Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bridget Smiles

Who can coax a smile out of Bridget?

Her Daddy can, of course.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Love is Blind....

Before I was married my Mother gave me this little paper jewelry box. The artist's signature on the back says it was made in England in 1988. It is hand painted and relatively fragile. I have managed to keep it in very good condition for better than 20 years. A piece of me considers this box an indicator of how fragile and precious I consider my marriage. I have managed to keep them both intact for 20 years.
So, the Greek saying goes:
Love is blind
but marriage restores its sight.

I keep my favorite piece of jewelry in this box...

When my Mother first gave it to me I thought what a pretty little box and what an interesting little saying... what does it mean? Every once in a while, when I open the box to get out this necklace I think back on the saying and the day my Mother gave me this box. I knew my Mother, having been married at 18 and divorced at 25 and then remarried again at 26, knew more than a little about marriage. When I got married she was 45, the same age I am now. She did not steer me away from marriage, but she did provide some words of advice and caution. I know that I listened, but I know I could not have absorbed but a small percentage of her words... sometimes it is hard to understand the advice of others when you have no frame of reference. It is hard to understand until you have lived it.

I was 26 and Michael 25 when we got married in 1989. We had known each other for 5 1/2 years and had been engaged for 4 1/2 years. We had lived together, but more importantly our relationship had survived three significant long distance intervals. I have to say though, taking into consideration the track record of three of our parents and also the pressure from one set of parents and their opinion that we were still not ready, that it was not a coincidence that I chose Nat King Cole's 'Too Young' as one of our wedding songs:

"... this love will last though years may go
and then some day they may recall
we were not too young at all."
-Words by Sylvia Dee

Well, we are not young any more and nearly 20 years have come and gone and I am looking from a completely different perspective now, but I can say that I am happy and proud of my marriage and the level of serious hard work that has gone into it. It is a true accomplishment of strength, will, compromise and understanding that has brought me to this day. Some of my favorite quotes are about marriage:

"Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle."
-Amy Bloom

"Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry."
-Tom Mullen

I believe I know what the Greek saying in the little hand painted box means--now. I understand that marriage is the ultimate challenge of a person's ability to truly love another human being. I understand that love is grand, but that marriage is the practical side of things, the side that tests your every emotion. Its an agreement that challenges your ability to keep promises and respect another person's soul. That there is no perfect mate, or perfect marriage. It is hard work, but provides an amazing reward.

As most of you know, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary this summer, but aside from an exciting trip to Rome and a cruise of the Greek Islands, we will celebrate a comfortable place in our lives of peace and happiness. We celebrate the health of all six of our parents and the beautiful faces of all our nieces and nephews and their parents, we celebrate all our siblings near and far, we celebrate our two teenage children and their amazing accomplishments as they take their journey through life, we celebrate the pets that make us smile every day as we look into their furry faces. We celebrate a love we have shared and a marriage that has succeeded.

"After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her."
-Adam, in Adam's Story by Mark Twain

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baseball is....

"Baseball is ninety percent mental, the other half is physical."
-Yogi Berra
Sammy is in high school now, and is playing spring baseball. Unfortunately, at Catlin Gabel baseball is not the all American past time that it is most everywhere else. Baseball actually does not have a great reputation at Catlin and the boys that play sports prefer to play tennis or golf or another sport off campus like LaCrosse (crazy private school). But Sammy's passion for baseball will not be squashed by a team that rarely wins or a few chuckles from other kids. Well, truthfully, he did consider playing tennis with Joey, but the baseball coach and I put a stop to those thoughts.
The guy on the left is Sammy's coach, Chris. He has taken Sammy under his wing and is prepping Sammy to be a pitcher next year. On the right is the assistant coach, Peter.
Sammy did pitch one inning last game, but he usually plays first or third base.
He gets a lot of action and usually makes the play.
Something tells me he knew I was taking his picture....
Looks like a strike to me. Sammy did get a couple hits this game and made the only run, so that was awesome. They lost 1-4. This was an away game in Vernonia, about 45 minutes from Portland. Interestingly enough, we have spent a bit of time in Vernonia as Sammy has attended a basketball camp out there and we have driven out for Catlin basketball games. Vernonia's Little League team was the team that beat Sammy's team last summer and knocked them out of the state tournament.
He does make it home.
A little pep talk between innings

"I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?"
-Yogi Berra

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Gotta love Yogi Berra.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Couple Things I Love About Spring

I love the crisp fresh air outside and the fact that Daffodils come up every year and they multiply... I love looking at our freshly planted early spring garden.

and I LOVE the fact that our local bakery
(Baker & Spice Bakery, Portland, Oregon)
carries Parisian Macaroons at this time of year. They are SO delicious.

