Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy new year, ya'll


A musician must make music, a painter must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.


--Abraham Maslow




As the holiday season comes to an end with one final celebration of ringing in the new year, it is natural and customary to reflect on the previous year. I'll admit that some years I make new year's resolutions. John is a firm anti believer of the new year's resolution and he has a point. He explained to me the justification. "I make resolutions daily and I break them daily as well." I am now an anti January first resolutionite. Life is a roller coaster. It changes day to day, week to week, and month to month, season to season. Our lives need to be flexible and react to the current state of matters. Making a resolution that does not take that into account is a recipe for guilt and failure. Resolutions like many other things should happen all year long. Sure the new year in a nice clean date, is it realistic? Sure, resolutions for the new year are the first steps for many, which is important, I am saying why stop there, push yourself and create goals and healthy habits more often. Don't set yourself up for disappointment. Goal setting isn't a bad thing at all, though something about the process of setting new year resolutions almost guarantees they can not be accomplished. I think that's because so many people base their resolutions on their desire to become "better" (whatever that means). The cliched American new year resolution is always about exercise and weight loss. But ... didn't we make that same resolution last year? Self-judgmental resolutions are bound to fail because they rest on a foundation of self-loathing, or at least self-dislike. It just doesn't work. I'm not saying it's wrong to think in terms of changing health habits, I would never say that. Do we really have to start the new year by being so harsh with ourselves? I imagine a little girl, resolving to "eat more cake." Now that's a resolution I want. "Have more fun," "Don't work so much," "Goof off." Wouldn't it be great if we hard working people made resolutions like that?

A healthy wish for 2009 resembles Abraham Maslow's thoughts: May we all be exactly who we are - no more, no less - in the coming year. Who we are, what we love, what we do, is always enough.

Like any good Southerner (vicariously through John...) we will be having black eyed peas to bring in the new year




Black-eyed pea dip, with garlic and bacon






Ingredients:


1 15oz can of black-eyed peas, drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked


4 pieces of bacon


2 cloves of garlic, minced


1/2 cup cilantro chopped


1 teaspoon chili powder


1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne pepper


1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 a lime)


1 jalapeno, diced (can be fresh or pickled)


1/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack




Method:


1. In a skillet, cook the bacon. When done, crumble and place in a blender .


2. In same skillet, cook the garlic for one minute and then add to blender.


3. Pour 1 teaspoon of bacon grease from skillet into blender.


4. Add to blender black-eyed peas and all other ingredients except Monterrey Jack cheese. Pulse until ingredients are well mixed together.


5. Place blended dip into skillet, turn on low heat and slowly fold in shredded cheese. Cook until melted, about a minute.


6. Place in a bowl and serve immediately with tortilla chips.Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 101

As I enjoy my post cheer saturation, I realize that most things are going to work themselves out eventually. Somethings are just out of my control, I am going to sit back and enjoy the road, as bumpy as it gets. I will try my hardest to be the change I wish to see.
Our Christmas was full of family. It was wonderful. We made the rounds, trying to visit all of our family here in town since we were so far away from the rest of them.
We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with the Hurlberts and played Wii, games, and caught up on all the years that have somehow pulled us apart. My Dad was the highlight of the night. We got him bowling and golfing on the Wii, I haven't seen anything that funny in awhile.
Christmas morning was a treat. It was the first Christmas that we have had our own house. It was glorious. John got up before me and set out his wrapped presents under our lit tree (it is a house plant...), put my new slippers at the end of the bed and got the coffee going. PERFECT!
We then went to Brenda and Neal's to have breakfast with them, Bryan and my grandparents.Grandma brought her dogs... We taught them a new card game...
John made a tasty breakfast of biscuits and gravy.

All those years in Mexico and Grandpa having a steady diet of pineapple, he was in charge of cutting.
Look at all the men in the kitchen!

Mom and dad have a CRAZY cat named Billy. It climbs on everything!
From breakfast, John and I ducked out and came home for a few hours. We curled up letting breakfast digest, in order to have lunch at Steve and Charlene's. We spent the afternoon with my cousins, monster trucks, lasagna, dogs and some good laughter.

We rounded out the big day with people trickling in to our house. Our long lost friend Steve came over, my bro, and the Dorrs.
What a day! Thanks to everyone for making it wonderful.





