Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday

Honey and I have just returned from our morning walk through the condo facility.  It is the first Easter Sunday that I can remember where all of nature is available to view.

To the west hangs a beautiful white moon in a clear blue sky as the golden globe we call sun is rising above the horizon in the east.  There are flocks of geese going who knows where.  A owl was once again hooting in the trees along our walk.  The birds are singing and the squirrels are scampering about in search of food.

I love the early morning when humans aren't up and the traffic is quiet and all you hear is mother nature.  It will be a beautiful morning for sunrise services in the Pacific Northwest.

We will spend the afternoon with family and friends and likely eat too much.

Hope you have a wonderful Easter Sunday.  Even if you don't believe it is  a glorious day.  At least from where I am sitting in my upstairs office.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sad Tale From Sunny Seattle

It was a sunny afternoon when a mom, her 10 day old son and her in-laws decided to take a walk in their neighborhood Monday.  Mom was recovering from the birth of her son via c-section and it was the first time she had ventured out.  It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk that suddenly went very, very wrong.

My wife and I lived in the very neighborhood at the very intersection that this horrific accident occurred when we were first married.  It was our first house that we were lucky enough to purchase from a couple who was leaving town in a rush for a job elsewhere.  We gave them a small down payment and assumed their loan.  It worked out very well for us.  It was a small house in a quiet neighborhood with paved streets, sidewalks and stores with in easy  walking distance.  The area is known as Wedgewood and the corner of N.E. 75th and 33rd N.E. wasn't always the easiest to navigate from any direction.  You needed to be super careful due to a fairly steep grade leading to the crest of a hill right at 33rd.

On Monday afternoon the 33 year old mother with her son in a sling had navigated the intersection crossing 75th at 33rd.  75th is a high volume roadway with drivers who often exceed the speed limit.  On this day, the mother had made it the other side of 75th when she noticed a truck coming up the hill towards the 66 and 68 year old grand parents who were still in the intersection.  She turned to assist them and all of them were hit by a Chevrolet Silverado that was coming up the hill from the east into the sun.  The two grand parents were killed instantly and the mom and her child where taken to our local emergency hospital with life threatening injuries.  The child had to be resuscitated at the scene.

The driver of the truck was found to be impaired.  A couple of days later the information was released that he was driving on a suspended license from several previous DUI's and was supposed to have a monitoring device in his vehicle.  There was no device.  He had a alcohol level of .22% well over the limit and is currently being held on a 2.5 million dollar bail.

The Seattle media (especially talk radio) talked about this man and what he had done for several days.  The fact that the system had allowed him to drive a vehicle after so many issues leading up to the shattering of lives and the beautiful day.  There were many discussions about alcoholics and why they are allowed to do what they do, get behind the wheel of a car and drive impaired.  From where I sit, without massive investments in people to monitor these individuals this type of behavior will continue.  It is sad, but most drunk people don't think.

As I have said many times, I am a recovering alcoholic.  I spent may years drinking myself into a state of passing out both at home and away from home.  I did get into a car and drive home after a night at the bar.  I did drink all day on Saturday and hop in the car with my kids and go to the store for more alcohol.  I did take my kids and wife on a road trip completely impaired and often returned home with my wife from parties beyond drunk.  And when asked I always said I didn't have a problem.  I denied that I had any kind of issue with alcohol and yet I drank myself into a stupor on many occasions all in the name of escaping the reality of what I perceive was a poor life.  Thank God I woke up and realized that I don't have it as bad as I thought.

Drunks will not stop drinking, no matter how much you try to change them, unless they really want to quit.  My family tried on many occasions to get me to stop and I refused.  In fact, there were times that I drank more in defiance of their constant nagging.  My wife and kids were merely concerned for my well being.  Sometimes you have to hit bottom and come to a realization that what you're doing might not be the right thing.   After some deep soul searching, praying and decision to make a leap of faith I decided to quit drinking altogether.  On New Years Eve, I think it was 1995, I tossed my cigarettes in the trash as I went to bed and prayed for the strength to quit smoking and drinking.  While it was not easy I have managed to stay away from both for almost 18 years.  Even today it isn't easy.  There are times that escaping reality sounds like a really good idea.

