Saturday, December 31, 2011

And then we moved to Texas.

Today we finished the last of our three day drive to San Antonio. The pugs and cat traveled well, which was a blessing indeed. We went out of Utah quietly and did so intentionally--both Mike and I hate goodbyes. It's probably not the best model for leaving a place we loved but it worked pretty well.

Christmas this year was hosted at our house and was a great success! To have such a loud, opinionated, loving family is wonderful. Also, on December 26th they started packing and our house never would have been ready without their hard work. It's tough to even find the words to thank them.

And now just days later we're here with my in-laws ringing in 2012 and getting ready for the new house. We finish the paperwork on Tuesday and I'm anxious to get inside, get some painting down and settle down to see what life will be like here. I can't help thinking we'll be in Texas longer than we were in Utah but I know it's not our 'forever' home.

What a year! I'll be sad to see it go but I'm excited for the new one!

Monday, December 12, 2011

I should know better.

Any time I make a time-specific goal for blogging I fail.

In early November I drove down to see Mike in Texas for a couple of weeks. Both doggies were with me. About a week before I was scheduled to be home, and over three weeks before we expected it, my baby sister called me and said, "Your new niece is going to make her entrance into this earth tomorrow morning. Can you come?"

Of course, I did. I flew home leaving the vehicles, the dogs, my husband and all products over 4 oz. in Texas and I've been flying by the seat of my pants since.

Elizabeth is beautiful and so very tiny. I was able to be in the room when she was born and capture the first seconds of her new life. It was a perfect way to start using my camera again and a moment I'll never forget. Lizzie weighed just over four pounds but was a long girl for that tiny weight and is the tiniest baby I've ever held. She's grown a bit but is still not over five pounds.

My parents got a last minute flight to come meet Lizzie as well so instead of a large family Thanksgiving with the Garis Clan it was just my parents and I celebrating. It was a good day but it did make me feel very far from my husband--it turns out I'm in love with him.

The rest of the month has been spent working out transportation, packing boxes, finding ways to work around the fact that we can't sell our house (the answer: renters) and making the arrangements for the new house.

Yeah, that's right. We manage to buy a new house in there too.

Then a couple of weeks ago I went up to Montana and just folded in on myself for a couple of days with my family. I'd made promises for that weekend that I didn't keep. I feel terrible about that. I hurt the feelings of a dear friend and I'm not quite sure how to fix it, but I'm trying.

I'm now six days away from the reunion with my doggies and my husband and I'm thrilled to be done with this separation. I don't think we'll be doing this again in mortality, it's simply too difficult. I truly have no idea how the partners of service people function!

And that concludes my excuses. Now you know. And next time I'll tell you how my new memoir will be called, "How the Turducken Killed Christmas."

Friday, November 11, 2011

A home, perhaps?

Today we looked at eight houses. We've narrowed it down to three. It's possible tomorrow that we'll have Mike's parents go with us to have some fresh eyes.

When we narrow it down I'll post some pictures.

I'd say more but I'm exhausted and I'm going to go do mindless things.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's not my fault, it's Texas.

I spent the early days of this week in the long journey to San Antonio where I'll be until Thanksgiving weekend. It was as difficult as I remembered and far less fun without my husband beside me to mock and do most of the driving. The pugs kept me company but the result of that was needing the car detailed today and the poor worker saying to me, "I got most of the dog hair out but there's only so much I can do."

I just said, "Trust me, I understand."

Tomorrow is a big day of house hunting and finding our home for this city. I'm excited and somewhat daunted by the prospect but I'm looking forward to the process because, for the first time, we'll be doing this together.

That together thing? It's pretty great. I missed my big lug.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Guiding Light

At the end of this week it will be a full year since I was in Colorado for a workshop with Jen Lee. We had a quiet moment there where we talked about her idea for reaching more people than were able to attend our small gathering with her message of sharing stories, of healing and self discovery. Today, she's released that project. I would suggest kindly that if anyone is interested in discovering, documenting and directing their own stories you head over to her site and check it out.

Here's the video she made about the project:

Story Work is Soul Work from Jen Lee on Vimeo.

My favorite quote, summarizing the project perfectly is this: "It's about stopping people in their tracks. It's about bring something to the conversation that only you posses. It's about excavating your bravest, boldest self and letting yourself be seen like you've never been seen before. It's about time for you to stand up and be heard.

It's your story.

Tell it."

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I think that the world is thriving on making my plans liquid. I was set to leave early tomorrow morning for SAT and now I'm going to the dentist instead.

