Welcome to my digital writing journal, or mydigitalclutter. What started as a family blog almost two years ago has morphed into my writing therapy. This is where I do a lot of free writing, mostly about my life with my family and the things that catch my interest. While nowhere even close to perfect, in each post I like to see how my writing is changing with time and practice. Most posts are left unedited for this reason, so if you don't mind, take the journey with me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I am sitting at the PDX, or Portland International Airport awaiting the time of my boarding call to go home.  Home to these spectacular individuals on the left, the joys of my life, and my sanctuary.  I don't do well when I am apart from them.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with my little brother and loved the weather here, but I'm ready to be back into the bosom of those I love and adore.

I've had a number of interesting food experiences while visiting, some I'd like to share.  I ate a scallop, prepared Peruvian style, and some ceviche.  I enjoyed the ceviche, much to my surprise, but it isn't something I would eat daily, unlike my younger sibling.  I met and chatted with his better half, a girlfriend that seems to balance him and to see him gaga over someone other than himself.  All of these experiences have been fun and full of learning about myself and others.  All the while, I have been longing for home.

Tonight, when I arrive in a snow covered wonderland, (if it hasn't melted by then) I will rush to the arms of my husband and hug and kiss my children.  We will hold hands as I leave the airport and talk hurriedly to make up for all the hours that have been spent apart.

I suppose one must have some separation to appreciate the life that one has with a family.  It isn't something I want to do often, but today, I appreciate it more than ever.  So, as my family is bundled in coats in the picture above, I want to bundle them in my heart.  Home.  It's just a few hours away.  I can't wait.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring

It's been raining since late last night.  When I woke up this morning, the trees were covered by a blanket of fog, and the ever green pines were dark inky green against the gray wispy blanket.

The world is wet, and cold.  I love it, and want to sit at the window and watch the wind bend the trees.  We can see the river, and across it lays another state.  The humidity is thick and pressing on me.

Native Portlanders walk without the covering and protection of an umbrella, and revel in the wetness.  I clutch the handle of mine, hoping the wind won't rip it from my grasp  Grungy denim and scrunchy boots, along with a beanie knit hat seem to be the uniform de jour and one looks out of place with a trench coat and mittens.

It is an alien place, for someone from the desert.  Although my corner of desert has seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter.  The trees seem to hum a song of life, and the leaves, slowly turning mild colors of fall, glisten in the rain.

I take a deep breath and smell the crispness of a Northwest Autumn and feel blessed to be here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Technology Love

Well, as I type up this post, I am at some sort of high altitude over 10,000 feet, on my way to Portland.  Luckily my flight had a free trial of the wi-fi on board, so I'm taking advantage of it to some degree.  I've been cramped and haven't moved more than about three inches the whole flight.  I'm a bit squished.  Other than that, it has been fairly uneventful as I bade goodbye to my little family.  There were no tears, but that could be because my kids were too tired to notice me leaving.  Getting up at 6:30 am to run me to the airport wasn't the most fun Sunday morning activities.  We are soon going to be descending and my wi-fi will turn off once we hit below the 10,000 feet mark.  It's been pretty turbulent, so that could be at any moment.  Portland here I come!  Of course I shall endeavor to get some training in as I bask in the excitement of seeing my little brother!  Whoo hoo!

*Thank you Google for the image*

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I spent a little time today working on my essay that I may submit to Segullah, and spent much more time editing it than I did when I wrote it.  This is my first pass and will do a couple of more before I feel that I am ready for someone to read it with a critical eye.  I don't know why I am so nervous.  I write unedited here, so why am I so worried about the reaction to an edited, finely polished work?

I tend to write things digitally, aka, via word processing programs on my computer.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Moleskine and fine tip pen, as many already know, but as I have looked at my essay, I get a kick out of the red hash marks and balloons that populate the pages now because of the "Track Changes" option in my program.  There are words crossed out, paragraphs added, and truth be told, almost 1,000 more words than what I started with during my lunch hour.  We will see how long that lasts, as I take a quick break to work, and do other important things.  When I revisit it again with fresh eyes, I am sure there will be more words that are cut from the body of the essay and paragraphs rearranged.

