightest and friendliest cat at the kennel and I couldn't leave without him.

After a long drive through 405 traffic in 90 degree heat without AC, we made it home to Bellingham. Within a few days I found that Iroh had an odd habit of pulling out the hair on his back, and to this day he still pulls out his hair when he is annoyed or upset. His dandruff has gotten better, but he still doesn't clean himself too often and has to be bathed and brushed regularly. He's still got his class and great attitude though. Iroh will chat with you and play with mice or string occasionally and loves to cuddle up for sleeps in the bed. I couldn't ask for a better furry, whiskered companion.

Iroh loves meat and frequently follows us into the kitchen to perform his role as resident "meat inspector." He also has a preference for tortilla chips and Ritz crackers, cheesecake and blackberry sauce (further preferences will surely be unveiled in years to come). He and Millie partake in paw-to-paw combat nearly everyday and while Iroh isn't the best gladiator in the stadium, he puts up a good fight and can slam Millie to the ground. 

Iroh's main focus and passion in life is kibble. He has recently trained Millie to track down the kibble providers by meowing and leading the fiance or myself to the food bin or by licking, pawing, and sitting on us in the morning. Iroh still likes an audience while eating, but will consume kibble solo if necessary.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eggs from Chicken Superbutts

After my last post, the fiance kindly let me know that large-sized eggs are .25 ounces heavier than their medium counterparts sold at the supermarket. He also mentioned that they feed him better in the morning and that it's totally worth ten cents to him to have a better brekkie. So-we will be large egg people from now on.

We made some progress in our family egg philosophy, and our discussion also got me thinking about eggs in general. I pick them up from the grocery store in a neat little package; cleaned, white, and carefully placed in recycled paper containers. But they come from chicken butts. Well, sort of. Chickens' have cloacas and instead of poop and pee taking different routes, they ploop it all out in one birdy-poop package through the cloaca. The gals also squirt eggs out their cloacas. Fantastic. We've got eggs coming out of combo pee-poop holes and landing in a birdy-mess in their cages, so how do my eggs get cleaned and put into my neat little packages?

At first, most of my queries led me to personal egg cleaning techniques for those who have hens in their yard or small farm. Not quite what I was interested in, but I did learn that cleaning eggs can be a tricky business. The nature of eggshells means that you can't soak them in water to clean them. The wet shell makes it easier for germs to permeate the protective barrier as well as grow on the egg's surface. It can also be tricky to "dry clean" the eggs because pee/poop combo and yolk can dry and harden on the shell's surface. Another complication can be found in the temperature used to clean the eggs-too hot, you cook 'em, too cold and the egg inside can contract and may draw polluted water through the shell.

The USDA has regulations for egg cleaning, including whether you can use dry or wet cleaning techniques and required water temperatures. In the end I figured out that my eggs are spray-washed, cleansed with certain chemicals, rinsed, and dried before they are packaged and sent to the masses. I even found an old-school ad for an egg washing machine that gives the gist of professional grade equipment, but on a smaller scale. Big egg pushers even have specialized machinery for packaging the eggs.

All my life I've grown up thinking eggs are so fragile, but apparently they are pretty hardy-or I've underestimated the delicacy of today's machinery. Probably the latter. Overall, it was an interesting venture into a somewhat mysterious industry. Outside gag-worthy scenes in "Napoleon Dynamite" or KFC protest articles, I'd never known anything about where my eggs come from. 

As for the cats: Millie survived a rather harsh evening-a car ride where she ended up peeing on my purse/the fiance's jacket and a traumatizing bath (that also traumatized our arms). Iroh has been napping like a pro and still seeks an audience for his kibble-munching. Old habits never die.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Budget-Conscious Hiking and Nighttime Trauma

I will admit that I am usually the one worrying most about money. I'm the one who compares prices like her life depends on it and almost always buys generic and pulls a guilt trip whenever we think we want to go out to eat more than once a week. While he won't buy medium-sized eggs at the supermarket for ten cents cheaper, the fiance did indeed purchase an annual Northwest Forest Pass for us and probably saved us quite a bit of money for this year! I commend you, fiance, for your purchase of our newly acquired, cost efficient rear view mirror accessory.