Thursday, December 25, 2008

blessings of peace

Christmas is here
This year is different from the last and next year will be another ball of wax. John and I didn't travel for the holidays, opting to hunker down in our house and stir up my family. This we did. Over the years as my brother and I have aged, my grandparents aged and passed, we have lost a cohesive family gathering over the holidays. As I have said it is time for John and I to create our own traditions. Thanks to everyone who made this a wonderful holiday and for those who we could not be with, we shall soon.

My blessing for you....

May you find balance.
May you find balance in your life, the physical, mental, and spiritual.
I wish everyone greater balance, thus creating peace as an individual. The only way in which we can live in peace with one another is to find the peace within. Each person must come to terms with themselves, discovering their true identity and embracing it.
Abandon all preconceptions.
Go forth and conquer.
Hold onto stair railings just in case your ascent or descent gets a little bouncy, and grab onto the nearest lamppost if your feet refuse to stay on the ground.
In truth, though, you must depend only upon yourself. Impose your own self discipline and bask in the glow.


Happy birthday Grandma! I will try and eat more dessert than the main course just for you! Never would I imagine how wonderful of a woman you were. You will forever be in my heart.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Simpson side



Since we can't be there for the holidays....
We can enjoy through the pictures.
PRICELESS!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jack frost

Bellingham has been hit by Jack Frost. I am beginning to enjoy it! I think it is just beautiful! It tends to be a bit chaotic in Bellingham with this weather, lack of snow plows, lack of people with experience with snow driving abilities, and so on. I do enjoy the fact that weather like this puts life on hold. Shops close, restaurants close, people hibernate, people go sledding in the roads. It is fun. The novelty of snow does not wear off year to year.


The view this morning, after another 6 inches fell over night!


We took Natasha out to Lake Padden yesterday for a hike. It was great!





John said yesterday that he wishes that the snow would stick around, that we had more of a winter in town.
HHMMMMMMmmmmm.....
This is the first time that I have actually agreed with him. It would sure beat the rain.
This might be our next move....

Our little princess!
What a sweetie!
She has found the warmest place in the house, cuddled up in the down blanket.
She is a princess too, in her own sort of crazy cat way...

John and I have made tamales over the holidays a couple of times. Jess has been really excited about making them with me. Saturday night we got together and made a batch of yummy pork tamales from scratch. Kudos to Jess for wanting to take on such a grand task. They really are worth every penny the little Mexican ladies sell them for. AND they taste way better made by these wonderful women.... because they are not scared to use lard (the key ingredient!).
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!







Friday, December 19, 2008

A simple request....

With the holidays in full swing it is often easy to get absorbed in our little worlds. It is often the smallest gesture that can bring a smile to even a stranger.

At work, people, firms, companies and the sort are send us cards with notes in them explaining that they have sent a donation to the food band in lieu of a holiday basket for the office. What a wonderful idea. It saves us the office from complete over consumption and recognizes that people really are in need this time of year. I just hope that they are as generous to these charities as they are to us. Pete Kremen, the executive for Whatcom County, sent us a memo saying that he was sending $1000 to the Bellingham food bank instead to the treats he usually sends to the offices. Don't get me started on this little soap box.

As I scrolled through the paper this morning I found an article that warmed my heart and gave me goose bumps. I read about this boy here in Bellingham who is battling a brain tumor. We have had fundraisers here at work for him because he is friends with a co-workers child. His request is simple this holiday. He loves to get mail, what is more comforting than knowing that people care. So I know there are people out there who have extra cards from their regular mailing list, please take the time to send one to this family. It takes a village.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taste of Texas

I am pretty sure that my Dad would move to Texas just to eat the brisket. I saw this recipe and wanted to share. Maybe this will be on our menu for Thursday...
Find grace in the everyday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Creativity call!

All my wonderful crafty and creative friends out there.... I need some creative brainpower. With all these winter storms upon us (and I don't partake in snow sports) I have some extra time on my hands. This means that it is time for me to catch up on projects around the house.

It is not a "honey do list" either. Well, not entirely. There is something not quite appealing about our bedroom. It has gone through several color changes, and I am still not satisfied. There is nothing warm and cozy about the room. The walls are cement, which makes them cold. We installed mirrored closet doors, which gives it potential. The walls are painted a bright dark yellow. I have made one improvement in the past week, I moved the bed out from the wall, creating a walkway on both sides of the bed and putting together a night stand on my side of the bed. I need to make curtains for the two windows and get a matching bed set. All these things no problem.