I am not defending the driver of the Silverado.  I certainly had may opportunities to be in the same boat that he is in but I was never arrested for DUI.  Someone was watching out for me.....
I understand how hard it is to give up an addiction.  Any addiction.  It takes perseverance and will power and frankly it took me several tries to finally succeed.

These kinds of incidents remind me of what an idiot I was when I was younger.  It makes me want to help others, but unless they admit they have a problem there is really nothing anyone can do.  Sadly, these kinds of incidents will occur and just like those that kill with guns, there is really no way to stop it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Early Morning

Greetings from the great Pacific Northwest.  There is nothing better than rising early in the morning and  enjoying the quiet time as the sun rises in the east.  As nature wakes up in the complex and on this cold morning the grass and roofs are slowly turning white.  When I take Honey out for her first walk of the day I enjoy the fact that no one else is up at seven in the morning.  I listen to the sounds around me.   The different birds waking up to a new day.  An owl hooting.  The squirrels scampering around the complex in search of food.  If we are in the trailer park in Gold Bar the early mornings are even better.

I have been very busy with work lately although I have slowed down on the numbers of hours that I spend in the store.  I realize there is a lot still left to do but I don't feel the panic anymore to get it done yesterday.  It will get done, someday.

I am enjoying spending time with family and I love the weekends with Mia.   I just wish that I accomplished more on the weekend.  I still tend to lay around a lot even though I know that I have stuff to do.  Might be the same drugs that give me no panic at work.  It is like they take some of the drive away and I am not sure if it is a good thing.

Sadly I haven't seen much of my grandson lately.  He did call last night and I will get to see him today but I miss seeing him on a regular basis.  I don't have a lot of friends.  Real friends.  Acquaintances yes, but real friends, no.  My wife has lots of friends and she works at her friendships.  I have really only had one really close friend over the years and he moved away several years ago.  I have had some other friends but never real close.  During my childhood I spent a lot of time inside my head because I never seemed to fit in.  I had some friends but none of those friendships lasted past graduation.  High school was good, but the years leading up to it were filled with being bullied.  I never had any thoughts of doing harm to anyone.  I always considered the source and it would be interesting to know where the bullies ended up in later life but I haven't tried to find out.  They are probably CEO's of Fortune 500 companies.

Meet the Press is on and discussing gun control as the sun rises in the east.  Everyone is talking about background checks being a good thing.  Perhaps, but I have a question.  How many folks who killed someone with a gun last year, purchased that gun at a gun dealer or gun show?  I can't really disagree with the background check but I suspect that someone who wants to kill another isn't necessarily going to gun show or dealer to purchase the gun.  Whether they have mental illness or not, they will still find away to get the gun or they'll use a knife.  Should we have background checks for knifes?  After all, the mentally ill might get a hold of a kitchen knife.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Todo Santos and the Hotel California

We left early Sunday morning on a road trip to Todo Santos on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula.  We were the only ones in all of the resorts that decided to take the tour on Sunday so we had our guide completely to ourselves.  A very personable gentlemen who answered questions and gave us some very interesting history of the area.  As we left the resort our guide told us that our first stop was a blanket factory.  In the back of my head I am remembering our trip to Pentleton, Oregon and the factory there.  Well, this is about as far as you can get from the Pentleton factory unless you have a loom in your living room.  We were introduced to a 15 year old young fellow who showed us how the looms worked and how they made the blankets.  I was surprised to learn that one of the looms was two years old and the other was four years old.  I suspected them to be much older.  This is a stop along the highway to Todo Santos.

At this point both Mia and I were in need of facilities.  They have facilities.  Our guide suggested that it was rather unique and I was expecting a hole in the ground but there was a room with bamboo walls that you could see though with a toilet bowl inside.  Mia said it beat standing along the highway but I wasn't so sure since there was a young lady doing wash right next to where I was standing.

We left the blanket factory after Mia purchased a hand woven blanket and headed up the coast to Todo Santos.  We didn't really expect to find very much open and were surprised at the number of shops that were open on Sunday.  We arrived and our guide gave us a very instructional guide through the cultural center where they have artifacts, pictures, paintings and murals that show the history of the area and how the Jesuits changed the landscape.  After that we were free to roam.  Unfortunately being Sunday the Tequila Sunrise restaurant wasn't open so we didn't get a chance to have a drink (virgin).  But we did visit the Hotel California and the Mission.

