Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 1 (The Blogging Challenge)


As I thought about writing this, I found it interesting to note the things that came to mind first: lesbian, mid-40’s, mother of two amazing kids. Those seem to reflect my priorities right now…..and also maybe that I am still working on the “what else?” I am technically a lawyer, but not practicing in a traditional way. I do not identify much with my new job, yet, so “pipeline compliance specialist” is not particularly significant, other than as employment. I am a partner, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and an aunt. I am a writer – but I don’t write as much as I would like. I enjoy kayaking, hiking, walking, Mexican food, seafood, pizza and chocolate, snorkeling, taking pictures, exploring new areas and seeing new things, taking naps, sharing wine and good conversation – which gets better the more you drink, bookstores, office supply stores and toy stores. I plan on writing more, meditating more, and possibly learning Spanish. I am learning to eat better and enjoy it….but I do get tired of cooking, and dislike grocery shopping. I am happy that my girlfriend/partner enjoys cooking, especially when we do it together. I am a big kid at heart and love playing with my kids, who right now are 6 and almost 9. Exploring the world with them, playing a game, or even watching movies together is a great way to spend time.

 A Recent Picture

This is me a couple week ago at the Kilauea Caldera in Hawaii. Not the greatest photo, perhaps, but it is recent and fun!

15 Interesting Facts

OK, so I am not sure how interesting these are, but here goes:

1. I have a small scar on my left hand that looks like a wishbone.

2. I am learning animal communication.

3. My partner and I were friends in high school, and then were out of touch for over 25 years.

4. My mom was 35 when she had me, and I was 35 when my first son was born.

5. I am not afraid of spiders, snakes, rats…etc….but would prefer they not surprise me. :)

6. My favorite foods include salmon and pizza.

7. Coke over Pepsi

8. Dark chocolate over milk chocolate (but enjoy both!)

9. I can roll my tongue.

10. I am right-handed.

11. I did a lot of ventriloquism performances in junior high and high school.

12. I went to what was considered a major hippie school for undergrad.

13. I dislike math – not a numbers geek at all. I can DO it, but I do not enjoy it.

14. I am not a person who enjoys trouble-shooting computer problems. I just want the damn thing to work.

15. I came out as a lesbian, to myself and others, when I was 21. It had never occurred to me before that point.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Big Island - Paradise Found

Does it seem like I could come up with a less cliche description for The Big Island than "paradise"?
Yes, perhaps it does. How is "magical"?  No better really. Well, there is always some truth in the cliches, so I will just stick with "paradise" for now.  The above picture was the view from our deck. I cannot imagine a more perfect view - both ocean and palm trees - and slightly to the right were the mountains, which almost always had some clouds hanging over them, threatening rain, in fact, sometimes, you could see it was raining up there.

We saw this green sea turtle as we were out walking on the hotel grounds. We were in front of the hotel, exploring the tidepools and lava formations when we saw this one, and another slightly smaller one. They were beautiful.  We did not get too close, as they are endangered, and there are laws protecting them, plus we did not want to disturb them. (My phone camera zoom is actually pretty good!)  Later in the day, when out snorkeling close to this spot, we actually swam with them.  That was the most amazing thing ever!  The appear to fly through the water. It was just like being in Finding Nemo with Crush. :) 

We arrived in the afternoon on Wednesday, had most of Thursday and Friday to relax, snorkel, shop and just be.  Friday night we took a dinner cruise, which was our first actvity of what was a slightly over-booked, but hugely fun vacation.  The boat was VERY bouncy while still at the dock, but OK once we got out of the harbor. I do not tend towards sea-sickness, but that would have gotten to me fairly quickly if the whole trip had been like that. Fortunately, once we were underway, it smoothed out, we had beautiful Blue Hawaiians, saw some whales breach with the setting sun as a background, then enjoyed a good dinner and entertainment. 