What I need help with is a headboard. I would really like to design a functional headboard. It needs to be sturdy so we can lean up against it while we watch movies.

Any thoughts....ideas...?

Snow.... a good excuse to buy boots





Snow!




It is a wonderful winter wonderland here in Whatcom County. As I look out my office window, I think that we have accumulated about four inches. I am surprised that we haven't shut our doors and gone home. I guess that is just wishful thinking. It has been cold for days now, and it is supposed to hold on through next week. It would be great to have a white Christmas!



I think that the fact that Christmas is next week has finally set in with this weather. Yesterday I spent the day Christmas shopping. I then went home and wrapped up all the goodies I found and did a little decorating. I am getting increasingly excited for this time of year. Hopefully this weekend will be filled with a house of friends, laughter, food, and drink. John and are also planning a little Christmas celebration at our house. We plan on wrangling up some folks for a bike ride Christmas morning and then spend the day with some friends and family at our house.
So these are not the best snow boots.... but this is what I have my eyes on......

Friday, December 12, 2008

Planning and public

I am going to be brief, I know that many people would rather gouge their eyes out than talk about planning and policy issues in Whatcom County. Wait, I take that back, people don't want to talk about zoning or comprehensive planning until they have an issue. I understand. This is the crux of my job. How do we educate people before hand so they why we are doing what we are.
Good news, I lived through my first Planning Commission. One of the first steps in my effort to be a "planner."
Here are a few articles from the Bellingham Herald dramatizing, creating fear and and pandemonium in rural Whatcom County:

Poll: Residents think Whatcom County is growing too much
JARED PABEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD


Whatcom County landowners could lose development potential
JARED PABEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Holiday Card

I spun my wheels these last couple of weeks. I have been looking forward to sending out holiday cards for some time. I always wanted to send them out once we resided in a permanent address. This is the first year that John and I have our own permanent address. So I sent out cards to almost everyone I knew. I bought cards from Audra (I am so proud of that little angle!), put together a picture on picnik, gathered as many addresses as I could and away I went. Believe it or not 90% are even in the mail!
It really is the small things in life that I enjoy!
Next year...my own cards!

Playing in words


This was created by the genious at www.wordle.net.
It is just too much fun!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Back to the blog

Wow, I have been sad to see the blog slip to the back burner. I guess that life has driven my passions elsewhere for a bit. As I flipped through several other great blogs I rekindled my love for blogging. Good thing only a few weeks have passed with only a slight notion of holding off on blogging. What was I thinking, I love my blog!
As I scrolled though numerous blogs, I tried to put my finger on what it was that attracted me to the idea of blogging. I have never been much of a writer, never journal (that was just a venue for my mom to snoop into my personal life), never wrote stories, just notes to girlfriends in the school years, I am not even a big reader. Then it hit me. I am a crafter/pack rat/dreamer/collector/adventurer. I love to read what people are up to, what they are cooking in their kitchens/what they are sewing/what they are stringing together, what they are listening to/watching/reading, what trails people have found/races/runs/climbs, what people feel/love/miss, what people value/cherish/love, what inspires/resonates/motivates, and according to John: what people want to spray about (this is not true!). I love blogs. I love to scroll through friends blogs, finding little treasures lost in cyberspace.
As I sit and wonder what makes a blog so interesting and worth any one's time I find one theme: a theme... I want to make my blog worthy of peoples' time. One day I could maybe even quit my day job and blog about my adventures with my sweetie. So any ideas on what I should focus on? Until then... it is just a whole lot of Michelle Stiles. Hey what is better than that? Hmmmm....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cooking for the holidays

I am not sure what inspired me but I was really excited to cook for Thanksgiving this year. As I have noted in my previous entry, I think it is in my blood. It is a piece of my Grandma that lives on. I got busy and searched for some new recipes to share with the family.

I started with the munchies, ones that reminded me of our few winters in El Potero Chico. We would go into the market once a week. It was a treat. We would load up our packs with all the fresh fruit, veggies and treats that we needed for the following week. We would always load up on the avocados. That was the best part of the day, climb all day and call it early to go eat guac and drink Mexican beer. Oh those were the days! Besides the beer and avocados, I picked up something to satisfy my sweet tooth. There were always these bars of a sugar reduction and nuts. I found the best munchie to pull out of the pack at the crag were these misterious mexican sweetes, I later found to be a variation of pralines.

