Sunday, October 12, 2008

I am blessed

I am truly blessed by the love and support of my family and friends. Those closest to me knew that last week, and especially yesterday, was going to be very hard for me to get through. But, here it is Sunday morning and I am still standing.

I made sure to keep myself pretty busy last week, mostly so I wouldn't have so much time to think and feel, although the busyness did not stop the feelings, as was evidenced by my complete and total sobbing meltdown on Tuesday. That was when I realized I could not get through this past week alone and as hard as it was, I reached out for help.

My best friend and another dear friend do not live in this area. But, despite being extremely busy at work, they e-mailed me as often as they could to make sure I was okay. My best sent an eCard and called first thing yesterday morning. My fellow widows and widowers offered online hugs and words of support, as did members of an online group I joined shortly after meeting James. My aunt sent me a very beautiful arrangement of roses and carnations. I came home yesterday to find messages from my dear friend and my new friends Pete, a co-worker of James, and his wife Stephanie, just letting me know they were thinking of me.

Friday, my dear friend and her son took me to dinner and then to Goodwill to try to find the clothes I will need to be Ugly Betty for Halloween this year. I didn't find my costume, but I did find a very nice, brand new (with the tags) $100 Coldwater Creek sweater for $20. Major score there. After that we raided Fred Meyer's jigsaw puzzle section. They were on sale, and we each left with 3. After a not-so-quick run through the Starbucks drive-thru, we went back to her place and stayed up way too late working on one of her new puzzles. She is a dear freind of mine and her husband was James' best friend, so she is the person I most feel I can talk ad nausem about James to.

Yesterday, another dear friend met me at our usual meeting spot and we headed into Portland to the Japanese Gardens. She would have been one of my bridal peeps. When James and I bought this house, we had a hot tub. It was an older model and after each repair just led to another repair, we finally decided to get rid of it. We threw some ideas around for the now empty space and James said he would like to put a Japanese Garden in that spot. So, that is what I am going to do and decided yesterday would be the perfect day to go to the Japanese Gardens and so what exactly goes into one.

After the Gardens, we went to the zoo, since it was only a couple of miles away. Sadly, the monkeys and meerkats weren't out, but it was still fun. I love the zoo, and have been there several times, so it's not like I have never seen them. All the animals seemed to have their back ends to us though, which did make picture taking a little challenging!

We then headed to the Cheesecake Factory. I had a gift card (yes, I know. Shocking). and the only Cheesecake Factory is about 30 miles from my house, but was only about 10 miles from the zoo. My mom had sent me the gift card along with one for Barnes and Noble a long time ago thinking that my friend and I could use the B&N card to get wedding books and then go look them over while eating cheesecake, so there was some irony there. It takes a bowl of soup and 3 slices of cheesecake to use up a $25 gift card. I was having a hard time deciding between 3 flavors, so when the server told us that, my decision was made.

We then headed to Border's, which is a very dangerous place for me to be. Despite having a huge stack of books to be read, I can always find something in there that I HAVE to have. Yesterday was no exception. I got a book and a DVD and 3 Lindor truffles because in my world it is against the law to go to Borders (or Michaels) and not get 3 Lindor truffles.

Today I plan to just relax and catch up on my shows and work on a puzzle. I was gone so much last week that I need to spend the day with my boys. Charlie is curled up on the chair behind me and Sammy is streched out behind the chair. They need to see that I still love them.

Granted, I would still much rather be in California this morning, or on a plane to the east coast for my honeymoon, but I am very thankful for and overwhelmed by all the love in my life.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not Exactly How I Pictured Today

The day that I have been dreading for the last 8 months is here: our wedding day. Only instead of sitting at the Lake Natoma Inn in sunny Folsom, CA, I am sitting at home in foggy, cold Vancouver WA.

We didn't pick this day because of any significant meaning. We originally chose 12/31/09 because that would have been the 10th anniversary of our first date. Then, I decided if I had to wait almost 3 years to get married, I would probably go insane. I wanted 8/8/08. Eight is my favorite number, it is lucky in Chinese (granted, neither of us is Chinese, but one of my bridal peeps is so I figured that was close enough), and we would have been together for 8 years, working on the 8th month. I figured we couldn't go wrong with all that on our side. But, it was a Friday, and most of our guests would be traveling, which would mean an extra day off of work for them. So, I thought 8/9/08 would be fine too.

