Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gratitude Sunday: Good Friends

It is amazing to me how fortunate I am to have good friends. I have had friends who have been there throughout my life in various capacities. Among them: sanity through boy crazy summers, bravery through spontaneous tattoos, hilarity through dance clubs and the single scene, sensitivity through misery of my own creating and thoughtfulness through the misery that just is because it is supposed to be.

Today, in particular, I was impressed by a friend who stepped in with the thoughtfulness through the misery that just is because it is. I was feeling sorry for myself again because I live in Barrow, and a friend I hadn’t talked to for more than 2 months called up and invited me to get out of the house… a rare event here that is so critical for sanity, yet so hard to come by. I went from tears to laughter in just a few minutes because a friend was there for me. Because of her, I was able to snap out of my funk, get 2 12x12 and 6 5x7 scrapbook pages completed in one afternoon, and make it home in time to get dinner on the table, feed and bathe the baby and straighten up the house before Ben got in from work.

So today, I am grateful for good friends. Thanks to all who have been an inspiration, support and/or a good shoulder to cry on.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Catching Up

Okay, so it has been a month since I last wrote and I realize that I have a lot of catching up to do. Vacation time is great because it just flies by, and so much of nothing important really happens. I have had lots of good thoughts and inspiration, got my outdoor adventures in and renewed my desire to have a blast no matter where I am. We have enjoyed the relaxation and fun road trips, campin and hikin and all sorts of good, clean fun.

Our journey brought us from Portland to Vegas, Havasu, Phoenix, Zions, Provo, Salt Lake and back to Vegas and Portland. The past month has been filled with beautiful family, spectacular scenery and lots of good food. That is what life should be. To all of you who changed plans to accommodate us and visit for a short time, thanks a million for making our vacation great.

I realized 2 things this trip...

The first is that I love people, interesting people, people like me and people so radically different that they challenge my way of thinking. I love people who aren't afraid to be themselves in thier own unique way and I love when people find new things about the world or themselves that make life easier and more fun. Here is a pic of Kaia discovering the convenience of a camelbak. She figured that out by herself and made hydration a LOT easier for all of us on our backpacking adventures.

The second is that I love contrast in nature, rust-colored rocks with turquoise waterfalls pouring over them, jagged mountains with jet-black crags and snow-white crannies, wild orchids in brilliant fuchsia bloom with chartreuse speckles over their black tongues.

It was quite a disappointment to get back to Barrow and realize that the sky and the snow could easily be mistaken as one and there were no interesting geological features or plant life to speak of. I guess the fact that there is no contrast here is a contrast to everything I have ever known. At any rate, I am still bound and determined to find things that make me smile. After all, there ARE interesting people here, and they are interesting and puzzling enough to keep me busy for a while.

Speaking interesting people, when I arrived back in town last night, we ordered takeout from a local restaurant. I ordered fried chicken and mashed potatoes and my husband ordered a bento box with NO SHRIMP and made it specifically known that he was allergic. We got a shri
mp filled bento box and chicken fried STEAK. When we called back to the restaurant, to see if they would send us what we ordered and the woman said "jess peek out shimp and eat da stek. We give discount ness time." Ben tried to reason with her, but there was no way we were getting our money back and no way she was going to send us what we asked for... so there is no way there will be a "ness time." I just thought it was so interesting that she would think that it was a reasonable solution to make a promise that she had no way of delivering on to cover up the mistake.

On to more fun stuff, I gotta tell you about my last adventure. Dad had invited me to climb Mt. Defiance with him and his Mazama group. They have been together and training for a Mt. Hood ascent for the last 6 weeks, and this was supposed to be the culminating event that would give them the same vertical gain and distance that they would see on Hood. Dad had mentioned before that this group was in great shape and really cruised on their other big adventures and that he felt sorry for the guys that couldn't keep up. Evidently, the rest of the group wasn't very accepting of those that lagged behind.

So I fought with myself for about 3 days and finally decided that if I didn't go, I would regret it and if I did, I would probably regret that too. Either way, I'd have regrets so I figured I would at least have a story to tell when it was all over. So I went.

Dad was right; the majority of the group was really fast. They averaged about 1400 vertical feet / hour and we were slightly behind them with about 1200 vfph. It was a grueling hike, but it was SO worth it. I had a great time and met some really cool people. We had some good laughs and all got together for pizza and beer at the end of the long day of climbing. The group had an interesting dynamic and a great sense of humor that was only occasionally interrupted by crude or inappropriate comments. I gotta admit that I enjoyed the colorful conversation because it means that people are being real and saying what is on their mind… even if they shouldn’t.

Anyway, much of the questionable comments were innuendo and after the whole group had reached the trailhead, they began discussing where they would all meet up. I didn’t understand what they were trying to arrange and I kept hearing “group hug this and group hug that. Where is the group hug?” Finally I had to ask “Are you really going to have a group hug?” and everyone burst into laughter. Apparently, they were talking about a BREW PUB. We all had a good laugh and that excellent little place we ended up will forever be known as the group hug. I guess you can say that it brought us all together and there was a lot of hugging when we all had to say goodbye.

The trip was spectacular and I did get to see those wild orchids I mentioned earlier. This was the first time I had ever seen one in the wild and I didn’t realize that they were so tiny, so intricate and so brilliant. I wish that I had brought my camera on this trip, but didn’t really plan well as it took me to the very last second to decide that I was going to go for it.

I spent much of my last days in Portland walking funny from the aches and pains I acquired on the hike, enjoying my family, the great restaurants and new-found friends. It was a perfect way to end an excellent vacation. Now that I am back to reality, I am determined to enjoy being back with my little immediate family, cook great food and build my friendships with the good and crazy people of Barrow.

Have a good one, and remember: If you are going to regret it if you do or don’t, just do it and have a great story to tell.