As I looked though our cupboards I came across a couple of bags of pecans from Bill and Betsy. So, what better way to use the but make the best part of pecan pie, the top. I whipped up a yummy batch of pralines. I plan on freezing the leftovers to have as a topping for muffins and such.


John and can live on chips and salsa. It is our staple food. It never gets old. I found a great recipe for a cranberry, cilantro, orange salsa. I have to say this was my favorite part of the meal. I would recommend this recipe to anyone. It is amazing!
Cornbread stuffing. Need I say anything after the word stuffing? Oh I guess stuffing drenched in gravy....
I also made some fresh cranberry sauce to round out the spread. I managed to eat most of that and make myself really sick.... who would of seen that one coming!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving feast


For some reason I am getting all mushy with thoughts of the holidays. Usually I have had to work in some trivial retail job where I have had to work through most of the holidays, rushing through the few hours that I spent with family. Now I have a whee bit of time off and for some reason feel the urge to celebrate the holidays. For several weeks now, John and I have been scouring the Internet, trying to find decent tickets to the Lone Star State or to Tennessee. We even considered traveling to Colorado to barge in on Corrie's newly remodeled cabin and the family there. Low and behold, flights are just too pricey for the holidays so we are going to hold off on visiting the Stiles/Simpson's until after the holidays. We will save some money but also miss out on the gathering of all the family. We are going to stay local for the holidays and enjoy Thanksgiving day with my parents. This means that we will have three whole days to get out and play around here (epic rides and some yoga for me!). Bonus!

My how times have changed. I have very fond memories of holidays spent at my Grandma Cronk's house. What a feast! I remember the spreads like it was yesterday. She must have cooked for days. She would always be cooking all kinds of meats: roasts, turkey and hams were always on the list, homemade rolls (my favorite part of the meal), yams, brussel sprouts and huge piles of mashed potatoes and gravy. Her favorite part was dessert so there were always at least five pies and a cheese cake. Oh the fond memories. There is no doubt that she has left a substantial mark on my life. I hope when I get to the point of having holidays at my house, they would somehow be as wonderful as I remember hers.

As we are on our way to creating our own traditions, such as tamales on Christmas, I feel that our family holidays can take on their own meaning. Now that I have a bit of southern culture in my family, our traditions are going to be our very own. In our simple little Thanksgiving, Dad is going to BBQ a turkey (by the way it is the best turkey I have ever ate!), I am going to make a cranberry salsa, cornbread stuffing, biscuits, and pralines. None of this is traditional fare for the Cronk's but what the heck! I am so excited!
As I now am so lucky to have such an absolutely wonderful extended family, new traditions I am eager to reach out to my family, all of them.

So now that I have experienced holidays in Texas I would say that my favorite thing I have had was a smoked turkey from Greenberg’s of Tyler, Texas—hailed by many the aristocrat of turkeys. This is a tender, smoky and succulent bird, so exquisite and renowned that even Oprah lists it as one of her favorite things. I highly recommend it.
I am so curious to what your holiday traditions are? Please share!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas in November

Christmas came a bit early for John and I. Over the weekend John and had an adventurous little trip up to the suburbs of Canada and bought a bike.... Yes that is right .... another bike. I think we are pretty well stacked in the bike department. We could easily be great Norco advertisements as well. We pretty much own the fleet. We picked a great 2005 Norco Shore. It has some minor problems but overall in wonderful shape. The moment we brought it home, John tore it down and I am stripping all the paint off of it. I think I am going to leave it raw aluminum. It is going to look great! (I will post some pictures as soon as I get done.... hopefully soon) I can't wait for the spring and summer to roll around now, snow..... can I please skip this season? I want to ride my bike(s)!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Grateful


As the holiday season draws near, as we bundle up in our houses through the winter season, make plans to see family, coordinate with friends and I cannot help but reflect on all that we have and are thankful for. As I am reminded daily on the perils of our economy and the moral of the country, I have so much to be thankful for. I won't ramble off my list of everything that I am absolutely grateful for (I can't help myself, just a few: my wonderful husband, Natasha, my family, a house that we can afford, my health, and a job). Yes, I feel so lucky to be in the place that I am right now as I listen to the radio and hear the doom and gloom that seems to be covering the nation like a fog blanket rolling in off the sea. I hope that everyone can find some joy in this coming holiday season, with food on the table, which is surrounded by loved ones.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Night Rider (not to be confused with Knight Rider!)