Saturday was an all-day (14 hours!) volcano and lava tour.  We went to Volcanos National Park, which is in a temperate rain forest. We saw the Kilauea caldera - a big crater that is still sending up a steam plume, walked through a lava tube, which is like a cave made by lava, and eventually walked on a lava bed that has been active right up until the Japan earthquake. 

The picture above shows some of the kids toys on lava rock with the forest in the background. The most impressive species was the tree fern, which grows up to 20 feet tall!  Vicki had the idea to ask the kids for a small toy each that we could take pictures of at different locations so they would know we were thinking of them. 

This was surreal...we were literally standing at the edge of creation. Yup, that is the end of the road, and the bumpy black parts are the top of a lava field. We stood on what had been an active flow just two weeks prior. (Yes, the sign does say to stay on the road. Our guide had special permission to take us a bit further on foot.) New earth being formed right here.  I put my hand into a crevice and could still feel the heat. A worker threw a cup of water in a crack and steam shot up.  The top of the lava is very brittle, shiny and crust-like. Easy to break.  There was black lava as far as the eye could see...barren, isolated, almost like a different planet. Contrast that with the picture at the top of this post.

Ah - I realize I have not even mentioned kayaking through the old sugar cane irrigation ditches, or seeing the eels, or swimming with the mantas  (great creatures, poorly - and dangerously - executed tour concept), the white, black and green sand beaches, or the southern-most bakery in the US....I may need another post in a week or so to cover some of the extra details!  Tonight is the first night we went through our 500+ pictures and they are great reminders of all the fun adventures we had.

I am very grateful for this wonderful vacation, and the very special woman I was able to share it with.

30 Days of Blogging

I know this is going around, and at first I did not even consider it, but after reading a blogger friend's blog (Hey, Caroline!), I realized the mini writing assignments might be fun. I probably will not do them on 30 consecutive days, but here are the topics:

Day 1-Introduce, recent picture, 15 interesting facts
Day 2-Meaning behind your blog name
Day 3-Your first love
Day 4-Your parents
Day 5-Your siblings
Day 6-A picture of something that makes you happy
Day 7-Favorite movies
Day 8-A place you’ve traveled to
Day 9-A picture of your friends
Day 10-Something you’re afraid of
Day 11-Favorite TV shows
Day 12-What you believe
Day 13-Goals
Day 14-A picture you love
Day 15-Bible verse
Day 16-Dream house
Day 17-Something you’re looking forward to
Day 18-Something you regret
Day 19-Something you miss
Day 20-Nicknames
Day 21-Picture of yourself
Day 22-Favorite city
Day 23-Favorite vacation
Day 24-Something you’ve learned
Day 25-Favorite memory
Day 26-Picture of your family
Day 27-Pets
Day 28-Something that stresses you out
Day 29-3 Wishes
Day 30-a picture

Let the games begin! Day 1 to follow.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gone To Hawaii

Hand Enhanced Giclee on Canvas 'Surfs Up' tropical paintings by landscape artist Steve Barton0

(Painting by Steve Barton - website: )

Flying Away

In a few days, I suspect I will be ready to open  snow-cone or coconut carving franchises, ditch the big city and adopt "island life."  I know the reality is, it does not work that way, and vacation in a tropical paradise tends to be WAY better than living there, where it takes 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet...but it is a nice daydream. 

Hey - speaking of dreams - we got great news this morning - we got free upgrades to first class for our flight to Kona! I have never flown first class before and am looking forward to it!  It is good to be with a woman who has racked up many frequent flyer miles! My legs are already appreciating the extra room!  (By the way, Lynilu, restless leg symptoms have mostly gone away, as long as I take my vitamins. That reminds me, I should pack some for the trip!) 

Tonight I see the kids, and in the morning, we are off. I have already gotten souvenir requests from the little ones - who had great ideas for me.  I asked them what they would like, rather than guessing, since I thought they might have special things in mind this time, as Kelton did when I went to Paris. He still sometimes wears his beret and pretends to be French. :)  I will miss seeing the kids for just two nights since it is not my weekend anyway. Thanks to Casey for covering my Thursday and Tuesday nights!  Maybe next time, the kids will join us....I have a little girl who really wants to learn to surf!