The inside of the chocolate variety is like a fudgy brownie.
Oh, and I love taking pictures in the spring, well--honestly--I love taking pictures any time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Done: My Duty

On Monday, I was called to jury duty. Here in Multnomah County (yes, Tracey, I hear you, Multnomah is a weird word) we are down to one day of jury duty every 24 months, unless you are called to a trial. In which case, you are there for the duration of the trial, of course. Or, unless you are called to serve on the Grand Jury for which your service lasts for 30 days. So, at 9am Monday morning when they called the 30 names for potential grand jury members I held my breath. Ouch, 30 days. No way, I have a plane ticket to go to sunny Arizona next week and see my college roommate/maid-of-honor and I am not giving that up. Well, my name wasn't called for the grand jury--phew! This is actually the third time I have been called to jury duty since we moved into this county in 1993. The other two times I sat in the jury waiting room all day and never got called, for anything. The jury waiting room at the Multnomah County Courthouse is a large rectangular space with pale blue walls and big long rows of black faux leather upholstered chairs facing a podium in the front of the room. There are a couple of flat screen TVs, a small seating area with about four leather sofas, a small kitchen area with microwave oven and vending machines, and at the far end--by the bathrooms--some personal desk spaces like they might have had in a school library in the 70's. I was prepared to sit there again, all day, so I brought with me a book (Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Piccoult), a sketch pad (to sketch potential subjects for a couple of oil paintings I am going to paint for our soon to be newly remodeled family room) and my trusty iphone (so I could bother people who were trying to work and maybe chat with a few people via Facebook).

So, I arrived at the courthouse on time, at 8:00am (which is AMAZING since that is WAY before my normal morning time to be anywhere). Usually, if I can get to work by 11:00am on any given morning, I am doing GREAT. Plus the fact that it was gloriously sunny and projected to be above 75 degrees (so rare this time of year in Portland). I'm surprised anyone showed up for jury duty. But the room was filled with anxious potential jurors, or so it seemed. I sat down, opened my Odwalla Chocolate Protein drink and got out my book and started reading. My reading was quickly interrupted by the jury waiting room clerk introducing a judge that was going to talk with us about the importance of jury duty. Well, yeah, at that point we are already there, a captive audience, and I wasn't sure her passion for the US justice system was going to be all that compelling to the rest of us. After she gave her "isn't America's jury system great" speech (visions of OJ Simpson's trial were flashing in my head), the clerk got back up and told us all about our breaks... basically ten minute breaks every hour (you could hear a collective sigh of relief from the smokers in the room) and a 1 1/2 hour lunch break from 12-1:30pm. Not bad.

Back to my book. Well the once quiet room of people not really knowing what their day was going to be like and probably too tired to think about idle chatter, all the sudden woke up and the room turned into a whirlwind of voices. Friendly, and sometimes loud, conversations were bursting all over the room. One row in front of me and about 5 seats over a 30 something male began talking quite animatedly to the 40 something bleach blonde sitting next to him about how his recent divorce had made him a very happy and "free" man and that he was still hung over from his celebratory night out with the boys on Sunday. The woman did not seem all that interested, but he just kept right on talking anyway. The tall skinny fellow next to me was already on his second doughnut and coffee from the coffee cart in the lobby of the courthouse and all the sugar and caffeine was really just giving his legs way to much energy for the situation. Just about the time I thought I couldn't handle his buzz anymore, a 20 something girl with a pony tail and hot pink sweater sat down and virtually blocked my easy exit from the row. She was calling in to her workplace to see who would be working with her that evening, "because after being cooped up in this dreary jury room all day, she wasn't about to put up with Sue and her shenanigans". After finding out she would, indeed, be spending her shift with Sue she proceeded to call two other friends to bitch and gossip about Sue. It was pretty clear from my vantage point that both these other people desperately needed or just wanted to get off this phone conversation, but "hot pink sweater" girl just wasn't letting go. Meanwhile, the entire time she was on the phone, she snapped her gum and filed her nails. Sounds really cliche, but it is true. I wonder what her nighttime job was??? There was also the ongoing personal phone call by the jury clerk up at his desk which could be clearly heard by the more than 200 people in the room. Obviously he did not care much that all these people could hear that he spent more time on personal phone calls than working, just perpetuating the whole "government employee" stereotype.