Never in my right mind would I ever imagine that I would add riding bikes at night to the list of my favorite activities. Here I am telling everyone the absolute fun and thrill of riding trail at night. It is a totally different playing field at night, depth perception changes, field of vision changes and as I have yet to understand why trails change. The trails seem as if I have never ridden them before, and I have never ridden them at night. John has taken me out twice this week and it has been incredible. I bundle up, layer upon layer, still worrying about how cold I might get ( last night, halfway up Cleator Road I had to stop and she two layers....it is not that cold pedaling up hill!). The views are totally different, instead if the view of the foothills, Baker or Lake Whatcom, I was treated with the city scape at night, twinkling and glowing. The nights have been clear so the stars were pristine to see. What a treat!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Face book took me hostage!

I was introduced to this little culture of Face book last week and now the site has me hooked. It has been a blessing. I have found long lost friends, neighbors, classmates and such. I really feel like an Internet nerd. It is just this easy way to stay connected to people who often move frequently for various reasons. So, if you haven't been sucked into it, Face Book is worth a shot; if you have, look me up (Michelle stiles).

Keeping things real and using my free time doing things besides sitting at my computer chatting through a laptop, I have been practicing Bikram Yoga several times a week. I started a couple of weeks ago with a girlfriend in hopes of recovering from my knee injury. Wow, it has only bee two or three weeks and I have seen dramatic results. Not only has my yoga practice improved vastly, I went in there with about 35% flexibility in m,y knee and very minimal strength. With yoga I was able to slowly build strength and mobility. I feel that I am back to a solid 75%, I really don't think that I could be at this level without yoga. Yeah, here I am singing the praises of yoga!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Soul Food

As I strapped myself back to the computer for one more day until the sweet weekend, I found this image on one of my favorite blogs and it made me happy. I know that John has had the same sort of wham bam week. What is more comforting than some good home cooking? What heals the heart, soul, the body from the ravage that the office can sometimes inflict..... comfort. Comfort can come in many forms. For me, I am going to become human starting this afternoon with yoga, followed by a weekend of good food, friends, and maybe even family!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting the word out

Today is a big day here at work. The project I am working on ( I won't get into details you can find them online: Rural Element Update) is holding the first set of public meetings. This project is in the "visioning" stage. We are trying to educate people on the topic tonight. It should be exciting! It is a great way for me to get out in the county, meet different people from around the community and network.

I just finished putting a survey on-line. If you live in Whatcom County it is worth filling out (it will only take 2 minutes..... what a breeze!), every one's input is valuable!
Take a survey! Click here!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Black-eyed peas continued

As I said last week, I made a pot of Black eyed peas. Mmmmm, they were great! I found the recipe off the frequented: Homesick Texan

Big pot of black-eyed peas
Ingredients:
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
4 cups water1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1/4 cup bacon drippings
1 large onion, chopped
14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, such as Rotel, drained
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapenos (pickled or fresh), chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Method:
Wash and pick over peas. In a large pot, mix peas with water and bring to a boil.Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.Add all other ingredients and simmer, covered, 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until peas are tender.

Last night I made the following recipe. My new favorite way to eat black-eyed peas (or any bean for that matter). Please try, I guarantee you will enjoy it!

Texas caviar
Ingredients:
4 cups of cooked black-eyed peas (or 2 16-oz cans), drained and rinsed of all juice
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, green part only
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 canned or fresh jalapeƱo chiles, chopped
1 can Rotel tomatoes or 1 ripe, chopped tomato
3/4 cup olive oil
Juice from one lime
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
Method:
Mix everything together, chill for four hours. Serve with tortilla or corn chips.

Susan B. Anthony



"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."
Susan B. Anthony, Women's Suffragist

No puppies, just bikes....

It seems as if everyone around me are getting puppies . Not us! We are getting more bikes! I think we are trying to stay as busy as possible, avoiding the subject for the time being. I am going to live vicariously through Heather, who is halfway through her pregnancy!

Seriously, bikes.

I got back on my mountain bike yesterday. MUD! Mud in the ears! MUD! (I will share some pictures tonight) Bryan Dorr got a new (to him) bike this weekend so we went out far a ride on Galbraith with him. Another person converted. I wonder how much climbing we will get done next season? I confirmed my love for the trails yesterday. Which leads too....

