It has been a busy end-of-the year. Robin and I hit the road for 2 days, to shoot her project in Christmas lights and New Year's Eve celebration. I have not left my house on New Year's Eve in the last 30 years so it was fun to finally experience the celebration in the heart of Seattle. At the end of the fireworks, I could literally hear and feel the entire city cheer the New Year in. Here I am, being silly, trying to stay warm before the photo shoot moment. Photo by Robin Layton.
The last year has been interesting and challenging for me.
Robin called early summer and said, "I am going to suggest something wild and crazy and you can say no if you want to".
Taking off with Robin for a month in the summer, us not knowing exactly what we going to do, or where we were going was the highlight. We had a basic game plan but it became so much more than we anticipated it would be. I was so surprised, pleasantly so, how completely open, genuine and nice everyone that we met along the way. I never expected people would be rude or hateful, but I just did not know how they would respond to two strangers popping up to their front door and asking if we could photograph something in their yard. To my utter amazement, we were graciously welcomed at every door, by every stranger. Who, after a couple of minutes of visiting, were no longer strangers, rather a piece of our puzzle, a friend to remember, a background story I will never forget. A deaf couple that we talked to via notepad for an hour, a regal grandmother struggling to raise her grandson in impoverished Gary, Indiana, a note left at a door from a stranger and that person would call us back with permission. Not that I did not have faith in humanity. More that I had not met so many people, in so many settings and have them all respond with such warmth. I think that was the highlight of my year.
Not to even mention the amazing sights along the way. I was so busy driving and navigating that I missed most, but what I did catch, was breathtaking. Robin and I still say to each other, "did we really do that?" Now when I note on a Google map where we were, what we drove through, I think ... We were right by THAT or THAT and didn't even see it"!
One of the worst sights was seeing bark beetle ravaging Winter Park trees. We were in this heavenly setting, the mountains were covered in trees and the closer we got, I commented the trees looked purple. On closer inspection, 90% of the trees were dead, hence the unusual color. Not that I don't know about this infestation, but to see it up close and personal was scary and heartbreaking. The other heartbreak was driving through Gary, Indiana and Detroit and see how portions of our nation are suffering. Neighborhoods, cities devastated by poverty ... houses burned, torn down, abandoned. Ghostly presence of what was.
Best moments are not planned. Driving from Colorado to Wyoming, we got lost. Following the GPS and maybe a couple of "rights" instead of "lefts", ended up on a CR (yes, country road), that would be dirt. I think it was limestone. We kept driving and driving. Getting more nervous because we were losing our phone signals, low on gas and sliding around in the mud. I envisioned us stuck, out in the middle of nowhere, with no phone signal. When we gingerly turned the van around on this one-lane, muddy road, we got out and stood there in awe. Quiet, cold, desolate, untouched, indescribable beauty. The lost moments...
The road trip appealed to my love for documenting, exploring, noting, mapping our route. Tracking our progress every night before we had forgotten where we had been or who we had met. I made notes every night before sleep, no matter how tired.
Of course, there was Atlanta. Our dog-adoption pit-stop. When I walked into the shelter to tell Robin to hurry up and spotted Pebbles, alone in a corner, her long, slim legs crossed. Rather oblivious to her plight. As I picked her up, then set her back down, some male dog came over and peed on her backside. When I saw that, I could not leave her there. Sent David a photo and text and the rest is history. That started her arduous trip back to Seattle. As I know now, she can on "potty" on a leash. Although, I would walk her for hours, in the wee hours of the morning before we hit the road. She acted like she wanted to, but just couldn't. That made me so worried for her, that I started feeding her little hand-fulls of rice. I know we were days from being home and she could survive on water, rice and bits of chicken. Without having a bowl movement in days and days, my worry-meter was high. Then she exploded, luckily, she was in her travel crate. But I had days of washing crates, buying many towels from Wal-Mart, doing loads of laundry and trying to make her NOT feel like she had one something wrong. She is very sensitive. My friend Faith kept asking, "are the dogs begging to go back to the shelter yet?"
