Thursday, March 31, 2011

Refreshing Day!

Oh wow, today was wonderful. Just the perfect day! One I have been needing for weeks now.

My friend Jennifer and I spent the day together downtown Portland at a great place called NW 23rd. It's a street filled with fun shops that are modern, chic, and some are even eco-friendly/organic. I had a blast hanging out with her and loved the change of scenery.

What also made the day great was that we FINALLY had a day of no rain and some sunshine. It's been a miracle. haha Today is also the day we finally got to 60 degrees. Let me tell you, it felt great! The nickname for today should be "Breakthrough." (If you're a weather nerd and want to know exactly how glorious this day has been, check out the stats I'm posting at the very bottom of this post)

I drove us down to NW Portland and attempted to find parking on a side street. Unfortunately, it was a little too crowded so we parked in a paid parking lot. While it seemed nuts to spend $8 on an all day parking permit it was certainly worth it. I was happy to ditch the car and get on with the fun stuff!

Our first stop was at Lush, a bath and body store. Lush has lots of great products that are fresh and handmade. I love how they're full of organic goodness and humanitarian. You can their website here (this link goes to the main website-- that way you can click on which country you're from. Neat that they are all over the world!). 

After spending some time in Lush we walked up the street to go to the MAC makeup store (a total opposite of Lush in terms of organic goodness haha). Jennifer was interested in the makeup there and was able to have one of the store ladies try some eyeshadow on her. I had fun watching the lady beautify Jennifer and of course enjoyed looking at the makeup. Since I already have plenty of makeup I wasn't tempted to buy any, but it was certainly fun to see all sorts of colors and products.

Once we were done at MAC I was craving something tasty to eat. We walked down to one of the gelato shops, Mio Gelato. I got a bowl with two flavors, roasted almond (I think it's what it was called, it was something almond) and Dulce de Leche. Mmmm mmmm good. Jennifer got some gelato sorbet, which looked delicious. I'm so glad we stopped there. A very NW 23rd-ish thing to do! There's so many good places to eat there that it would be a shame not to stop at one of them.

After the gelato stop we walked up the street to some of the clothing stores and then stopped in another make up shop along the way. We spent some time in the makeup shop. They had lots of great trinkets in addition to their makeup products. I actually found some good smelling candles that were packaged nicely. I didn't buy them but am considering going there in the future when I need to give a little gift to someone.

Next we went to Urban Outfitters and spent some time checking out the clothing and accessories. There was a pair of earrings that I liked but I couldn't get myself to spend $12 on them. ;-) 

We decided to head home after looking at the clothing store-- so that was our fun day downtown! A perfect Spring day... so uplifting and lovely. :) 

Now for the nerdy part-- but I must note this because it's pretty crazy. Perhaps these weather stats are related to my slump (I think I'm no better than a wilty flower when we have days on end without sunshine). I got these stats from a KGW news article, which you can find here.

  • Portland also finished March with 29 days of measurable rain during March, breaking the old record for 27 days of rain in March.
  • Portland also wiped out its record for consecutive days of measurable rain. The old record was only 16 days. On Tuesday, Portland had recorded 23 straight days of measurable precipitation.
  • By early Wednesday, March 2011 had also earned the distinction of being the fifth-rainiest on record, with 6.49 inches recorded at PDX Airport.
  • In 1989, 6.73 inches of rain fell in the city. Portland's wettest March had 7.52 inches of rainfall back in 1957.
  • Before this year, March 27 was the latest into the year before reaching the 60-degree point. (This year makes it the 31st, sheesh)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Am Thankful

I originally started to write a post on a completely different topic, and then I thought... No, I need to be more positive. I've been in a rather large slump in these past few months. I feel like this year has been one of the weirdest yet and it's only March. I think I understand the phrase, "off kilter" more than ever. Perhaps this is a character building year...

Anyway, I think one way to get myself feeling better is to focus on things I am thankful for. I have been blessed with so much and I need to acknowledge those good things.

To do so I'm going to use one of my favorite writing forms, lists!

I Am Thankful For

* My part-time job... Though I have complained about it some recently, it truly is a huge blessing. It's given me financial peace and good experience working with people.

*My substituting jobs... So thankful to have opportunities to teach! I love it when I can be teacher for the day. I've had some great days so far this year.

*All of my friends, near and far... I really don't have the words to say how thankful I am for such good friends. They make me smile, let me cry, rant, laugh like crazy, and be down right silly. They make me want to be better person and they also accept me for who I am.