When they called for our first break, "hot pink sweater" girl burst from her seat and shot out the door and this gave me the opportunity to quickly switch seats. Everyone filed promptly back into the jury waiting room when their 10 minute break was over, and as people often do, they took the same seats they had been in before the break so I was sure to choose a seat far away from "hot pink sweater" girl and a seat no one had been sitting in before break. At PRECISELY 10am one prospective juror turned on the television to The Price is Right (morning game show TV addict perhaps...). I had forgotten that Bob Barker retired and Drew Carey had taken his place. I really don't think Drew is a proper replacement for Bob. I mean, as I texted to Michael from the jury room, I just don't picture Drew sleeping around with Bob's beauties and he really is just way too nice to the crazy contestants that run up and plant a big kiss on him. Bob was sort of passively sarcastic and I really liked that about him. I have probably watched the show six times in my adult life although I do admit to watching it whenever I stayed home from school sick as a child. There just wasn't that much on TV back then. So, about 15 minutes into The Price is Right, they call for the first jury pool and my name is on the list.

I was excited and apprehensive all at the same time. This meant I did not have to sit in the waiting room all day, but it also meant I may be assigned to a trial and would have to come back to the courthouse tomorrow. We were instructed to head to a courtroom on the 5th floor, so of course, we all headed straight for the elevators. Six of us got on the first available elevator, then no one else would get on. Seriously, the elevator held like 10 people. I said, hmmm, that's strange... and the guy standing next to me said (and I kid you NOT, a perfect stranger) "they took one look at you and decided not to get on" WHAT? I thought, oh great, this is going to be a fun day. Then that same guy (who I will nickname "hate crime guy" for reasons that will become clear a little later) was seated right next to me in the courtroom for the jury selection process. I decided I was going to give "them", "the court" as little information about me as possible, but they asked a lot of their own questions like how much school do you have, where do you work, what is your job, who do you live with, what is their education, what is their job, what are your hobbies, do you drive, have you ever been the victim of a crime, etc....... The case was an assault case. The gay owner of a bar in SW Portland had allegedly assaulted one of his customers after the customer had allegedly made some anti-gay remarks. Interestingly enough, we found out my new best enemy sitting next to me had been assaulted in California in a grocery store a few years back, a victim of a hate crime (hmmm, I cannot imagine why this would happen to poor ole him). When everything was said and done, the guy sitting next to me "hate crime guy" got chosen for the jury and I did not. As a matter of fact, all the people that were chosen had had some story to tell or some strange circumstance that had APPEARED to make them undesirable, but which, in fact, must have actually made them desirable. I guess I just don't understand the jury selection process. So, all the rejected jurors were sent back down to the waiting room and even though they told us that part of the process is to have a large jury pool to choose from and more than half would not be chosen and we should still feel really good about being there even if we weren't chosen, you still leave wondering why some people get chosen over others.

By the time I got back to the waiting room, it was time for lunch break and off I went to one of my favorite lunch spots: Blue Plate (Blueplate Lunch Counter & Soda Fountain). Even though our office is only about 3 blocks from the courthouse (therefore I was choosing from basically the same restaurants I can eat lunch at any day of the week) I don't normally go out for lunch. Since I work a 3/4 day, I usually have Geo or Michael pick me up something while they are out or I bring my lunch from home and eat at my desk. Blue Plate is about 1/2 block from our old office, but maybe 6 or 7 blocks from our new office, so it is a rare treat to take the time to walk down to Blue Plate. On Jury Duty day, however, I had a whole 90 minutes to kill, so bring on the Blue Plate and Monday's Special: fried chicken, yum, yum. Another fun fact about Blue Plate is they recently filmed Diners, Drive-ins & Dives with Guy Fieri at Blue Plate for the Food Network (to be aired some time in August). Michael was asked to come down and be one of the customers during the filming, but he was too busy. I know, crazy.

Anyway, after lunch I decided to sit at one of the old school desks and do some sketching. The desks are individual and have sides, so I figured I wouldn't be bothered by anyone and would get a lot done. Boy, was I wrong. The guy sitting next to me must have been bored beyond tears as he kept peering around the side of my desk to see what I was doing. Finally he just blurted out "are you an artist?" I almost laughed as I am clearly so NOT an artist, but I just replied, no, it's just a hobby. Well, the guy is a contractor and he REALLY wanted to talk about some recent remodeling jobs he had done for artists. He went on and on about a studio he built recently for an oil painter and a photographer and a potter. So that somehow led to a conversation about how he and his wife spent their three week honeymoon near the Oregon Coast stoking a wood fired kiln for a potter and then, miraculously, I was called to another trial. I had to quickly say good-bye to my new contractor friend (who actually could have come in handy considering the volume of remodeling we do on our house, but alas, I had a job to do and I had forgotten to ask him for a business card).

