Thursday, December 16, 2010

House and Dog Sitting

Good friends of mine asked if I would sit for their beautiful Bernese Mountain dogs, Murphy and Milo. What a hoot! I love these guys. I miss their company and personality. I found we have something in common, we both love our routine.

Now that I have had a taste for living in “The Harbor” (Gig Harbor), it’s going to be an adjustment returning to my own home without a view. The view of southwestern Fox Island is great. The house was like staying in a suite at a nice hotel.

Taking Murphy for walks along the beach was certainly a highhlight. Unfortunately, Milo’s hips won’t let him walk very far. In fact, he needs assistance getting to his feet. Poor guy! However, he has a great attitude about his situation.

On my second Monday, the Northwest had a major windstorm in the evening. I had been to my regular Monday night Bible study in Tacoma--it had been windy all day--when I walked out of the church that night and found the wind to be much stronger. I stopped by my house on the way back to the Harbor to grab a few things. On the way, I noticed the flashing of downed power lines. In fact, as I drove across a dark Narrows Bridge, I noticed that my neighborhood was one of the few places with electricity in the north end of Tacoma as well as Gig Harbor.

As I drove back along East Bay Drive to my retreat in the Harbor, I was dodging fallen trees and limbs that littered the road. I needed my high beams to ensure there were no surprises on the road ahead. Crews are working along Wollochet Drive, causing a detour. However, this detour was complicated by a fallen tree. So my commute was lengthened to uncharted territory for me. I was following a crowd of other cars, hoping that everyone was going where I needed to go. It all turned out good and I happened on familiar ground. It wasn’t long before I was on the driveway to the house.

I stopped periodically to move fallen limbs aside so I could progress further to the house. It was apparent that there was no power in the area. I needed my highbeams to guide the way. I got about halfway down the drive and was stopped by a fallen tree. Not a small tree, but a tree that I needed to address. I considered just parking my car and walking in. After all, it wasn’t much further to the house. However, the thought of leaving my car exposed to the elements was not working for me. And, the idea of more trees and branches falling on my car was not a happy thought. It then dawned on me that I had been using the garage door opener all week and left the house key on the counter. How was I going to get into the house once I arrived?

When I arrived, Milo and Murph were barking, not understanding the situation. I thought it was a hopeless case getting into the house. I had my phone with me and texted people I thought might have phone numbers of people who could help. But no one was available. I then remembered hearing wind through a kitchen window that I just shut but not locked. I was able to shimmy my way through the window to the happy wags that awaited me on the other side.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turning 50 – October 23

On October 23rd I entered into a new era of life. I turned 50! Not a big deal. I imagine millions of people experience this each day.

My mom had planned a family dinner at the Fircrest Golf Club the night of my birthday which I looked forward to. Then, at the coaxing of my friend Liesl, I decided to have an additional party for family and friends on the 24th at Joeseppi’s. Prior to this weekend, I suffered from some bug that I must have caught while in Guatemala. Needless to say, I was feeling my age that week. Fortunately, I recovered well enough to enjoy the festivities.

My brother, his wife, son and his girlfriend drove up from California, which was a blessing in itself, allowing my entire family to be there for Saturday night. My niece, Andrea had everyone share something they appreciated about me, which added a nice touch to the evening.

I was overwhelmed the next night and a bit out of my element being the center of attention. The plan was to have an open house approach to the evening. However, as it turned out—and I liked how it turned out—folk lingered and mingled. The room wasn’t made for the amount of people I invited. Fortunately, not everyone was able to attend. But there was a great turnout and I feel blessed to have the friends and family that God planned for me.

Thanks to Liesl, people were asked to bring 50 of something. This opened it up for just about anything from 50 rolls of toilet paper, nails, batteries, candy, cookies, marbles, 50 sharpened pencils (for those “You’ve Got Mail movie fans), tennis balls (actually, I was told there were only 49), and an assortment of tasty treats.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Villa Hortencia I, Guatemala – October 8-18

I had the opportunity to go to Guatemala with a team from my church. We support Agros Ministries, a Seattle-based organization that builds partnerships between rural poor villages in Central America and churches, businesses and individuals. Together we are a sponsor for the village of Villa Hortencia 1 for the next five years.

I was excited to visit a new country with goals that stretched beyond my own selfish desire to travel. I have to admit that I was itching to use my camera for the first time out of the U.S. What I found was a country of vivid color and colorful people willing to share their lives with a smile.

Our team arrived in the village to the sad news of a family that lost a seven-month old baby just that morning. We joined that family in their home and prayed for them. It was hard not to go through the village that day without the reminder of their loss. That afternoon we joined the community in the mile-long funeral procession that took us from their home to the cemetery outside of town. This day set the tone for the week as we were engulfed with a sense of community I have never experienced.

We drove the one and a half hour 9-mile drive to the village from our hotel in Nebaj. Having just recently been to Disneyland, this drive resembled the Reality TV version of the Indiana Jones ride. The recent rainy season transformed the road to an obstacle course where we needed to navigate deep ruts and parts of the road that no longer existed. Fortunately we had 4WD vehicles. I was able to experience the road in several ways: from the back seat, from the back bed and from behind the wheel. Each had its own challenge and fun.