James wanted his brother to be in the wedding party and he was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq in July 2007. We didn't know if it was going to be 6 months or a year, but thought if it was a year, August would be cutting it close for him to be back in time. September would have been a little better, but still iffy and I really didn't like any of the dates that fell on a Saturday. Plus, I really wanted an outdoor wedding and we also had to consider how hot it is in Sacramento during the summer months. We figured October would be a good month for an outdoor wedding, weatherwise and that by picking an October date, we did all we could to accomodate James' brother's deployment. My nephew's birthday is 10/3, my niece's is 10/4, and one of my bridal peeps will be celebrating her 10th anniversary on 10/18. We figured the 25th was getting too late into the month, so by process of elimination, today was the day. However, God had other plans and 13 months after James proposed, and 8 months and 5 days ago, James died, leaving me a bride-to-be without a groom. No longer a fiancee, but not really a widow either.

I am blessed to have had 8 years with such a wonderful man, even if I didn't get my happily ever after. In my heart, I was already married to him and have been for years. I will always love him; I will always carry him in my heart. But as I hit here with tears streaming down my face watching the fog slowly lift outside I can't help but wonder what our wedding would have been like. Would he have liked my dress? The only thing he asked was that he not know what my dress looked like ahead of time-he wanted that element of surprise. Would I have been a beautiful bride? Would I have been a total uptight Bridezilla (um, probably). Would everyone have shown up? I think it would have been beautiful; even if little things went wrong, as they tend to do at weddings, I think it still would have been perfect.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gussied Up Spanish Rice

I have been on a Mexican food kick lately, so for tonight's dinner, I decided to see what I could turn a box of Rice-a-Roni and a pound of hamburger into. I am very pleased with the results.

1 Box Spanish Rice Rice-a-Roni
1 14.5 oz can of stewed Mexican style tomatoes
1 lb ground beef
1 4 oz can diced green chilis
1 small can sliced black olives
Miced onion, or diced onion
Garlic Salt
Salsa (optional)
Cheese (I used the pre-shred Mexican blend, but cheddar would work too)
Tortillas (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

Prepare the Rice-a-Roni as directed. The recipe calls for a 14.5 oz can of tomatoes, but isn't specific about the flavor or style, so I used the stewed Mexican style.

While the rice is simmering, brown the ground beef. Season with minced or diced onion, pepper and garlic salt to taste.

When the beef is about 3/4 done, add the green chilis and olives. When it is just about done, add a big spoonful of salsa, if desired. When the meat is done, drain it, put it back in the pan and add about 1/2 cup cheese. Keep warm until the rice is done.

When the rice is done, add the meat mixture. Add another 1/2 cup or so of cheese. Mix it all up and when the cheese is melted, dinner is ready.

I tried this by itself and wrapped in a flour tortilla with sour cream. I liked it better on its own. The tortilla and sour cream seemed to really mute the flavor.

For a more complete meal, I would serve a side salad with a Salsa Ranch dressing or a vegetable medley of steamed red, orange and yellow Bell peppers. If being overloaded on starches isn't a concern, go with corn with a touch of salsa mixed in.

Helping with the Laundry

Sammy and Charlie love to "help" with the laundry. Usually, this means re-combining the piles of dirty clothes after I separate them or unfolding things, or knocking over my nice stack of folded towels, and then unfolding them. I think they get more points if something lands on the floor.

Today, I had a load of whites and two loads of towels to fold. I tipped the basket with the whites and one of the loads of towels over and Sammy promptly climbed in it. This is not something I have seen him do before-and he will be 6 next week! Poor Charlie had to settle for what spilled over onto the bed until I got the second load of towels out of the dryer and he decided that was a much better pile to help with. Whoever said cocker spaniels are perpetual 2 year olds was right! Sammy wasn't about to give up those last two towels for anything.
(I took the pictures with the cell phone since it was handy, which is why the picture quality isn't the best).