Tick Tock.....

I am excited that in just a bit more than 12 hours Vicki and I will hear the alarm signaling it is time to get out of bed, head to the airport and hop on a plane to Hawaii!  For a week there will be no concerns about the realities of daily life - cooking, alarm clocks, demands of kids, dogs, (I put that in there for Casey) work, vacuuming, thinking about health insurance, medicare supplement plans, auto and life insurance, remembering my credit union password and is it different than my work one....and all the other little things that make up a "normal" day. Ah....feels good already! 

To those of you who have sent advice about what do see and do: thank you!  We hope to strike a balance between adventure and relaxation - and see "just enough" to feel like we did the island justice without burning ourselves out.  Let the games begin!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Leaving Technology Behind

Is it a question for anyone else how much technology to take on vacation?  I am torn between wanting to get away from the computer, the Blackberry, the electronic games, the tv and DVR - and realizing all that stuff is really handy, useful, and enjoyable. Vicki and I could both use a break from the constant input of electronic media, auto insurance reviewsemail solicitations and temptations, and the trappings of the shiny objects that are techno toys - but I still think we are taking with us DS games, Kindles, a netbook, and of course, the phones. Maybe the key is using them WHEN we want to, in our own leisure during days that are wide open to us, and not just on the fly between other daily obligations.  Frankly, most are for the flight there and back....and maybe some good beach-time reading/playing while listening to the surf.  I am looking forward to it, but with a twinge of guilt for not leaving it all behind - and opting for a clean journal, a new pen, and a paperback novel.

Motivating Kids to Walk

Mostly, our kids like going on neighborhood walks, or nature hikes.  This weekend, Vicki and I discovered an added incentive - pedometers!  Both kids borrowed ones of Vicki's and loved seeing how many steps they could get in - continually begging all weekend if they could go out for a walk.  Kaylen's was a regular pedometer, but Kelton's was actually a "poke-walker," which is a pedometer tied in with a Pokemon DS game that allows the walker to build up the strength of one of their game characters, then upload it back onto the game.  The pedometer actually has a little screen that shows the character being worked on. It is not exactly of the quality of samsung lcd screensbut it is cute nonetheless.  I have a feeling there is a poke-walker in Kelton's future. Someone has an April birthday... *grin*

One more day until Hawaii

One more day of work this week, then it is off to Hawaii!  Work is getting more and more interesting as I learn and can do more. It is not that any of it is particularly difficult, but there are lots of steps and many processes to learn.  It's not rocket science, or like I have to learn medical cauterybut sometimes learning someone else's ways of doing things, or how to run reports from a totally unfamiliar database, feels a bit that way.  I still love the place I am working and enjoy the substance of what I am learning, even aside from my actual piece of the puzzle.

So, tomorrow I am on my own at work. I potentially have an added responsibility for the day - being on-call in case of emergency - which would be a great learning experience, but truthfully, I would rather not think about the follow-up paperwork that would be needed just as I am about to go on vacation. Oh, well, all will be good either way!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Star Wars Confession

I will start this by saying that I am not much of a Star Wars geek.  I only watched the first trilogy (episodes 4-6) and have never read the books. I do enjoy it, but have very little of any of the movies memorized, beyond a few lines of he original blockbuster movie that started it all. I admit I have seen that one probably 4 or 5 times.

Right now I am sitting watching the very first Star Wars episode with Vicki and the kids - the one where Anakin is just a young boy. My favorite Star Wars characters have always been Yoda, R2D2, Chewbacca and Han Solo. Now, I think I have a new addition to that list: Jar Jar Binks:

This character is not the brightest in the bunch, but totally cracks me up. He has so many funny moments that I have found myself laughing out loud more than once at his crazy antics. I appears I have discovered a new thing to love about Star Wars.