As we arrived it wasn't a "dark desert highway" however there was a "cool wind in my hair".  The "warm smell of colitas" (little buds) could be found no where and certainly not "rising up through the air".  I didn't see any "shimmering lights" because as I have told you it was daylight and the sun was beating down.  My head wasn't heavy and except for dirty glasses my sight was pretty good.  I didn't need to stop for the night, but "there she stood in the doorway" so I thought, "what the heck", I'll stop for awhile.  It was noon and "I heard the MIssion bell".  "I was thinking to myself" this is weird as Heaven or strange as Hell.  Until one of the authors says otherwise I am going with this place isn't the Hotel California.  It is a nice place and I am glad I paid a visit.  I found a t-shirt with the Hotel California logo and the comment that it was established in 1947 the same year I was born.  Mia got her blanket and I got my t-shirt.  Before we left I took some pictures.  Oh, there is a courtyard but no one was dancing....they were eating.  It is part of the restaurant.

Hanging in the Hotel California Mens Room

The rest of the town was quaint and full of people trying to pry tourist free of the money they have.

We headed back to the resort for the big fair well dinner at an upscale restaurant over looking the bay in Cabo.

One final note and picture.  What would a trip to Cabo be without catching a Marlin.  Really?
 Would you believe a pirate girl?
Didn't think so...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's The Baja

We made it back to home sweet home.  It was an enjoyable five days away and other than the getting there and coming home we had a wonderful time.  We very seldom have any issues with flight.  Once a plane was deemed unsuitable for flight and Alaska cancelled that flight and put us on another but that is the only hiccup we have had over the years.  The new TSA regulations are a hassle but necessary so we just deal with it.  I have been put in the x-ray machine once and Mia has never suffered any issues.  We just follow instructions and we are off and on our way.  Still, flying is difficult and I can't imagine doing it all the time although I doubt that I would have any issues.

Since we weren't sure when we would arrive home we both decided to take the day off today so I am updating the blog and doing some cleaning in my office and making Honey feel extra special.  We decided to leave her with my daughter and her family and Mia took her over Wednesday night last week.  Mia said she was trying to get out the door when she left to come back home.  I never ever thought I would be so attached to an animal but leaving her behind wasn't easy for either of us.  Of course, my daughter posted pictures of her on Facebook so we calmed down when we saw she was enjoying her vacation as well.  Our granddaughter was the primary caregiver and it appears she did an excellent job once again.  Of course, they had to do something, so here is how we found Honey when we got is her PUNK look.
She was very excited to see us and ran all over the house, sliding from room to room on the wood floor.    She spent the night sleeping in a overstuffed chair in our room apparently concerned that we might leave again.  She usually sleeps downstairs on the couch.

We left for Cabo on Thursday morning.  There is one flight from Seattle daily that arrives around four in the afternoon.  Since it was a manufacturer sponsored event.  These trips tend to be nice because the manufacturer is trying to show their appreciation to the individuals who have made their franchise as success over the previous year.  This year was no exception.  We were picked up at the airport and driven past San Jose del Cabo and up the "corridor" to the Dreams Resort.  We were met at the entry by a young spanish lady who "showed me the way".  Once checked in we were off to our room if you can call anything this big a room.  I would guess that the room is a big in square feet as our current trailer and the only thing missing was a kitchen.  There was a patio over looking the ocean and the pool area.

These pictures were taken in the early morning hours before we went down for breakfast.  As you can see it is somewhat overcast as it was most of our stay but it never rained and it remained in the mid seventies the whole time until the sun came out the last two days and the temperatures raised a few degrees.

We had beautiful views of the ocean from our room, the restaurants, and whenever we walked the beach.  Several times over the course of our visit we saw whales breech the water, shoot water into the air and dive back into the water.  Unfortunately it happens so fast and is so far off in the distance that my little Canon Powershot SD450 couldn't capture anything but a small black dot on the water.  Sadly we have no pictures of the whales up close and personal.