My big news.....

I am not going to run the Chuckanut 50 km this year.......
Weeeuuuuu...
I haven't ran in ages and don't see it happening at that level any time soon. I would rather ride my bike! If all goes well, hopefully I will have another bike to ride in the near future, I won't let the cat out of the bag quit yet or get my hopes up too much......

No puppies, ponies, bunnies, babies, just bikes.....for now

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Inspiration


My favorite artist.... My favorite artist....
For all of you experiencing the rain here in our evergreen state, here is a bit of color.
Please don't let the rains wash away our house!
What sunshine is to flowers,
smiles are to humanity.
These are but trifles, to be sure;
but scattered along life's pathway,
the good they do is inconceivable.
Joesph Addison

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Change has Come"

"Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Barack could run. Barack is running so our children can fly."

We just made history.

How increadible!!!

And don't forget how we did it. We made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change. Thanks to all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign. Yet, we have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track. One thing is very clear... All of this happened because of us.
"Tears flowed, not only for Obama's historic achievement, but because many were happily discovering that perhaps they had underestimated possibility in America."
"Presidential elections often reveal something about the nation's character, its temperament and state of mind. Many who are wondering how it happened that Barack Obama was elected president this season are also wondering what else they may be missing in their cities and towns and neighborhoods. Transformation rarely announces itself with trumpets. It usually happens gradually, over time, and then -- clang!-- a singular moment chimes the news. From its founding, the United States has seen itself as a special place, an example to other nations, a "city on the hill.'' With the election of its first black president, it can now begin to erase one of the stains on that reputation, one that repeatedly shamed us in front of other countries. "

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This just in: Gone Votin'


Election day is here. What a big day for the United States. I am proud to say that both John and I have cast our ballots. I have called all my family members this morning make sure that they had dropped off their ballots. My Dad has even voted. Way to go!

I was listening to NPR this morning and got my daily dose of news. I was reminded that this was the longest and most expensive election to date. What is even more impressive to me is the fact that this might be the largest turn out of voters ever. That is astounding in this day and age. So all you who have not voted, now is the hour. If you have voted, good for you, call your friends and family, remind them to vote...


Look at all the voters lined up already this morning!


I had to go to Whatcom County's Courthouse yesterday afternoon to post some fliers for our upcoming public meeting on the Rural Element (Hey look, free advertising! If you are interested PLEASE come!) and stood in amazement by the hoards of people dropping off their ballot at the assessor's office and the drop box outside. Way to go Whatcom County!
I am not that well versed in the tradition of having black eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day for good luck and prosperity in the coming year. Probably because I grew up in the Northwest (not a bad thing I must add). So John has introduced me to the tradition from his southern upbringing. Here is my little twist to bring good luck and prosperity for this big day. I soaked some black eyed peas, this morning I got them starting to cook with some jalapenos, onion, ham hocks, and garlic. I figure that the smell that is going to be wafting from my house when we get home will bring peace to John and myself, and maybe smell so good it will travel up into the atmosphere and spread all over and bring some good fortune on this fateful day. Hey, it is worth a try!

And just to bring a smile!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Old habits die hard

In this article by the New York Times, it seems that with this decrease in gas prices is leading to an increase in auto use. Surprise, surprise.... It could also be coupled with the looming winter months. Save the money and find ways to use the personal automobile less. Carpool, bike, public transit, walk, combine trips.... be creative!

As Gas Prices Go Down, Driving Goes Up

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Changing

Have you sent in your ballot yet??





The clock is ticking.... My how time flies, it is almost election day!





There is just change in the air.





Big news for Bill who just turned 60 years young on Sunday! Happy late birthday!





The weather in the Northwest has been incredible the past week. The days have been crisp and clear. The days have been blue bird, the leaves are as golden as possible. It hasn't rained in days so the leaves are still light and fluffy, blowing around in the breeze. I feel like I am in a great big oil painting, swooshing around in the tree litter. I was rolling around on my bike yesterday, I would travel under trees, a gust of wind would come up and leaves would be swirling all around me. Incredible! The perfect time of year! The clouds have rolled in today and I feel the we are in for a change.





Change is good.