Editing is a trial, one that I've avoided for quite some time.  I'm sure that is a reason I don't edit my posts here, with the excuse that I'm 'monitoring my progress'.  I just don't enjoy getting in and mutilating the words that have poured from my fingers.  I'm not someone who thinks of her words as children, and for that reason, is loathe to remove them; I am just not akin to do it because it scares me.  I don't like to see the word count go down and know in my heart that there is something I need to do to replace it.  What if there is never anything that inspires me to fill it again?

I am writing about my children, so that doesn't help.  To me they are my world, and so I am quite biased and unable to see past the content.  But, edit I will.  I will hash, cut, and rearrange until the body that wasn't proportionate, is symmetric and beautiful, and then I will offer it with trembling hands for the perusal of others. 

*Thank you Google for the image*

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm Counting Down

Guess where I'll be in less than a week!  Portland!!!!  I am so excited for the chance to see my little brother....ahem, I mean training for work!

For some unknown reason, this opportunity fell into my lap at the most opportune time.  In the back of my mind, I do know that the Lord's hand always plays an important role in the events of my life, so I should let him guide me on this quest.

My younger brother, no longer littler than I, has moved from the bosom of his family to the North West to try and find himself and forge his own way in life.  While there are many underlying currents to this story of his departure and subsequent permanent move to Portland, the fact remains that I love and adore him and can't wait to spend some quality time, one on one with him.  My daughter is jealous, partly because she in half in love with him as her idol, and my mother is green to the idea that I'm going and she can't.  Sorry mom!

I can't shake the feeling that I need to be there now, that for some reason, he needs me.  Truth be told, I need him too.  We shall see for what reason when I get there, and while squeezing in some training, I'll be sure to be spending as much time as I can with him!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Burning Bush

Earth's crammed with Heaven,
And every common bush,
Afire with God:
But only he who sees,
Takes off his shoes.
--Elizabeth Barret Browning

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Little Experimenting

I have been having a little too much fun with Photoshop stuff.  There are so many pre-sets and actions out there that I haven't ever been able to use!  Check out some of the stuff I've been working on:

Selective color--Something I did before, but this is tons easier!

Here is the portrait action...I went a little wild on the white teeth!

Another portrait action.

Color Pop action..not that it needed much.  The light was great today!

Here is one of my favorite...an action that leaves all of the blue hues in a denim color.  I love it!

Today we went to Lagoon, our local amusement park, for one last hurrah of the season.  The weather was perfect..not too hot, not too cold, and the sun was amazing.  Of course, everyone else had the same idea, and the park was packed!!!  Although Nigel has been lamenting all summer that he isn't tall enough to ride all the coasters, he was able to do the infamous "White Roller Coaster" because his new shoes were a bit taller in the soles and he was wearing a baseball hat.  Abbie on the other hand is our little dare devil and we waited for at least half an hour or more to ride "Wicked" which has a 90 degree drop.  Yeah...it is pretty sweet.  She LOVES it!

I've been taking a break from most any writing the past few days.  I've been indulging in crochet, Photoshop, and even picked up some flour sack dish towels.  I must be getting crafty for some reason.  I shall indulge my scribbling fancies later, although I did see the most amazing women on waiting for the bus yesterday.  I saw her twice, on opposite ends of town.  She was wearing a full length fur coat, riding public transit.  Delicious!  I can only imagine how I could weave her into a story.....But that is for another day!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Table Dancing, Bungee Jumping Characteristics

Sometimes I surprise myself.  Yes, even though I think I know myself pretty well, and recognize most of my quirks and idiosyncrasies, there are still times when I do something that takes me aback.  It usually isn’t something huge, like a sudden urge to bungee jump off a high building or something as uncharacteristic as dancing on the table, although I have threatened to do it a time or two.