*My family... So thankful for the family members I'm close to. They are so supportive, understanding, and full of good advice when I need it. I also love the times when we get together and do what we do best-- laugh! They've impacted me in so many ways and constantly remind me of staying strong when it's the last thing I want to do.
*The roof over my head... This is something I don't think about often as I have never known any different. I am so incredibly blessed to be able to live in a home that has clean running water, a comfortable bed, and a room all my own. There are so many people in the world today who would do anything to have these things. My heart breaks for all those people, especially those in Japan. I can't imagine. Their whole lives are upside down.

*My cute car... So grateful for my mom allowing me to use one of the cars whenever I want. Not only is it cute but it's kept me safe and is easy to drive around.

*My new furry friend, Cheese Puff. He's been a wonderful comfurrrrrter. He's a great cat and I love how he snuggles in my bed with me.

*Being able to read... I've thoroughly enjoyed reading more these days. I'm currently reading a fascinating autobiography, Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor of Jordan. It's been very eye-opening and has given me a different perspective on the Middle East.

*Being healthy... So thankful to have pretty good health. On occasion I get sick but for the most part I'm a healthy person. That's something I should never take for granted. So many in the world are suffering from horrendous diseases and cancer.

*My Granny... Very blessed to have her still with us, especially after breaking her two legs last year. She is an amazing woman and deserves a grand celebration for her 100th birthday this year.

*My wonderful new Canon camera... I am loving taking pictures with it! So fun to capture memories with a whole new rig.

*And of course, most importantly, I am so thankful for my Savior. He's there for me no matter what-- He knows I struggle, He knows my heartbreaks, my joys, and all that's in between. He knew me long before I ever existed. And He thought of me when He paid the ultimate sacrifice, dying for my sins on the cross. I am so thankful-- for my amazing Creator of Heaven and Earth. For all that He is.

*There are many other things I'm thankful for but this is just what I'm going to list for now. When I think of these things, I suddenly start to feel a lot lighter. Remembering what I'm thankful for helps me to snap out of my funk and breathe a little deeper. Ahh.... I need to read over this list every day!

What are you thankful for?!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lovely Spring

"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow." --Proverb

I love that Spring is here and that ever so slowly it is starting to feel like it. Unfortunately, the weather isn't a great indication of the new season. The Pacific Northwest truly only has two seasons: Less Rain and More Rain. While I hate the rain, I'm thankful for the beautiful scenery. I'm so happy to see flowers blooming and trees bursting with color.

I have yet to get pictures of my beloved cherry trees, but here are some pictures I've taken so far of this pretty season (and with my new camera I might add!):

(Having fun with the color accent tool on my camera. Pretty hyacinth!)

(Leaves getting ready to burst on the willow tree)

(Raindrops on a daffodil)

(Again, with the color accent-- had to highlight these amazingly yellow daffodils!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On a happier note...

I feel like I have a ton of blog posting to catch up. Lots of things have happened in the past few months and I have plenty of thoughts bumbling around in my head. I'm feeling a lot more upbeat these days-- I feel Spring in the air and it's great. :)

Sort of a funny post to put next to the ones about Minnie (not really how I wanted to do it but oh well, that's what I get for waiting so long to write!).... We have a new furry friend in our house.

After allowing ourselves time to deal with Minnie's passing, we decided we were ready for another cat. I guess that's how it happened anyway. We knew at some point we wanted another cat, but weren't sure when. There's a wonderful pet adoption place nearby and we visited it a few times in the end of January to February. In the few times we visited, we were just checking out the place, not really sure about a cat yet. We were also frequent visitors on their website.

My sister finished reading Dewey in early February and became focused on having an orange cat. I honestly had no idea what kind of cat I wanted next. I just knew we couldn't get another tortoise. She finally came across one orange tabby cat and had to see him in person. About the second week in February we visited the orange tabby boy cat. A few days later, on February 21st (President's Day) he was our boy!

Meet Cheese Puff! Our 16 pound orange tabby. :) He has lost some weight now because he's on a diet... haha His name at the adoption place was Cheese Puff and we thought it was appropriate and kept it. He's a great furry friend to have around the house. We've never had a boy cat before so it's pretty different. He also looks totally different than our other kitties. He's got a great personality!

Picture of him on his first day of his new home. Lots to love!

Checking out the house for the first time (Feb 22nd)... Hey Mr. Good Lookin'!

He doesn't usually get into this position because he's a rather large boy. I guess because he was on Mom's pants it called for a special type of sitting.

Minnie PC

I forgot to write Part II of my post about Minnie... Since my post about her was so long I didn't want to include a picture in that one. I think it's important to have one though.

This picture is so special. Minnie had a blast during Christmas and enjoyed every moment. She was so fun! All of our cats have enjoyed Christmas. I'm so glad she was able to be here for one more holiday season. I will always cherish this picture because its the last one with Minnie, my sister and me. I'm very thankful we thought to take this!