The pass costs $30 and covers the cost day-use and entrance fees at all Forest Service sites in Washington and Oregon. Most trails that require a fee run about $5, so only six hikes and the pass has paid for itself! You can check out this pass and others at the Washington Trails Association website.

In other news, I had an episode of flaming stupidity near my bedside table last night. The lights were out and we were getting ready to fall asleep when I decided I better put some lotion on my hands. I have a great lavender-chamomile lotion that is really relaxing and perfect for sleepy time. I fumbled around the nightstand until I found a pop-top lotion dispenser, squeezed out a sizeable glob and began to rub in the "lotion." I had squeezed out quite a bit and had to rub it in up to my elbows. Halfway through my application, I noticed an unexpected smell, kind of menthol-minty. I yelled, "OH %$&* IT'S THE BENGAY!" and lept out of bed. The fiance succumbed to a bout of hearty guffaws before following me to the bathroom and helping me wash off the burning ointment. We ended up getting most of it off before the burn ensued, but I slept with a little burning ring of Bengay around my right elbow for part of the night. Lesson learned.

As for the cats: Iroh finally got his bath today and did pretty well. Now he is trying to lick away the evidence and dry out-this is the only time you will catch him seriously cleaning himself. Millie caught and murdered a fly and both of the kitties had some fun exploring the balcony and sunbathing this afternoon. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My (Full-Circle) Engagement

Yesterday, the fiance popped the question! Here's how it went...

Early afternoon we spoke on the phone and he said he'd like to go out to dinner instead of making alfredo at home-so I showered, did my hair, and did some homework while I waited for him to pick me up. Around five thirty he comes in, gives me a kiss, hands me a piece of mail and says that he's gonna run through the shower and that we should open his new boots (he was very excited about these boots, had them shipped overnight from KY so he could have new hiking boots for his excursion today-even woke up in the middle of the night saying "I wonder where my boots are RIGHT NOW").

He tells me to open his email and Google maps the restaurant he made reservations at, and I see that we're having Moroccan (YUM FACTOR 11). I notice that he smells really good, just out of the shower and peppermint-mouthwashed-up, I ask "Is this the same place as before?" (we had an awesome experience at a Moroccan place in downtown Seattle months ago). He won't answer me after I ask again, so I turn to him as he's kneeling beside me at the desk. "Is this the same before?" Still no answer, just stares. I start to get suspicious. "What's wrong? What's going on? Wait... I'm gonna cry! What's going on?" He gets that mischievous grin and I notice that he has a hand behind his back.

"Are you ready to be Mrs. W-------?"


He pulls a little box from behind his back, pops 'er open and says "Do you want to marry me?" I scream "YES!" a teary mess and red as a Skittle, he slips the ring on my finger and it fits perfectly.

He grinned like bandit the entire time and we hugged and kissed and he grabbed the camera and said he had to get a "teary shot" for my mom. After a little "moment," I blew my nose and recouped a little and we opened his new boots together. Very nice new boot smell.

Of course, then we had to tell the folks. In a stroke of slightly flawed genius I send a picture text of my ring to my best friend, parents, and sibs, and then call my mom. No answer. Dad. No answer. Text the sibs. Mom calls back-"YOU JUST SEND A TEXT TO EVERYONE BEFORE YOU CALL ME!?" Whoops. Once again, that's just how I roll. We had a little chat and then Dad got back to me and told the fiance, "Well done!"

Here's a shot of the bling, custom design from GB Heron in Bellingham. I love sapphires and waterfalls so it has one sapphire, eight diamonds, and a flowing design all around my finger...

(Yes, I know I should use some lotion on my scaly hands.)