Weekend - Part 3

Now, it is nearly 3:00 on Sunday afternoon. We have spent the morning coloring pages we found on the computer, sweeping and mopping the entire house, vacuuming, eating and playing with Legos.  Now we are watching the very first Star Wars episode - from the second trilogy - which I have never seen. The kids are still coloring and playing with Legos. None of us has gotten dressed. We are just hanging out in our pajamas. I hopped on my netbook to check out my email, sort through advertisements about business intelligence software and whatever else may have popped in there overnight. Naturally, the minute I am truly involved in anything, both kids are starving and seeking junk food, so I have to get up, help them find healthy snacks, and tell them real food needs to wait just a bit longer. I am starting to think once the movie ends, we need to eat and get out and about just to get some fresh air. It is kind of weird staying in the house all day. I am so used to getting out and about that a day inside feels almost too lazy. Need fresh air!

Weekend - Part 2

After helping my Step-Dad get his new phone, I met Vicki and the kids at Target, where they had finished kid meals. After a small amount of shopping, the adults were ready for a trip to a local Mexican food restaurant (where Kelton ate one of my enchiladas!) and the kids checked out some trading cards and Littlest Pet Shop items they'd picked up.

It was a nice afternoon, and the kids wanted to go for a walk to add steps to the pedometers they had borrowed from Vicki. Kelton was using one that is hooked in with Pokemon games, so as he walked, he built up character strength. We found a nice trail just driving through a neighborhood, and ventured about for an hour or so, ending at a school playground.

The evening consisted of an easy dinner for the kids, and a couple episodes of Veggie Tales. We did not have time to walk around our own neighborhood, and I thought maybe we would today, but it is already getting late, so maybe not.  Our neighborhood has a great donut shop we often go to on Sundays, which is half-price day, plus a pet supply store, a book store, and more. We recently found out there are two hydroponics shops within a mile of us. I can't say that I have ever seen a hydroponics shop anywhere before, much less two so close together. It is a fun neighborhood!

Weekend - Part 1

Weekends go by so quickly!  It is almost 2:30 Sunday afternoon, and it feels like it should still be Saturday.  Yesterday, Vicki generously entertained the kids while I went over to teach my Step-Dad about his new Blackberry. It did not take long to be frustrated with the salesperson who convinced him that was a good choice as a replacement for his old Palm Pilot (I think it was).  I love my Blackberry, but it does take a bit to get used to - the buttons are small, the scroll button is unique, and the menus complex. He is 85 years old - and clearly in poor health. I cannot believe anyone thought a Blackberry was a good choice. We ended up heading to T-mobile to get a more appropriate phone - all he really needs it for is making calls and storing phone numbers.  He does have quite a few numbers - friends, family, refill lines, Blue Cross North Carolina - well, maybe not that one, but quite a lot. Fortunately, we were helped by a very nice person who was happy to take the time to get him what he needed.

Part 2 - Coming up next....

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hawaii - Here We Come!

It is hard to believe it is almost time for our Hawaii trip! Vicki and I have been together for a year, with lots of back and forth bi-coastalness, and the most time we have ever spent together without one or the other of us having to work is three days...there was almost four a time or two, but I still think checking emails is an interference and doesn't really count as a vacation day.  So, awhile back we decided it would be really good for us to take an extended break to someplace tropical (my preference!) to just relax and be together. With all the travel I have done over the past year, and only working part-time for part of the past year, many of you may be thinking that I don't really need a vacation. Think what you want - I am going! :)

It will be weird in some ways to be doing something this big and fun without the kids, I have a bit of mom-guilt going on - Kaylen really wants to go to Hawaii and learn to surf (!) - but I also know the importance of nurturing the adult relationship.  As for the kids, I have told them that this year, as long as everything stays secure with my job and Vicki's job, we will take them to Disneyland. Here's hoping! (As for Kaylen's surfing lessons, I have suggested we wait until she is a bit older. That should buy me some time!)