This time we were sent to the 4th floor of the courthouse and this time the trial was a DUI. There were even more prospective jurors pulled this time for a 6 person trial. About half way through the questioning it became obvious why they needed so many extra jurors. They asked everyone the question: "have you ever been in an accident involving a drunk driver or has anyone you know ever been in an accident involving a drunk driver?" and then for those that had raised their hands, they asked if they would be able to be fair and impartial. The guy next to me (I'll call him "crazy leg guy", a different guy, of course, than a.m. "hate crime guy" because as I said before he got chosen for the other trial) had raised his hand along with about a half dozen other people. It was at this point that I realized his legs were shaking so uncontrollably that I couldn't believe his voice didn't vibrate when he spoke. When they got to questioning him, they asked about the circumstances of his experience with a drunk driver and he quickly told the story of his "drunk off his a** cousin" who had driven his motorcycle off a cliff. The state's attorney asked if he still had contact with his cousin and "crazy leg guy" said "that depends on what you mean by contact". She said do you still speak to him and he said "well, not in person since he split his head open and died when he went off the effing cliff". There was a very weird awkward moment in the courtroom and I was kinda afraid to be seated next to this guy. Anyway, he said he COULD be fair and impartial, but about 4 of the other jurors said they could not be fair. Then they asked if anyone believed that drinking alcohol was wrong and, if so, did they think they could be a fair and impartial juror. We lost a couple more people on that one. One lady even went as far as saying that one sip of any kind of alcohol impairs all your senses and you should not drive any kind of vehicle under those circumstances and nothing anyone said could change her mind. She was politely released from the courtroom. Then things got really weird and there were some long drawn out questions about people riding motorcycles and whether we thought the person in the back was in control of the vehicle or the person in front, to which the woman to my right blurted out "of course the person in the front is in control, they are driving". Anyway, since I have never been on a motorcycle, I was pretty much an innocent bystander to most everything that was discussed leading up to jury selection on this case. So, when they came out to call the final six chosen jurors, they were down to choosing them from a pool of 12 (which had originally started at 20). I kinda thought I had a good chance of making it on this jury, however, I was totally shocked when they chose: (1) a woman who had fallen off a motorcycle as a child (2) a woman whose sister is an alcoholic and she was PRETTY sure she could be impartial (3) a guy who owns three motorcycles himself (4) the lady to my right who had blurted out about the person in the front being in control of the vehicle, WHAT, relevance please??? (5) a librarian who knits and gardens for her hobbies and (6) the CRAZY LEG GUY sitting next to me who was very clearly unstable and potentially a drug addict and who had made a fool of the state's attorney. WHAT??? Like I said. I just do not understand the jury selection process.

So, once again the REJECTS were sent back to the jury waiting room to find out everyone else had gone home and so, we were sent home as well. So, I have served my duty and cannot be called again for another 24 months. Thank Goodness!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sibling Chronicles: The Final Chapter

So, I am going out with a bang here. This is the final chapter of my Sibling Chronicles. Indeed Tiffany Dawn Godsey, born August 4, 1968, is the first of my ten siblings. She deserves the biggest sibling spotlight (in my world, that is) as she is the only sibling born from the same parents that I was. She has also been with me the longest having entered my life when I was 5 years, 2 months, 21 days old. She probably couldn't even roll over by the time I started Kindergarten (a little over a month after she was born).
Also, I do not actually remember her birth. I have seen pictures of my Mother pregnant with Tiff and I know Tiff was 5 pounds something and she was born right on her due date and she basically flew into the world, screaming all the way (or so I've heard). I have memories older than Tiff, but I just do not remember her being born. I don't even know where I was... probably at my Grandparent's house. Maybe I was in denial. Who knows.
In the above picture Tiff must be at least a few months old as she was so small at birth that you could hold her in the palm of your hand... as the story goes.... this may be about the time when Tiff was lying on the floor and I was running through the house and stepped on her and broke her collar bone. A total accident, I promise.