On this sudden quest of self-discovery, I found myself, very uncharacteristically calm and rational.  Why this surprised me, is I am not a normally calm and rational person when it comes to situations beyond my control.  You see, my husband bought a truck….not just any truck, but a 1956 Ford F150, and no, that isn't our vehicle in the picture.  Well, when we first talked about the possibility of this purchase, I was not enthralled with the idea and that may be an understatement.   This is not a classic, restored vehicle, but a well loved and used work truck.  Oh, the body is quite “cool” to look at, but it doesn’t have the glossy paint and white walled tires that would make it an entrant in a classic car show.  Just the thought of the money pit it could be, was enough to turn me off on the idea.

My dear sweet guy came home on Tuesday, and told me that while driving his new acquisition (that he hadn’t told me he had acquired before hand), he ended up on the side of the road with a bum engine.  He lamented over making a bad decision, and wondered how the money situation would pan out and if he had just bought a lemon.  So, here is where I surprised myself.  I didn’t yell, I didn’t swear, and my blood pressure didn’t go through the roof.  Even though I was concerned about the amount of debt this little gem was going to cost us, I didn’t become a raging lunatic.

This little story gets even better when we get pulled over for a burned out tail-light.  As the officer is talking to us, my two kiddos are commenting about the high beam shining in the back of us.  Great.  Now I feel like a criminal.  But, calm, cool, and collected that I am, it didn’t faze me.  It was just a great moment that I will look back on and laugh.

So, in the uncertainty of it all, whether or not we have a 53 year old truck that will drain us dry or not, isn’t really relevant.  The point is I acted in a way that was uncharacteristically calm and rational.  Just imagine what could happen if I kept up this mode of behavior.  Life might be a lot more pleasant for me and everyone else at my house!

Have you ever found new abilities and characteristics you didn't know you had?

*Thanks to Google for the picture*

Monday, October 12, 2009

Should I.....or Shouldn't I? That is the Question

So, I am debating.  That can be very dangerous, truth be told.  I missed NaNo last year, partly because I stumbled across it mid-November last year.  Yes, I live under a rock in the writing world.  I've been very hesitant about signing up, because of the huge time commitment involved.  I have a lot outlined, scenes scripted in my head, but I just don't know.  Help!  Can I still be a good mom, go to work, and do everything I want to do and still see if I can accomplish NaNoWriMo?  Advice...Please!!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back in the Saddle

It was kind of scary to be honest.  After losing so much important data on my external hard drive, I was nervous to scrap a photo, write an essay, or even try to come to terms with what I had lost.

On Friday, I purchased Photoshop Elements for my Mac.  Now, for years now, I have been very happy with the not very user friendly program, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) and have pretty much taught myself how to use it by reading.  See, books are _very_ important when it comes to information!  I can't even count the number of things I've taught myself from a book...but I digress.  The only problem I had with GIMP, was the number of Adobe Photoshop geared products, that don't work in GIMP.  I took advantage of my educational discount (which is by far, one of the best reasons to work at a university) and bit the bullet.

After trying to install the darn program on Friday afternoon, I was about to give up, when all my perseverance finally paid off (read, stubbornness...)and I was able to load it, after practically scrubbing my internal hard drive clean.  Oh the joy of computer maintenance.  I have to say, I did it myself, without asking my in house expert to do it for me! (Wow, I really am a closet computer geek....love all things digital!)

I found myself trying to do things in PSE that I could quickly and easily do in the GIMP.  What I thought should happen, didn't.  It really made me pause and think about how long it took me to learn the basic nuances of the first program I used.  It took months of playing and reading and plain old experimentation to do what I wanted to do. Why was I expecting the same results of a new, more user friendly program, in one night?  It just doesn't happen that way.  Although the basics of the program were similar, function keys didn't work the same, opening files caused a thirty minute delay by reading the help guide and let's not start on the problems I had saving a file.