As for the cats: Millie thought the ring was very pretty. Iroh didn't care, but I did tell him, "Look Iroh! I landed you a daddy!" Had a late night incident while stumbling around the bedroom to open the window-Iroh jumped onto the bed from underneath me, and when I was reaching to check for him on the bed I accidentally stuck my thumb in his butt. Not really in, but total bull's eye on his hoohoo. Not pleasant, but the fiance got a good laugh out of it. Luckily Iroh's experience having thermometers in his butt everyday at the animal shelter made him impervious to offense.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Headlines in my Headspace

In the news headlines today I saw that Catherine Zeta-Jones is being treated for bipolar disorder. I don't particularly care about her specifically, but I was interested in the fact that the media has been portraying the revelation with a positive spin-as a source of empowerment and a path to destroying stigmas.

What I find especially sad is that this stigma depression and other mental diseases hold empowers the diseases themselves. People are afraid to speak openly about their struggles, afraid to seek treatment, afraid to isolate themselves further by being distinguished as "one with a disease" and it only strengthens the disease. We may never live in a world free of mental disease, but we can pursue a healthier mankind. In reality, we all get sick from time to time-and we treat with it. In more relevant reality, many of us have struggled with mental disease-and we treat it. 

I am a victim of this stigma. I've been marked. I've identified myself as different from what society says I should be, and I've become ashamed. I try to hide what shames me, but it has to be dug out and extracted to be treated. It is scary as hell voicing our scariest thoughts. I haven't cut myself for over five years, but the thought still occurs to me-my mind's twisted tool for coping with life. Alcoholics turn to booze, cutters to the blade. We never lose our vices, but we learn to live and overcome our tendencies. If I bite my tongue when those urges arise I find myself isolated, battling shame and fear that feeds my urges and drives me to a depressive spiral. I have to resist years of social programming coding me to respond with STIGMA in order to open my mouth and shed light on my demons-but we can retrain our minds.

No one wants to embody this stigma, but the beautiful thing is-only we have the power to make such things our reality. I can live a stigma or I can live the life that I want. I'm frustrated by the fact that validation is sought via hollow fame-it is so distant and impersonal. Just because Catherine Zeta-Jones is bipolar doesn't immediately validate you or make a stigma go away, it simply opens up opportunity for discussion. Everyone has to make a decision when faced with a stigma-feed or starve. I can feel shame and pain about who and what I am, or I can accept it. I can succumb to my weaknesses or I can live around them. I can feed the stigma, or I can starve it out.

 There are so many examples of overcoming adversity (two-legged dogs learning to walk upright, double-amputees running marathons, infertile women giving birth, or blind people walking across the street-sighted people can't manage that without hurting themselves sometimes!) I can choose to surround myself with these positive influences and flourish.Success and validation doesn't come from grandiose victories, it comes from your own conscience, your own heart. Just as our mental diseases and flaws and hang-ups come from within, so does our salvation and true success. Starve the stigma, pursue your victory, and walk on.

As for the cats: Iroh needs a bath. All the spittle from Millie gnashing on his back is starting to stink and he just doesn't clean himself enough period. Millie is quiet for the moment, but may reconvene the barrage on my ankles again soon. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Oddities of my Engagement

My closest family and friends are aware of my engagement, but otherwise we have yet to make the announcement. Why? Because we have established ourselves in a sort of semi-engagement. What the heck? Here's the scoop...

In January we found ourselves (somewhat accidentally) engaged after a couple's doodle-session got away from us. The fiance was practicing his stars and I was writing upside-down and backwards on his leg and here's what I wrote:

(No-that is not a nipple, I circled a blemish that got in my way)

The fiance said yes-and then, "Oh shit! That doesn't count, right?" After a series of Google articles and a little discussion we decided that we were in fact, engaged. This didn't sit too well with the fiance. He had planned to initiate the engagement after talking to my father and buying a ring like in the "good ole days." We decided to keep our semi-engagement under wraps until he had spoken with my father and popped the question to me proper-only problem was, I am me.

I tend to get excited, I tend to have a big mouth, and I tend to overlook the intricacies of social interaction and the consequences of my actions. So shortly after our semi-engagement I had broken the news to my best friend, and then to the ladies at work, the lady I lived with, and then to my mother. We didn't want Dad to find out, but you can only watch so many episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" with animated discussions of taffeta and flowers before people catch on. Like we expected, he wasn't too thrilled. Being a great dad he didn't let me see too much of his angst, but through the grapevine I heard some good stories of engagement-related-Dad-rants. 

