Lots of things to be thankful for this Easter season.
Today I am throwing off the bowlines and sailing away from the most recent, and longest, phase of my life – the full-time career phase, that is. I’m ready. I am going to take my time charting the next phase. I can’t wait to see where it takes me!
Yikes, my last post was on March 3rd! I’ve been a tad busy. Since then, life has happened. I have been taking pictures along the way. Let me bring you up to speed:
– My 6th blogoversary! Six years ago I started sheila365.com. I’m not as diligent as I used to be about posting, and my posts have gotten less photo-worthy, but I do enjoy it. How time flies!
– Celebrated a friend’s birthday – this shot is from the lobby of the Hotel Van Zandt downtown. I accidentally left my Harvard Business School umbrella in the restaurant there. Oh well. 😦
– Lots of little birdies out back. I think I have 9 feeders out, altogether. I love watching them.
– We have been dealing with battery problems on Nirvana for the last couple of months. Ok, I’m using the “Royal We” there. Short story: our batteries crapped out on the boat. The charger was apparantly kaput as well. Monte has been researching chargers and new deep-cycle house batteries to keep our floating second home powered while we’re not hooked up to shore power. We have since ordered, and Monte has installed, all the various bits and pieces, and this is a snapshot of the voltmeter on the control panel down below after the installation. All is well! I think we will be anchoring out before too long!
– Work took me to Raleigh all last week. I have been taking advantage of the Austin Library’s on-line e-book and audio-book collection that can be easily checked out via the accompanying Overdrive app. On this trip, I checked out the audio book for Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley – a story about a roadtrip he took across the country with his poodle in the early 60’s. The jury is still out on how much I enjoyed it.
– It rained in Raleigh. Monte’s birthday also happened while I was there – the first that I haven’t been home to celebrate with him.
– I flew home home on Saint Patrick’s Day. Slainte!
– And then it rained some more in Austin. After MANY years of drought, and a little help from last year’s El Niñ0, Lake Travis is officially full now at 681′ above mean sea level. Hallelujah!
– Once I was back in Austin, we celebrated Monte’s birthday at a favorite restaurant. Baked Alaska for dessert!
– And, this weekend we worked in the yard and welcomed in the first day of spring!
Now you are up to date. 🙂
Here we are again – the last day of the year. 2015 brought lots of things: fun parties with friends, lots of visits from friends and family, more time spent in Washington State, a wonderful family reunion, the passing of my mom, happy moments on the lake, stargazing, beautiful spring flowers, roadtrips, the passing of a friend, cooking, sunsets, Seahawks (!), much more reading, breakups between good friends, exploring local breweries and wineries, El Niño rain, a nearly full lake, birthdays, more sunsets, amazing girlfriends and our trip to New Orleans, music, dancing, laughs, tears.
Tonight we are headed to a friend’s house to ring in the new year. Last year we hosted the New Year’s Eve party – here’s a shot from that night a year ago… how fast time flies:
This week a friend of mine died unexpectedly – a fellow sailor, a husband, and father of 3, who worked in the IT industry by day, and sang karaoke at night.
This week is also the 3 year anniversary of the unexpected death of a cousin of mine who was my age.
Mom died not too long ago, not unexpectedly, but creating a great hole in our hearts.
An aunt died without any warning signs, mourning the loss of her husband 2 years before.
My sister-in-law’s brother died this year unexpectedly as well.
The impact of all these losses piles up, in the mind. And it causes me to pause. And maybe because of that when I saw this quote posted this week, it touched me:
So live your life that the fear of death can never
enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all
things in your life.
— Chief Tecumseh’s Words of Wisdom
I shall strive to do so.
After mom’s funeral, I stayed on another month, expressly to help sort through the myriad of papers and things. It took that long because there was so much to look through, and also because I looked at each thing. Some things documented a memory of my mom & dad’s. But many also documented one of my own memories – each of which I relived as I uncovered something new. In the end, the task was completed. What was left was no small pile of boxes of papers that needed to be shredded. I googled “mobile shredding service” and found one that would come to a residence with a shredding truck and shred all documents right then and there in the presence of the customer. We had enough to fill a 100 gallon bin, and it cost around $130. Not bad.