I'd write more but the tooth ache is so terribly intense that it makes opening my eyes painful and my lips feel like pressure dressings over the tooth. So, instead, I'll leave you with these few short words and the knowledge that I'm not off the band wagon yet!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Living 1300 miles away from an INTJ leads an ENFP to want to slap someone.

It's probably not only the personality profiles making this separation difficult. I'm going to be happy on Thursday night when I'm back in Mike's arms and we can fight while hugging--which is the best way to fight.

Seriously, try it sometime.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I don't know how anyone else bases their memories but lots of mine are based around flavor or smell. This morning I woke up thinking about pancakes and it took me to quiet fall mornings in Missoula, sitting in Paul's Pancake Parlor and enjoying the mural of the local college team--The Griz--and laughing with my family. I remembered the tangy sourdoughs of my childhood often made on Saturday mornings before we started our work. And then I stumbled on a sweet memory of sitting with my friend Alycia on her back patio one morning sharing waffles and some amazing maple syrup, beautifully prepared fruit and conversation.

It just makes me grateful for pancakes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


The problem with having fewer people to talk to during the day is that now my thoughts end up in a back log. I process my thought verbally, you see. It's too distracting to try and hold on to the delicate thread of a thought unless it's formed into sound The pugs do the best they can but it's often difficult for them to express themselves in return. So instead I find myself talking very, very quickly on the phone to try and get EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT processed in a much shorter period of time.

This is to say, I miss my husband.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I had the flu this weekend, or I'm pretty sure that I did. I didn't bother to go to the doctor to have that confirmed, I just lazed around bemoaning my fate. I think today is the first time in a few that I've felt very nearly peppy. I think a portion of that is the opportunity to talk to some people today and do a few random acts of kindness. That alone will make you feel better but it's also that today represents the 50% mark of my separation from Mike. It's all downhill from here. In two weeks I'll be on the road to see him and in just over two weeks I'll be back in those beefy, loving arms.

Yes, I did just say that.

Until them I'm going to try and focus a bit. Right now there a ladder sits in the middle of the kitchen waiting for me to replace the other two bulbs in the fan, several boxes are open and half filled, the laundry is somewhat done but not folded and I'm blogging.

My plan is to make another list--I love making lists!--of which things I need to finish before we leave on the off chance someone would like to see our house. I'm pretty sure I can do that.

And by 'that' of course, I mean making the list. Let's not push this accomplishment too far.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blog my butt off--Day 1

Today begins that time of year when blogs are written on for at least three days straight--NaBloPoMo or "National Blog Posting Month". Since I've been terrible about using prompts and writing all of your feeds will not be subjected to one month straight of my musings.

I do not take responsibility for the psychological damage.

Prompt for today: Favorite thing about writing.

To be honest, I didn't realize there even were prompts until I had to google the exact spelling of the event but I was considering last night that without Mike at home I probably only speak three or four times a day--and then typically on the phone or things like, "Ziggy! Please! Stop picking on the dogs! You're a cat and you're behaving like a seven year old!"

Without the focus of conversation my thoughts remain in their fractured state and without writing that could quickly lead to insanity.

Also, it was one year ago this month that I went to Colorado for a weekend retreat that spurred me to write more in one weekend that I had in the last several months. I'm hoping that NaBloPoMo will do something similar.

And so it begins. An incoherent post, lots of promise and only 30 more days to go!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Letting Go

It's a song by Melissa Etheridge. It came across my Pandora station tonight and struck a chord with me.

I've been thinking over the last few days about marriage and Michael. I've never doubted my decision to marry him. I've never doubted that I love him and that we're fantastic partners.

I've also had to acknowledge that the man I dated before him was one I was sure down to my bones that I was going to marry. Not marrying that guy was the most spiritually disconcerting thing that has ever happened to me. It threw me farther off course than any other event in my life. It was terrible. And it's possibly it was also exactly correct.

"Still it comes so slow, the letting go."

Tonight I was bored and running around the internet. I saw the page of the woman ThatGuy married. Their wedding photos were out there along with some vacation photos. I took a moment and looked through them. Then I sat with my feelings for a moment. The melancholy of that lost love was there but it had faded, changed.

The anger and resentment I felt toward him, toward God, has passed.

"Piece by piece I take apart this complicated heart and I hope to find something I can prove is real, I can feel is truth, I can say is mine."

Dark days followed our split but in those dark, twisty days I learned more about myself than at any single other time in my life. I discovered parts of me that I'd never surrender now. I can't imagine living without them.