At first, Mom refused to talk of any wedding plans either until "you have a ring on your finger," but eventually her resistance wore off and after hearing my plans for dress shopping and locations she ended up breaking down and insisting we go check out sale dresses at David's Bridal in Tacoma. I was shocked and confused, but ended up in the bridal salon on the brink of a panic attack at seeing myself in a gown. Life comes at ya fast.

Two days later we have my dad at the store looking at dresses. Somewhat against his will as he had been waiting for formal engagement procedures before anything as serious as dress shopping-but there we were and Dad plucked a dress off the rack for me to try, and I loved it. 

SO, here I am with a gown, a semi-engagement, and a fiance. Although, it really shouldn't be a surprise that my engagement be a little off-kilter, otherwise it just wouldn't be me and it certainly wouldn't be US (me and the fiance). I'll be waiting for my engagement to come full-circle, and when it does the world will know and I'm sure there will be a new post ;o)

As for the cats: Millie was having a ball attacking me in bed this morning. I have a habit of grinding and rubbing my feet together to keep them warm and also as a sort of self-comfort/relaxation technique, and she seemed to think that meant a giant bird was under the covers ready to be attacked. Iroh kept away from the madness and was able to snooze the morning away in the shelf. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Early Spring Hikers and Hazards

The fiance and I decided to head out past Granite Falls for a Sunday afternoon hike this weekend-and once again our trailhead was inaccessible. We may have been able to reach the trailhead if we had given it more time and hadn't been blocked by another car. Funnily enough the other car was a brand new Subaru (we're planning to buy a Forester ourselves) with AWD and much better tires than our minivan-but far less seasoned drivers. We ended up digging them out and guiding them back onto the road-proper. Unfortunately we found ourselves stuck after Subaru Sisters charged past us while we were negotiating a three-point turn (what an ingenious way to say thank you to the people who got you unstuck!). They then decided to take a smoke-break, stand back and watch us negotiate the now more difficult turn. Lovely.

The afternoon was not all lost. We promptly headed off the Lake Twenty-two trailhead we had passed  on the way into the roadblock and quickly found ourselves in a glistening haven. Unfortunately, the beautiful glistening quickly transformed into a sopping mess of mud, snow, rain, and running water over the trail. Although we had good boots, weren't weighed down by soggy jeans (thank you clearance-rack pants from REI), and had good jackets-we still found ourselves outmatched by the early spring snow and falling rain. We ended up turning back a little over half-a-mile from the trail end-a little disappointed but very happy to be retreating to a warm van and plans of hot cocoa.

Along the trail we met some interesting early-season hikers (in addition to our run-in with the Subaru Sisters of Smoky Snow-driving Sin). Mind you-the trail we were on looked like this:

(That is running water across the trail by the way)

And yet we found folks with lightweight sweatpants, hoodies, t-shirts, running shoes, slip-on Keds, and capris. Seriously, people? I didn't grow up in the mountains by any means, but I did grow up in Washington and I know exactly why we are infamous for our rain. When ya go out on a trail-dress appropriately! And please, DON'T SMOKE. Even if you're not concerned with your health and the contradiction smoking while hiking illustrates, you can at least respect Nature and your fellow hikers by not smoking up the trail. And a word about dog poo-keep it off the trail folks. Grab a stick, shove your dog's butt a little off the trail, take a moment to be courteous to the other people on the trail and MOVE THAT POO!

I was able to avoid the poo but couldn't escape a gulp of smoky air and even I found myself with wet feet by the end of the hike (I still love my Merrel boots but even they get soggy when I get splooshed above the laces). All in all, it was a rough day. By the end of our hike I was ready to kick the mountainside in the shins and head home. Luckily the fiance was understanding as always and we comforted each other and had a good recuperating session with movies and hot cocoa when we got home.