Now that I am home I, too, feel a need to purge the boxes of records documenting the last 30+ years of my own life. And so, I’ve begun. I started with the oldest first. And, I think perhaps that was not the most expedient approach, because I find my progress slowed by the recall of long buried memories as I looked through each item I’ve saved:
- Transcripts from college documenting the high and low points of my academic journey.
- College medical bills for stress induced stomatitis, birth control pills (ironically), mono, painful dental work and… the mumps, no less.
- Plane ticket receipts for every back and forth leg of my life’s path, so far.
- Student loans and paystubs from jobs to help me barely get by.
- Car repair invoices for the junkers that got me from one place to the next until I could afford a real car.
- Applications to graduate schools; knowing now, but having no idea back then, what the profound impact that choice would make on the direction of my life.
- Phone bills showing in detail each and every call I made home….every couple of days…some for just a few minutes, some for a half hour or more. Records that bear witness to my committment to keep a close relationship with my family over the years. This especially touched me because when I came across the annual Christmas letters my mom sent out after I had gone off for college, in the blurb where she wrote about what I was doing, she would always add her wish that I would be moving back to be near the family. Which I never did. And that still makes a part of me sad.
- Graduation documents, job interview letters and interview trips. Job offer letters from some prospective employers. The letter of the job offer I eventually decided to accept, which took me even farther from home, and further wove the fabric of my future.
- Bank statements from a variety of banks, different ones as I moved from one place to the next – one showing all the money that I had to my name (unpaid student loans not withstanding) on my first day of work of my professional career: $1067. I must confess that seeing that got the tears rolling for me. I was simply overwhelmed at how far I have come from that day, and the staggering amount of hard work it has taken to live my American dream. I had forgotten. It also reminded me of how my father and my mom’s father immigrated to this country on their own life journies, each with a hundred or so dollars in his pocket, to live out their American dreams.
I’ve gone on too long. But I guess the point is that they don’t call it a “purge” for nothing. The process of purging those papers from your past can end up being an emotional purge as well. So, if you’re up for it, join in, grab some kleenex, and find a mobile shredding service near you.
We spent a long weekend together – my sisters, brother and me. Time to empty the house. We stayed at mom’s house together and shared feelings, memories, and laughs while going through a lifetime of keepsakes and all manner of things.
A poem I wrote at age 12:
Pouncing endlessly on the weary, defenseless shore of sand and rocks. Constantly charging and retreating, high tide or low. The tide never sleeps, but sometimes weakens to a slow, silent creep. Always bringing in waves that turn into a frothing, white foam. The shore can never rest from this endless beating; never.
Yeah. It’s not Shakespeare. 🙂 I found a number of my poems – long forgotten. Ironically many are about some aspect of Nature. But maybe that’s not ironic after all.
So much stuff. Preserved in time for 50+ years. Birth announcements, funeral prayer cards, decades of pictures, letters, cards, gifts, momentos… points in time defining the lives of my mom and dad and all they held dear.
1st or 2nd grade, maybe?
I spent the day today with Fran and kids – geocaching in what turned out to be a downpour. We got soaked but found every cache in the park. At one point we came across 3 big woodpeckers. They didn’t sit still, so I didn’t get much of a shot. But, here ’tis.
I wish you all a peaceful week.
Today we celebrated my mom, and said goodbye. What an emotional day. It was a beautiful ceremony. Lots of family and friends shared the day with us.
We sent her off with a graveside parting glass.
I’m a little exhausted. A little sad. And very happy to have an angel of mom’s calibre in my corner.
I’ll leave you with a picture from my sister’s garden, and the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem version of The Parting Glass.
I flew back home, again, yesterday. But this time, my Mom is not here. God took her back. It is the sad, but inevitable, end to a wonderful lifetime. I am proud and oh so happy to be her daughter. Today we say goodbye and celebrate her life. ‘Til we meet again, Mom… I love you.