Those days, those revelations led me to be on the path where I met Michael. When asked, and if I'm feeling serious, I tell people that the reason I married Mike is that I was walking along my path and then I felt our paths merged and, for the first time, I didn't have to change or alter my gait. We just fell into step together. It was effortless. It was right. And wonderfully, restfully, perfectly comfortable. Some may contend that comfort shows a lack of passion or some such nonsense. The comfort triggered a monumental relief and showed me a refuge I'd never sought, perfectly tailored for me.

As we're walking this path together now I've discovered that every day, every experience makes me more married to my husband in a way I wasn't capable of understanding before allowing myself to be in a constant state of togetherness. With that state, that melding, I'm finding that my old hurts, my old imagined life is leaving. And tonight I imagined myself saying to ThatGuy, "I came here to let you know the letting go has taken place."

Monday, October 24, 2011


Mike has been gone for just over a week now and it's official--I'm not cut out to be a military wife. I'm sure happy that's not a decision I made!

The office, the most dense of our spaces, is nearly done being cleared out. The books, seven boxes in that room alone, have been packed and all the pictures taken down and wrapped, tucked into their totes for safe transport. I still have some final bits to sort out but at least the room is ready to show now.

Today I start clearing out the garage to make room for the stacks of boxes. This is my least favorite part. I can start to see the transfer from living to that terrible transition time in between. On the up side, I am going to indulge and not pack a single Christmas decoration. They're all going to be on full display for the whole season and then, at the last available moment, will be tucked into totes on which the pugs will sleep while we make the final trip to SAT.

In my wildest dreams I never dreamed I'd be sad about leaving Utah, about leaving this ward. It's a haven for me. Sunday these crazy/delightful twins, Daisy and Azela, sat next to me in church and were wonderful and wiggly. I doubt there are another pair like them in the whole world. Part of me would like to stay here forever and just watch them grow.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's the little things.

Today, after a long week, the garbage man came again. I missed him last week so we've had bags of garbage hanging out on the garage floor all week.

I considered running to his truck and giving him a big, sloppy kiss.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You must be polite with yourself when learning something new.

I'm sitting on the couch in the waning hours of the second day of a long absence from my husband, my partner and my lover. Yes, I intended you to feel the weight of my maudlin energy with that statement.

Yesterday I went back to work for a shift, enjoyed an early morning breakfast with my blossoming girlfriends and then, I crashed.

Today I have stopped to be sad. I've been in my pajamas, on the couch, trying to see my path again. I paused to acknowledge that I'm terribly intimidated by the amount of work the coming weeks are going to bring. To really feel the sadness of leaving the budding, happy life I saw here in honor of the life and happiness I know is to come. It was a day of pause, of refocusing to understand how I can be polite to myself without dropping into days like this too often.

So, as soon as this movie ends I'm going to get up and clean this house to some happy music. I'm going to make a list for my week and start making sure I savor these final few weeks with this lovely place. Then I'm going to pack up, put the pugs in the car and reunite with the other part of my soul, glorying in our togetherness.

Monday, October 3, 2011

That didn't last long.

Chaos has returned. Just as I though we had everything settled and were staying in Utah things turned on a time.

Mike's old company came back to us with one of those offers you just can't say 'no' to, so we're moving to San Antonio.

Moving means that all hopes of my working and foster care have been put, basically, on hold. I'll be the one staying in Utah until the house sells or after the holidays--one of the two. I wouldn't mind it except it means being apart from my partner for weeks at a time.

I have no idea what we're doing for housing in SAT yet, I'm sure we'll work it out. I can tell you that it will be significantly smaller than what we bought here so that we can be all on one level and have a pool in the back yard. I'm not a princess about many things but humidity...well, we'll go with 'princess' because this is a family blog.

I'm quite nervous about the move. This will be the first time since I was 18 years old that I haven't dictated the time and location of a move. Mike pointed out to me that it will be the first time since he was 18 that another person will be totally in charge of all his worldly belongings. I feel like it's a fair swap.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We've had much discussion and uncertainty here lately. It's been nearly a full month of trying to feel out our future, of learning to talk and listen in a different, new way. It's been an interesting, trying, strengthening month and I would not do it over. But I'm glad it happened.

We thought we might move, now we're fairly certain we won't. I'm sad about that because we'd have been closer to family but I think, we think, it's the right decision.

We thought we may add some children to the household, now we're certain that we're not going to right this moment. We've found some middle ground that feels like it will be best for all involved.

In all that talking we've found a new path with a bit more certainty. Mike is unlikely to leave his current line of work until he has The Next Great and Amazing Idea. I'm unlikely to leave mine until we have so many children it becomes unlikely. Christmas plans--having the whole family here--are now certain and we're finally, finally, calming down.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I have a beautiful Mahayana friend...