I have been really trying to become more rounded and reach out. I often spend too much time on my own, leaving my love ones out of my life. I am changing. I had Grandma and Audra over for dinner on Tuesday. Audra is just a peach. She is taking water color lessons from Jody Bergsma, what an experience at such a young age! She has been working on a Christmas card for some time now. Well, she finally finished it and has them printed. I bought some from her, now I have our Christmas cads, how special is that!

CHECK OUT THE BLOG!!!! Art With Heart



A step towards changing myself...

With the change of seassons, I need new hobbies. THere just is not enough day light. After having Audra over, I was inspired to get my art back out. I figure if I have to look at it everyday, soon I will just pick it up and the next thing I will know, I am back to drawing.

Changing my hobbies...

Over the last two days I have managed to get back on my road bike and commute. It feels so good to be self sufficient in my transportation. I got pretty spoiled for those couple of weeks. I started to dress up for work, sleep in a bit longer, shop after work..... So, in these colder months, I will cut back on the biking and drive a bit more. I would really love to carpool or take the bus instead of driving. Driving the van 20 + miles a day does not sit well with me.



Changing habits.....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"live as happy as you can"




Check him out.

I was on my way home yesterday, listening to NPR in the car and found my new favorite up and coming artist. The program, Latino USA, came on and featured Beto Villares. His interview and music blew me away. I didn't want the program to be over. I looked him up online as soon as I got home. Powerful yet simple words.

Check it out!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two Weeks Today

Well, it has been two weeks since we rode Comfortable Numb and I injured my knee. No biggie, just like they said, it would take about two weeks for the swelling to go down. Right on, it has been about two weeks and the swelling has reduced greatly. I am getting around great and I am so fortunate that it was not any worse of an injury. I have healed fast. I have put my bike on the trainer and been able to spin my legs out, keeping some range of motion in my knee. Now I feel that I can push a bit harder with little pain or discomfort. I think that I am going to limit my activities to this for another week. I don't feel comfortable in coming down om my left leg, I just don't think that the strength is in my knee yet. The only time that my knee bothers me is when I get up from a chair. There is some strain in my knee with this sort of pressure. I feel that this is a sign to stay off my mountain bike. There is no way I could climb, or bail off if I needed. Baby steps.


As for the rest of the family, we drove to Whistler yesterday and John pick up a new (used) bike. It needs some work, but I think John found a great deal. With a little work he is going to have a sweet ride. My turn next... I am daydreaming about having my own setup. I can't wait for next summer! Yeah!
A sweet bike if I must say so myself:


Whistler was beautiful! I wish we could live up there! All the leaves were in fall effect, the air was crisp and the mountains had a fresh dusting of snow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

With just one glance....

I often learn so much from Natasha. One of my favorite things about here is the way she looks at me. It is one of her many ways to communicate with me. She can look at me and melt my heart, tell me she has to go outside, or that she is so damn excited to see me.

It seems as if our eyes are the key hole to our soul. Eyes can express how we truly feel without say a single word.

I am trying to allow my eyes to release the tension and other silly arbitrary feelings and beam with compassion and love. I feel that those rose colored glasses have been replaced by something very different, I want to look through heart shape rose colored glasses.

Here is a great little blog that got me thinking:
Cheri Block Sabraw - Notes from Around the Block: The Importance of Eye Contact or Brown- Eyed Girl

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I VOTED!

I DID IT.... I DID IT .... I DID IT!

I Voted.... I voted!!! I voted!!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rose Colored Glasses


I have had one of those great mornings. I woke up feeling clear and calm. The clarity and coolness has dissipated as my caffeine consumption increases, nevertheless, I woke up on the right side of the bed and to make things even better it is an incredible day outside!

Sometimes it hits me, for no good or explainable reason. Trying to explain what “it” is could warrant a Noble Prize. If I knew what “it” was it would be the one thing I would share with the world.

What I am getting to is that I am so happy with the life I have chosen. I love the people around me, my location, my career path, my potential, and my hobbies. I am grateful for my health and my abilities.

I had the conversation this morning about finding and following your bliss. There is no need to settle on something, find what you love and do it. Find a job that will fit your needs and allow for a healthy lifestyle. Find a job that is your passion or find a job that allows you to enjoy your passion in your free time.
**I completely understand that this is idealistic, but one must dream and set standards high.

The bottom line: beauty surrounds us all, just put your rose colored glasses on and look for it!
Have a great day!
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