The restaurants.  What can I say about the restaurants?  Excellent doesn't seem to do them justice.  I am not sure who the head cook is but suffice it to say that the man or woman knows what they are doing.  Several of the restaurants are buffet style and resemble nothing like Old County Buffet.  These buffets have wonderful assortments of food and there is something for everyones palate.   I gained three pounds because you could eat all you want and I wanted.  The service was amazing from all the staff but the wait staff was exceptional.  Once your plate was empty it was gone and if you need another drink it was there.

While we are on the subject of drink.  As readers of this blog know, I stopped drinking many years ago.  And it is always amazing to me the excesses that I went to when I did drink.  I watch the folks who come to these events and some are very docile like Mia and I.  We don't party hearty.  But the vast majority of these folks do and when you tell them drinks are all inclusive, well, lets just say they don't stop drinking.  Amazing to realize I used to do that.  Each to his own, they appeared to be having as much fun as Mia and I had watching them.

On the first night there was a welcome dinner on the patio between the pool and the Sea of Cortes.  It was a grand affair than went on for several hours.  We retired to our room and made plans for the next day to meet with the staff to see what was available for us to do since we had been given a ton of free time.

 The following morning I attended a 45 minute "business meeting" while Mia slept in.  After the meeting I gathered the information about things to do, met Mia for brunch and went for a walk on the beach while we discussed our options.  We decided to forgo the snorkle trip that was the scheduled event for the group on Saturday and instead go to Todos Santos.  Unfortunately there was no trip to Todos Santos until Sunday so we scheduled the tour and decided to visit Cabo on Saturday.  Last year we went to San Jose del Cabo and found it to be a quaint village with a lot of tourist shopping and artist everywhere.  Cabo would be the tourism capital of the Baja peninsula because they have everything thing you can imagine from luxury shops with armed guards to street hawkers trying to sell you every conceivable item.  We spent around two hours walking around the marina and found this boat with the best name we had seen.

There is tons of wild life around the marina.

We went back to the resort and laid around enjoying the sights and sounds that come with many drunk half naked people enjoying the swimming pool.  Neither Mia or I are big sun people.  I won't lay in the sun.  I'll work in it and if I get tan, great.  But just lay in the sun and get burned like one member of our party thanks.  She was having a hard time walking.

So we enjoyed a quiet dinner and the rest of the evening we wandered around the facility and then went back to our room.  Sunday morning we got up early and had breakfast before meeting our tour guide at the front door of the resort.  We were the only folks going to Todo Santos that day so we got a private tour.  More on the tour and the Hotel California in my next rambling.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Going To Find The Sun

It has been an interesting couple of weeks.  I dropped my smart phone for the umpteenth time and it hit the corner of a table as it fell breaking the screen.  No smart phone.  Died instantly.  I was somewhat concerned that my trip to Verizon was going to cost me a ton of money since you have to pay retail for the replacement, unless you bought insurance and frankly I could not recall getting insurance.  Everything turned out okay because I surprised myself and decided to get the insurance so instead of paying over five hundred dollars for a new phone, I got one for the $99. deductible.  I was pretty proud of myself for having insurance but wondered to myself why I had forgotten that I got it.

Mia and I leave Seattle and the rain this morning to fly four hours and eleven minutes to sun and warm sandy beaches.  We leave for Cabo pretty quickly this morning and arrive before dinner.  We have been to Cabo before and it is relaxing.  There isn't much to do if you don't ATV, whale watch or scuba dive but relaxing at the resort near the pool or the beach in shorts isn't that bad, is it?  There is a scheduled scuba dive but neither Mia or  I are interested so when the rest of the folks leave we will strike out to Todos Santos home to many old buildings and missions.  They also take credit for the Hotel California (yes, that Hotel California).

Unfortunately the credit is not theirs.  The Eagles song first introduced in February of 1977 was supposedly about the excesses and materialism.  Much has been written about it including that it is about drugs,  a madhouse, an LSD trip or alcoholism  While the authors have explained some of the lyrics they choose not to explain their thinking behind all of them leaving the song open to vast numbers of interpretations.  I choose to focus on the vocal skills and the complex riffs that the Eagles used.  If you never want to leave it sounds like a great place to visit.

Back late Monday night or early Tuesday morning depending on which time zone I am in.

I am looking forward to a much needed R&R.