As we approached Seattle, I was treated to beautiful views of the Cascades. Fires are again raging in Washington, both east and west of the mountains, so the view was a bit hazy. In this one looking south, Mount Rainier is in the front, center. Mount Saint Helens is slightly above and to the right of Rainier; the gray, hazy, low peak with no snowcap. The leftmost peak is Mount Adams. And between Adams and Rainier, in the distance, you can faintly see Mount Hood.
I took this photo last weekend on the lake, right before the last bit of seemingly relentless rain storms passed. It has an ominous look to it – fitting for how I’m feeling today.
Have you heard tales of bizarro things happening when the planet Mercury is in retrograde (which happens a couple times every year)? If not, you can read about it here. Well, Mercury has been in retrograde since May 18, and will be through June 11.
Here’s a short list of things I’m writing off as Mercury’s doing during this period of retrograde:
– historic flooding (since around the 18th……hmmm)
– the docks at our marina have broken in places due to the flooding and storms, so the dock our boat is on Is in limbo, unable to be brought back to shore for the time being
– our anchor rode snapped unexpectedly while pulling up the hook 2 weeks ago
– I found a bat in my office at work yesterday (the Mexican freetail kind, not the Louisville slugger kind)
– the sewer drain at the house up and died last night (freakiest – and grossest – of all)
And we still have almost another week of this. Have you any bizarre happenings to share?
One of my unofficial new year’s resolutions was to dedicate some time to learning. Have you heard of MOOCs – massive open online classes? Well, there are MANY online courses on every subject imaginable, hosted from many different institutions and web portals. They are free – if audited, and are taken online from the comfort of your couch. Ten weeks ago I enrolled in a MOOC on Jazz Appreciation on edx.org, along with 11,000(!) other students. I love all kinds of music, but I really didn’t know much about Jazz, and I thought if I learned a bit more about it, its eras and artists, that I might enjoy it even more.
Today I finished the course. I highly recommend it. I now know a bit more about early jazz, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, modal, free jazz, fusion, and neo-classical eras. I know that Coltrane was THE MAN on tenor sax. I know that Miles varied his music on trumpet to influence many eras. I found out that I really like the pianist Bill Evans and will seek out some of his albums. I understand why Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk transcend a specific Jazz era. I decided that I don’t care as much for bebop – no offense to Dizzy and the Bird. I enjoy early jazz and modal and hard bop and cool. I can distinguish blues form from AABA form. I can listen for the bass and drums to try to pick out swing from even-8th rhythm. I heard many snippets of a variety of performances from artists that I was already aware of, whetting my interest to hear more by them. And I learned about some of the newest artists to appear on the Jazz stage. Professor Hellmer was great.
All and all, a great class! Aaaaaand, I got an A. 🙂
openculture.com maintains a list of over a thousand MOOCs here. Take a look, pick one out that sounds interesting, and enroll!
Sunday was the 5 year blogoversary for sheila365! I meant to draft a post ahead of time, and post it bright and early on March 8th. But I just looked at the calendar and time has snuck by on me once again.
That’s ok. In these 5 years sheila365 has evolved, and I think I have a bit, too. My blog started as a post-a-day 365 project during the first year or two, which had me snapping photos during the day to make sure I had something that I judged “share-worthy;” and now it has become more of a leisurely, post-every-week-or-so project, which I have to say has been much easier, though less artistic in terms of trying to capture beautiful photos, but rather just moments from my day that struck me as special or interesting in one way or another.
So happy blogoversary to me! 🙂 I thought I’d go back through my posts from year 5 and pick a photo from one post from each month that especially makes me smile. I have to say it was very hard to pick just one picutre from each month.
March 2014: Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. A visit to the walled El Morro. Beautiful Caribbean views.
April 2014: British Virgin Islands sailing trip – this was taken while snorkeling off Cooper Island.
July 2014 – An amazing trip to Panama City Beach to celebrate a very special anniversary with a very special family.
October 2014 – A fun girls’ trip to Washington, D.C. Lots of laughs, lots of wine, and lots of walking. 🙂
What an amazing lap around the sun!
Thanks for coming along for the ride. 🙂