Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful Week: It's Weepy Wednesday

Last night Paul and I stayed up way too late talking. We talked about his job and some new opportunities he hopes will pan out soon. And as we talked, I realized that as much as I know and love Paul, the man I spend my life with, I don't know Paul the Soldier. I see him in his uniform every day, and I hear him talking to prospective recruits on the phone, but I've never seen him run an obstacle course or fire his weapon. I haven't heard him call cadance; I haven't even heard anyone call him SSG Abundis, aside from himself. I know the things he's done; I try to keep up with his acronym-laden stories (and I'm getting better at figuring out what the heck he's talking about!), but it still blows my mind when I think of him actually soldiering.

When I told him how weird this felt for me, that I felt like there was a whole chunk of him I didn't know, he asked me if I thought the same way about Chris and Chubz. Well, yes. I've seen Chris in his ACUs maybe twice, and Chubz, never. I know in my head what they do and where they've been, but not with my eyes.

But it doesn't make a difference. I am so proud and so thankful for these three men (because they are closest to me) and every person who has volunteered to serve our country,  for those who have fought for us in Iraq and Afghanistan (and everywhere else), and for those who serve to protect us here in the United States.

With everything I have, thank you.

Paul, Peter, Chubz and Christopher

Thankful Week: Tuesday Edition

Today's earlier post got me thinking... I'm thankful that I live in a beautiful place.

When Paul was still in Iraq, we had planned to live in Snohomish, and when the Army changed our plans for us, we considered Edmonds, Lynnwood, Kent and every town in between. I would have been fine with any of these places, but deep down I felt a little twinge.

I'm an island girl. I'm happiest knee deep in waves, or walking through cool, old growth forest, where the suns rays barely filter through the dense branches. I feel most free when I'm standing on the edge of a bluff, face to the wind, gazing out over the Salish Sea and imagining eternity, or peering over the edge of a pier at the oblivious starfish and tiny minnows. I suffer from inland clausterphobia; the feeling that you're hemmed in by land and have no escape route. Believe me, you have to be an islander to know (and please, no snotty comments about how the only reason people live on islands is because no one else wants to live with them).

The thought of traffic and concrete and commutes and big box retail chains and complicated intersections made me nervous. I knew I could adjust, but at what cost? I didn't want to live in a city, or even a large town.

Then, as often seems to happen, fate stepped in to rescue me. Through a very coordinated series of events, I find myself living in Port Orchard, and more specifically, Southworth. While it's not my island, it's remarkably close. My house is surrounded by sky-high cedars mixed with the bright green of leafy deciduous trees. From my deck I can hear the blast of the ferry horn and the barking of harbor seals. When the wind blows right, I can smell the harbor on the breeze. Granted, it doesn't smell like the island, but the base scent is the same. The end of my road literally dumps into the water (well, if you don't turn. A month or so ago, someone didn't), and this morning as I headed out to work I was greeted by the sun peeking up over west Seattle, casting lavendar and orange and pink streaks across the dark sky. And a mile or so down the road, I caught the same sight with the Space Needle in the foreground.

Leaving the island did not mean leaving behind my deep-rooted love for the wild beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and I am beyond relieved and thankful for that fact.

(Side note: Yesterday I was reading comments on news articles on, and South Kitsap people are just as crazy, ignorant and opinionated as north enders!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Old Man Withers

Paul fell in love with our house on the internet. (Hmmm...sounds like a good way to start a romance.) The craigslist picture he sent me showed a one story log cabin with a huge deck and a good-sized yard, surrounded by trees. Picturesque! He obtained the address from the realtor and headed to Southworth after work to check it out. I remember sitting at my mom's house in Oak Harbor, so nervous because, well, we were homeless. Was this the house? Our house?

It was. He called from the house, nearly beside himself. It was perfect, he said. But funny story...