We are going to The Big Island, near Kona. We have plans to hike to the green sand beach, and see the manta-rays, but beyond that, are waiting to see what comes our way. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Thinking Laptops

I have gotten spoiled by technology. I think we all have, but this is my blog, so I suppose I should just talk about me.  I know I went on and on for part of a year about the netbook I wanted, and got, and LOVE! It was a great purchase (Thank you, Casey!). It has been my primary non-work computer for over a year now.  The size is wonderful for portability and the battery is great. (Do a search under "netbook" for previous posts and reviews on the one I got.) What is not great is the screen size. Sometimes, I need something a bit bigger, especially since my eyes are not as good as they once were, and I am often too lazy to get up off the couch and go get my reading glasses from my work bag - work being the only place I really wear them.  Every now and then I start to try to use my old law school laptop, but find it is too slow, or bogged down with crap, or something, to be of much use.  It is feeling like about time for a custom laptop - or at least something new, fast, and with a big screen!  Until then, maybe I can get my computer geek girlfriend to fix mine up a bit. :)

Restless leg - restless arm?

More and more I have been having bouts of what might be restless leg syndrome at night. It feels like I need to move and stretch my legs - they are somewhat sore - but not really. It is an odd sensation. I have looked up some info, and sounds like it could be a calcium or other vitamin/mineral deficiency. Mostly it has gone away now that I am being more conscientious about taking vitamins, but last night, it was in my legs AND my arms. My arms felt like I had been working out on a pull up bar, but alas, I had not.  I did forget my vitamins yesterday, and have been walking quite a bit, so maybe my body's demands for vitamins/minerals has increased.  Whatever the cause, I would be happy never to get that feeling again!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Spring is Starting to Tease

Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous and sunny: almost too warm for my heavy winter coat during my after-lunch walk.  Last night, I played with the kids in the backyard until after 6:00.  I did not need my coat at all.  I noticed daffodils starting to bloom.  Today is very dark, windy and rather foreboding looking outside.  It would be nice to see some beautiful Hartford flowers brightening up the day.  Ah, soon enough, cherry blossoms will be coloring the landscape pink and the smell of fresh-cut grass will be in the air. It is coming. I can feel it!

How Busy is Busy Enough?

Ever feel like you need a good pair of shoes to keep up with your life?  I often feel like I am not aking as much forward progress as quickly as I would like, but then I get hit with something, like getting sick for a week, and I look carefully at my life, and I see that, yes, indeed, I am busy and moving right along.  On any given week, I am learning a new job, traveling back and forth to Vancouver to spend the evening with the kids twice, and four times on the weekends when the kids stay with me, getting used to a new home, and learning the ins and outs of a still-fairly-new relationship.  Those are all great things - but do take time and energy resources.  Maybe I am being too hard on myself when I feel like I am just not doing enough and could use a real break. 

What great timing:  trip to Hawaii with Vicki starts next Wednesday!  I am a very lucky person!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Venting - A Stupid Situation

I have been accused of being too logical in work situations. I want things to work in a straightforward, predictable manner, guided by some semblance of logic. Many work environments do not work that way.  Fine.  Now - I find myself up against someone else's lack of logic in their work situation, but it is affecting my personal life. 

In whose world does it make sense to send a refund of a cleaning deposit to the address that was just vacated? Apparently, my past landlord's.

"It's the only address we had for you."

Uh...for the past 6 months, we have only communicated via phone and email. Do you think you could have contacted me to ask for my new address? Oh, by the way, I did contact you about 10 days ago with my new address. How was I do guess you would issue the refund before the end of the last month I paid for?

It has been two weeks. It has not been forwarded by the Post Office to me, or back to the landlord. They do not want to put a stop on the original check and reissue me a new one yet.  Did I mention that the past apartment had a fairly high crime rate? 

OK, well, thank you very much for the documentation proving when you mailed the check, that you knew I was no longer living there, and refusing to reissue the new check at this time. 

Some of this I did not say. I am trying to be polite and not tell this guy he is an idiot.  I am thinking it, though. I think the right thing to do is to admit he (or his office staff) screwed up and that he now remedy the situation by reissuing a check to my correct (read: current) address.

OK, I feel better now.