All in all, I learned that I need a great deal of patience with myself.  Not that I didn't already know that, because just imagine my issues with writing down a short story or essay, and realizing that it's okay to re-write and edit.....I need a valium just to think about it.

Change is good, and although I won't use PSE for all my image manipulation needs, I can use it for what it was intended for.  In a couple of months, I'll look back and wonder what all my stress and headaches were for, because I'll have mastered what I need to.  Will writing ever be that way???  I won't get my hopes up.
*Thanks to ME for the image! :)*

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enough Love

"When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough."  Maurice Maeterlinck

I subscribe to a Daily Literary Quote on my iGoogle page, which has a plethora of wonderful tidbits from famous, and not so famous artists.  When I saw this quote today, I was taken aback, and thought about the recent loss in our family and how we all wish there had been more time together.  Of course, thinking causes me to get into quite a bit of trouble, because I then start to meander down alleys and turn unexpected corners in my thought process, places best left alone.

So begins the wondering of how I am as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend.  A vicious voice whispers that I'll never be good enough, I'll only have a life full of regrets.  But today, it isn't quite as loud as the other voice, still a whisper, but one that is intense and sounds a lot like my own.  It keeps telling me that signs like this are just reminders, not there to make me feel guilty, but to spur on progress.

The Holidays are fast approaching, and in this ever busier society, time is more precious than I ever thought possible.  I want to sit at the table, with my family and reminisce about the crazy antics of childhood.  I hope we play a game or two, and revel in the hilarity that is bound to appear once the inhibitions of time have worn away.  I don't want to miss a moment.  I want to wrap it up in tissue, tenderly laying it away to be savored during the separation of time and distance.  I want to tie it up in a bow, and give it to myself as a valued gift, a veritable treasure, time together.

Perhaps I should prepare now for a run on a sledding hill, to give my children a memory that they will recall fondly, even though I hate being cold.  We can have a time where we throw snowballs, fall down and make snow angels, and come in to steaming cups of hot cocoa.  My heart will take pictures, and bind them together, wrapping me in a blanket of warm memories.

I intend to take time those I love, to make sure that I love them enough.  I don't want to have bitter tears when the time comes.  I fully intend to love more than enough.
*Thank you Google for the image*

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Write?

Yesterday I was sitting in a room, waiting for the doctor to come in give me a “shot in the arm”, and I was a little nervous.  While needles don’t scare me like they used to, I still don’t ENJOY having my skin pierced with sharp metallic probes; I ENDURE them.  So, while in this state, I did what I always do when I’m nervous, I grabbed a pen and my notebook and started to write.  Now, when I’m in this type of state, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the words that are spilt upon the page.  In fact, I’m lucky if I can construct a complete sentence and spell one half of the words correctly.   My penmanship is rudimentary at best, and I usually can’t read what I’ve written by the time I’m done.

I wrote about the reason I was at the doctor’s office, and the decisions made to get to that point.  I wrote about my feelings towards myself, Daniel, and my kids.  I looked at pros and cons, something that I had done before making the decision, but it felt right to write them in my ramblings.  As I continued, there began a cadence and rhythm to my words.  Back and forth, to and fro, they began to weave into my mind the surety of my decision, and I was comforted.

I’m not sure why writing comforts me.  Just as I like to escape into a good book when I’m in a bad mood, writing transports me to a place where I can deal with what is on my plate.  For a moment or two, I am the one in control of what is placed on the page, where the outcome will be, etc.  I must have some serious control issues, huh?  Now if I could only channel these energies into writing something else….
*Thanks to Google for the image*

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Stitch in Time

Accomplishment.  That is exactly what I saw on the face of my daughter as I watched her struggle and then master and perfect a skill that she had wanted to learn for some time.  As her eyes looked into mine and I could see her joy, I was humbled to know that a hobby I enjoyed was bringing some joy to her as well; she wanted to be like me.
My maternal grandmother was a master.  Her stitches were even and small, amazing creations seemed to flow effortlessly from between her hook and fingers.  Round by round or row by row, the chains and loops would emerge: a doily, an afghan, a lacy basket.  My own mother recalled to me how Grandma would starch and block the doilies, with heavy pins, on an old towel to create the perfect addition to a table or bookshelf.  She would pull and smooth until everything was just right.