Here we are in the back yard of our house on White Lake Road in Milwaukie. These pictures for Tiff's blog were the most fun to get together and scan as there are so many great memories. I'm sure there is no field there now... houses, houses everywhere.
Tiff in her stroller at the front of the White Lake Road house.
Happy Happy Tiff on top of the dining room table. I'm not sure what the point of this picture was or who took it, but it seems kind of dangerous and Tiff was accident prone. Late 60's plastic fruit on the table as well.
Outside Lincoln City, Oregon, there used to be a small amusement park named Pixieland. It was really fun and they had a log flume and everything. On the way into Lincoln City (from Portland) there was a restaurant named Pixie Kitchen (apparently Pixies were quite popular on the Oregon Coast in the 60's & 70's although this article says that Pixieland was only open for 4 years, 4 years, WHAT???: Pixieland). The picture below was taken out back of Pixie Kitchen where they had a little walkway with Pixies everywhere and a Pixie Train. We LOVED Pixieland and Pixie Kitchen. I think Tiff actually had to use her hands to prop herself up enough to get her little head to show, which also looks kinda dangerous
Speaking of dangerous, Uncle Johnny (my Mom's younger brother--his graduation picture is visible in the background below) gave me and Tiff some boxing gloves to play with... as you can see, I am just a tad bit bigger than Tiff so not sure how safe this was either. And, I am trying to figure out if that sleeping bag on the floor was supposed to be some kind of cushion for Tiff when I knocked her flat (which was possible by just barely touching her, with or without boxing gloves).
Along with accident prone, Tiff was ear infection prone... so almost everywhere we went, Tiff wore a stocking cap.

Here we are at Crater Lake. Tiff had the boniest legs as a child, so she also had the nickname bony morony (you know as in legs as skinny as a piece of macaroni--okay, maybe you don't, but it was a song and if the skinny legs fit, well you know the rest).
We spent a lot of time at the Oregon Coast... especially Tillamook where we had family from Dad's side, but the above picture was actually taken at Cannon Beach when Tiff was 3 years old.

I believe that the matching dresses and outfits with matching stuffed animals lovingly created by Karen (our step Mom) have appeared before in my blog, but this is an especially intriguing photo of Tiff. I'm not so sure she is satisfied with her polka dot dog, however, I do appear to be quite happy with my rick rack one piece pants suit and matching pooch :-)
The above photo is my all time favorite school picture of Tiff. So Cute!
Below: Tiff and Chris are outside our Mt. Tabor house where they used to lovingly make "perfume" for our Mom out of crushed up flowers from the yard and water. The first time they decided to do this, they brought the concoction in to me to smell to see if Mom would like it. It smelled atrocious, but I didn't want to hurt their feelings and I'm sure Mom wouldn't hurt their feelings either. This was also the house where our Mom would wear a bandana when she did yard work. Tiff and Chris would run in the house when they saw her and say "Watch out, Mom's in a bad mood, she has her bandana on...". Hmm, maybe Mom really hated yard work, but I don't think so???
Fifth Grade
6th Grade
Timberline Lodge, Mt Hood, Summer 1984. My college roommate, Tracey, came for a visit and we all went up to the mountain.
Freshman Year of High School
Sophomore Year of High School
Above: Tiff's beautiful graduation photo. Maybe it was Junior year of high school when Tiff's infatuation with hair color began... she went from a brunette, to a red head, to a blonde--in no time. The photo below was taken in Tillamook, Oregon with our Auntie Pat, Cousin Dawn and Nana Fern. Blonde was in. Tiff was 19.
The below picture was taken at the Mountain Gate Country Club in Los Angeles just before Michael and I got married. In the picture getting ready is: Tracey, Kim (age 17), Tiff (age 20) and Sarah (age 11)
Me and Tiff, of course, on my wedding day. We had a lot of fun. (I have some pictures of us from the bachelorette party a couple nights before that, if memory serves, Chippendales LA and a fake ID might have been involved--I'll keep those pictures for another day).
Enter the first nephew. Tiff was by my side almost the entire time I was in labor with Joey. Tiff adores her nieces and nephews (all 12--so far) and since she doesn't have any kids of her own, we have the special honor of her "Aunt Tiffy" style love and affection. We have so many great memories of family vacations and outings that included Tiff.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon, 1994
Alaska Cruise, 2000
Joey's Fall piano recitals were always the Saturday before Halloween and they were costume required. Aunt Tiffy always played along even if Michael and I did not do such a great job with our costumes.
And we have so many great Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm memories...
Tiff and Danny at Disneyland, November 2002
Sammy's Bar Mitzvah, 2006

and now, Tiff and I have the pleasure of getting together every Thursday morning and playing with our youngest niece, Bridget. We play Brio trains, and read books and color and read books and watch Handy Manny and read books and play ball and watch Imagination Movers and read books... well, you get the picture.

Well, I have to say that Tiff has been dealt a rough hand in life and I'm not going to say that its all been fun and games, but I will say that a sister bond is special and Tiff is a pretty special sister. I really truly cannot imagine my life without her.