As for the cats: Millie and I had a delightful play-session underneath the bedroom door last night and Iroh had a nice nap in the bottom shelf of our new bookshelf. OH! In bigger news, the fiance and I have decided that Iroh and Millie will be our wedding's honorary ring bearer and flower girl, respectively. They will have photos and mini-bios on our wedding website as soon as it's up! Good times.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ponderings from the Toilet

I found myself wondering recently-what's the biggest poop on the planet? So I thought to myself, the blue whale is the biggest animal, that must be it. Then it struck me-WHAT THE HECK DOES WHALE POOP LOOK LIKE?! The thought had never crossed my mind before. After surfing Google I discovered it's basically a cloudy mass of wet excrement that floats out into the ocean, and there are some big benefits to this whale poo.

Apparently whales consume food near the bottom of the ocean then poo near the top (unlike other ocean-dwellers who poo where they eat because they don't have to surface for oxygen). There is nitrogen, iron, and other chemicals in the poo that benefit phytoplankton. Phytoplankton can have a hard time finding these chemicals if they all sink to the bottom, so the whales bring it on up and poo it on out and the phytoplankton up production! The phytoplankton consume carbon dioxide which in turn helps the atmosphere. Who would have thought poo was so useful!?

Another cool fact-whales shut down non-essential bodily functions when they dive for long periods. Only when they come back to the surface for oxygen CAN they poo at all!

Whales of the world-you have my commendation for the coolest poo on earth. Props.

Cats: Iroh is still pulling out hunks of hair when he's feeling pouty and Millie is still sickeningly cute.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Battling the Male Psyche

After a spontaneous trip to the IKEA in Renton, the fiance and I ended up with a new Expedit bookcase. We were both tired once we got home, but also excited. The fiance said he'd rather put it together the next day after work, he was too tired at the moment and it would probably take 2-3 hours to erect the bookcase. I replied that this was fine, if it were just me I'd probably go ahead and construct the thing regardless of how late I'd stay up (I tend to do that when it comes to projects), BUT he had to work, and I knew he was tired, and it was fine that we wait-I really didn't mind.

And so my peek into the male mind ensued. Instead of taking me at my word (which was completely honest and forthcoming that I didn't mind waiting) the fiance began worrying that I really meant that I was disappointed and that I actually wanted him to put it together that night. I was in the kitchen baking some cookies when I realized the fiance was missing from the living area. And what do you know-he was in the bedroom unpacking the bookcase. I told him again that he should just wait until tomorrow he was too tired and it wasn't that big a deal. Still he wouldn't accept my statement! He was afraid of disappointing me and it seemed like a complicated project but he could do it even when he was so tired. Eventually I got him to give up the idea for that night and we watched a movie instead-"The People vs. Larry Flynt," very interesting as well as entertaining, but not for the faint-hearted or for those who don't approve of Hustler ;o)

The next day I met my mother for lunch, did some shopping, and came home around 3:30 pm. The bookshelf pieces were in the bedroom and I couldn't help myself. I began looking through and wondering how to put the beast together. Next thing you know it's five o' clock and I've rearranged the bedroom, constructing the bookshelf, and started sorting socks and folding towels. For a brief moment I thought-maybe he'd be disappointed. Maybe he was looking forward to a project together. I did not imagine that he might be hurt by the fact that I went ahead and put the thing together when I told him I could wait until he got home from work.

The fiance seemed surprised, impressed, and a little forlorn. I don't think that he failed me in anyway, I simply got to it first-but with these boys, sometimes they think there is a hidden job description attached to their existence. I will admit that sometimes I expect the guys in my life to do certain things-car maintenance, computer troubleshooting, and some other things that I have never learned for myself-but for the most part, I am capable and willing to do these things, sometimes I just have to step up to the plate. I did not put the bookshelf together as retribution for his not having done so the night before-I simply wanted to, was curious, and tried it-no mind games or manipulations.