...and she told me a few days ago in a phone call about the wonderful idea that every being we encounter could be a teacher or messenger. I found it lovely and filed it away as I do with thoughts I'd like to come back to when I have more time. It's an enormous file.

Today I was approaching the headstone of a friend, feeling increasingly sad, as I am wont to do there in her resting place, about her loss when I noticed a glimmer of gold that was exactly the remembered shade of her hair. And for a few long moments as I stood near her headstone in the blazing sun that dragonfly stayed near me, always in my view. It rested, preened, then landed on the flowers I brought, then on my shoulder and, after a moment of stillness, quietly flew away.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Tis the season.

I think I've discussed that this year Michael and I took part in a share in on of our local Community Supported Agriculture operations. To say that we've been overwhelmed with produce is very much an understatement. Add to that our surpisingly successful garden this year and you'll know that I've been doing with my time.

We have a new dehydrator that never leaves the counter or stops operating, we have apricot jam and syrups of blackberries. We have squash for days and the tomatoes have even begun yet.

And tomorrow we'll have our first peach sorbetto.

So if you wonder where I am, just picture a kitchen full of chaos, stained fingers and steaming cans. I'll be back around the first frost--unless I get stuck under all the cans.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


After last October in Colorado, I became aware of all these fantastic instructors who lead artistic and self-discovery courses both online and in person. My new favorites, because I know the two beautiful ladies who started it, is Live It The The Full. I enrolled in their very first course called Emerge and I'm loving it. It's a course combining writing, photography and other artistic self-expression.

The prompts there lead me to pick up my camera for the first time in several months. I don't think there is a time since I've had cameras where I've gone without photographing anything for several months. There was actually dust on my bag. That has never happened.

Earlier this year I was really devoted to the idea of turning my art into income for our family. I thought it would be a fantastic way to combine the passions. It wasn't. Something about monetizing my passion, putting a numeric value on it, killed a little part of my soul. It took some time to recover from that injury but I'm happy to say that I have.

Yesterday the familiar weight of the camera in my hand felt like it used to--a natural extension of my arm. I got a few good shots and even posted them on Flickr but I think my favorites from the day are these two. Hope you enjoy them as well!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

No answer.

While I often deal with tragedy in my line of work, I don't often feel overcome by sadness. Today was not a usual day which lead to my taking some time tonight to muse. I was surprised to find my mind coming to the most random of thoughts--my habits about answering. The door, the phone, Skype--whatever requires answering.

Somewhere in the last few of years I descended so far into myself that I've stopped answering.

It started in Missoula when I knew that there was not likely to be a visitor at my door, just someone looking for directions or possibly payment on a bill I owed. That seemed to make sense.

Also, who wants to answer the door when they've been in pajamas for three days? Oh, the life of the unemployed.

Somehow that's continued into my time here in Utah. We have several darling girls who come down the street to visit my dogs and, sometimes, me. It started well and then it was, "I'm not in my makeup and the kitchen is messy. I'll just answer it next time."

Now it's gotten to the point that I don't bother to answer unless I'm expecting someone.

Today it occurred to me that life will always be full of tragedy, lonely times, times we're aching in the eternal seconds until someone arrives to help, desperate for their company and here I am eschewing the opportunity.

Inexcusable. Consider my door and line open. I'm making a goal to answer, despite the status of my makeup and kitchen.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Jersey

Every now and then I come to a point where I need to escape from my own mind for a period of time. When that comes, I turn to Stephanie Plum.

I very much enjoy my time as a bounty hunter.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Vegan of me!

We're part of a CSA/farm share this year. It's a really eye opening experience. We've had lots of different produce meals this year but I stumbled onto one I think still stay around tonight. Kale chips.

It's terribly shocking because I typically detest kale. But if you remove the stalk, add a tablespoon of awesome olive oil, a few dashes of salt and then roast them on some parchment paper (and a non-insulated cookie sheet) for about twenty mins. Turn them about half way through.

Then cool them and enjoy! Super healthy, crunchy (which is shocking!) and yummy.

I sound like Alycia Silverstone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Is it just me or does anyone else feel like laundry never, ever ends? I swear that it's impossible to be caught up.

It's making me consider a move to Florida for a textile-free life.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Verticality, it's own reward.

I've started a practice of Bikram yoga again. I started this particular practice before looking into the controversy of Bikram's yoga versus all other types of yoga. Who knew there was such a range of ideas and practices? I certainly did not.

For those not familiar, Bikram yoga is performed in a room that is one hundred and five degrees. The same twenty-six poses are performed twice as you progress through the class.

I love it.

