Tuesday, August 31, 2010

While Sleep Evades...

...my weary eyes, I sit a-thinking. One man's junk is another man's treasure. Perhaps it is a matter of where that item is located that determines its value, and how it is used and valued by the owner. Perhaps when you have someone who owns something and doesn't see a need for it, it needs a new home. A precious thing is a precious thing, but when it isn't precious in the eyes of the owner...

If a thing were put away in a box, and somebody out there was searching for just that thing because they had the perfect use for it, wouldn't it want to be where it could be the most useful? Maybe that thing shouldn't be sitting in a box in the corner after all, but should be where it could do the most good.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why We Enjoy the Struggle

This morning I listened to my brother while he watched a movie. He made comments like, "Awe, poor Sid," while laughing. I thought, "What is it about others' struggles that makes life beautiful for us?" I have a good friend who is reading through the Pulitzer Prize winners of literature, and she has found an interesting formula between the books. I found one thing in common with her analysis, which is that we are all drawn to struggle and tragedy. Something about the discomfort we experience vicariously from another's troubles resonates with us.

Consider carefully the formula for best actress and best actor over the years. It is when something difficult is executed so well that we are drawn into believing it, and almost without fail, it is not a depiction of a happy cheerful man or woman. It is the individual who is in conflict. Truly, the basis behind a story like Great Expectations is rather silly when you think about it, a woman so bitter that she adopts and raises a child that will take out her vengeance on man. Still, we are drawn into the struggle, the rise, the fall, and the final chance of resolution. The resolution isn't complete, and yet, we relate with it. It is rarely the happy ending that draws the pen of the news reporter. It's not that happy endings don't happen in the world, but our perceptions are skewed by those seeking to draw attention to their newsworthy masterpiece.

I remember even feeling this way as a child. I watched shows like Sesame Street and the Muppets and watched while Bert and Ernie had drama, conflict, and communication problems, or while Beeker had things blow up on him, or while Kermit and Miss Piggy had relationship problems. It was funny, entertaining, and emotionally coaching. While they were going through those troubles, how did they respond to the trial? Oscar the Grouch responded negatively, while Big Bird was sometimes sad, but reasonably positive.

Trials make us feel like we belong by going through unique challenges. They help us feel, help us remember what is important, and help us connect with God and others because we aren't meant to go through this life alone. Life seems incomplete when everything seems to be going perfectly for too long, because we become numb to the feelings and experiences of others.

In some small way, it's the struggle that makes us feel a little more alive.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hospital Orchids

After attending church on Sunday, we stopped in front of a hospital in Tacoma for a spot of shade to gather our thoughts and program the GPS for the next leg of the trip. One of our Sunday traditions involves no shopping, and so we stock up the night before so as to avoid frequenting businesses and making people work on Sunday. Obviously there are some businesses that must operate on Sundays, and hospitals happen to be one of them. Given the convenient location and access, I slipped in to find a restroom.

You usually don't anticipate finding something spectacular in a hospital, and yet, there it was...an orchid garden. Some of the orchids were in cages to protect them from curious hands. You know the kind, the must-put-my-fingernail-through-the-leaf-of-that-to-see-if-it-is-real type of hands. The magnificence of a plant that is so flawless that it appears to be unreal is instantly destroyed for all to see. At any rate, it took some artistic creation to get some of these shots without the bars in the way. I saved the best for last... and yes, the last two were in the cage.

P.S. And yes, I did share these photos in two places... they were just such amazing creations!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Coasting" through Oregon

Our insanely busy week prior to our vacation, and subsequent mad dash to the airport left us a bit disheveled upon arriving to Seattle. J&J were most hospitable and picked us up at the airport, took us out for the most lovely tacos, and settled us into a room in their condo. We took in Pikes Place, visited the Japanese Gardens, and spent the day canoeing on Lake Washington. I think I missed fifty amazing shots as we our canoe romantically glided through pink and white water lilies and while C sung me impromptu Gondola songs.

We paddled under bridges and freeways and even had a close encounter with a magnificent blue heron. C tossed him a wheat thin, to which he turned up his graceful neck, looked the other direction, and took to skies. I believe I heard him call over his shoulder, "Sir, I believe you mistook me for an Ivar's seagull, or a Pike's Place pigeon, which I am neither."

Clear skies and warm sunlight were our companions for the first half of our trip, and we would have welcomed it more if it weren't for the lack of A/C in our borrowed Rx-7. By the time the clouds rolled in, we welcomed them with open arms. There is also something to be said for photography in the rain. It's like wearing sunglasses while looking at the world; greens look greener, and everything takes on a romantic hue.

One of our visits included a former missionary companion in Oregon, who is an amazing woman with beautiful and charming little ones. Our drive down was so hot that we climbed out of the car at a an elementary school to dry off before arriving. I think we each lost three pounds of water weight that day. I didn't weigh myself, but am pretty sure I would have seen numbers that I haven't seen since before I was married.

After a lovely evening at their home and a beautiful and healthy meal, we settled into our romantic "theme room."