It's amazing how looking at a picture you can immediately transfer yourself to that time. This is definitely one of those memories. I can feel myself sitting next to my sister, touching Minnie's fur and smiling at the camera. I remember it so well. Crazy how that is...

We always loved you Minnie and we will never forget you. You were a special kitty, my precious beach souvenir (we got her 13.5 years ago from Pacific City, hence the full name), and snuggle bunny. I hope you're happy and enjoying being with your furry sisters.

Minnie PC

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Paw Prints on my Heart

What we once have enjoyed we can never lose; all that we love deeply, becomes a part of us. --Helen Keller

I guess I have put off writing about this long enough. Subconsciously, it's been nice to not write because that way I don't have to accept the reality... But that's not a healthy way to live and writing is a good way to process my feelings.

So with that said, on January 10th we learned that Minnie's cancer was not treatable and that it had spread. Because of that news, we had to put her down that day. Since then I haven't felt like things have been the same since, which of course, they aren't.

I may seem melodramatic or overdoing this event that has happened in my life, but I don't feel that I am. After all, I lost a little friend that I have had in my life for 13 years. She's been there for me for everything-- such a precious creature in God's amazing creation.
On the morning of the 10th, I had that awful feeling. I just knew that would be her last day... I had been up most of the night crying with Mom and loving on her. We could tell she was very uncomfortable, as she made multiple trips out to the litter box but could not produce anything.

That morning when I got up, she came and snuggled next to me... and I just got hysterical. I kept saying, "Don't go... I don't want you to go..." My sister was still sleeping but heard me and came in to comfort me. I was pretty much grasping for air at that point since I was crying so hard.

I don't remember all the details in the morning, but I know I was getting ready for work at that time. What I do remember though is the few minutes before I had to leave. I held Minnie for the longest time and talked to her. I told her that I loved her enough to let her go- as it wasn't fair to keep her if she wasn't comfortable... Whenever I stand in that spot in my room I can vividly recall holding her and feeling the weight of her in my arms... and the feel of her silky fur... and the sound of her gentle purring. It always feels like it was just yesterday that she was here.

I remember being in the kitchen getting my stuff to go and looking at the clock at 9:25. Minnie was wandering around the kitchen-- she was looking out the sliding glass doors to the backyard; watching the birds and wildlife. I remember thinking "Enjoy this Minnie, this could be your last time to see all of this..." Then as I was leaving to go out the back door, she briefly came outside... and I looked at her, knowing those would be last few looks at her. And then I turned the corner and headed to my car, crying all the way to work.

A part of me really wanted to believe everything would be okay and that her cancer was treatable. But unfortunately, I couldn't fight my intuition.

I didn't talk to my boss about what was going on nor acted much different. I did feel like I was in a fog all day and felt physically exhausted. I remember watching the clock because Minnie was supposed to be at the vet at 1pm. As I was organizing cards and helping customers, I watched every minute tick by...

At one point I looked at the register and it said "14:23" (2:23) and all in that moment, I nearly had a full blown panic attack. I felt this sharp pain through my chest-- an achy sensation. Kind of hard to explain really.

Ironically, that was about the time Minnie was put to sleep. When I was done with work, I checked my phone and had a few missed calls. My mom was in California that day for a meeting so that was also weird. Anyway, she had a very sad voicemail for me saying she had to make that horrible decision and hoped I wasn't mad at her. I called her back before leaving the parking lot... and in that odd winter light, under that clear crisp sky and wispy clouds... my mom and I sobbed and sobbed, missing our precious furry tortie.

I got home and cried with my sister-- feeling surrounded by the dead silence in the house. Such an odd sense of quiet. A feeling of something missing.

Later that evening, we were able to go over to our neighbor's and watch the BCS game with them. It was so nice to be in a different environment and to be with good friends. I feel very thankful for them to let us come over.

Before bed, my aunt checked in on us to see if we needed a hug. She gladly came down to comfort us and let us cry. She had actually been at the vet with my sister, dad, and my sister's boyfriend when it was time to put Minnie down. My mom had requested that she would be there for them and to sort of be in our place (as Mom and I couldn't be there). I am so blessed to have such a loving aunt.
And that's how that day was... Not a good way to start out 2011. Certainly very unexpected. But so many people have felt that way too-- on the 8th there was that horrible shooting on Tuscon. No one expected that either.

There's no way to make sense about death and why it's the only answer sometimes.. or why it's the unexpected thief. What we can know for sure and what I cling to are the memories. It's not the same-- I want her here more than anything. I miss her every day... I'll keep her beautiful songs, trills and meows in my heart and carry her memory with me always.