As he turned up the tree-canopied driveway, he saw a small cabin set to the right of the road. "That's it?" he thought. "They want $895 a month for THAT?" He was disappointed, but he was there, so he might as well get out and at least look in the windows. The cabin was ancient. Through grime-caked windows he could just make out the two small antique-filled rooms that boasted the bulk of the house. He was careful as he stepped, careful to not fall through the rotting boards of the dilapidated wrap-around porch. On the side of the cabin he found the kitchen. Stove, sink, freezer and refrigerator sat comfortably on the deck, exposed to the elements and waiting to be used. 

Paul had found what was soon to be dubbed 'Old Man Withers' House.' It sits between our house and the road, and now that the leaves have fallen from the trees, we can see its dark bulk huddled in the woods, moonlight flashing from its windows. The creepy romance of the cabin was not lost on the Abundi, and within days Paul and Lauren had Nicholas perfectly terrified of Old Man Withers' house. I guess it's good, because now I can trust that he won't venture too far into the woods by himself.

The point of this lengthy set up is as follows:

This morning at 6:30 (ok, 6:40...I was late), I started down our long, muddy, downward-sloping driveway dragging the garbage and recycling cans behind me. I was irritated with myself for not having set the cans out the night before, irritated that the driveway is so long, and frankly, irritated that I'M always the one to take care of the garbage. But soon my irritation gave way to a sense of unease. I couldn't see; the sky had begun to lighten, but the dense trees sucked up any light that might have reached my eyes. I couldn't hear; the two cans creaked and banged behind me on their plastic wheels, creating enough racket to wake the neighborhood and removing my ability to listen to what was going on in the woods around me. And I was approaching Old Man Withers' house. The pre-dawn sky reflected in the front windows, but the porch was a black hole and the trees seemed to crouch down around the cabin with ominous force. I walked quicker, almost losing control of the cans on the steep hill.

I was thoroughly creeped out. It was all I could do to not RUN up the hill. I reminded myself that I'm a grown woman with common sense and dignity. The bogie man would not jump off of Old Man Withers' porch to eat me for breakfast, and all the bears should be hibernating by now. It was with great relief that I finally reached the pool of light eminating from the house's flood lights. As I climbed into my car and raced down the hill, my heart pounded in my chest and I could feel perspiration on my forehead. I am ridiculous.

Long story short, Paul is taking out the garbage next week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful Week: Monday Edition

Today, well everyday, I am thankful for my family.

Mom & Dad

Sarah my Sista

Lindsey my Lil Sis

Cyan my Nephew

Paul's family, who has welcomed me so readily and made me feel like I belong

Paul, Shaunae, Max and Chris

Lilli & Lauren

Chloe & Nicholas

Tiffany! (most of these pics are hers)

Hailey & Tayla


Chubz & Rene

I'm so glad to have every last one of you in my life!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mani/Pedi Bliss

Today, for the first time, I said yes when the cute Vietnamese girl (who had just shaved enough skin curls off my heels to decorate a zombie wedding cake) asked if I wanted a design painted on my big toes. It's rainy, windy winter and I needed some cheer in my life (I know I know, it's not as bad as it sounds, but let's face it--it's gloomy outside!).

Lovely, complete with silver glitter highlights and a pink jewel in the middle. Uncharacteristically, I had my nails painted Easter egg lavender as well.

It broke my heart to put socks on afterwards, but goodness, it's freezing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I can't help but think that because this is my very first 'thankful' post, I should choose something a little more deep and meaningful. But let's face it--I'm not always deep, nor am I meaningful.

So for this, my first Thankful Thursday post, I am truly thankful for the Pledge Fabric Sweeper.

When I purchased my beautiful, black, sateen striped, king-sized, down alternative comforter, I had grandiose visions of Paul and myself snuggled beneath a quilt that was ever only ours. I bought it with him in mind and I was so excited to use it for the first time on OUR bed. But one detail escaped my notice.