Three aspects of our visit in Villa Hortencia were particularly meaningful to me: the community, the children, and the village leaders.

The idea of community rang strong in my head throughout the week (I’m pretty sure I’m not confusing that ringing from the altitude and dehydration). It was hard not to see it during the funeral. But it was an undercurrent that was more felt than seen. Granted, the town population in just around 600, but everyone seemed affected by the ups and downs of the other. The women were the bankers of the town and knew where the money was and should be spent. One man had a pharmacy, another grew potatoes, one had a small grocery store, another cut hair. Neither one prospered by our country’s standards, but each one relied on the other for the success of the village.

You cannot visit this village (or any other village I presume) without being affected by the children. Upon our first arrival into town, we were greeted by the laughter of kids running up to us and jumping on the beds of our trucks with their inquisitively penetrating eyes. There was one boy that specifically caught my attention and I enjoyed getting to know this young man. My Spanish is pretty limited and the main language of the village is Quiche. So I would use a lot of hand and body language to get my point across. He seemed to understand me really well. On my last day, I learned that he was mute and could not hear. I was glad that I didn’t learn this until the end of my visit and was able to address him like I did everyone else. He certainly enjoyed having his picture taken.

Another lasting impression I had was the honor to meet with the leaders of the village, each proudly inviting us to their home and property. Commitment and honor radiated from them as they explained their roles and commitment to their particular position in government. As a group, they took the time to demonstrate the way new council members are sworn into office as a good number of the villagers crowded into the community building to witness the ceremony.

Understatedly, the trip was awesome. However, what was crucial for me was our morning devotion time. We started each day with a time of devotion. Each of our ten-member team read from the Bible and facilitated discussion that pertained to our time in the village. In the evening I kept a journal and as I reflected on the day each night, I was blown away with how our morning time directly correlated with what happened that day. God’s great!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

California Running – September 9-18

I volunteer with Curtis Cross-Country. What a treat to be able to spend a couple hours each day running with people who enjoy the sport and each other’s company. I enjoy the conversations and laughs we generate each day. I also enjoy the leadership and friendship of the two head coaches, Coach Mangrum and Coach Bird.

Each year Coach Mangrum chooses to kick off the season at a distant invitational. This year we attended the Don Bosco Invitational held at Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale, California—which happened to be only a couple of miles from El Monte, where my brother lives. So I joined family with fun. I drove down with mom so she could spend quality time with my brother while I ran with the team. After the meet, I would join the family as well.

The team stayed at Anaheim Quality Inn & Suites, within walking distance from Disneyland. This location was about halfway between the Dam and the beaches. Prior to the event, we ran a couple training runs along the beach and, afterwards, swam and bodysurfed. It was awesome!

The meet was a great spot visually for running. I’m not sure how fun it was for the team. Parts of the course were sandy, parts were grass and riddled with tree roots, while parts were concrete. However, the weather was perfect and the back drop of the Los Angeles Mountains made for great pics.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

California Reality

These shots were taken off Interstate 5 just outside of Wycoff, California. In a field across the interstate from Bill and Kathy's Diner. A great dining spot on the way to LA.

X-Country Perks

Last weekend I spent a couple of days with some great friends from our Curtis High School X-Country team. We had a great time water skiing, jumping on a water trampoline, playing games after dark and exchanging stories over a campfire while eating smores. Thanks to the Bakers' we had a fantastic time and grew as a team.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

White Tulip

I just completed a drawing for a good friend I used to work with at my previous employer. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Puyallup Fair Art Show

I just found out that a drawing of mine won second place in the drawing category at this year's art show at the Puyallup Fair. I'm pretty excited about it. Especially since it was my first showing of any art I've done in the past 35 years.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Great Sunset

Our morning cloud this week as provided some great cloud action in the evening. I returned again to Steilacoom for another great sunset.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sunset at Steilacoom

On Monday I drove through Steilacoom on my way home from running te trials at Fort Steilacoom Park. I noticed a sailboat moored just off the coast and thought it would make for a great photo. Last evening the clouds looked like they might pose for a great sunset.

Actually, tis first picture is from last Friday at Chamber's Bay Golf Course, a great spot for taking pics.

Friday, June 4, 2010

AT&T Hands Campaign

AT&T’s “Hands” campaign highlights the company’s industry-leading international wireless services portfolio. In the campaign, human hands are intricately painted to depict countries around the world that fall within AT&T’s international roaming footprint.

Read more about the campaign at AT&T

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sightseeing in a car wash...

Oklahoma City National Memorial

After numerous visits to Oklahoma I finally paid a visit to the memorial of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people, including 19 children, and injured more than 650. The memorial is a public/private partnership erected so that the American public can honor the memory of the victims, their families, the survivors, and their rescuers.

There are 168 empty “chairs” where the Alfred P. Murrah building once stood at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The 19 smaller chairs represent the children who were killed.

The museum is located in the west end of the former Journal Record Building. Built in 1923, the building withstood the bombing and is listed on the national register of historic places. the museum takes you on a chronological, self-guided tour of the events that happened that day, and the weeks and years that followed the bombing. It's well worth the visit.