On arriving home and watching her "potty" pattern, I understand now why it is so difficult for her to do her stuff on a leash. Well, no one was harmed and we made it home in one piece. I know it was unwise to adopt another dog, I knew she was meant to be with me. Every night in the hotel room, we would snuggle and learn a little more about each other. I learned that she did not know much about playing. She learned that she was safe. She knows she is home now. And now, we play hard together, one of her favorite past times.
I finally got to meet my buddy, Maggy! She helped us navigate out way around her 'hood.
I drove through many, incredible thunderstorms. And loved every minute of them.
My first visit to New York and how much I loved it.
Our photo shoot at the White House, yes, THAT White House, on the hottest day of the year. A surreal walk past the Oval Office, hoping I would catch a glimpse of President Obama. I forgot to grab my dirt (for the dirt collection) from the Rose Garden, even though I kept repeating that to myself all day.
Our second road trip to California and my time in the VW Rialta Winnebago, sleeping on the street in the very chic part of Beverly Hills. Or hooking up at a hotel, close enough to have electricity and WI-FI for the laptop and feeling like I was a queen. Cozy in that cute van, watching Netflix on the laptop. Great fun. Robin and I teasing "The shitter's full" and learning the important difference between "gray" and "black" water. Having a major blowout on the highway and waiting 2 days while we found replacement tires for a van that they no longer made tires for.
I have spent some very special time with my mom while job searching, learning new skills and learning to build websites at this computer. She has needed me home almost every day and it is a gift that I am here to be with her daily.
Our beloved friend, Ruth got to visit this year. My uncle came for a week.
During the road trip, stopped by to see my dad and step-mom. She had been very ill for months. We had a short but good visit. And a few weeks later, she was gone. I feel so lucky to have seen her one last time. She is missed!
I missed not taking so many flower photos, but you can only do so much in a day, right?
I have been officially unemployed for over 2 years and it feels like 2 months. I have survived the initial nothingness of my former situation. Lived 2 years without really purchasing anything personal for myself and it was okay. A Luvocracy credit (thank you, Luvocracy), let me enjoy a little guilt-free spending spree for the holidays.
I have learned who my friends are. And I am lucky to have some really, really good ones. Friends (you guys) who encourage me, and push me forward. Robin has been instrumental in encouraging me to go forward with Brantlers in a big way. I also got to do some serious social networking for A Letter to My Dog and Robin this year and that was a hoot.
Working closely with Rick and BYOB Website and learning the in's and out's of Wordpress Thesis. Feeling very special when he writes plugins inspired by ME and my needs.
Having a hoot making Brantlers and selling them at the gallery! Being invited to the Edmonds Artwalk.
Necessity is the mother of reinvention. Having the kids, their animals move back in was a joy and a challenge. In the short-term, it has helped everyone. It also makes us very close, not only in a 5-people-6-animals-living-in-close-proximity but in that we have special moments, long, heart-felt talks. I watch them cook meals together. Their friends stop by. The house feels alive again. I still feel lucky to have the best son in the world. And the best girlfriend of that son. But the phrase "We bought a Zoo" comes to mind each of the dozens of times a day, I open the door to let that Zoo in and out.
I keep getting dirt from Tara and other friends from all over the world. Just order 50 more vials to fill up. My dirt collection is really amazing and fun. Thank you, Tara! And Robin got dirt from an anchor from Lake Washington. Now I bet no one has THAT in their collection!
I enjoy the very free and exciting things in life. Mainly stuff in my backyard. Seedpods and birds. The resident humming bird keeps me in delightful stitches almost everyday. I don't want to become a crazy dog lady and maybe it is because I spend so much time at home. But I really have fun watching them interact with each other. Mom and I just roll in laughter every day with their antics. The barking ... not so much.
I wish every one a very Happy New Year to come. Thank you for letting me share and for being a part of my life. 13 is my lucky number. I predict 2013 is going to be very special. And my hair goal for the year is to get my gray hair to shine. ;) xoxo
I am working on my 2013 to-do list. The top of the list, more painting and finally ... quilt making!
My Pebbles today.