She never passed on her talent to my mother.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps she was stingy with something she regarded as her ‘own’ and it wasn’t to be shared with anyone else.  I think it was a travesty, myself.  Just as her famous dinner roll recipes was lost, so are the patterns housed in the vastness of her mind.  What I would give to have some of those treasures, the dinner rolls especially, to pass on to my own children!

For weeks now, Abbie has been pestering me about teaching her to crochet.  I taught myself, mostly, but my paternal grandmother taught me how to single chain, and then to create a double crochet to make cotton yarn washcloths.  It was a pleasure to sit at her side and learn something, knowledge passing from one generation to another.  From there, I went through books, teaching myself a stitch here or there, and to read a pattern.  I started with the thicker yarn, making a hat, a scarf, a shawl.  I slowly graduated to crochet thread, going around the blankets and burp clothes that were hemstitched, and eventually started the more complicated designs.

A few days ago, I taught Abbie how to make a chain, and she spent hours making various lengths of chained yarn, weaving in between stuffed animals and across her lap.  She would unravel the yarn and start again, over and over, trying to perfect it.  She tried to do a single crochet stitch, but grew frustrated and didn’t want to continue, thinking it was too hard to do.  Like anything else, it takes practice, and a lot of patience, something a pre-teen sometimes is lacking.  After some frustration, on my part and hers, and continued pestering, Abbie learned to crochet around a burp cloth yesterday.  The stitches were uneven and bumpy at the beginning.  After a few inches, they became tight and steady.  Soon, she was slowly making exceptional progress and beamed at the accomplishment.  She asked me if I was proud of her.  I almost cried as I said yes.  I need to tell her that more often, because she is amazing.

I imagine the future, with Abbie, teaching her child how to knit and crochet.  They will sit on the couch as we did; hooks and yarn intermingling with laughs and smiles.  One skill learned from her maternal grandmother, and one learned from me.  I can envision the scarf or doily that is created by her own hands, gracing the neck or bookshelf of someone she loves.  She may sew like my mother in law, or she may want to pick up the pen like me.  Perhaps her skill set includes the love of numbers, from both grandfathers, and the intricacies of computer hardware like her dad.  I can see her foraging her own way and finding talents and skills so far untapped by her progenitors.    I can’t wait.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Period, Not Just Punctuation

Hormones suck.  There, I've said it.  There are days when being a girl isn't all that it's cracked up to be.  I am sure that there are women out there who have never had a hormone swing, cramps, water weight gain, much less headaches to rival migraines, but I am not one of them.

The past few days have been a mass of mascara running, psychotic yelling, fits of spastic crying, and I'm not even done yet!  My poor family has born the brunt of this hideous time.  Moaning about swollen fingers, pants that are normally loose, fitting tightly, and pretty much not feeling any sort of cuteness.

I've come to the decision that "The Change" aka, menopause could be a welcome relief, but then there are those pesky hot flashes, night sweats, hormonal mood swings...Oh wait, I'm already going through those symptoms.  It wouldn't be too big of a difference as I see it.  Of course, someone more experienced might tell me otherwise.

There is that commercial on television that makes me really want to drop kick the set out the door.  You know the one that tells you to "have a happy period".  GRRR.  Like that is going to happen.  And really, if you are one that does, please, keep your perky comments to yourself.  But, that is the hormones talking, as I really do love comments.  But I digress.  Who has a happy period?  What an oxymoron!

So, my hormonal rant for today is this...I hate hormones in all their sadistic power over me.  Really, I'm a nice person normally, right?
*Thanks to Google for the image*
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