CATS. Paul's cats are more or less white. And as we all know, black comforters and white cat hair do not mix. At first I thought, maybe we can keep them off the bed; maybe if I lay a blanket at the foot of the bed, they'll sleep on that. Yeah. Maybe not.

Boris & Natasha
(notice the clumps of hair and
expressions of feline innocence)

So last night, after learning that two hours at the laundromat, 23 quarters and loads of dryer sheets DO NOT remove cat hair, I gathered my ambition and my handy-dandy Pledge Fabric Sweeper and set to work.

Now, if you have pets and do not have the Pledge Fabric Sweeper, you are in store for a wonderful discovery. A simple back-and-forth motion is all it takes to completely rid your furniture, pillows and bed spreads of pesky cat/dog hair and lint, and the offending detritus is safely stowed away in a see-through compartment (handy for marveling at the amount of hair you've been sleeping under/sitting on).

In ten easy minutes I had a (almost) hair-free comforter and a HUGE sense of accomplishment.  I do not, however, retain the delusion that I will go home tonight to the same clean, black comforter, because, let's face it, cats don't give a crap what you think. They'll sleep where they damn well want to.

Thank you, Pledge, for this magnificent invention. You make pet ownership 48% more bearable! Now if you would only invent a self-cleaning, odor-eliminating, sand-retaining litter box...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stupid Nikes

   Today, I hate my shoes. They are Nikes, which is strange in itself because I never buy Nikes. They're white, pink and silver--three colors I never wear. They make my feet look far too big for my body. This last is not necessarily a difficult'd understand if you ever take a moment to look at my giant feet. They're huge, ginormous, freakishly large.

   They also represent my inability to say no.
   Last fall I realized that one cannot thoroughly explore Washington D.C. in flip flops and Chuck Taylors. After two full days of limping for miles in unsupportive shoes, the agony of plantar fasciitis shooting through my heels, I decided that new shoes were in order--and price was not an issue.  I left my cool hotel room in rubber flippy flops and hobbled the half mile to Ballston Commons, a three story mall in Ballston, VA.
   Little did I know that the Grand Duke of all Shoe Salesmen awaited, poised to pounce on this unsuspecting shopper as she meandered into Lady Footlocker. At first he maintained his subtle facade with a welcome and a polite inquiry into my footwear needs. He pointed out different types of sneakers and showed off discounted items. But within minutes this front melted away to reveal a salesmen determined to earn his commission that day.
    He picked out this pair of cotton candy-themed, sweatshop stained satan shoes, fell to his knees before me, removed my flip flops, pulled new socks over my feet and laced the shoes himself. "No," I said. "These don't feel right. The arch is in the wrong place. I don't like these shoes."
   "A bigger size!" he declared, rushing to the back and returning with even larger shoes. He repeated the lacing ritual and again I hinted that I did not like these shoes, they weren't right, but his constant stream of inane chatter left my protests to fall away unheeded. "Inserts!" he cried, retrieving a pair of blue foam Dr. Scholl's, ripping open the packaging and slipping them inside the offending footwear. The shoes felt remotely better, but I felt exhausted, pressured, and eager to leave the shadows of the mall.
   "Fine," I accepted the shoes, the socks, the inserts, and the $80 total...$30 more than the economic sticker price I had agreed to. I'm sure I made that man's Tuesday, but now I'm stuck with these ridiculous, oversized, ill-fitting, ugly reminders of my poor shopping skills.

Bad Touristing Shoes                                                                                                    

   Next paycheck I think I'm going to buy myself a new pair of Sketchers. Not in pink.

Good Touristing Shoes

Friday, November 13, 2009

Peer Pressure

It was unavoidable really. In hindsight, I'm not surprised that I've ended up as I have. I find myself following longtime users who are caught by the same addiction that has begun to sink its teeth into me. I'm shocked that it's taken this long for me to begin. But I have. And I'm caught, too.


I'm doing it.