I love the heat, I love the repetition and I love that it feels like I can relax knowing what is coming so that I don't have to spend time in my anxiety about the future. I don't know that I will always love this practice but I love it now.

As I was in class the other day I had a somewhat startling revelation that my skin was literally shedding at a rate that surprised me. Apparently I hadn't been doing enough for my skin lately and it was ready to drop some cells and move along.

I then paid homage to my skin for it's obvious and lovely analogy.

Each time I'm in a class and I'm able to do a little more, stand a little longer, pose a bit more properly I'm excited for this new body, new life I'm unwrapping and I'm reminded that it's got to be one cell at a time.

Six souls, one bed.

Michael and I are slumped over our computer desks not feeling so well. I think dinner turned out to be poisonous. And not even the really dramatic kind.

We had a great conversation tonight about my continued efforts, our continued efforts in fact, to rescue dogs. Today there is a puppy asleep in her crate next to me. Later when we crawl into bed there will be a great big lab on one side of the bed, the puppy, us and a pug with her constant feline companion sleeping between our legs.

It's a crowded, complicated arrangement. And I'm so lucky to have a partner that will deal with the complications, take them in stride and surrender some of his sleep and space to these lovely little souls who pass through our lives.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Darling Ramona!

I do love you. I could reply to your email but I figured I'd make an event of it and just blog!

Here are some new things:
I am working again as a dispatcher. I love it. I'm so much happier working!
Our garden is growing.
The sun has come back.
My brother has a broken femur from a smokejumping accident.
My Mom has (with very early detection and great percentages) thyroid cancer.
I'm starting yoga again.

The end of this winter was very difficult and it was longlonglong. I was so done with the gray skies that I was nearly unbearable to be around. Ask Michael, he'll tell you. Eventually the weather broke and I've started to come alive again. We have a garden in and it's thriving. We're taking part in a farm share. We're cooking. We're enjoying each other. We're falling behind on laundry and remodeling rooms.

It just feels like spring, despite the summer reality and the busy time of preperation for things to come.

I haven't picked up a camera in weeks. There was something about the foray into professional photography that really stifled my soul. I can't explain it. I don't yet understand it but I could feel it. So I stopped and the rest has been perfect. It's only been in the last forty-eight hours or so that I've even considered picking up my equipment and documenting this season. Perhaps in the coming days there will be pictures.

And that is where I am. Emerging, in the words of Amy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Art is good for you, so says Jen Lee

The last few days I've been in a bit of a creative frenzy--which is a sure sign spring is close. Well, the creativity and the cleaning. With clean baseboards, floors and walls I decided to take on a couple of craft projects. We've needed some art in the house but I'm unwilling to spend money on it.

Here's the book wreath that now hangs between the sitting room and the kitchen.

Instructions can be found here.

And in the same vein, here's the wreath of magazine pages that now hang in our dining area. It's not nearly symmetrical enough for me but I'm trying to relax and just enjoy the graphic way it looks on the wall.

I'm getting antsy to get outside and into our garden. I think I'm going to get some seeds started in the next couple of week so we can take full advantage of our growing season!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Closer to summer

It's finally lighter here. Finally February. January is always the toughest month of the year for me--I'm closer to a bear asleep in my snow cave than anything else. And then the days slowly get longer, the sun lingers and I feel the need to wake again. The house gets cleaner, the dishes at dinner more elaborate and new projects start to emerge. And just in time to celebrate our first married year.

Yesterday I climbed to top of the three-quarters wall between our kitchen and sitting room to hang the new book-wreath I'd made. Michael was summoned with a saucy tone to help hold the ladder when I realized I just may die by falling through or off the wall. He came and helped, quietly reserving judgment until I was back on the ground.

I bring up that story today because it's the perfect expression of this first year together. I have these burst of energy that lead to odd (but fun!) actions and Michael manages to make sure we both live through the experience.

While I'm uncomfortable with expressing mushy feelings publicly, I feel the urge to somehow memorialize my feelings on our first anniversary with a mind to honoring him to the world.

I'm not sure how I've done it but I've manged to find my perfect partner. I knew some of what would make him perfect for me. Some of what works are things I'd never have imagined--his softness, for instance. The silly man can't watch a compelling dog movie without shedding some tears. His sense of play, of making sure we're not too focused or too serious too often is a surprisingly wonderful compliment to my often frantic need to accomplish without reason.

And a million other things, small and large, that make up our relationship. I don't want to posture like it's been a perfect year, as though we magically entered a world without conflict or problems but we're pretty good at 'fighting' with each other an disagreements are resolved so much faster than I'd ever anticipated.

It seems as if we have this whole life before us, as one, that I can't wait to fill up with memories.