My only regret with that visit is that I had taken more photos of the family! They were so much fun and so talented! We did get to spend the day at the beach with them the following day, which was wonderful. Next time I will come better prepared for sand-fights and sandcastles, but you can catch some of the tidepool magic over at Whose-its. We did catch an ambulance racing down the beach, but decided we would not exacerbate the situation by joining the crowd.

We stopped by Tillamook where we saw some pretendee Pirates who were wearing matcy-matchy HD hats and Colombia jackets.
C was indignant at the treatment of the cheese factory employees, and practically began gathering data about the on-display nature of their work.

and I took a picture of the cheese trough, but couldn't bring myself to participate. Something about the setup just made me feel "udderly" livestockish. I don't do normal when it comes to cheese, anyway, so it was no loss.

Fortunately we found an abnormal cheese shop and purchased some lovely garlic herbed Brie and a baguette. I fell in love with their eclectic wares, while C fell in love with their leetle Burro.

After a little melt down from all of our pent up stress from work, we were sufficiently purged to continue our journey and suddenly life got easier, the clouds softened our blistering drive, and we could truly enjoy Seattle as it was meant to be.

The Oregon Coast was spectacular, filled with lovely surprises like the Kite Flying Festival and Hug Point:

A word to the wise, never stay at a B&B in Astoria. Take my word for it, but  we enjoyed our visit nevertheless, Goonies and all.

Alas, we could not visit the Oregon Coast without stopping in Willapa Bay for smoked salmon and spicy dry smoked oysters, and also visited the Seaside Strip. And now that I have overwhelmed you with all of these links to the photo-journalist aspect of these places, this may be a good place to stop. Allow me to hold up my red sneakers and hang my red cardigan in the closet, and say goodbye to trolley, then I'll sing the good feeling song and tell you that you are special. Perhaps we will see each other again tomorrow?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Treasure Box... The Rest of the Story

Look to your right. Over there. Do you see it?

That's my treasure-box; my place to keep fun and beautiful and charming and humorous things, in case you didn't know.

You know, the Whose-its button. There are magical Japanese Gardens hiding inside, and colorful kites, and perhaps some tidepools...oh, and some breathtaking sights!

Grandma always had a treasure box for us, and when it was cloudy or too windy to play outside, she quietly slipped a cigar box from high in the closet. Inside were wonderful things. A tiny doll, a wooden nickel, a baby bracelet made out of blue and white beads, costume jewelry, a tiny glass bottle, and other treasures that she had collected over the years. When she asked her grandchildren what they wanted before she died, they all wanted the same thing. She somehow mustered up enough boxes for everyone, and filled them with tiny treasures. She wanted everyone to have a treasure of their own.

She shared her treasures with me, and now I share these treasures with you! Perhaps you will find something there that you like, but if not, there is always much more to come.

WARNING: Proceed at your own risk. Blog entries are full of happy and magical things. Feelings of joy and illumination are imminent. May result in edges of mouth turning upward. All Whose-its photos taken by yours truly unless otherwise indicated. 

A Solitary Way

There is a mystery in human hearts;

And though we be encircled by a host

Of those who love us well, and are beloved,

To every one of us, from time to time,

There comes a sense of utter loneliness:

Our dearest friend is stranger to our joy,

And cannot realize our bitterness.

There is not one who really understands,

Not one to enter into all I feel:

Such is the cry of each of us in turn;

We wander in a solitary way.

No matter what or where our lot may be;

Each heart, mysterious even to itself,

Must live its inner life in solitude.
And would you know the reason why this is?

It is because the Lord desires our love:

In every heart He wishes to be first.

He therefore keeps the secret key Himself,

To open all its chambers and to bless

With perfect sympathy and holy peace,

Each solitary soul that comes to Him.

So when we feel this loneliness, it is

The voice of Jesus saying, "Come to me";

And every time we are not understood,

It is a call to us to come again;

For Christ alone can satisfy the soul,

And those who walk with Him from day to day,

Can never have a solitary way.

And when beneath some heavy cross you faint,

And say, I cannot bear this load alone,

You say the truth. Christ made it purposely

So heavy that you must return to Him.

The bitter grief, which no one understands,

Conveys a secret message from the King,

Entreating you to come to Him again.

The Man of Sorrows understands it well;

In all points tempted, He can feel with you.

You cannot come too often, or too near-

The Son of God is infinite in grace,

His presence satisfies the longing soul,

And those who walk with Him from day to day,

Can never have a solitary way.

Unknown Author

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Whidbey Island, WA

Our love story began like a fairy tale, high in a tower...
We climbed these stairs, and started our journey almost twelve years ago. 

There were no signs of danger then...
But once we reached the top, we were captured by the moment, and never let go.

Someday perhaps our legs will fail to make the narrow climb to our lover's perch...
But the place where our lips first met illuminated our hearts and kindled a love that continues to burn faithfully to this day...
and throughout eternity.

Our own history started long after the first lighthouse was built, but we are determined to outlast the second one.

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