The whole incident made me ponder the relationships that I've had throughout my life and what I am really capable of as opposed to what I know that I can do. So often I find myself adhering to an outdated, alien analysis of myself-something devised by family or friends, compiled from various comments and actions towards me that develops into a misguided report of what I am. In reality, we are the only ones that can judge our worth and capability and we are responsible for changing the patterns of interaction we share with the people in our lives.

We all make mistakes, and maybe I rubbed my fiance the wrong way, but in the end I think it was a good thing. I got to practice a little self-empowerment and the fiance and I flushed out our views on a relationship built as a equal partnership. Yes, there are certain things he does and there are certain things I do in our relationship, but we are both confident and comfortable enough to let each other take the stage when necessary or pick up the slack when needed. In the end he said that he was proud that I didn't have to depend on him, even for something as silly as a shelf, and he was glad that I'd gone ahead and done it since he was still a bit tired. Male pride slightly bruised but quickly balmed!

In other news, we've been taking Emergen-C shooters and battling mucus (I'm slightly surprised the blistering Thai food from Monday didn't eviscerate the illness in it's infancy) and the cats are doing well. I helped Iroh shed some of his unwanted hair today and Millie had a good time knocking things off the counter and out of the trash last night. Wunderbar!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Early Spring Camping in the North Cascades

This weekend the fiance and I took off to the North Cascades for some impromptu (and rather chilly) camping. We ended up at Goodell Creek Campground about 15 minutes out of Marblemount and right on the banks of the Skagit river amidst moss-strewn trees and gorgeous mountainscapes. While we enjoy camping, we haven't been out and about quite yet because we're waiting for our true Washingtonian spring to be sprung-but when I was asked what I'd like to do this weekend I found myself replying, "I want to burn some shit," and so we took to the mountains!

The fiance had been researching new tent options and we found ourselves at the local REI with a 20% off coupon in our hot little hands and our REI member annual refund ready to be redeemed. We ended up purchasing a Marmot Limelight 3-person tent in a fantastic shade of orange. Why 3-person for 2-people? The only 2P tent in stock was the display model and we anticipate using the tent not only for backpacking trips in the near future, but as a blooming family camping trip tent. The fiance might be packing an extra pound or so of material up the trail for a while, but we are quite pleased with our purchase.

The rain flap has a handy vestibule with a teardrop window and the tent was almost too-easy to erect. In addition to the new tent we whipped out a Christmas present we had yet to use-a set of (assumed-to-be-novelty) LED Coleman Mini-Lantern String Lights. We strung the lights up in the tent's stash pocket expecting some cute twinkling lights and a romantic time but found ourselves bathed in blazing LED light and a read-aloud session ensued (we're currently working our way through Dumas' The Three Musketeers-drama, action, and French names that leave you needing to be resuscitated).

The lights are powered by 3 AA batteries, light enough to be hung easily in the tent, and bright enough to replace a traditional lantern option. We were happily surprised by the utility of the lights and immediately sent a thank-you picture text to the folks. Check out the lights here:

In other early spring camping news, we were prevented from reaching our trailhead to our planned Thornton Lake/peak hike by some intermittent, deep snow. The fallen boulders and trees we found on our way up the gravel road should have been indicator, but we pressed on until we found ourselves outplayed by a sharp corner covered in deep snow and slick gravel. We walked past the snow to see how hazardous the rest of the road was and found more snow and a large tree blocking the way up ahead. We gave up our hiking plans and resolved ourselves to some warm and outstanding breakfast at Patty's Eggnest outside Arlington (which has some delectable Swedish pancakes and biscuits-n-gravy you won't be able to stop munchin').

The blocked trailhead turned out to be a blessing. We had forgotten to leave extra food for the cats and they were very pleased to see us home sooner rather than later!

As for the cats: Millie's spaying wound is healing up quite well and didn't bust open and eek gut juice when she tossed herself down the kitty tower. Iroh is still grouchy about my recent vacuuming and seems to have dropped a bomb in the box as a form of revenge. Lovely!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

So this is it.

So this is a buh-log.

I toast your inception, Hannah Bananaface blog. *clink-slurp-burp*

And now to bed.

More on another day.